Wednesday, May 13, 2009

"I'm Starting to Think John Locke is Gonna Be Trouble. "

So we've come to another finale. Unlike last year, it's a two-parter rather than a three-parter, but Follow the Leader functioned much as the first part would, with a multi-centric story that gets all the players into their proper places for the big showdowns. The main groups are John and the gang in the future and Jack and the gang in the past, but there are also the small factions that include Sawyer and Hurley. Four distinct groups, all of them trying to decide who to follow.

I predicted we'd get plenty of Richard, Eloise and Charles in this episode. We certainly got a fair amount, especially of Richard; if anybody could be considered the centric character, it was him. One might argue that the scenes of Jack and Kate in the Others' camp function as flashbacks for Future Richard. Of course, he's more of an observer than a participant in both times, but I still found it fascinating to get so much of him at once. What I've really been gunning for with Richard is a flashback that takes us back a couple hundred years or so, but I'm making no complaints about what we got.

Richard seemed much more prominent in the future storyline. In the past, he was just bemusedly going along with Eloise's plan, even though I don't think he especially approved. I wonder if he will end up trying to stop her. As usual, he was wonderfully understated; my favorite of his '77 lines was "This man walked into camp and put a gun to my head, and Eloise... reacted." Yes, that's one word for it... In 2007, he was much more central to the action, and I was quite amused by his utter bewilderment from the moment John arrived. I always think of Richard as a guy who knows exactly what's going on, but clearly he was completely befuddled here. Granted, he was also confused in Jughead, but this was even more pronounced. And just like in Jughead, we saw a scene that seemed to point to Richard being mysteriously all-knowing, when actually it merely was the result of John's orchestrations.

When he turned up in Because You Left, it certainly seemed to me that he knew what he was doing. He didn't seem surprised to see John, and he was there to guide him along his proper path. Except that Richard didn't know what he was saying. And he couldn't have given John any more explanation than he did because all he was doing was following a script. I have to give him credit for his composure under such short notice and strange circumstances, but it's a tad disillusioning to realize that so many of the Others' expectations of John originate with John himself. Maybe Richard is starting to put two and two together, to realize that John is just a guy who happened to be caught up in a weird time-space anomaly that allowed him to be a master manipulator. Except John is still special. How else could he have known how to find Richard, or exactly when they would need to arrive at the beechcraft? But Richard immediately sensed something off about John, and when the President of the John Locke Fan Club looks about ready to relinquish his position, well, that's disconcerting. If Richard doesn't trust John, it seems likely that we shouldn't either. It seems he's not entirely the same person.

I love the fact that Richard was building a ship in a bottle, and that he was wearing glasses at the time, too. It was odd seeing him with those spectacles. If Richard's got time for such painstaking leisure activities, it would seem that the Others have been enjoying a fairly peaceful existence lately. John stomping into camp with a boar on his back... Well, even if he is the rightful leader, it spells major change, which is most likely unwelcome at this point. And speaking of unwelcome, how about "I remember these people. I remember meeting them very clearly, because... I watched them all die." Um... What?? So things are looking pretty bleak for our time-jumping castaway friends. Is Richard telling the truth? Could he be telling what he thinks is the truth, but something else actually happened? If they're really going to detonate the bomb, it seems like it would kill everybody on the Island, and probably destroy the Island too - including Eloise, Charles, Ben, Horace, Ethan, Radzinsky, Roger and Richard, unless he's impervious to that sort of damage. All of those people survive well into the future - unless they do succeed in detonating the bomb, and it changes things. But if they're changing the past just by being there, Richard shouldn't remember them, should he? Ugh... I'm so confused! But I sure hope that we're not about to see Jack, Kate, Hurley and Jin get blown to smithereens.

The previews seem to be indicating that Sawyer and Kate end up back on the Island, and I would assume that Juliet does too, unless it comes down to some sort of ultimatum where Sawyer has to decide to sail off into the sunset with Juliet or go save the day with Kate. While I want to see Sawyer in hero mode, I'd hate for him to ditch Juliet; I'm guessing all three of them will end up back on the Island. How inconvenient, though, for Kate to show up. That look on Juliet's face when Kate arrived... And I love how Sawyer's eyes just flicked ever so slightly upwards to indicate his annoyance that this was going to be more complicated than he'd thought. I also liked his Back to the Future II-esque plans to amass a fortune based on future knowledge. Not a bad idea! I wonder, though, if that might have something to do with Widmore's riches? Though I can't imagine Daniel cluttering up his journal with that kind of information. I wonder if we're going to get any kind of a glimpse of his time in Ann Arbor in this episode. I know we're finding out how Hurley got on the plane, which suggests a Hurley-centric episode, but perhaps it will be multi-centric. Frankly, Hurley seems an odd choice for the focal point of the finale when at this point, he's barely involved in what's going on.

