'Lost' recap: Starting over | EW.com

TV Recaps | Lost

'Lost' recap: Starting over

Jack and company take an audacious step to change their history in the shocking season finale, and we finally meet Jacob and begin to understand what's at work on the Island

(Mario Perez/ABC)


Season 5, Ep. 17 | Aired May 13

Ladies and gentlemen, please make the acquaintance of Jacob, the fishy-frying, list-writing maybe-God of the Island. About time, don’t you think? No longer an Easter egg flickering in the shadows of a derelict cabin (if he was ever that to begin with), the Ultimate Other of Lost became incarnate in last night’s exhilarating, heartbreaking, and I can’t believe they ended it THERE! infuriating season finale, entitled ”The Incident.” Curious fellow, this Jacob. He’s a sunny optimist — a big believer in evolutionary ”progress.” Ditto the whole notion of ”free will.” He’s also, like, really really nice, though he does have this weird thing about touching people. You caught that, right? In ”The Incident,” we got flashbacks showing that Jacob was present at key moments in the off-Island lives of many Lostaways, like when John Locke got tossed out the window by his bad dad or during Jack Shephard’s apocryphal ”count to five” fear-squelching episode. Each of these close encounters included a conspicuous touch — Jacob laying his hands on Jin and Sun at their wedding to offer a blessing, Jacob brushing fingers with Young James Ford as he gave him a pen, Jacob tapping Young Kate on the nose after bailing her out of a shoplifting jam. Everyone he met got touched.

Important? Absolutely, I think so, yes. My theory can be summarized in one word:


”The Incident” felt like the past four season finales rolled into one. It was as epic in scope as season 4, as game changing as season 3, as explosive as season 2, and as frustrating as season 1. Seriously: They couldn’t have given us just two more moments — one that revealed definitively if Lost history had been rebooted, and another that finally reunited all of the time-tossed castaways on the Island!? ARGH!

Back in the Dharma Days of the quantum leaping pastaways, former man of science turned destiny zealot Jack saw his bid to blow up history by detonating Jughead fulfilled at least in part by Juliet, who tumbled down the drill hole of the Swan and survived long enough to pull a Beneath The Planet of the Apes and Bang! Bang! Bang! on the bomb to trigger it. Earlier in the episode, Sawyer mentioned that it was July 1977 — the same month of the legendary, panic-inducing New York City blackout, caused by a pair of lightening strikes. (Wikipedia, my Lost super-computer, I will be missing our weekly investigations into arcana.) As Jughead KABOOMed! and the screen flooded as white as a clean slate — a reverse-negative of The Sopranos’ infamous cut-to-black series final — we were left to wonder: Was paradox produced? Did the timeline collapse? If so, to what extent will things be different, if at all? And couldn’t Lost have given us the very next scene, the one that could have answered these questions? Again: ARRGGHH!

THEORY! Miles was completely correct when he suggested that Jack’s quantum suicide-bomber act would actually produce the very ”incident” they were trying to subvert — that they would be fulfilling history, not re-making it. At the same time, I think mad scientist Daniel Faraday was correct with his ”human variable” theory. There was a free radical among the time travelers, and her exercise of free will in last night’s episode made all the difference: Juliet ”I changed my mind” Burke. As a result of her Jughead-blowing anarchy, history has been rebooted. The Swan will never be built; Oceanic 815 will never crash. But the shape and form of the new timeline will be determined by now-former castaways, thanks to the two gifts given to them by Jacob in the finale: a second chance at life — and the freedom to create their own destiny. More explanation to come.

In the Island’s present: Creepytown. Locke’s quest to kill Jacob ended with the revelation that ”John Locke” wasn’t ”John Locke” at all, but rather some Island entity posing as baldie — Jacob’s furious philosophical adversary, the nameless man in black. Last week, I wondered if there was a villain hiding in plain sight, but I was certain the dirty one was Richard Alpert. I was wrong. Many of you suspected that Resurrected Locke really was all kinds of bogus, but the confirmation was mind-blowing, nonetheless. Alterna-Locke manipulated Ben into doing the actual dirty work of god slaying, and the humbled and defrocked leader/priest did so willingly, full of bitterness toward the god he had served faithfully and sight-unseen for decades without reward, without the assurance of his presence. ”Oh, so now after all this time, you’ve decided to stop ignoring me,” Ben bitched. ”I did what I was told. But when I dared to ask to see you myself I was told I had to wait…What was it that was so wrong with me? What about me?

The showdown was rife with spiritual subtext and will no doubt inspire a great many religion-major dissertations. (”Lost: Allegory For Mankind’s Angry Alienation From God In A Post-Eden World.”) It seemed to me that Jacob willingly submitted himself to death, all but baring his breast and walking his heart right into Ben’s knife. Yet we were left to wonder: Who was playing whom? Did Alterna-Locke’s plan work — or did he play right into Jacob’s touchy-feely hands? Has Ben really become Alterna-Locke’s stooge — or does the old puppet master still have a string or two to play?

NEXT: Good versus evil?