Getting Lost (Redux): The Incident

One of the raison d’etres of “Getting Lost (Redux)” has been to help see how Lost got from where it was to where it is now. “The Incident” is critical to that on a very basic level, having triggered Season Six’s controversial and polarizing Sideways stories. It is also critical on a more complex story level, having been the first episode to introduce us to Jacob, in all his splendor.

“The Incident” opens with a scene, which I feel like I’ve linked to a dozen times already but here’s one more, that fundamentally changed the tenor of the series. Not only did it confirm that Jacob was in fact real (it’s almost hard to believe that this was ever in doubt), but it also introduced us to the Man in Black. This was the first real indication that Jacob had a rival, and was not the sole entity of power on the Island. The final season has made clear that the characters were brought to the Island as part of a power struggle between Jacob and the Man in Black—a struggle that will ultimately end with Jacob’s death.

The flashbacks in this episode give us some indication of how Jacob brought these people to the Island. Of course, it’s not quite like he bought them their tickets. He appeared at various critical points in their lives, embedding in them something important to their characters. He shows up when Kate gets caught shoplifting to get her out of trouble, and tells her not to steal again (like, say, another woman’s baby). He shows up when Sawyer’s parents die, to give young Sawyer a pen to finish his letter. He shows up to ask Sayid for directions as Nadia is run down by a car.* He shows up at Jin and Sun’s wedding to remind them how important their love is. He shows up at Jack’s first solo surgery—which we heard about back in the Pilot—to remind him that sometimes things “just need a little push.” He shows up in Hurley’s cab and tells him to get on Ajira Flight 316. And he shows up when Locke has his accident to tell him, “Everything is going to be OK.”

*Rewatching this scene was pretty important for me. I’d always interpreted that scene as Jacob killing Nadia, or allowing her to die, by distracting Sayid while she wanders into traffic. Rewatching it though, it seems more likely that Jacob was merely saving Sayid by pulling him away from the oncoming car. Why Jacob couldn’t, or didn’t, save Nadia, though, is a little questionable.

It should be noted that the extent of Jacob’s influence* in these scenes is relatively minimal. A lot has been made, both on the show and amongst those discussing the show, of Jacob “controlling” the lives of the candidates, but these scenes illustrate that Jacob’s interferences with free will are relatively minor. Sawyer, for example, was already writing his letter when Jacob showed up—all Jacob did was give him a pen. Even when he tells others what to do, like he did to Hurley, he emphasizes that the choice is up to them.

*It’s also worth noting that Jacob either touches or hands something to everyone he meets (besides Ilana, who is the only one who recognizes him). He touches Kate, Jin, Sun, and Sayid, gives Jack a candy bar, Sawyer a pen, and Hurley a guitar case.

Meanwhile, back on the Island, things are in full finale form, with a bunch of plotlines converging. First, in 2007, Ilana, Bram, and Lapidus haul a large crate—the contents of which are kept from the audience—around the Island, looking for Jacob or Richard. They head to his cabin, but find out he hasn’t been there for “a long time,” and that someone else has been using it. They find a note that has a drawing of the statue on it, and head there.

Coincidentally, that is also where Locke is leading Richard, Ben, Sun, and the Others. He tells Richard that he is going there to thank Jacob for presumably bringing him back to life, but Ben knows that Locke’s real motives are to kill Jacob. Ben’s only keeping Locke’s secret because the apparition of his dead daughter appeared in “Dead Is Dead,” ordering him to do whatever Locke said. When Locke finds this out, he says, “I guess I won’t have to convince you after all.” Convince Ben to do what, you ask? Well, it turns out Locke isn’t going to kill Jacob; Ben is. When Ben asks why, Locke presents a pretty compelling case:

“Despite your loyal service to this Island, you got cancer. You had to watch your own daughter gunned down right in front of you. And your reward for those sacrifices: You were banished. And you did this all in the name of a man you’d never even met. So the question is, Ben, why the hell wouldn’t you want to kill Jacob?”

In retrospect, we should have known right then that this wasn’t really Locke. Locke would never blaspheme in such a way. It’s a good argument, but it sounds an awful lot like Satan asking Job why he stays loyal to God, right? It also ignores the question of why Locke doesn’t just kill Jacob himself.