Far too little of Hurley in Follow the Leader, but he earned the biggest belly laugh LOST has given me in a while with that interrogation from Dr. Chang. Good call from the doc; his previous interaction with Hurley must've tipped him off that this isn't a guy too skilled at skullduggery. But gosh, Hurley, you're 30 years old. How hard is it to subtract 30 from 77? And after being so worried about what would happen if somebody asked who was president, maybe you should have researched that matter - and don't even get me started on the Korean War... (I loved Jin's reaction to that one.) Anyway, something tells me Hurley didn't ace too many history tests. Or math. But we really needed that almost purely comical moment in the middle of such an intense, action-packed episode. I also liked Hurley's objection to the idea of heading off into the jungle without rescuing Sawyer and Juliet and his empathy for Miles as they witnessed Dr. Chang's forceful evacuation of his family. That was just as powerful as Miles seeing his father reading to him when he was an infant, and now that they are in full acknowledgement of their relationship to each other, that should make for a very interesting dynamic.

I did feel sorry for Eloise in this episode. In a way, it was Ana Lucia all over again, only even worse this time since she realized that she'd killed her own son. Almost as soon as she'd done it, she wished she hadn't. Look before you shoot, Ellie! Charles, meanwhile, seemed fairly clueless; it seems like they've got joint leadership but Ellie is really the one in charge. Interesting that Charles, like Richard, recognized Daniel at once, though he couldn't put his finger on why. From that one scene in which they shared an obscured conversation, it seemed that Ellie might have been pregnant; what other "condition" would Charles have been referring to, especially when he later put his hand to her abdomen? But that really does make Daniel exceedingly young. I guess I can buy it since he's such a super-genius, but I certainly would have figured him for older than 30. It also makes me wonder if Ellie leaves because she is unable to give birth on the Island, because the baby problems start after the Incident. But how would she know until it was too late? Would Daniel have mentioned something about that in his journal?

Jack and Sawyer both took awful beatings here. Cavalry Charles knocked Jack around before Ellie clued him in that it would probably be a good idea to listen to him, and Radzinsky just went psycho on Sawyer - though I noticed that even he seemed taken aback by Phil's solution of beating up Juliet to get Sawyer to talk. Radzinsky's caused trouble before, but he really messed things up this time. I liked that Horace at least tried to stop him, though his efforts were fairly feeble. I'm not sure what Horace could have done at that point, though, to maintain control. I was relieved when I re-watched The Variable and realized that Hurley wasn't inside with Sawyer when Radzinsky charged in; I figured that he would probably turn up at some point with a daring rescue attempt. Though that didn't end up happening, I wonder if Team Sawyer and Team Hurley will reunite tonight.

I say Team Hurley, but Miles really is the one who seems to be in charge of that little group. There were all sorts of authority figures running around and replacing each other. Chang took charge of evacuating the Island. Sawyer lost his leadership, and Radzinsky took over for Horace. Charles and Ellie debated whether to follow Daniel's instructions; Sayid followed Jack, while Kate didn't. John came busting back into the Other encampment declaring himself leader, while Richard and Ben contemplated undermining him. Oh, and unseen Jacob, potentially the grandest leader of them all, now has to watch his back, since John's on his way to kill him. If he even exists.

