LOST 6.16 “What They Died For” Review

The end is near.

But for Charles Widmore, the end came a week early. The British baddie, after revealing that Jacob had told him the “error of his ways,” was gunned down by the most morally ambiguous character in the entire series: Ben. Ben, acting on the behest of the Man in Black, squeezed off a couple of rounds into Widmore’s chest, effectively ending Chuck’s questionably malevolent life. Of course, the show made it obvious that this was Ben’s final retribution for the death of Alex back in season four’s “The Shape of Things to Come” (a death I regrettably overlooked in my “most shocking LOST deaths” article that I posted two weeks ago. The question still remains, though: has Ben defected? After the events of “Dr. Linus,” which was effectively Ben’s redemption episode, I would say not — it would go against his entire arc. MIB is obviously going to try and get him to kill the newly christened Island leader and his followers, but will Ben follow through? I don’t think so. I think his refusal to do so will be his ultimate redemptive point — and also his ultimate downfall, because we know the Man in Black doesn’t take being turned down kindly. Look what he did to Richard! (Now, the debate is up for Richard, like Frank, on whether he’s alive or not. The fact that we didn’t see anything beyond Richard’s immediate reaction to a pummel leads me to believe that he’s alive, but if so, he better have a mighty big purpose in the finale, because fake-outs are easily overdone.)

Before we get into perhaps the biggest plot point of the episode — and I almost want to say the most consequential plot point of the entire series thus far — let’s get into some flash-sideways timeline. That timeline had three foci in this episode: Jack, Ben, and Desmond (with some overlapping). In short, Locke began to realize the coincidences like Jack did in “The Candidate”, and Ben got beaten up by Desmond and started to have his own flash-sideways as well. He also was invited to dinner by Alex and her mother Danielle (who looked much less gnarly in the flash-sideways timeline), and there was perhaps some romantic tension going on there between Doctor Linus and Rousseau. But the real highlight of the sideways story belonged to Desmond, who was acting like more of a puppeteer than we’re used to. In fact, he really must have gotten a full download of the other timeline, because he had all the right moves this week. From punching Ben like he did in “Dead Is Dead” to bribing the surprisingly corruptible Ana Lucia (who said she had redeeming character qualities?), Desmond showed that he knew what he was doing, and he’s planning on doing it with Kate at David’s upcoming concert along with Kate, hosted by the museum which Miles’ father works at. That seems to be where it’s all going to go down next week. Oh wait, I can’t say next week, because the finale’s actually airing this week (well, it depends on how you arrange your calendar — I prefer Mondays first). But I digress.

And now, to the main point of the episode: Jacob gets his ashes, lights them on fire, and comes back for as long as the fire lasts. If he hadn’t been giving away important answers, they should have sent Kate out for kindling, since she’d been marked out anyway, right? Actually, wrong. Jacob (and the writers) gave the big middle finger to fans who had been obsessing over the cave wall/lighthouse wheel names by saying that Kate could be a candidate, and that it was just “chalk on a wall.” Her motherhood had presumably ruled her out, but that was before Jacob knew that she’d be back in the game.

Of course, none of that matters, because, as most of us knew from the fact that Matthew Fox is the real lead of the series, Jack replaced Jacob. I was personally gunning for Hurley, but it was sort of silly to seriously believe that anyone but Jack would become Jacob’s successor. Come on, it’s Jack. Sawyer remarked that the guy had a “God complex,” which cracked a grin across my face. And that was one of the few times in this episode that I laughed out loud, which was especially notable since Jin and Sun (and Frank?) just died. Another noteworthy laff: Ben’s eager “I want to watch!”

But Jacob seemed like a pretty nice guy in this episode, and seemed to square with the remaining candidates that he didn’t have a choice, and he wanted to give them one. As misunderstood as the Island Bros. both are, I’m still leaning toward Jacob, simply because he got dealt from the bottom of the deck. Poor guy.

But Jack drank the (blessed) water and became the protector of the Island, though it wasn’t made clear if Jack became immortal like Jacob or not. Jacob did say that Jack was “like him” (a la Mother in “Across the Sea,” an episode that’s placement makes much more sense after watching this one), but in the aforementioned episode, the source of Jacob’s immortality is unclear. Until proven otherwise, I’m saying Jack is now immortal, too. After all, “you’re like me now” doesn’t quite translate to “you’ve got my job now.” It seems to translate more toward “now you can live forever just like I could until I was stabbed to death.” The inclusion of Jack doing the job “as long as he can” certainly seems to indicate a little more than anti-aging cream, especially considering Jacob can Richard-ify with a touch.

And that’s basically the entire episode in a nutshell. I won’t be around with any articles for the remainder of this week (save my upcoming V recap), but I’ll be back Sunday just in time for “The End,” the two-and-a-half hour series finale. Hardly seems like it’s time, does it? Since we have a shorter wait than usual, I’ll go ahead and say that this episode deserves an A. It’s the last letter grade I’m giving to the series: next week’s review will be all contemplation; I don’t feel qualified to give such a magnum opus a letter grade.

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