Last Night on LOST: The Incident
I distinctly remember the moment where I became obsessed with Lost. After hearing people talk about it like it was the greatest thing since sliced bread for more than two years, I’d read up on the series online, combing through Lostpedia for information. But I had never watched an episode. My sister-in-law was visiting, and she, my wife, and our daughter were in the next room. They were talking about the show, and I was in front of the computer. It occurred to me that I’d seen some advertisement proclaiming that I could watch full episodes of the series online at ABC.com, and so I opened a browser, went to that site, and installed the necessary plugin.
At that point, seasons one and two weren’t available for viewing. Only season three was there. And so, I hit the play button on the first episode of that season, “A Tale of Two Cities,” and began to watch.
It was in this way that Juliet became the first character I met on Lost. Sure, while channel-surfing back in May 2005, I’d seen a brief glimpse of a group of people staring down a darkened hatch. But I had no idea what I was looking at back then, and I flipped the channel fairly quickly, disgusted with what I imagined to be an overdone fictional version of Survivor (a show that I loathed). And so, Jules and the Others were the cast of characters that drew me in. Watching them watch a plane break up over their island—that was what hooked me. And the fact that it was that moment which grabbed me, and not the moment two years earlier, when Jack came running out of the jungle, the moment that made fans out of so many others—the fact that I came in at a totally different moment gives me what I imagine to be a totally different perspective on the show in general, and on the fifth season finale, “The Incident”, in particular. You see, I’m not always waiting for the next scene with an original 815er in it. And I’m never averse to new story threads. Because, you see, I’ve been coming at this show from a different angle all along.
Jacob and the Bad Dude
To me, the opening sequence felt like something that the Powers That Be have been building toward since season one. When Locke explains the principles of backgammon to Walt—“Two sides. One is light, one is dark.”—that feels to me like a scene meant to foreshadow a deeper conflict, a conflict that we’re only getting the full picture of years later.
The nature of Jacob’s relationship to the Bad Dude, and the nature of their conflict are very interesting. Jacob is obviously trying to prove the Bad Dude wrong about something, and in so doing is, at least initially, coming off like the bigger asshole, a presumptuous prick who thinks that he knows best. But it’s unclear who they are in the grand scheme of things. Are they gods among men, fiddling with human affairs for mere amusement? Are they brothers, sons of Adam and Eve who can’t decide how best to run their parents’ Garden now that mommy and daddy are gone? Or are they just two men who have been stuck here for a very long time?
This brief opening raises so many questions, and not just about these guys. What about the statue? It’s still intact here, in what appears to be the nineteenth century (based on the appearance of the Black Rock). And what about the Black Rock? How does it go from being out there, in the middle of the ocean, to being inland, where no ship should have been able to reach? My absolute wild guess at this moment: the explosive power of Jughead is dispersed throughout time by the electromagnetic energy at the Swan, and some of that energy destroys the statue, while at the same time dragging the Black Rock inland.
What? You got a better idea?
Jacob and the Losties
A couple of episodes back, in a scene that never made it to air, Daniel Faraday was supposed to illustrate what he had learned about time travel by dropping into a stream first a pebble and then a larger rock. The idea that he was trying to prove was that small variables can’t change the path of time, but that larger variables can. The producers struck this scene because they felt that the scene we all saw did the trick just fine, but I can’t help but think about this concept as I rewatch The Incident. You see, I think Daniel was wrong.
What the Jacob flashbacks in “The Incident” prove, I think, is that one tiny bit of interaction can alter the course of someone’s life.
In each of the scenes that he appears in with a Lostie, the interaction is brief, but crucial. He gives young Katie the idea that there will always be someone there to help her out of a jam. He gives young James the pen he needs to write the most important letter of his life (which leads James to tell the first big lie of his life when his uncle asks him to promise not to finish the letter). Jacob keeps Sayid from getting run over, too. He gives Ilana a sense of purpose, and Locke a sense of destiny—“I’m sorry this had to happen to you,” was what I swore he said, and though I’ve been proven wrong by a transcript, I still think that sentiment was there. Jack gets a candy bar and a little push, and Hurley gets a guitar and confirmation that he’s not crazy.
Interestingly, the only flashback that doesn’t involve Jacob is the flashback involving Juliet and her sister Rachel. This, I believe, was our first clue that Jules was done for.
Sawyer, Jules, and Kate
Juliet’s character arc over the last fourth of the season has been heartbreaking. First, we got to see her do what she’d been trying for six years to do: deliver a baby on the island. Then, we learned that she’d finally gotten herself a good man in James. And just when everything seemed to be going swimmingly, the fucking Oceanic Six decided to saunter on back to the island and ruin everything.
It’s been amazing to watch Elizabeth Mitchell play the heartbroken Juliet. This is a woman who has come to expect defeat and disappointment. She accepts the things that happen to her quietly, for the most part. We have to read her face, and we have to read between the lines that she speaks in her measured, careful voice.
There are four instances where her brave face breaks and we see her world shattering in a very clear way. The first, chronologically speaking, is in her flashback, when she runs away from her parents after the announcement of their divorce. The second is when she and James have their fight in the jungle. The third is when James is struggling to hold onto her as the chains drag her down into the abyss of the Swan. And the fourth, of course, is when she realizes that she’s still alive, and that the bomb hasn’t gone off.
The latter two scenes, along with the news that Elizabeth Mitchell will not be a series regular in season six, make me very emotional. Juliet, as I said, is the first character I met on Lost, and there was a part of me that hoped she’d be around until the end. Mitchell will apparently be back in a limited role next season—she’s starring in another ABC series in the meantime—but the fact that her story will be limited makes me think that the wonderful story between Jules and James is over, and that it’s back to the love triangle as far as the romantic storyline is concerned.
