Saturday, June 20, 2009


Ok, ok, I'm a little bit late with this finale review. Just a little. OK, like six or seven weeks late. But who's counting? By now the dust has cleared, the new and improved theories have been stitched into the intricate warps and wefts of the interwebs, and the last ever Lost finale cliffhanger is a memory. There's just one thing left to add. And so, with no further ado, I present, at long last, Fishbiscuit's Review of "The Incident".

"We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience."
- Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Expectations are always sky high for a Lost finale. We expect them to enlighten and clarify, even though we know by now that all they ever do is discombobulate and confuzzle. Like many Lost fans, I've come to the rueful conclusion that the puzzle will never fit exactly right, will never look the way I imagined it would. But I still want to try and figure out what it will look like! I've decided that, like any other existentialist-ish dilemma, the best way to approach it is from the side. Peripherally, not directly. And my operating theory is this: The answer will never make ANY sense.

After all these years of wandering in the forest of fantasy, it's a foregone conclusion that Faith is going to win out over Science in the end. Which means, right off the bat, there's no way this will ever make sense. So that takes a lot of the pressure off, doesn't it?

Lost dropped a few of its finale traditions this year. The story actually ended ON the Island, something it hasn't done since Season One.

But overall, tradition was upheld. Including recent traditions, like Hurley running a VW Rescue Bus service.

Or Ben going Psycho with Mr. Pointy.

For the third straight finale, Locke was in the box.

Kate was still mopping up Jack's blood.

Juliet received the dubious honor of not only speaking the Official Lost Finale Slogan, but illustrating it as well. It seems like no matter how hard people try to Live Together, everyone still pretty much ends up Dying Alone.

Of course the most hallowed of Finale Traditions was observed.

Important stuff blew up! This year they went atomic, and really the outcome is very much up in the air. Thermonuclear weapons of the Jughead variety were quite capable of decimating small islands.

That's probably not what happened here, since Jack only dropped in a piddly thermonuclear trigger warhead, but there was still a lot of nostalgia, a lot of looking back. From the reappearance of Charlie's Driveshaft ring,

to Ben and Locke reminiscing over mementos from their first date,

to the return of the unsinkable Vincent,

from Kate's New Kids on the Block time capsule lunchbox,

to yet another reminder that Jack knows how to count to five,

there were shout outs and callbacks and handshakes with past seasons riddled throughout the episode. Just like Alice returned from her adventures Through the Looking Glass to the same sitting room she started out in, it feels like Lost has begun to circle around an ending that is going to take us right back where we started.

“If you want to know the end, look at the beginning”
- African Proverb

That seemed like the working premise to me, a theme split between the two halves of the episode.

The Jackisode:

Wherein the faith based mad scientist was on the move again, this time racing as hard as he could to get back to the future he could have had if he'd never gotten on that goddamn plane in the first place.

And The Lockisode:

Which sucked us back through the vortex of time to Island antiquity, back to when the inscrutable Saint Jacob was weaving the cloth of history down deep in the Shadow of the Statue.

This was Jacob's Coming Out party. All these years, watching men tremble at the mere mention of his name, we've wondered about him. Who is this omnipotent potentate? Who is Jacob?

Well, first off, he looks exactly like, but clearly isn't, Paul, Rita's creepy ex-husband who Dexter beaned with the frying pan.

(I hate when I get distracted like that.)

Turns out Jacob is a blond. An excellent fisherman.

A patient craftsman. A world traveler. And a linguist.

In the Bible, Jacob was a famous Twin. His elder twin brother, Esau, struggled and wrestled with him even while they were still trapped in their mother's womb. They're the ancient poster boys for the kind of brotherly strife we're very familiar with on Lost.

Esau was a "cunning hunter, a man of the field",

while Jacob was a "plain man, dwelling among the tents." They were never friends, though they eventually made a wary truce, and it's easy to see why they never got along. God had already played favorites.

