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Switching Sides Again: Lost Questions, More on "The Last Recruit"

Welcome to what's proving to be a twice-weekly feature now that Lost only has a handful of episodes remaining before it sets sail for the island in the sky.

I'll be taking a second look at this week's episode of Lost ("The Last Recruit"), which brought up so many reader questions and seemed to offer some tantalizing answers to the season's overarching mythology, I felt like it more than merited another post.

While I discussed "The Last Recruit" in full over here (along with theories about Christian, the Man in Black, Sayid, Sawyer, and more), I thought I'd answer some reader questions from the episode that arrived via comments, Twitter, or email.

So, without further ado, let's prepare to board the Elizabeth and head over to Hydra Island.

The War. Amanda from Michigan asked, "This war they were talking about, is it between Widmore and Smokey Locke?"

Good question. That's patently unclear. All season long, battle lines have been continually drawn, but it hasn't been entirely clear who represents either side. Was it a war between Jacob and his Nemesis and their followers? Between Sawyer and Jack? Between Widmore and the Smoke Monster currently using John Locke's form? Just what did Charles Widmore mean when he said, "war is coming to the island." Was he the one bringing it? Hmmm...

With all of the candidates and the recruits and the castaways, it seems as though the Final Battle is between Good and Evil with capital letters but I'm still not entirely sure just who will come to represent those two ideological positions in the end. Certainly, Jack seems tipped to be the Leader of the Good, even though he's currently in the Devil's clutches. But perhaps by not giving in, by not making a Faustian bargain with the Man in Black, Jack can escape his grip.

After all, it does seem to be as though Jack has already achieved his heart's desire: he's back on the island. If there's one person who might be able to succeed Jacob at this point, it's the good doctor himself. Could it be that he's the one destined to pick up the loom and start weaving a new tapestry?

As for the others, I dare say that we're going to see some of them coming back from the dark side, just as Hurley said Anakin did in Star Wars. Ben has already made a major step towards redemption this season. Sayid has already seemed to snap out of his darkness (at least a bit), having gained some knowledge that his master isn't infallible. Will Claire show her true colors? Is she too far gone, having snapped mentally long ago?

Christian Shephard. One of the major reveals this week was that the Man in Black claimed to have been the various manifestations of Christian that we've seen since the beginning of the series. But I had some doubts about the veracity of his story. As did some of you as well. Rockauteur wrote:

"I think MIB was lying about being Christian at the beginning of the series. You point out a lot of inconsistencies with this and I think you're right. Though if its not him, is it Jacob? Even though Jacob was alive the entire time in the foot of the statue? And who really was talking to Hurley both in Los Angeles at the insane asylum and on the island? Actually Michael? MIB as Michael? Jacob as Michael? Ditto with Charlie. Confusing. And who convinced Locke to turn the wheel? Because the wheel not only stabilized the island, but it allowed for passage of Locke from the island. Did MIB as Christian manipulate Locke as Jacob's best replacement and island protector to leave the island, hoping he would never return? Did he know he would die and thus be able to use his body as a loophole? Or was that Jacob as Christian (or some other force) that needed Locke to turn the wheel so that Ajira could land on the island, thus bringing back the candidates?"

Let's take that apart one point at a time. We've yet to see Jacob exhibit any ability to appear as another person, living or dead, so far on the series. While I believe that the boy in the jungle is an incarnation of Jacob himself, he was only seen after Jacob's corporeal form had died. Jacob has appeared to the castways off-island but only in the guise of himself. Hurley has seen dead people before, but they've proven to be the dead individuals themselves rather than any manifestation of the smoke monster. Which I take to mean that the Michael that's talking to Hurley (as well as those other individuals he's spoken to such as Charlie Pace) actually are the people in question and not the smoke monster.

If the Man in Black was telling the truth, then every appearance on Christian was really in Jacob's Nemesis, attempting to manipulate the castaways into doing something that would help produce the loophole he needed to escape the island.

The fact that Christian has appeared to Jack off-island is troubling to me because we've been told time and again that the smoke monster can't leave the island and thus this entire endgame has been manufactured as a means of egress for him from the island. I'd posit that the Christian who appears here and likely appeared to Jack at the start of the series (leading him to water) isn't the Man in Black but Christian Shephard himself (which would square away with the Christian/Vincent scene in the webisode "So It Begins"). Which means that Christian is alternately Christian Shephard and the Man in Black-as-Christian.

As for who told Locke to turn the wheel, I'd say that was definitely the Man in Black as Christian, who needed Locke to move the island and make his way back to the main island so that he could put his entire plan into effect. As a result, Locke is killed by Ben, Locke is brought back to the island with Ben, the Man in Black assumes Locke's form, and Ben kills Jacob... giving the Man in Black the loophole he needed.

As for Ajira landing on the island, we're told that they needed a proxy for Christian's corpse in order to approximate the conditions of the Oceanic Flight, but I believe that any corpse could have sufficed, not just Locke's. The fact that the coffin contains the dead John Locke is what sets up this entire sixth season. Had Locke never turned the wheel, none of this would have occurred and Locke never would have left the island. Therefore, I still say it's the Man in Black's doing.