If Richard's surprise at John's behavior was curious, Ben's incredulity at the end of the episode was absolutely jarring. Of course, there's always the question of whether his reactions are genuine, but they sure seemed real to me. When John admitted that he'd simply manipulated Sun and had no real intention of reuniting her with Jin, I could see Ben thinking, "Wow! You're a lot more like me than I thought!" And when John announced his intention to kill Jacob... Well, whatever Ben was expecting, it wasn't that. He looked utterly floored. So what's John up to? There is the possibility that John does not believe that Jacob actually is real. His only experience with Jacob was hearing him whisper, "Help me," and he suspected that was only Ben messing around with him. So maybe by "kill" Jacob, he means kill the idea of Jacob, though since presumably only Richard and Ben have any idea of where Jacob is located, it seems like it would be hard to conclusively prove to the rest that he doesn't exist just because he isn't at the cabin. There's also the possibility that he's lying to Ben, perhaps to test his loyalty. But if he really believes Jacob is real (and I'm inclined to think he is), what is his motivation? Does he want to kill Jacob so he will now be top dog? Or so the Others will no longer be forced to take orders from this mysterious man in the mountains? Or because Jacob wants him to? It seems like Jacob is trapped in a strange state of semi-existence; maybe by killing him, John would actually be freeing him. At any rate, the Man Behind the Curtain parallels were quite apparent here. Richard wasn't any more anxious to take John to see Jacob than Ben was. Yes, John was being a twerp again, though not a whiny, temper-tantrum throwing twerp. A calm I'm-in-charge-now-so-you-have-to-do-what-I-tell-you-to twerp. But what is it about his asking to go see Jacob that makes Richard and Ben so nervous? (I also loved Ben's heavy-emphasis-on-the-wh "What?" when Locke accused him of never having seen Jacob...)

Jack is reminding me more and more of season two Locke. Season two ended with Locke, surrounded by the ruins of his brilliant idea, confessing shakily, "I was wrong." What happens if Jack is wrong? Sayid, who evidently has just been wandering around in the jungle for the past couple of days, is willing to help Jack because he feels he has nothing to lose and everything to gain. If the plan works, Nadia's alive, and Sayid and Ben never meet. If the plan fails, his miserable life is over. But it's not that simple for Kate. For one thing, if time resets itself so that their plane lands safely in L.A., she's got a lifetime in a federal penitentiary ahead of her; without the sympathy generated by Jack's testimony and her mother's change of heart, I can't see her getting off. More immediately than that, though, it seems she's thinking about all that she and her newfound friends have been through and not wanting to simply erase all that and to return to a life in which none of them meet. Not to mention the fact that Daniel's plan sounds completely nuts and I don't think she's at all convinced it will work. Jack, meanwhile, isn't willing to think of the good that has come out of their experience. He believes he's come back for a purpose, and what greater purpose than to save the lives of everyone on that plane? That's hundreds of people who would be alive again if the plane crash could be made not to happen. Of course, he doesn't seem all that worried about the people on the Island now; if he saves the Oceanic 815 passengers but blows up half the Dharma Initiative and all of the Others, isn't it all a bit of a wash?

I wonder if we will get to see Young Ben again tonight, and Roger. That strikes me as somewhat likely, since whatever the case may be, I suspect we'll be done with the seventies after tonight. And maybe, just maybe, we'll get some hint of Annie in there somewhere too. (Could be that she and her parent(s) hopped aboard the sub, and after it was well out of sight Ben found out and was devastated. That's a nice non-lethal possibility. Though if Sawyer, Kate and Juliet end up back on the Island, does that mean the rest of the sub passengers to too?) I also am anxious to see what has become of Bernard and Rose, and I sure hope it has nothing to do with a pair of opposite-colored stones sitting in a cave. It seems that we may finally see Jacob tonight, too, and maybe Christian since they appear to be tightly linked. Or maybe Christian is Jacob, or rather Jacob has been making use of Christian's body since he washed up on the Island. I suspect that we won't see Claire, Walt or the Humes, but I'd certainly be glad to be wrong about that. Unless the finale lands Desmond or Penny in mortal danger. And I'm still gunning for Liam to turn up in a Hurley flashback, for them to share a pleasant afternoon of reminisces and for Liam to give Hurley an old guitar of Charlie's. I wonder, too, if Hurley might also catch a glimpse of Jacob tonight, since he's the only other character we know of who seems to have a special connection with him. I assume they'll wind up in the jungle, and maybe Hurley will come upon the cabin again and Jacob will give him some inkling of what he ought to be doing. Might we see the Hurley bird again too?