"Was not Esau Jacob's brother?" the LORD says. "Yet I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his mountains into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals."
- (Malachi 1:2-3)

We have yet to learn what event created the murderous stalemate between Blackshirt and Whiteshirt, but the bitterness between the Biblical Jacob and Esau was due to an ugly shared scar. When they were fifteen, Jacob had tricked Esau, who was hungrier than he was smart, to trade away his birthright for a bowl of stew. Then, years later, when their father Isaac was dying, Jacob tricked Isaac into blessing him as his firstborn, by wearing an animal skin and pretending to be his hairy brother. In the Bible, Jacob was known as a great and successful conniver. A deceiver.

But in this story, it doesn't feel like Jacob has been the one pretending. There were many hints and clues that the No Name Man in Black, who we can call Esau for convenience sake, was the one who has been shifting shapes all this time. Was it Esau who appeared to Eko as Yemi before destroying him? Was Alex really Esau when she ordered Ben to obey Locke? Was it Esau that had been in the cabin, the one that Ilana burned in a kind of exorcism when she realized Jacob had not been there for a very long time?

Has Esau been appearing as Christian? The way he now appears as Locke?

What were we to make of the black and white tunics? Is this like a private grudge match or are they planning to take this global?

With all the transmogrification going on lately, is it possible we're headed for an ending that looks something like this?

Is it a black and white morality play, like it once seemed Locke was hinting at?

If so, is Jacob the Good Guy? He did have a saintly glow and went willingly to his slaughter, almost like Aslan, like Christ.

With Locke as his mouthpiece, Blackshirt Brother was ominous when he spoke to Richard about "taking care" of the rest of the Ajira 315 gang, and brutal in the way he shoved gentle Jacob into the firepit. If he's been appearing as the Smoke Monster, as it now seems likely he was, is it safe to say then that No Name Guy is:

This is not a blood sport; it's more like an existentialist chess match. There are Rules.

As Ben could not kill Widmore, neither can Esau kill Jacob...unless he finds The Loophole, in this case a Proxy Killer to do the dirty deed. As he said, he had to go through a lot to get there. First he had to grow little Ben Linus up into a skeevy little goblin. Then he had to get crazy John Locke involved in all kinds of head games with him. When Ben left the Island, Esau had to scheme a way for Locke to get himself murdered - by Ben, of course - and then carted back, all so Esau could impersonate Locke before anyone found out Locke's corpse was still in the box! Jacob had a clever defense mechanism in place - only agreeing to see one person at a time, knowing that Esau, as a single person, would never be able to kill him. But he hadn't counted on the diabolical cleverness or the eternal patience of his Bad Twin brother.

In this picture from Jacob's Tapestry, we see nine figures (like the nine people Jacob visited in the episode flashbacks) arrayed as if in battle, controlled by the outstretched hands of the Sun God, while at either end two figures sit, on thrones, like kings. A war is coming, as we've been told and told. But how can there be a war if one of the kings is already dead?

Is it even possible for Ben to kill one such as Jacob? It's remarkable how much the above picture resembles the famous Rembrandt, of Jacob fighting with the Angel. Is it possible that Jacob is not dead at all, but merely transformed, just passaging another stage of some eternal struggle?

What happens if Jacob is dead? What happens to the Tapestry he was weaving? Jacob not only weaves the cloth but he spins the thread. Jacob keeps bringing people to the Island, where as we learn they do nothing but destroy and corrupt. But Jacob does more than just lure people to the Island, he goes straight out and spins them into the kind of thread he's looking for to complete his great masterpiece.

In his dying moment, Jacob pleads with Ben to use his Free Will. But is Jacob really the best spokesman for that cause? After all, for almost his whole life, poor Ben had sublimated his own Free Will to Jacob and his incessant decrees and commands and his lists.

You can see why Jacob advocating for Free Will enraged Ben. Like Jacob in the Bible, this Jacob is very expert at manipulating people into doing his will. He makes contracts with little Kate

and little Sawyer,

getting both of them to make promises they'll never be able to keep. He uses Death to force his will into the life of Sayid

and he uses the touch of Life to capture Locke.

Jacob, who robbed his brother of his Blessing, blesses Jin and Sun's marriage, another promise he asks to be kept.

He tells Hurley that he is also blessed. And just to prove it, he gives him a free guitar.

Last but not least, he reminds Jack that if you really want a candy bar,

you could at least try to jiggle the machine before you storm off to do something rash.

