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TV Review: Lost – “What They Died For”

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“Come and sit down and I’ll tell you what they died for.”

Or maybe it can wait til Sunday.

Artwork by Mike Mitchell

Tuesday's "What They Died For" was the penultimate Lost episode. This is the penultimate Lost Cause. You should go get your friends. We are very close to the end.

To recap: The series of ignominious deaths continues. Richard ends up in the treetops: I guess Smokey doesn’t need him anymore. Charles Widmore challenges Ben: “You shoot me and your last chance for survival will be gone.” So of course, Ben shoots him – a stark contrast to Sideways Ben who continues to be the nicest guy in the world. Or “like the nicest guy in the word." Was that Ben’s last chance for survival?

Locke is urged by Dr. Ben Linus, indirectly by Desmond and his car, to "let go," echoing Jack’s urging two weeks ago, to let go…. and to go first. More on this in a bit.

Kate, James, Jack, and Hurley meet up with Jacob by the fire. Jacob promises to tell them everything and then does not. In a twitter-theory (tweory?) yesterday, Daily Show writer Daniel Radosh describes this as “a ponzi scheme paying off investments of questions with new investments of questions. Collapse imminent.” If the truth didn’t hurt so much, I would laugh and laugh.

Jack volunteers to take Jacob’s place. Everyone else is relieved.

For further explanation on how Jack’s cup runneth over, let’s turn to Collective Soul, the band, not the island.

I suspect, but I could be wrong, that the entire six years of Lost may be based upon Ed Roland's "December" song. Here are some lyrics taken out of context:

Why drink the water from my hand?
Contagious as you think I am
Just tilt my sun toward your domain
Your cup runneth over again.


Why follow me to higher ground?
Lost as you swear I am.
Don't throw away your basic needs,
Ambiance and vanity.

Here's further proof:


Promises you gave unto me
Whispers of treachery
Clouds are now covering me
Songs no longer I sing.

This last refrain refers more to the Lost writers than it does to the show itself. Don't agree? Fine. Just turn your head now, baby, and spit me out.

Finally, Desmond arranges for Sideways Kate, Sayid, and Hurley to meet, releasing Kate and Sayid from prison (with a priceless cameo by Ana Lucia) upon a promise to do something for him in the near future. Perhaps to attend the concert? That's a weighty promise. Desmond struck a rather malevolent pose during "What They Died For." The whole scenario reminded of promises to the devil rather than to our beloved "brother."

All the talk about "letting go" in the Sideways World appears to be directed more at Locke as Smokey and his constant (word chosen carefully) crusade for vengeance: is that SchLocke in the Sideways World off the island?

I offer here one of my last Lost theories (tear in eye or is that the onions?). In a parallel to Jack fixing Locke in the Sideways world, Jack will also fix Smokey on the Island. By fix, I don't mean kill. Jack and Jacob were sufficiently evasive when directed to kill Smokey by Kate and company. I do believe that Jack will heal Smokey, fulfilling his doctor/savior inclinations of the past six years. The island is then destroyed in that it ends up under water but not destroyed as in its source of "life" dries up.

In the end, "The End" could be a whimper, not a bang. We may not see a big showdown complete with huge explosions (like a hydrogen bomb) but a lot of small instances of redemption and forgiveness – of letting go past transgressions. Ilana's forgiveness of Ben, one of the best scenes in the series, was a small foreshadowing. Sawyer forgives Jack. Jack forgives himself. Jacob and MiB forgive each other and their crazy foster mom. We all forgive Kate Austin. Group hug. Or everyone dies.

I have to run. It’s coq au vin night, but before I go, here are a few items up for discussion:

If you get a chance, re-watch the pilot episode and notice the backgammon game and John Locke’s overall demeanor.  Relying on everything you know now, speculate on what Locke knows immediately upon post-crash. He certainly has an omniscient gaze. I’ve been playing with theories that he, John Locke, in the pilot, already was Smokey, or maybe, because Locke does come face to face with Smokey later, could he be Jacob? Remember Jacob's touch at Locke's apparent death after being thrown out the window. If that theory doesn't fit, could Locke be the island itself at that point? Thank you Caroline and Patrick for the initial idea, and check out this great pencil drawing and ponder.

Artwork by rickfortson 

Do you believe Widmore when he said Jacob visited him and showed him the “errors of his ways?”

Was Jacob reading “Everything That Rises Must Converge” by Flannery O’Connor at the moment when Locke was pushed out that window by his father simply because of his mommy issues? This is a disappointment.

Do the candidates exercise free will when Jacob offers them the job? They have no idea what is truly asked of them. Nor do we. Without information, you cannot make a true decision.