We've been promised a wedding tonight. Up until The Variable, I figured the most likely candidates were Sawyer and Juliet. But it looks like they wind up back on the Island, and with everyone in imminent danger of being obliterated, it seems like a really lousy time to get married. Besides, who would perform the ceremony? So I'm leaning away from Sawyer and Juliet now, unless we're getting flash-forwards again. Or unless Sawyer and Juliet did get married at some point in the last three years and no one bothered to tell us. They're not wearing wedding rings, but they'd be hard to come by on the Island anyway; maybe they didn't bother with the ornamentation. So I think if we see a Sawyer-Juliet wedding, it will be a flashback. Who else could it be? Maybe Rose and Bernard. If this episode focused on them as well, I'd be thrilled; it could flash back to their wedding, maybe revealing something unusual there, and then let us know what the heck they've been doing for three years. Or, if Desmond and Penny turn out to be in this episode (I don't see how they could get to the Island so quickly, but we could see them en route, and then see them just vanish if Jack successfully alters time), we flash back to their wedding. I'm having a hard time picturing a really revelatory wedding scenario, unless it takes place in the future, or at least future in relation to 1977. I don't know for certain if Charles or Eloise ever married, though I imagine Eloise must have since she and Daniel have different last names. A glimpse of a wedding involving either would probably be eye-opening. Or we could jump way into the future and see a wedding between Ji Yeon and Aaron, or possibly Charlie. It's an awfully open-ended clue, as we have no idea when or where the wedding takes place or who is involved.

I don't see how Daniel's plan can work as he laid it out. Quite apart from the fact that it seems crazy, I can't imagine how the show will proceed if its characters are completely scattered and mostly unaware of each other's existence. If the plan works the way he intends, perhaps Richard will still be on the Island in 2004, but it seems like he'll have the place to himself, and watching ageless Alpert construct ships in a bottle for hours doesn't make for riveting television. For ages, Doc Jensen has been postulating that season six will mirror season one - that we'll see Oceanic 815 crash again, and the survivors will start again from scratch, but some of the details will be different. Much as I'd love to see Charlie again, I'm not sure how this would work. What could happen that would change the 2004 present enough to have different passengers on the plane but still have Desmond fail to push that button at exactly the right time? Might we see Kelvin again and discover that he, too, was operating on long-held information - that Radzinsky, maybe, tipped him off, and that Kelvin ripped his suit deliberately and left at just the moment when he did so Desmond would follow him so the plane would crash? Or maybe the rebooting idea will fail altogether but somehow the castaways will get zapped back to 2007 at the end of the episode. There are so many possibilities...

There's also the matter of which characters will be leaving us in this episode. Assuming the two characters alluded to are not Daniel and Caesar, we've still got at least one major death coming. How major depends on how major you consider Daniel to be; Damon said one major and one semi-major. If Daniel's only semi-major, then Caesar's certainly off the table. Besides, we don't really know that Ben killed him. Major, then, would probably be restricted to Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Hurley, Sayid, Jin, Juliet, Desmond, John, Sun or Ben. Am I forgetting anyone? Arzt died in the season one finale. Desmond and Eko looked like goners in season two's, but Kelvin's was the only death we witnessed aside from the nameless Other. Season three's was a bloodbath, with about 15 deaths, the most significant of which was Charlie's. Season four's deprived us of Michael, along with a bunch of mercenaries and freighter red-shirts. Jin seemed likely to be dead, too, and John was in the coffin, but neither of those lasted. Anyway, Damon's hint aside, from past history, I think we can count on losing at least someone. After all the trouble they've been through, I don't think it will be Jin or Sun. They wouldn't dare kill off Hurley; we'd be lost without his comic relief, and if the furor over Charlie was intense, I think Hurley would inspire twice as much fury. After all, there are quite a few people who couldn't stand Charlie, but I've never heard those kind of complaints about the Island's teddy bear. Sayid's turned into such a basketcase lately that I might have to pin him as the most likely guy. It's hard to know what to do with him anymore. If not him, then I'm probably most worried about Kate or Juliet. Or maybe Ben will make some sort of grand sacrificial gesture in the future and thus finally prove himself "one of the good guys". Hey, it could happen... Not likely, but slightly possible, and if he could redeem himself it would almost be worth losing him. I'm also really worried about Rose and Bernard, and Jorge's evasive response to Whoopi's agitated question about them on The View just now did little to reassure me, but I must think positive.

