And then there were four.
In many ways this episode reminded me of the early seasons. The pace was slow enough to let us really feel each scene and enjoy the character interactions. I've missed that lately.
-Once again Jack looks in the mirror and sees a bleeding cut on his neck. They're officially going to make us wait until the end to find out what that's all about. Will we see Jack get a cut on his neck in his inevitable confrontation with the Man in Black? (If so I hope it's not as serious as what poor Zoe got.)
-Something else they're making us wait for - the identity of David's oh-so-mysterious mother. I'm still betting on Juliet.
-The sideways world just wouldn't be complete without Ben getting a thorough beating. It makes so much sense that his view through the looking glass would be accomplished by Desmond kicking the crap out of him. And speaking of looking glasses, Ben finally gets his "mirror moment" as he stands alone in the nurse's office.
-Rousseau insists that Ben come over for dinner "Even if we have to kidnap you!" Ba-dum-ching! Danielle looks great, proving once and for all that the Fountain of Youth is NOT on the Island - it's in L.A. And was it just me or were there some sparks flying between Rousseau and Ben? (Spinoff idea: the love story of two antisocial psychopaths, sharing coq au vin in an alternate world.) Seriously though, the scene where Ben realizes how much he means to Alex was wonderful, and such a contrast to what we see happen to Ben on the Island.
-Locke explains what led him back to Jack's office and Jack replies "I think you're mistaking coincidence for fate," which is very similar to what Eko said to Locke ("What Kate Did", season 2) and Locke said to Desmond ("The Cost of Living," season 3): "Don't mistake coincidence for fate."
-For me, this has been THE question since the beginning: Why these particular people? And I loved Jacob's answer. They were chosen because they have very little to lose. Jacob is taking a different tack than his mother. Instead of selecting innocents who are untainted by the world and have their whole lives ahead of them, he chose people who had few connections to the outside world and whose lives can only get better. It's interesting that in the sideways world their lives are better and they all have more attachments: Locke has Helen, Ben has his dad and students, Sun and Jin are happy and having a baby, Jack has David, Claire is keeping her baby, Kate is apparently innocent. Are their lives better because Jacob didn't interfere? Or did Jacob not interfere because their lives are better?
-Ben explains that behind his secret closet is "where I was told I could summon the monster. That was before I realized it was the one summoning me." I think this is pretty good evidence that Ben has been working for the Man in Black (not Jacob) all along. That would certainly explain why Jacob has never visited or spoken to him. And speaking of coincidence v. fate, it's mighty convenient that Ben encounters Alex's grave just before his run-in with Widmore: he got a nice little reminder about who killed his daughter.
-Widmore reveals that he came back to the Island because Jacob invited him, and that Jacob changed his mind about his quest for the Island. After years of Widmore being so power-hungry that he cares for nothing as much as possessing the Island, one visit from Jacob changes everything. And Widmore mentioning this fact to Ben seals his fate - between jealousy that Jacob never visited him and his resolve to avenge Alex's death, there was no way he was going to let Charles live after that.
-We learn that Desmond is "a measure of last resort," a "fail-safe," which conjures up images of Desmond turning the key that fateful day in the Swan hatch. The Man in Black thinks he can use Desmond to destroy the Island, but I suspect we'll see Desmond get sent into the light only to emerge as the one person who can defeat MiB. They're playing by Jacob's rules now and my guess is MiB isn't aware of all of the implications of that yet.
-Jacob clarifies that creating the smoke monster was a mistake, and that it's the reason he brought the candidates to the Island. Pretty much what we already thought, but it's nice to have things spelled out for us once or twice a season. Also, it's now clear that the goal is not just to replace Jacob and begin a new cycle: it's to end the cycle by killing the Man in Black.
-Jack is Jacob's replacement - and after all his struggles against fate, his refusal to believe, he made the choice. "I'll do it. This is why I'm here. This is what I'm supposed to do." With his "Here am I, send me" moment, Jack has come full circle as a man of faith. I love the juxtaposition of what looks to be a final showdown between Jack and Locke, and Jack and Locke working together to heal him in the sideways world. It's the kind of symmetry we used to see all the time in season 1 flashbacks.
-We still don't know what is up with young Jacob. Why did he appear to Hurley, only to become adult Jacob a few minutes later? And why does burning his ashes mean he won't appear again? I laughed when YJ demanded that Hurley give him the ashes "because they're mine!" Because yep, they really were his.
-Relatedly - how can they all see Jacob now when only Hurley could see him before?
-How could Ben kill Widmore? Wasn't that against "the rules"?
-Did Richard get killed by the smoke monster?
Moments of Pure Awesomeness
Locke: You don't need to see this.
Ben: I want to see this.
Ben: Did you say there are some other people to kill?
Three cheers! Creepy Benry is back!
-Jacob passing the torch to Jack was brilliant (although I wonder about the fact that he used water instead of wine) and all the more poignant with the images from "Across the Sea" still fresh in my mind. Fire and water. "Now you're like me." The writers are so masterful with their Christian imagery.
-Jack's reaction to Sawyer's remorse for detonating the bomb. I like this Jack.
-Jack stitching Kate's shoulder on the beach brought me right back to season 1 when Kate does the same for Jack. I did giggle though when Jack says he has to stitch it or it will get infected...and then pulls out a rusty needle and some raggedy twine. I'm sure that's nice and sterile, doctor!
-Desmond as the all-knowing gatherer is all kinds of awesome. Desmond's 11!
-Widmore tells Ben "As usual, I'm three steps ahead of you"...and then Ben proves him wrong with 3 shots to the chest.
-I watched late so I could skip the commercials but managed to catch this fan created promo (the one that won the contest sponsored by Kia.) Pretty cool stuff.
Not So Awesome
-The finale is on Sunday. On one hand I don't want to wait that long, and on the other hand I don't want it to be over. The end is near. I don't want to think about it.