Wednesday, April 21, 2010
"LOST: The Last Recruit"
"The Last Recruit"
LOST has a history of creating titles with double meanings. Even the title of the show is a reference to both the physical sense of being lost on a "deserted" island and the metaphysical sense of being spiritually broken. However, this episode's title has a vague meaning.
Most likely it is a reference to Jack, who was left in the care of the Man in Black at the end of the episode. (You did read the disclaimer, didn't you?) The difficulty I have in being certain about this label is that the writers are normally very careful with their choice of words, using key words sparingly and with great significance.
The word "recruit" in the LOST universe refers to the DHARMA Initiative. The last recruit of the DI was Desmond, who was recruited by Kelvin Inman ("Live Together, Die Alone"). Desmond plays only a small role in "The Last Recruit" though we do see his boat once again—the boat we learned that Inman was prepared to leave the Island on just before the crash of Oceanic 815.
Far-reaching connections aside, there is one reference to the Man in Black "recruiting" people ("The Substitute"), when Ilana explains his motives for kidnapping Richard. In that episode, he fails to recruit Richard, but has a talk with James who goes along with him. James claims he isn't with anybody ("Recon"), having made a deal with Widmore and reporting Widmore's secrets to the Man in Black.
You're With Me Now.
The other bit of ambiguity in this episode is the rules surrounding the Man in Black's abilities. When questioned by Jack, he claims to have impersonated Christian Shephard. However, there are two problems with this according to my understanding of the Man in Black. First, Christian appeared to Jack off-Island in St. Sebastien's Hospital ("Something Nice Back Home"). Second, he appeared to Michael on the freighter ("There's No Place Like Home"). These references run contrary to the idea that the Man in Black cannot leave the Island, or even cross the water (at least in Smoke Monster form).
Following what must have been a long night of "catching up," Claire tells Jack that he's with the Man in Black now. When Jack says he hasn't decided, Claire responds that "you let him talk to you." This has been said of the Man in Black before, when Dogen tells Sayid to kill him ("Sundown"). It was also how the Man in Black warned Richard about Jacob ("Ab Aeterno"). Both men fell under the influence of the one they were warned against. I'm not sure what the significance is.
Nevertheless, despite going along with James' plan to "ditch Locke," Jack's intuition tells him to abandon the boat and return to the main Island. There he meets "Locke" and his band of recruits. After Widmore's bomb apparently kills off the red shirts, "Locke" carries Jack into the jungle and tells him, "You're with me now," a statement that leaves us wondering if Jack is about to be "claimed" like Sayid.
The Deal's Off.
Everyone on the boat, accept Frank Lapidus, let the Man in Black talk to them. I'm not sure if Claire was referring to chit-chat or a specific sit-down talk, but I thought that was worth pointing out. Especially seeing as all of the people who made it to Hydra Island are going to be killed—at least that's what it looks like. The deal that James thought he made might never have really been "on" in the first place, but if it was, it may also have been terminated given that Widmore would have known via Zoe that Sayid kidnapped Desmond—and Sayid would not have been sent if James had not shared information.
I'm putting my money on the assertion that the Man in Black is NOT the good guy, despite tantalizing nuggets that make him seem like he could be—like leading Jack to water. However, I'm less certain about Charles Widmore. To me, the archetype of the evil capitalist who wants to "exploit" the Island is both too overplayed and too overly simplistic for LOST. Besides we already have an unscrupulous industrialist in Mr. Paik.
Widmore knows far more about the Island and the cosmic game between Jacob and the Man in Black than perhaps anyone else. Though, if that were true, wouldn't he know better than to try to kill him with artillery? Certainly this was largely effective in killing off the Man in Black's men, but why exactly does Widmore want them dead?
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