What does it mean to receive the touch of Jacob? Is it a blessing or a curse? And, for all the lip service he gives to Free Will, how much is that part of Jacob's shell game? The clue here, as to Jacob's true agenda, might just be in his chosen symbolic icon: the spinning wheel. Historically, the spinning wheel is symbolic of the famous man of peace, Mahatma Gandhi.

"I am like God wanted me and I do as he advises me to do. Let him do with me as he pleases. If he wants to he may kill me. I believe that I do as he orders."

Mythologically, it was Penelope who spun and wove, unmaking each night the weaving of the day before, to keep her 108 suitors at bay while her Desmond-ysseus was at sea.

But that symbolism seems all wrong for Jacob. First of all, he's a dude, and secondly, he's not unbuilding anything. He's moving in the direction of Progress. He's got a plan and he's carrying it out. Jacob's spinning wheel is more like that of the godly Greek sisterhood known as The Fates.

Specifically, Clotho, the one on the left, who spun the thread of human life and as such, was responsible for the magical mystery of Birth. So here we have Jacob, spinning like Clotho, creating the fates of human lives, all in the shadow of the statue of Tawaret, another ancient goddess guessed it... Birth!

It seems to me that most Lost reviewers can't resist playing symbolic tic tac toe. In Jeff Jensen's finale review alone, he managed to compare Juliet to not only Tawaret, but Isis, Nausicaa, Oedipus's mommy, the Holy Mother of God ... oh, and Stephen King's Carrie, too! Basically there's almost no god, goddess or symbolic archetype that can't be swapped into this story to suit almost any interpretation. It's childsplay.

But I have a harder time making these connections. I mean, this is how Tawaret was portrayed by Egyptian artists:

You may be wondering, like I am, what happened to the stumpy legs, the big belly and the saggy boobs. Hippo head aside, many thought, with no small justification, that the statue more closely resembled Sobek, the god of Chaos.

TPTB have apparently confirmed for all the world that the statue is indeed meant to represent Tawaret, so all we can do is go with that. Think of it as a kind of Hollywood version of a fertility goddess. Hollywood, where even a pregnant hippo can be tall and tan and lean and lovely. As a matter of fact, this fertility goddess was built kind of like a certain fertility doctor we know, the one whose heartrending death transcended the silliness of the quadrangle storyline that she was so unfortunately trapped in this year.

The character machinations of the quadrangle were so downright dumb in this episode, it's embarrassing to even try and remember them.

Juliet jumps off the sub to save "all those people" but then they run into Jack who needs to bleach Kate out of his memory bank so he's going to blow up the Island and hope that puts him back to never knowing her, which prompts Juliet to change her motivation completely and jump on Jack's bandwagon because she also agrees she wishes she could go back to never having known Sawyer! Seriously!

I mean, words fail me, but... Seriously??? This is the best they could come up with for character motivations for four grown adults?

Maybe that's why the players in this year's triangle were all featured in flashback as immature children. We saw that Kate was getting into trouble with Tom long before she managed to help him get dead.

We saw that Sawyer never would have written his vendetta letter without Jacob's helpful assistance.

Both Sawyer and Kate were touched by Jacob. But Juliet was not. Juliet learned a different lesson. When her parents gave her and her sister the divorce "talk" they managed to frame the whole thing in very fated tones. Some loves aren't meant to be, and just because Juliet didn't want to accept it, that doesn't mean it isn't true.

Pinkshirt Juliet's worst nightmare had come true and Redshirt Juliet was cutting Sawyer loose. Why? Well, it seems the whole plot hinged on Sawyer accidentally choosing a most inopportune time to give Kate this one sad, longing Look.

Faced with the all-too-revealing question of who he'd most wish to spend Forever with, Sawyer looked at Kate when he shoulda looked at Juliet. And that, as they say, was that.

Juliet was all charged up and ready to help Jack drop some Go Away Bombs. Looks on Lost are important, especially between lovers and ex lovers and would be lovers, and as we all know, finale Looks are the best kind, the kind that can send message board ship wars into hyperdrive. Even if they're almost always misinterpreted.

As Jack dropped the bomb, our Season Five Quad Kids had their very own Finale Look.