By now we know the reason for this: Locke isn’t Locke, but the Man in Black, and there are rules against the Man in Black killing Jacob. The “loophole” to these rules, though, allows Ben to do it for him. And even though Jacob reminds Ben that he “has a choice,” when Jacob utterly rebukes Ben’s search for an explanation (once again echoing the story of Job), Ben stabs him.

Yesterday I discussed the many deaths of John Locke, and this was the most definitive, and possibly the hardest to deal with as an audience. Not only did viewers have to accept that the John Locke they knew was gone, but also that the John Locke we had been watching for the last half-a-season wasn’t really John Locke.

What’s most confusing looking back is that the character is written, and Terry O’Quinn still played Locke, as if he were the same. You can attribute O’Quinn’s acting in the earlier episodes to him not being aware of the upcoming twist, but the writers were probably aware of it. And presumably O’Quinn read the full script of the last episode and realized that Locke wasn’t the same Locke anymore. Even so, there are many indications that Locke is Locke: He talks to Ben about the first time they met in the hatch, he is surprised to find out where Jacob lives, and even his mannerisms and line-deliveries are similar (unlike the subtle tweaks O’Quinn would add in Season Six).

All this begs some important questions, mainly pertaining to Locke 2.0’s identity and the identity of the Man in Black. Specifically, is Locke 2.0 merely the visage of the Man in Black, or is he a version of Locke consumed by “darkness”? Is he some weird hybrid of Locke’s personality and the Man in Black’s? Are we supposed to understand the character to have begun as Locke reanimated and evolved into the Man in Black? He did, after all, remember his own death.

This is where the content of Ilana and Bram’s box becomes important. At the end of the episode we see that it contains Locke’s body, indicating that Locke 2.0 isn’t really like Locke at all, but just a visage inhabited by the Man in Black. On the other hand, we’ve seen the Man in Black reanimate corpses on the Island before, like Sayid and Christian Shephard; in Sayid’s case, as we saw in “The Candidate,” he was ultimately able to combat the “darkness” that consumed him and perform one last act of heroism. As I’ve said, before, though, I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Locke on the Island.

Wanna look back at NPI’s look back at Lost? Here’s a review of all the episodes we’ve reviewed as part of “Getting Lost (Redux)”!
The Pilot: Oceanic 815 crashes
Exodus: The survivors launch a raft
Lockdown: Locke and Ben are trapped in the hatch
Live Together, Die Alone: Michael’s betrayal
Every Man For Himself: Sawyer has surgery
Through The Looking Glass: Jack has to go back
The Constant: Desmond time-travels
There’s No Place Like Home: The Oceanic Six
The Life And Death Of Jeremy Bentham: Locke leaves the Island

Back in 1977, Jack has taken over the dearly departed Daniel Faraday’s plan to detonate a hydrogen bomb on the Island and, with the help of Sayid, Eloise Hawking, and Richard, has found the bomb. Unable to transport the whole thing, they remove the core and head toward The Swan. In order to get there, though, they need to run through the Dharma barracks—enemy territory. Sayid and Jack throw on some jumpsuits in an attempt to hide in plain sight, but Ben’s dad recognizes Sayid as the guy who shot his son. He shoots Sayid in the gut, but before the rest of the Dharma bums can join in, Hurley, Miles, and Jin show up in the Dharma van, pick up Sayid and Jack, and drive off.

Over by the docks, Sawyer and Juliet are ready to leave the Island on the Dharma submarine when Kate shows up to fill them in on Jack’s plan. At first, Sawyer doesn’t care: He and Juliet are heading back to the mainland now that Jack, Kate, and Hurley have ruined their cover with the Dharma Initiative. Juliet, though, doesn’t want to leave with the rest of the Island in danger. Together, they overpower the sub’s crew and get dropped off.

Before they cut off Jack & Co., though, they run into Rose and Bernard in the jungle. Everyone’s favorite interracial couple has set up a home in the jungle, basically abstaining from the wars of the Island. It’s a sweet scene in which they say that all they need to be happy is each other and blah blah blah—it’s pretty boring. The only important thing from this scene, other than the much-anticipated closure to the Rose/Bernard story, is that when Sawyer hears the “all we need is each other” line, Juliet catches him looking at Kate.