On a similar note, Pan asked, "Wasn't it Christian who appeared to Michael on the freighter telling him that the island was done with him as the freighter blew up? Now he can't get to Hydra without a boat?"

Good point. I'd argue in that case that it was the actual Christian Shephard who appeared to Michael rather than Man in Black-as-Christian. Which would allow for the fact that the smoke monster can't cross water (a necessity for an island prison) and explain why Christian here seemed to be attuned to the island's rationale and will. Otherwise, there's a bit of a paradox about the fact that the smoke monster can appear across bodies of water (as in the above) but not just make himself travel to Hydra Island. To play devil's advocate, maybe there's something about the fact that he's locked into a corporeal form now? (Though I still think there are two separate entities when it comes to the Man in Black and Christian.)

And Kilmooni asked, "What do you think MiB reasoning would have been for killing Eko way back when? Something to fear there?"

No, I don't think so. After all, he killed the pilot and there was nothing to fear from Seth. And he's killed indiscriminately over centuries, slaughtering people for no real reason other than he can (remember: the candidates are protected). Besides, the smoke monster really killed Eko because Adawale wanted off the series. (I kid, I kid!)

Sawyer. FoosRckKona wrote, "When you pointed out how much Sawyer wanted off the island it clicked and I drew comparisons of MiB to Sawyer and then Jacob to Jack. Sawyer wants off the island as bad as MiB and Jack knows (to a certain extent) that it would be a bad thing if MiB got off the island. Maybe?"

I think it's a deliberate attempt to set up the same sort of dichotomy there: Sawyer wants nothing more than to leave the island and Jack won't let him. But I think that the difference is that Sawyer will eventually realize that he has to stay and thwart his own selfish desires. He hasn't seen what happens when you leave the island, having been trapped there this entire time (like Jin). Will Jack be able to convince the skeptic? After all, Jack seems to have assumed Locke's old role in preventing them from leaving at all costs. The skeptic has become the believer. So, who's to say that history won't repeat itself?

Oceanic Six Disparity. Rockauteur stated, "...we still need explanation on why some of the candidates ended up 1977 and why Sun et al didn't."

Yes, we do. I believed that some force--Jacob, perhaps?--was keeping Sun and Jin apart this whole time for a very specific reason but this week saw the two of them come together and finally reunite.

What should we make of the fact then that Sun didn't travel back to 1977? I'm not sure. Could it be because of her involvement with Charles Widmore? (Which seems but all forgotten about thus far this season. I'm hoping that we get a scene between Sun and Charles in the next episode that alludes to their deal from Season Five.)

Because Sun didn't travel back to 1977, she was the sole member of Oceanic Flight 815 stuck in the present, alongside John's corpse, Ben, and Frank Lapidus. I think that's a significant fact. And her presence in the past would have meant that Jin wouldn't have been so desperate to find her once the others traveled back (and forwards) in time. He wouldn't have ended up in Claire's trap, then the Man in Black's camp, and then in Widmore's makeshift HQ. So... causality?

Lost-X Locke. Jonah Blue said, "I'm seriously hoping that the real Locke in the Lost-X time-line will get to do something significant to make things right, because he was the original man of faith when it came to the island (and, ironically, was in opposition to Jack who once lacked this faith)."

I think he will. Jack's spinal surgery and his remarkable--some might say miraculous--ability to walk again will lead him to resume his position as the island's champion and true believer. While the Oceanic Flight 815 passengers are as unyet unaware of the island's existence, they will begin to figure out that the impossible memories they all seem to share revolve around the same locale: the island. Which means that they will begin to try to find this place and, as I've mentioned since the beginning of this season, have to raise the island up from the ground. But in this timeline, will John Locke be killed again? Or will he achieve his rightful destiny?

Alien space ship. HKL theorized, "Maybe Jacob is an alien and the island is his spaceship (would explain the electromagnetic anomalies nicely, would also explain how it can sink to the ground of the ocean, would also explain how it can suddenly disappear and travel in time, would also explain the donkey wheel as part of the ship controls). Either he is sent by his species to assess if and when humans are ready to make contact, or maybe he is an individual that somehow uses human emotion to survive. If he is sent by his species, maybe he is searching for a candidate to make contact with his people. Waw, this is just too much off, hehe."

Agreed, it's way off-base. I don't think that Team Darlton is going to go the whole alien route this late in the game. Just not going to happen. No way that Jacob is an alien, sorry!

Atlantis. Perry K, wrote, "I still believe the island is or was Atlantis. If I remember some of the legend, there could have been a war. Which could explain that statue and the paints on the walls under the statue."

Yes, the legends of Atlantis, at least those written about by Plato, indicate that Atlantis was involved in a failed military invasion of Athens and then sank into the ocean after "a single day and night of misfortune." But I'm not convinced that it is Atlantis, particularly given the Egyptian symbolism and hieroglyphs that cover the Temple walls and other areas. Yes, the island is at the bottom of the ocean in the Lost-X timeline and is impossible to find at various times, but that seems to be more the result of various electromagnetic properties and semi-mystical abilities that the island has rather than it being the famed lost kingdom of Atlantis.