What did this Look mean? Was it Goodbye?

With Sawyer and Juliet now separated by a death scene that had about a thousand times more feeling than their entire unbelievable relationship ever had, it's hard to see how their Look meant anything other than farewell for this pair that was never meant to be.

But what about Kate and Jack?

Who the frack knows? Or cares? Sure, Jack wanted to destroy Kate's memory forever and sure, he was fine with sending her ass back to jail and sure, he couldn't be bothered to walk even a few steps to jiggle the candy machine before he blew up the Island. All of that is true. So, yes, Jack and Kate remain one of the most unappealing and uninspired couples in the history of tv romance, but that doesn't mean they're gone for good. All we can do is offer fervent blessings to Jacob and hope that the Quad Looks were a casting off of that entire knitting row, that we're done, finally, with all such relationships that are not "meant to be".

I know, I know, who am I kidding? There's really nothing much else to be said about the silly Quad plot that mucked up the Jackisode half of the finale, except to note that there is a very loud and determined internet contingent that is unwilling to accept any possibility that Juliet, despite falling to the center of the earth and detonating a nuclear warhead, might in fact be dead. It's true that Desmond survived a similar (?) kind of explosion in Season Three, landing naked in the middle of the jungle, none the worse for wear.

So I guess that might be a nice fantasy for Juliet's horndog fanboys. I sympathize with those fans who've lost their favorite character, and Lord knows we could ill afford to lose another female from this Boys Only Club, but the clues for a living Juliet just don't seem to be there.

It was Juliet, and only Juliet, who wasn't touched by Jacob. Am I putting too much faith in one clue? Should I be thinking more like the geniuses who put together Bernard's offer of tea (the fetus loves the folic acid!) and Juliet's hand passing over her own solar plexus, and concluded...

Yep! It's a baby for Sawyer and Juliet in Season Six! She's not dead. She's going to be a mama!

Yo. There's a limit to how far parsing clues will get you on Lost. You can use them to justify any wishful theory your heart desires, and at least for as long as the hiatus lasts, you can convince yourself that you're the only one who truly gets it. And why not? It's not as if actually reading the clues we're given is all that helpful. It's easy to get confused. For instance, did it mean anything that when Jack got clocked, it was a big red Toolbox that hit him?

I like to think so. But then I thought the big car sized box Ilana's boys were carrying was akin to the Ark of the Covenant. Who would have thought that guys carrying a dead body around a tropical island would want to make it ten times heavier, just for the hell of it?

Was that an icebox they had Locke in?

Clues can be tricky. Some of them may be inside jokes, but others, which might at first glance seem goofy, turn out to be quite meaningful. When Hurley painted a Sphinx as a Rehabilitative Art project, it wasn't anything to scoff at.

Because here we are now, smothered in Egyptian imagery, unriddling the mystery of what lies in the shadow of the Four Toed Foot.

Candy bars named after Greek gods might have seemed frivolous,

but this passage on Jacob's Tapestry forces us to speak Greek. Under a picture of tall masted sailing ships are these words:

""Only the dead have seen the end of war."

Richard was seen building a ship in a bottle in the episode before the finale, "Follow the Leader".

Jacob was seen awaiting the arrival of a very similar 19th century sailing vessel, another one of the many he has brought to the Island. There is a big beached boat marooned improbably on the interior of the Island, the slave ship Black Rock, out of Portsmouth, England.

Can we put two and two together here and conclude that Richard was the Captain of the Black Rock and that Jacob, after bringing him there, favored him and bestowed on him immortal life?

It sure seems possible.

What are we to make of all the Eyes we see on Lost? Jacob's Tapestry is topped by the Eye of Horus, a symbol of godly protection being woven into history by He Who Protects Us All.

Although Ilana is a new character I seriously wish I didn't have to care about, I couldn't help noticing that the only thing left uncovered by her mummy makeup was her one Cyclopean eye.

What did Ilana look like before she was mummified? Is it significant that she maybe sees out of only one eye? Or is it a different eye analogy they were going for? Maybe a Third Eye kind of thing?