Jack and His Crew
The Jack parts of the finale, while very, very interesting, were the parts I cared least about. In an episode this chock-full of awesomeness, there’s got to be a part that you care least about, right? And the doc’s storyline was the least compelling of the bunch.
I loved that we got the little exchange between he and Richard about John Locke, though on a second viewing I groaned as I realized how this was going to set up Jack feeling like a worthless ass again (it’s his vote of confidence that will cause Richard to trust the Bad Dude dressed as faux-Locke, after all).
I also loved the crazed look in Jack’s eye when Hurley & Co. came to the rescue during Jack and Sayid’s gunfight with Roger Linus. Matthew Fox plays insane Jack very, very well.
It’s only in the second part of the episode, when the Jack team and the Sawyer team come into conflict with one another, that I really started to care, though.
The Jack vs. Sawyer conversation/fight—I loved the “five minutes” shoutback to Jack’s beatdown of Ben from season three, and how that foreshadowed the confrontation to come—was priceless. Seeing Sawyer be the rational one, the calm one, and seeing that he was only willing to bringeth the smacketh down as a last resort—that was awesome.
And I loved that, with Daniel’s warning that any of them can die fresh in mind, the fight between Jack and Sawyer was really high-stakes. For the first time in the series, I really did feel like one of them might bite it in this fight.
The Bad Dude and Ben
The Bad Dude does a perfect John Locke impression, doesn’t he? He plays dumb when he needs to, manipulates when he needs to, and seems to have learned a lot about Locke and Ben’s history. Was he able to read dead Locke’s mind so that he would know about when Locke and Ben first met? Or is he omniscient in some way? It’ll be interesting to find out.
It’ll also be interesting to find out exactly what the Bad Dude did go through to find his loophole. How might he have actually influenced Richard to make him believe that John should be the next leader? Did he do anything to make sure that Benjamin Linus got on Ajira 316? Let me know what you think.
And, while you’re at it, let me know what you think about the final confrontation between Ben and Jacob. Why didn’t Jacob try to defend himself? Why did he deliberately provoke Ben into action, knowing that he would probably die? And who, exactly, is it that is coming?
My answers: Progress; Progress, again; and the Losties trapped in 77.
The Ajira Peeps
So, the Ajira peeps are on Richard’s side. Right? And, in the process of following their story we discovered a number of things, didn’t we?
First, we learned that the people/sprits/whatever who had been claiming to work for Jacob—Christian, Claire, and maybe even Ghost Alex—were probably working for the Bad Dude. I mean, that’s my contention, at least: the Bad Dude is the one who was using the cabin. And he was using it to manipulate as necessary, and to find his loophole. Only question there is: who let him out? Who erased part of that ash line that was keeping him contained?
Other questions: what is Frank a candidate for? Possession, maybe? Could he be a candidate for a new body for Jacob, now that Jacob’s former body is dead? I think that’s one possibility.
Rose and Bernard
Oh, man, was I happy to see these two (and the dog, too). I loved the role that Rose and Bernard played in this episode, and I think it was a great way to send them off. I really kind of hope this is the last we see of them, not because I don’t like them, but because I think “We’re retired” is the perfect ending to their storyline.
The fact that they are both a dose of sanity—“It’s always something with you people”—and Juliet’s last chance at saving herself… Just think of how things would have been different if she’d decided to stay for tea.
The Rose and Bernard sequence is one of the many reasons that I am going to go absolutely apeshit if the Powers That Be decide to reset time or to do something equally stupid. This is the way that their story is supposed to end. You couldn’t come up with anything more satisfying for those two. Now I’m worried that they’re going to pop up as some antagonist for Jack in the new “real” world, going after him because they remember the life they had, and they’re pissed at him for fucking it up. Ack!
But I don’t think that’ll happen. The producers seem to be on record as saying that the time travel stuff is over (at least that’s how I read their comments), and I think what’s going to happen is that the blast of Jughead’s core will be dispersed through time by the electromagnetic anomaly.
I think Jack and company are going to end up back in 2007 on the island, and that we’re done with the real world for now. I think Juliet is going to be feared dead, but is going to pop up when we least expect it somewhere midway through the season.
I also think that I might be entirely wrong.
The biggest theme of the series, and of this episode in particular, is the conflict between free will and destiny. The tagline on display at the end of the episode, in the trailer for next season, was “Destiny Found,” was it not? And I think that might mean that we’re going to end up with a cast of characters who wake up on Oceanic 815 in 2004 as it is landing in Los Angeles, but who wake up with knowledge of what was supposed to happen. Or else, they wake up on the morning of the flight, knowing what is going to happen, and have to make the decision whether or not to get on the plane knowing that it’s going to happen.
I don’t know. I think there are a number of possibilities. But I’m wary of another season spent getting back to the island. They’ve done that, and I don’t think it’s time to repeat it.
Doc Jensen over at EW has this theory that each of the seasons of Lost is meant to mirror a previous season. That is, season 5 was meant to mirror season 2, season 4 was meant to mirror season 3, and season six is meant to mirror season 1.
That being said, I’m not sure where season six starts. Does it begin with Jack waking up in the jungle yet again? We’ve already done that, too. And, if not there, then where?
I’ve tried looking for clues in the final minutes of “The Incident,” and the only real clue I see is that Juliet makes the decision to end it all, to do the deed, knowing what the result may be—that they’re all going to die—but hoping that something else will happen—that they’re all going to get a second chance.
It’s going to be an interesting and very long break. What did you think about the finale? What mysteries are you obsessing about? And what do you think about a continuing Lost column here on the site? Should we try that, or should we give it a rest for a while and come back fresh next January?