So after five seasons of Lost, what have we learned? Never trust a guy who says he knows what's going on. He's either lying (Ben), is just a middleman (Richard), is an overconfident douche with daddy issues (Jack), or is the reincarnated ghost of an ancient man with a grudge against the guy running the island (hello, New Locke!) Does the same apply to Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, who once again have ended a season of their mind-bending show by opening up the door to the hatch and not showing us what happens next?
Probably not. Because even though this episode gives us absolutely no idea where the series will go from here, there were enough callbacks to what we've seen before-- from Locke's paralyzing injury to Charlie's DriveShaft ring-- that Carlton and Damon, who wrote the episode, seemed in completely control. Will they find a way to explain the smoke monster, the Black Rock, and a million other things in the season to come? The more important question has to be, can we wait that long?
Way, way back in the past. A guy in a white shirt named Jacob makes rope and fishes, while a guy in a black shirt with no apparent name sits on the beach with Jacob and watches a clipper ship-- The Black Rock!-- approaching in the distance. Jacob has brought the ship there, despite the other guy's warning that it always ends the same way-- "They come, they fight, they destroy, they corrupt." But what the guy really resents Jacob for apparently goes way deeper, since h tells him how much he wants to kill him, while Jacob reminds him that he has to find a loophole to make that happen. Oh, and the four-toed statue is revealed, and it has a monster alligator head. Four minutes in and I'm already shouting "Whaaaaaaaaat?"
From about 30 years ago up until right before the Oceanic Six got back on the plane. Jacob, who it turns out is a rakish-looking blond who never ages, Richard-style, visits many of our Losties at various points in their childhood, as we see in flashbacks interspersed neatly throughout the episode. He helps Baby Kate beat a shoplifting rap, lends Baby Sawyer the pen to write his "Dear Mr. Sawyer" note after his parents' funeral, revives Locke with a single touch after his dad pushes him out the window, gives Sun and Jin marriage advice at their wedding reception, hands Jack a candy bar after that "count to five" surgery disaster he told Kate about in the first episode, seemingly causes Nadia to get hit by a car and killed in front of Sayid's eyes, and most crucially, convinces Hurley to get on the Ajira Flight and hands him the guitar case (what's in it remains a mystery). Oh, and he also pays a visit to Ajira castaway Ilana, and asks for her help! How did he know to visit these people? How did his presence affect their lives when it wasn't immediately obvious? Not a damn clue. Add one more mystery to be explained next season.
30 Years Ago: Kate, Sawyer and Juliet. Kate convinces Sawyer and Juliet to get off the sub by hijacking it in the most badass way possible, and the three of them paddle away on a raft and hit the beach only to be greeted by... Vincent! Where you been, boy?? Turns out Vincent is way happier to see them than his caretakers, Rose and Bernard, who have been living happily in a jungle shack and avoiding all the Dharma Initiative's attempts to find them. They say they don't care if they die, so long as they're together, and Juliet seems to have a little flash that she and her beloved might not feel the same way. They trek on without the lovebirds, and eventually are conveniently standing the path of the Dharma van, driven by Hurley.
30 Years Ago: Jack, Miles, Hurley, Jin, Sayid. Sayid uses instructions in Daniel's diary to extract the plutonium from the bomb, and they head back to the surface in Dharmaville, leaving Richard and a knocked-cold (and pregnant!) Eloise to fend for themselves. Jack and Sayid work their way through a panicked Dharmaville by posing in jumpsuits, but it's only a matter of time before that jerk Phil calls them out and a gun battle results. Sayid gets shot! But soon Hurley, Miles and Jin zoom in with the Dharma van and they drive away toward the Swan, with Jack doing a terrible job of explaining what he's planned. They're gunning toward the Swan and trying to stop Sayid's bleeding when they run into the Juliet, Kate and Sawyer Delta Force.
The Present: Ilana, Bram and Lapidus. Poor Lapidus is still knocked out cold and laid out on the outrigger that Ilana, Bram and their weird evil company have stolen, along with the giant freight crate. They show Lapidus what's in it, and apparnetly that freaks him out enough that he follows them to Jacob's cabin, where Ilana steps over that ash circle and goes inside to find-- nothing! The place has been abandoned! And Jacob has left a note explaining his new home-- a tapestry of the scary monster head statue. Ilana explains to her crew that someone else has been using the place, and they trek off to the four-toed statue, knowing exactly where they're headed. Wait, who are these guys???
