Dear Lost Buddies,
Well, nobody can bellyache about there being a shortage of answers this go-round, can they? Nor can they peevishly complain about the injection of major new mysteries into the narrative when the narrative is supposed to be winding down. This episode was like an hour of open-field running, like a clean dive off a high cliff, like an ice cold tall-boy beer, like a CliffsNotes guide to the show. If I weren't writing first tonight, I'd watch it again not so much for nuance but for the miracle of mystery-resolving, straight story-telling that it was.
The episode didn't answer all 10 of the questions posed by Jezebel or many of the 50 io9 posted, but for the first time in weeks I feel as though the shrieking noise in my head has been stilled. Consider this rundown:
Mystery: What was in the bag that Hugo stole from Ilana's belongings? Answer: Jacob's ashes, which the Young Jacob apparition snatches from Hugo to reconstitute Adult Jacob.
Mystery: Why did Widmore bring Desmond back to the island? Answer: Because his resistance to electromagnetic radiation can be used against the Man in Black as a last resort—i.e., if all the candidates die.
Mystery: Why did Jacob bring the candidates to the island in the first place? Answer: Because they're all flawed losers and loners who don't have anything going on in their lives.
Mystery: Who is the winning candidate? Answer: Dr. Jack, who volunteers to drink the "holy" water and become like Jacob.
Mystery: What is Desmond doing back in sidewaysville? Answer: Getting the band back together. Obviously his next stop is Dr. Jack's son's concert, where he'll be able to gather Jack, Claire, and Miles all at once and stick them in Hugo's Hummer.
Mystery: Why does the Man in Black use Locke's body when he could billow his way around the island? Answer: He enjoys having his feet on the ground, because it reminds him of what it felt like to be human.
And, Mystery: What is the entire show about? Answer: Saving the light in the heart of the island that glows with the power of cheap CGI.
I can live with this. I can even say that tonight's episode, "What They Died For," almost makes up for the half-dozen stinkers we've had to endure this season. The cast has been nicely pared down, what with the Man in Black slashing Zoe's throat *, Ben blasting Widmore in the torso (natch), and the smoke monster giving what looked like a fatal joyride to the supposedly immortal Richard Alpert.
With the series just one long episode from completion, however, I do wonder why the writers dropped a few new mini-mysteries. For instance, why has Ben suddenly risen from his torpor and started to betray and kill people again? What is Locke supposed to let go of back in sidewaysville? What was the point of having Miles sense Ben's dead daughter, Alex, in the ground? Was it to give Ben another weepy, humanizing moment? Or was it to awaken in him a need to avenge her murder? Also, Ben could have killed Widmore many episodes ago in his bedroom. Why do it now as Widmore whispers secrets to the Man in Black? Is it because Ben needs to gain the MiB's trust so he can take him out? Do either one of you have a clue about how to kill a smoke monster? And did Jacob really invite Widmore to the island, as Widmore claims? It doesn't seem ridiculous to me, but the show has made me a little punchy.
A couple of observations from my checklist before I pass the column on to Seth. Yes, yes, the episode begins once more in a tight close-up, this time on Dr. Jack's eye. Yes, yes, Dr. Linus contemplates his face in a mirror as so many of the residents of sidewaysville have done. Did you notice that, in the first promo for the series finale, there was a microsecond glimpse of Locke's face turning into smoke?
So the Sunday wrap-up will pitch Dr. Jesus Shepherd against the Man in Black. Obviously Dr. Shepherd has to die, and I don't believe Desmond can act as the bottle-stopper, either. Who will save the island? I'm putting my money on the unchosen Kate, because she's the least likely suspect. I'll leave it to you gents to tell me what role the sideways cast is going to play in the resolution. As Jacob said to the big man, "We're very close to the end, Hugo."
TV Club readers: If you're in New York City this Sunday, join us for a live viewing party at 92Ytribeca with writers Chadwick Matlin and Seth Stevenson, editor Juliet Lapidos, and a large television screen. Click here for more information.
Correction, May 19, 2010: This entry originally misstated that the Man in Black garroted Zoe. ( Return to the corrected sentence.)