There was a little tear in my eye during the Danielle/Ben dinner, and it was not the onions. It was more affecting than the Jin/Sun death scene. My favorite of the episode, maybe of the season.

Boy, Jacob was a nasty piece of work.

Finally, I have a little (not so little) grudge list that I will carry into the series finale. It consists of people rather cavalierly tossed aside by Lost in a most smokey way: Charlie, Daniel, Danielle, Alex, Ilana, Lapidus, Libby, Richard, Richard, Richard: characters that we believed had more significance than their demises indicate. Do you have a grudge list? Share.

See you at the concert.

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About Kate Shea Kennon

  • p.s. Victor: I would agree about Mr. Eko, but I had read that they wanted to extend his story and the actor didn’t want to stay on Hawaii any longer – too far away from his family, I guess.

  • Hi Dan: I never realized how many double negatives were in Sting’s song.

    Thanks for the comments everyone, “weird” is good and I take that as a compliment, E.

    Let’s take keith’s advice and just enjoy.

    I’m attending the NYC Paley Center for Media’s panel discussion on Lost Saturday and giddy as a schoolgirl.

    Thanks again! kate

  • keith

    I do see y people analyze lost so much but hell its become my favorite show of all time so I just watch it for the sheer pleasure of it…but I haven’t quite got the abbey road reference I read about in reference to the poster…other than locke like paul is “out of step with the others”

  • Dan

    I can see your point regarding the Collective Soul lyrics, but I’ve seen a few connections to the lyrics of Sting’s “If I Ever Lose My Faith In You.”

    All the comments in parentheses are my comments, and not lyrics to the song.

    You could say I lost my faith in science and progress (reference to Jack/Christian/Doctors & Jacob/Everything else is just progress)
    You could say I lost my belief in the holy church (reference to Mr. Ecko/Yemi and Ricardo/Richard/Priest)
    You could say I lost my sense of direction (Charley: “Guys, where are we?” and the disorienting effect of “the whispers.”)
    You could say all of this and worse, but
    (reference to Sawyer: his put-down/nicknames and dozens of “Son-of-a-bitch’s!”)
    If I (Carlton Cuse & Damon Lindelof) ever lose my faith in you (the millions of fans)
    There’d be nothing left for me to do (such as writing more episodes of Lost.)

    Some would say I was a lost man in a lost world (obvious reference to the show)
    You could say I lost my faith in the people on TV (hurley, watching TV, seeing he won lottery, and believing he’s cursed)
    You could say I’d lost my belief in our politicians (the losties never bothered to try forming an “island government”)
    They all seemed like game show hosts to me

    If I ever lose my faith in you
    There’d be nothing left for me to do

    I could be lost inside their lies without a trace (reference to Ben’s/Others’ lies)
    But every time I close my eyes I see your face (opposite-style reference to close-up shots of characters opening their eye, and Season 6’s singular “mirror moments” for all remaining, living major characters.)

    I never saw no miracle of science
    That didn’t go from a blessing to a curse (reference to Dharma Initiative’s demise)
    I never saw no military solution
    That didn’t always end up as something worse (reference to detonating Jughead, causing the “flash-sideways” reality)
    But, let me say this first

    If I ever lose my faith in you
    There’d be nothing left for me to do

    (reference to the hopeless feeling many LOST fans will undoubtedly experience when the show is over and done.)

  • I completely don’t get the appeal of Lost. I filed it under “completely pointless waste of time” years ago and have never found a reason to change my mind.

  • by the way, character-wise, this isn’t a series, it’s a planet. I think each character should get a spin-off show and we’ll have the LOST channel

  • excellent job Kate, perceptive and weird – I am dreading/anticipating the final ep like nothing on TV in quite a while – I hope it feels right

  • Kate, I love that sketch of Locke. Very cool.

    Remember the “Last Supper” promo photo for this season? Locke was sitting in the Jesus position.

    Perhaps we have it all wrong (or at least I have it wrong), but the light in the cave could be something more ethereal than I first thought. Could it be a convergance of heaven and hell on earth?

    From the cave is the eternal light, but also came the black smoke. This does not belong here, and the only way to stop a catastrophe is for the island to sink (as it was seen in episode one of this season).

    I think they all die and are redeemed, with Locke being a sort of backwards savior. Then the sideways world becomes the way it is, not could be, and they all end somehow at some point with Locke, now walking again, as the central person in the shot. Every character, including those you mourned (maybe even Mr. Eko who is on my grudge list).

    They all come together again, maybe even at the airport, and stand staring at Locke and he smiles then FADE OUT….

    What do you think?