It's so hard to say. In any case, it seems inevitable from what we have that Ilana has come to fight in The War on Jacob's side. Is she a Good Guy, like Bram said, or the kind of Bad Guy who keeps saying she's a Good Guy, like Frank hipped to?

Who will fight on the other side of The War? Not Bernard and Rose, I'm thinking.

These two were looking chill, and their Zenlike tranquility was so deep even death could not frighten them. Does this mean they are the carcasses found by Jack and Kate in the cave, the ones with the symbolic black and white rocks in their pockets, the mysterious Adam and Eve and favorite message board guessing game?

There's no such thing as a straightforward clue on Lost, which is why so many of us are paranoid. It seems many fans jumped to the conclusion that the fish Jacob was seen cooking in the opening sequence was in fact an honest to God Red Herring, a trick clue designed to throw us off the trail.

But I don't think so. First off, it's not a Herring, which is a coldwater fish. It's more like a Rockfish, or tropical perch, but it is a RED fish. Or yellowish anyway. Maybe it is another joke they're playing on us, but wouldn't that negate the entire mystical, enigmatic drama of Black and White Beachboys exchanging cryptic dialogue? That would be underhanded even for Lost. I think the fish is meant to represent instead the Ichthus, the symbol of Christ.

"Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish...The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
-Matthew 13:47-50

In its most primitive form, the Jesus Fish was portrayed by ancient Christians, as an eight spoked wheel, here marked with the Greek word for Ichthus.

It's a symbol we've seen so very often on Lost, the recurring theme of the Dharmachakra, the great Wheel of Life and Death. It's another one of those instances on Lost where unrelated cultures clash and find common ground, where things that have no relationship to one another - like say, Egyptian gods and Christian saints and Buddhist imagery - are synthesized into one great big unified theme. I think the Clue of all Clues in the episode was this one:

I don't think it was Flannery O'Connor's story that was being referenced. Or the inside joke that "Everything Rises" just as Locke is taking a dive. Or the dove with the arrow through its heart, though certainly that soon became Jacob's fate.

I think the important point was just the title itself: "Everything That Rises Must Converge" The title is a reference to the philosophy of the fascinating Jesuit paleontologist, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.

No one has ever tried harder to synthesize both Science and Faith than this man, who attempted to reconcile the scientific study of evolution with the orthodox teachings of Catholicism. It wasn't easy and he risked condemnation from his Church by doing it, but he perservered. He believed in his philosophy that all evolution, by increasing the complexity of organisms, from cell to organism to planet to solar system and whole-universe, was resulting in a Unification of Consciousness that spiralled inevitably towards an irresistible point of perfect harmony, a condition he named the Omega Point.

""Evolution is nothing but matter become conscious of itself."
- Julian Huxley

We have seen many times on Lost this perpetual intermingling of cultures and faiths and languages and themes.

"'Be not afraid, open, open wide to Christ the doors of the immense domains of culture, civilization, and progress."
-John Paul II

Instead of splitting the world into Black and White halves that can never be joined,

perhaps Jacob represents the Omega Point, the force that is drawing humanity together towards a Supreme Consciousness. If so, then Bernard and Rose were probably right. It won't matter whether anyone lives or dies, only that they find a way to finally attain the harmony and peace that Destiny has designed for them. Jacob draws people to the Island, where time and again they are destroyed and corrupted, but all this is just the upward converging progress of human consciousness, being drawn to the one and only endpoint, towards Omega.

There are many questions left hanging for next season. Was Jack's great race after Destiny nothing more than him creating the very same Incident that had always happend, as Miles theorized, but nobody paid any attention to?

Did whatever happened just happen all over again?

Will Sawyer be able to overcome his grief?

Will sexy Sayid survive?

Will Sun ever get a plot?

One thing that seems inevitable is that all clues are progressing towards WAR next season. But maybe that's the ultimate red herring. Maybe we're being thrown off by the idea that this is a story of blacks and whites, that must inevitably clash and create chaos.

Maybe that's not it at all. Maybe the story isn't circling around its own beginning. Maybe instead it's circling around Omega. And everything that happens along the way is just ... Progress.

“I postpone death by living, by suffering, by error, by risking, by giving, by losing.”

-Anais Nin