If I have a problem with “The Incident”—and it’s one of my favorite episodes of the series—it’s that too much of the plot advancement is done through love-triangles, and not enough as a result of good character development. After seeing Sawyer look at Kate, for example, Juliet becomes convinced that Sawyer loves her and totally changes her mind about detonating the bomb. Instead of trying to stop Jack, all of a sudden she’s on his side, hoping that detonating the bomb will mean she doesn’t have to lose Sawyer.

Before she has this sudden and massive change of heart, though, Sawyer cuts off the van and talks to Jack, trying to convince him not to blow up the bomb. The point he makes echoes the advice he received from someone—not Jacob—on the day of his parents’ funerals: “What’s done is done.” When he asks Jack what he wants to change so badly, though, Jack gives him some bullshit about losing Kate.

This is fucking stupid. The Juliet thing, while sudden and convenient, was at least believable. When Juliet tells Sawyer that she has changed her mind, she does a good job of articulating what loving Sawyer has to do with blowing up the Island. Echoing a flashback we see of her parents’ announcing their divorce (which doesn’t look at all like it takes place in the 1970s, which it should), Juliet tells Sawyer that she loves him, but that that doesn’t mean they belong together. The “belong together” theme echoes the larger problem that Juliet sees herself in: She doesn’t belong with Sawyer, they don’t belong with the Dharma Initiative, and they certainly don’t belong in 1977. The life that Sawyer thinks they have built together is not the life Juliet believes she is supposed to have, and detonating the bomb will undo that.

But, for the life of me, I can’t figure out why Kate dumping Jack warrants blowing up the Island. As Sawyer points out, detonating the bomb will only mean they’ve never met, and it’s not like we’ve been led to believe that their breakup was so devastating to Jack (the breakup was more like a symptom of his decline and less like a cause) that it warrants nuclear action. What’s worse is that a much more reasonable and understandable motive makes sense for Jack.

For the first four seasons of this show, Jack’s entire life was dedicated to saving his fellow-survivors. Now, three years later (or, er, 27 years in the past?) pretty much ALL of them are dead. Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Hurley, Jin, Sun, and Sayid are the only ones left from the 45 or so original survivors, and Sayid is in the process of dying, while Jin and Sun have been apart for three years. As far as leaders go, that’s not a very good track record. That, after all, is why Jack went into his decline in “Through The Looking Glass”: the nagging sense of guilt that he had failed the people he had promised to help. It would be understandable for Jack to want to blow up the Island to undo all that. But I guess he REALLY likes Kate. I like to pretend this part of the show never happened.

Anyway, Jack and Sawyer end up engaged in fisticuffs over the issue, and each appears willing to fight to the death until Juliet shows up and tells Sawyer she’s changed her mind. Out of loyalty to Juliet, it seems, Sawyer lets Jack go.

With the help of some cover laid by Kate, Sawyer, and Juliet, Jack gets to the pit of The Swan, towering over the pocket of electromagnetism that will one day be contained by a computer that Desmond will one day fail to punish, causing Oceanic 815 to crash on the Island. Jack throws in the core and…nothing. All that happens is a surge in the magnetic energy, pulling in every piece of metal in the vicinity, including a car. Juliet, unfortunately, gets caught in some chains and gets pulled in. Sawyer desperately tries to save her, but not even Sawyer can combat the forces of electromagnetism. Juliet’s death probably ranks right up there with Charlie’s as the most touching in Lost’s history, with Sawyer valiantly trying to pull her up and refusing to let her go despite her willingness to accept her fate.

But any seasoned Lost fan knows that finale cannot end without an explosion, so, amazingly, both Juliet and the bomb have managed to survive their falls down into the abyss more or less intact. When Juliet sees the core next to her, she picks up a rock and flails at the “son of a bitch” bomb until it explodes. The white flash was the last image of Season Five.

After that, Lost would enter its split reality final season, as we’ve watched throughout the last four months. Thus ends “Getting Lost (Redux).” I hope it’s been helpful and informative. Stay tuned, though, because in case you haven’t heard, there’s one more episode left…

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