Lost 5.15: "Follow the Leader"

As we wind down to our grand finale next week (sneak peek, the episode is called "The Incident," real informative, Lost writers...), we're back to splitting our time between the Survivors of Oceanic 815 in 1977 and Ajira Air in some approximation of present day (2008?). With a number of plot points to develop, there wasn't a whole lot of craziness, but there was a whole lot of happenings.

Episode: "Follow the Leader"

The Happenings: We open as we ended last week: with Faraday's death at the hands of his mother, Eloise, who is the (or at least, a) leader of the Others. It's confirmed for us, both in her behavior as well as verbally by Richard, that Charles Widmore is her lover and also a leader of the Others. Reading her own note to her son in his journal, she is prepared to believe Jack and Kate who explain that they must get to the bomb so that they can prevent untold badness from coming to pass.

Kate, however, has second thoughts about wanting to undo their present (she loves Jack, and how could that be wrong!?). While they are escorted at gunpoint to the secret underwater entryway to the tunnels that house the bomb, Sayid intervenes, freeing Kate and Jack. At this Kate decides to return to the Dharma camp, while Jack, Sayid, Richard and Eloise push on to the bomb. They arrive there, in tunnels very similar to those where Ben had his "judgment" moment several episodes back, and eventually come face to face with Jughead.

Back in the Dharma camp, Radzinski (who I've previously referred to as "the balding dude with glasses" and "the guy building the Swan") has unseated Horace as the leader of the Dharma Initiative as Horace is too weak to torture Sawyer for information about the whereabouts of Kate, who Radzinsky assumes is in league with the Others, his sworn enemy.

After a prolonged beating, and even a shot across Juliet's bow, Sawyer agrees to tell them whatever they want to know if they'll put the couple on the sub out of town. Dr. Chang, having heeded the warning of Faraday, as well as Miles and Hurley, has ordered the evacuation of all women and children of the Island to save them from the cataclysmic event at the Swan that Jack and Sayid are working to solve. Sawyer and Juliet are loaded into the sub, and are joined at the last second by Kate, and the three sail off with the other Dharma folks.

Finally, in the future, Locke has firmly established himself as the leader of what remains of the Others. He goes with Ben and Richard on a trek through the jungle, where they encounter the wounded and time leaping Locke from early this season. Richard helps him, and then the group goes back to the camp. Once there, Locke tells everyone that Richard has agreed to take him to see Jacob (whom Ben admits he has never seen). Locke pulls a fast one, though, and announces that everyone will be going to see Jacob.

The Craziness: Ben describes Richard to Sun as "a guide," a very old one.

Richard tells Sun that he remembers all the Survivors from 1977 because he watched them all die.

When he sends Richard out to the fallen plane to help him with his gunshot wound, Locke feeds Richard the line about how he has to bring the Survivors back. He also feeds him the line about how he may have to die to make it happen.

Ben: Why are we going to see Jacob?
Locke: So I can kill him. (!!!!)

The Verdict: You'd be hard pressed to find a true Lost fan who wasn't thrilled with this episode. In typical Lost fashion, the season has hit some rocky spots, but by the time things start getting close to the end it all seems to work its way together again. The time travel elements of the show continue to make less and less sense to me (see last week's episode breakdown for why that's frustrating) but on the whole it at least feels like we're moving toward some meaningful closure, or at the very least toward some explanations that will themselves open up a final round of questions for the last season.

One aspect of this episode that has seemed to be missing from several of the episodes this season was the in-joke moments that make all the twisting plots worth the work for fans. In particular, I was giggling like a child during Hurley's scene with Dr. Chang, where the good doctor proved that they were indeed from the future, not to mention the scene where Locke watches Richard provide care for his injury while Ben looks on slightly stunned. In general, we really saw Locke at his best -- maybe not doing his best within the context of the plot (though he sure seems confident, no?), but certainly acting his most Locke-ian.

This wasn't, by any stretch, a best-ever type of episode, but it was a very solid effort that managed to squeeze a hell of a lot of action, humor and drama into the standard Lost sized window. We appear to have a long road to travel next week, and perhaps the best thing we can say for "Follow the Leader," is that it has set the table admirably.

The Wild Speculation: After what seems like a disproportionate amount of time spent worrying about the crew in 1977, we got a heaping helping of Locke this time around, and that means a heaping helping of zaniness. First, we've got Locke feeding Richard the information that will motivate past-Locke to do all the things (including die) that lead up to this moment. Then we've got Locke not just assuming control of the Others, but stepping up and forcefully announcing that he will be pulling back the curtain on the wizard that is Jacob. It's unclear from the way he said it, but my guess is that Locke's "I'm going to kill him," line of Jacob was meant metaphorically.

It would seem to me that Locke, a dead-man let us not forget, has seen behind the Island (or thinks that he has) and has come to believe that Jacob does not actually exist. What interesting, is that if we remember before when Locke went to see Jacob he ran into two other supposedly dead people: Christian and Claire. Perhaps, they're all really still dead, and the Island's power is not so much to heal as it is to continue the lives of those whose bodies have ceased to function.

Of course, if that were the case there would be shitloads of supposedly dead people walking around (hell, we've seen a whole mass grave of Dharma-folks) but it's not a complete stretch to see something moving in that direction. Even if this were true though, it doesn't go that far in explaining Locke's endgame. It also doesn't do a whole lot to explain Richard's presence, unless he is also of the "not-alive" gang.

It has also been interesting to see Locke change, primarily over the course of this season from a man who operates almost entirely on faith -- faith in the Island, faith in destiny, etc. -- to a man who seems to now have it all figured out. Indeed, believing you have it all figured out could be described as the exact opposite as having true faith, and part of me wonders if Locke isn't setting himself up for an epic burn, tragic Greek hubris style. He's just so damn sure, and that's a dangerous thing to be, particularly on the Island.

At the same time, Ben has been seemingly stripped of any and all power, and that just doesn't sit right either, at least from the perspective of where the plot has taken us thus far. There's going to be a role to play yet for him, and it would seem that John Locke would be on the opposing side from whatever that is. And let us not forget our super-secret statue-shadow worshipers. They're going to have a say before this thing is all over, as will Sawyer, Kate and Juliet, who, if I know anything at all about this show, haven't seen the last of the Island.

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