Personally, I'd hate to see it end up being Atlantis. I'd almost rather, if it went the route of borrowing from mythology that it was the floating island of Chemmis, where the god Horus was raised by his mother and was protected from his uncle Seth. It fits more with the sort of iconography that Lindelof and Cuse have been using, pays homage to Egyptian mythology and explores some of the themes of good vs. evil that have embodied the series since the beginning.

Heart of Darkness. The promo for the next episode of Lost used a variation of a quote ("Being alone in the wilderness, it had looked within itself and, by heavens I tell you, it had gone mad.") found in Joseph Conrad's seminal 1902 novel "Heart of Darkness," about the constant struggle for good and evil, sharing with Lost a similiar preoccupation with dissecting the duality of light and darkness in the soul of every man. Only fitting, really.

Come back Wednesday to discuss next week's episode and head to the comments section here to discuss any of the above thoughts, theories, or additional questions...

Lost returns with a new episode on May 4th.


Stealth said…
Without accounting for real-world information, I think that MIB had considered Eko as his vessel. He may have considered other castaways as well, but Locke and Eko were both believers so perhaps they were the best candidates, as it were (cf. Richard when he first arrived).

The difference was that Eko refused to feel guilt and shame for the actions that had led him to the island. Similar to MIB's discomfort with Desmond's lack of fear, I think this made Eko unsuitable for MIB's needs, so he disposed of him.

On your other point, it's too bad Jack didn't bring up Seth, whose death he witnessed firsthand, as it undercuts MIB's claim that he was trying to help the castaways from the start.
Ryan T. said…
A simple explanation for Sun not time traveling with the rest of them would be that she is NOT one of the candidates (but Jin is). Personally, I doubt this is the reason, but if they wanted to just explain it away...
Jace Lacob said…

But that doesn't explain the fact that Charlotte and Miles traveled back in time as well (though weren't on the Ajira flight).
Perry K said…
I believe the reason Sun didn't travel back in time, is because she wasn't completely there. Her child that was a part of her on the island, did not also travel with her on the Ajira flight.

And this might point to a reason that Jack stays on the island (maybe with Kate) in the end, because I believe they are the only ones left that do not have a child in the our world. Kate could be an exception, because of the bond with Aaron.
Unknown said…
If Jacob never appears as someone else, and the MIB can only take the form of those who have died, who/what were the appearances of Walt? (To Shannon just before she was killed, and to Locke as he lay shot in the Dharma mass grave.)
Unknown said…
Eloise Hawking said that to get back to the island those who had escaped had to recreate as much as possible the circumstances of the original flight, or the results would be unpredictable. Since it was impossible to exactly recreate the original circumstances (some of their original co-travelers were in the past!), Sun staying in the present while the others time-traveled may simply have been a result of that unpredictability.

Of course it would be much more interesting if someone or something was intentionally keeping Sun and Jin apart. But I really wouldn't be surprised if it was chalked up to chance and no more is said about it.
rockauteur said…
My other questions are still - how did Widmore know that Locke was gonna turn the donkey wheel and rescue him from the desert? And then put him on teh quest to reunite the castaways to come back to the island, which his ex-wife Eloise then said that they had to approximate the original flight... they were thus being manipulated in a way by MIB's loophole as well.
HKL said…
@rockauteur: thank you for reminding me that Eloise Hawking and Charles Widmore had been married.
I am wondering about those two characters a lot, since they somehow seem to have a lot of knowledge and power, but it is not clear to me where they acquired these.

I tend to believe that they are somehow connected to Jacob and/or MiB. My wild guess is that they are children of either of them.
But at this point, it is not even clear who is taken whose side. I hope we will learn about that soon.

As for the theory about the alien space ship ... I also really can't imagine such an aspect coming into the series at this late point. However, it would just be an awesomely surprising turn. Just like the last Episode of Season 5 (was it Season 5?) where we first saw Jacob and MiB.

I also still think it is possible that MiB was created by Jacob, meaning that they are not two equal and opposing forces that have been around for the same period of time. However, many things indicate that they are in fact equal and opposing forces, especially the stones on the scale.
Kimonoface said…
Concerning Christian:

Remember when FLocke found Sun and Lapidis after the Ajira Crash in Dharmaville. Sun tells FLocke "Christian Shepard told us to wait for Locke and to follow him" and FLocke looks surprised. It may be way off base, but what if Christian thought the real Locke would be successful? What if Christian thought the real Locke would come back, and being the man of faith, would know what to do with Sun and Lapidis. That's why he helped Locke turn the donkey wheel, and why he told him to say hi to Jack. If it was MIB, why would he add that sentiment? It seemed like a fatherly comment. Everyone has free will, let's not forget that. Ben's murder of Locke was abrupt! Perhaps that was not the plan. I feel this argument about Christian being Flocke or not can go either way very easily, but that it's only been Christian or only been MIB. No switching. I'm intrigued and very excited to see the outcome.

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