The Present: Locke, Ben, Richard and the Others. They're trekking away with the "we're on a mission" theme music playing, Locke bounces back between Richard and Ben, having Richard explain that Jacob made him ageless and guesses that Jacob revived Locke too, and taunting Ben about the fact that he never actually met Jacob in person. Locke also suggests that they're going to have to "deal with" the other Ajira passengers, meaning he's planning to kill them?? Ben explains during a stopover at their old camp that he lied to Locke about meeting Jacob because he was embarrassed, and was as surprised as anyone when stuff started flying around. Oh, and Sun finds Charlie's DriveShaft ring in Aaron's old crib, which was a nice touch. Finally they all arrive at what Richard says is Jacob's home, and it's the four-toed statue! Richard tries to explain to Locke that only he can go in to see Jacob, since he's the only leader and all, and Locke basically tells Richard he thinks his rules are bullshit, and brings Ben with him anyway. Because Locke has convinced Ben, in a killer monologue, that Ben has to kill Jacob himself! Screw you and your rules, Guyliner!
30 Years Ago: Everyone Pow-Wows In The Jungle To try to talk Jack out of setting off the bomb, Sawyer tells a story about hoe he could have kept his parents from getting murdered by hopping off the island in the sub, but he didn't, because he knows whatever happened, happened. Jack admits to Sawyer that, seriously, this entire quest is all about Kate-- "I had her"-- and he figures he can set off the bomb, send them all back to Flight 815, and get together with her through fate. No one thinks to point out that this is ridiculous, though Sawyer does punch the hell out of Jack to try and stop him, only to be interrupted by Juliet, who has changed her mind again and decided Jack should set off the bomb again. She too is motivated by love-- she doesn't want to lose Sawyer again, figuring he's about to run off with Kate after all. And Kate tells Jack that she came back to the island to help save Claire, even though she has done literally nothing to try and make this happen. Miles is the only one in this crew talking any sense, suggesting that Jack could just as easily cause the Incident, not prevent it, and leave them all back where they started. Naturally, no one listens, and Jack treks off with plutonium in his backpack to set Faraday's plan in motion.
The Present: Everyone Is At The Four-Toed Statue. Ilana, Lapidus and company show up with their crate and pull out what's in it-- Locke's corpse! Sun says it out loud so nobody else has to: "If that's John Locke, who's in there?" "In there" is "inside the foot," where Ben is looking completely terrified and Locke hands him a knife, promising "Things will be different once he's gone." They come inside and there Jacob sits, careful as can be, greeting Locke like an old friend. Because, apparently Locke is that angry guy from the beach! "You found your loophole," Jacob tells him, just before Locke nudges Ben toward the man who has rewarded his 35 years of hard work on behalf of the island with...nothing. Ben tells him as much in yet another killer monologue, asking why Locke gets whatever he wants and Ben gets nothing. "What about me?" Ben asks, and Jacob responds flippantly, "What about you?" That does it for Ben, who stabs Jacob in the chest, giving the immortal guy just moments to gasp "They're coming" before Locke kicks him into the fire pit. Jacob is dead! Now what?
30 Years Ago: The Incident. As Jack heads toward the Swan, Radzinski yells at Pierre Chang about drilling down into the electromagnetic pocket, and Phil is on his way to kill Sayid. Knowing that Jack will never make it once Phil and his crew arrive, Juliet, Kate and company take the Dharma bus to drive into the Swan construction area and kick some ass. Another gun battle ensues, some redshirt Dharmites bite it, Sawyer eventually gets Phil around the neck as a hostage and... Jack drops the bomb! Everyone freaks out waiting for it, everyone cries, but nothing happens for a moment, until all the metal tools in the area start getting sucked into the hole. A metal platform falls on Chang's hand, prompting Miles to shout "Dad!" and help him, even though we know Chang's hand will be gone from now on. And some chains wrap themselves around Juliet, pulling her down into the pit and, despite Sawyer and Kate's efforts to help her, sucking her down for good. Juliet doesn't die on impact, though-- she lands at the bottom, sees the bomb there unexploded, and hits it with a rock until it explodes. Well, at least until the screen cuts to white with "LOST" over it. Next stop: 2010.
So.... what do we know now? I think I'm going to save it for a post tomorrow, when I'm not exhausted and still a little upset at the notion of Locke being just a vessel for an angry ancient man. And also a little overwhelmed at the notion of waiting eight more months for more of this.