Michael Emerson, on the same show, promised "cataclysmic conclusions". Oh, and new characters, which is intriguing. He said to expect lots of surprises, and he said there will be casualties. Oh, and Jorge said he doesn't want the series to end with a dream or a reboot. Is he trying to throw us off the scent? Of course, ending season six with a reboot isn't quite the same as ending season five with a reboot, but the consequences would be similar. Only if it happened now, we'd get to see what happens next. We'd better not end with an abrupt Sopranos-style fade to black, that's for sure. I suspect that no matter what the ending is, some will love it and some will hate it. I hope I'll be in the former category. And I wish Tinseltown would air the series finale there so we could see it in all its theatrical glory. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Here's hoping for one doozy of an episode that doesn't leave me too depressed but give me plenty to contemplate over the next eight months.


Beth said...

Wow, did you ever nail the pre-finale speculations here, Erin! I didn't see this post until today, after actually watching the finale. So it was a lot of fun to read.

Great quote for your title. :-) Turns out that John Locke, or at least ImpersonatorJohnLocke, was indeed trouble. I got an intuition part way through the show about what the "good guys" (so to speak) were carrying in the box, but I couldn't figure out why there would be two Locke bodies, one alive and one dead. Still can't figure it out actually, except that it's clear that someone is using John's body, or rather the shape of his body or a copy of his body. D. and I stayed up way to late trying to ferret that out.

Our best guess is that Smokey is somehow the other guy, the one who is against Jacob (the one we kept calling NotJacob as we talked last night). Like you, I had begun to speculate that perhaps Jacob wasn't real, that he was either a figment of someone's wishful imagination or a made up persona by someone behind the invention. It was interesting to finally see him and to see just how far back his reach extends, but I'm still clueless as to why he's been interested in these losties for so long, why he's invested in having them on the island. He seems mostly benign and oddly gentle, and while that's hopeful (?) it's also a little alarming because it makes you wonder how much power he actually has and how much someone else has been calling the shots and creating the chaos on the island.

I liked the Sawyer/Juliet subplot a lot last general, I think romance feels (or has felt) rather forced on this show, with the exception of some very nice through realistically complex portrayals of married couples (Jin/Sun, Bernard/Rose). I've missed the whole sweetness of Claire/Charlie, and it almost felt like that sort of vibe was present again with Sawyer/Juliet. No matter how conflicted he's been about the two island women in his life, I think it's abundantly clear from the penultimate scene last night that Sawyer...or rather James, let's give him the name he deserves...loves Juliet with a newfound depth. I hate to think we've lost her just when she's waking up and becoming the kind of character he (and the audience) can love. Though I'm not yet convinced we have...she didn't die when she fell, she only died in the explosion, like everyone else. So...

IF it worked like Daniel said it would (and that's a big question, isn't it?) then Juliet merely rebooted the time thing. That seems to be a popular device for J.J. Abrams and crew lately... ;-)

Lots more I could say, but need to run for now...can't wait to chat further. Oh, I hadn't heard there was supposed to be a major character death, but I'm assuming that they meant Locke? Because it would appear we haven't seen the real Locke in a long time, not since that hotel room. What throws me is how Smokey or whoever he is can channel John so well and even have access to memories of his death. Spooky stuff.

Awaiting your terrific LOST intuition and wisdom on all this!

Erin said...

You're right, John could well count as this episode's "big" death - the only one we're absolutely sure about aside from Phil, though Jacob, Sayid and Juliet sure look like goners. Except the time-rebooting might save the former two; not sure if it can help Jacob. I've been such a John fan, but they revealed his death in such a weird way - first we see him dead but don't know how he got that way, and know we'll see him alive again soon in 2004, and suspect he'll be resurrected, and had that come to pass, only to find out it wasn't really John after all. It's like he died three times, and though we now know it's permanent, it's kinda lost its immediacy. I'm totally bummed, of course, but I'm also kinda detached from it.

The Sawyer/Juliet subplot was great, and so sad... The season two parallels give me hope, since Desmond apparently died in a great heroic gesture while professing his love for Penny and Juliet apparently died in a great heroic gesture after professing her love for Sawyer (no, you're right - call him James!). Just for that reason, I'm holding out hope that Sawyer and Juliet can find happiness together again.

Yeah, now that I've seen Star Trek, it makes me wonder if LOST is just doing the same thing. But while I can excuse it for rebooting a franchise, I have a hard time seeing how it will feel satisfying to start from scratch after five seasons of build-up...