Ever since Lost debuted back in 2004, the networks have sprinkled their Fall seasons with any number of genre fair looking to bottle that same lightning. And, for the most part, none have come close to finding Lost or their The X-Files or Twin Peaks. I think these shows that instantly capture the zeitgeist before paring down to a carefully cultivated cadre of fans who would follow it down whatever dark rabbit hole they travel, are few and far between. It’s as if mankind hasn’t the mind strength to tackle these brain benders but once a decade.
So, knowing the end was coming and that the Fall sched would likely be chock full of another round of also-rans (see Threshold, V, FlashForward, Heroes, and the list goes on) – I had the sneaking suspicion that my last Lost post would be truly bittersweet. What the hell else was I going to write about – aside from my standard nonsensical ramblings about family and whatnot?
Then it hit me. Perhaps I should pass the baton. While Lost is occupying my fever dreams of late, I have really cottoned to J.J. Abrams’ X-Files homage, Fringe, which is weeks away from closing out a stellar sophomore season.
Fringe is a curious show. I started watching it last season, lured by the Abrams stamp. I’ll watch anything this guy has his hand in – yes, even Felicity which really was a pretty decent show – and this is coming from a guy who doesn’t watch a ton of TV and when he does, sticks to the comedies or dense mythological character dramas. But Abrams won me over as a fan awhile back and I’m always eager to see what he has in store.
So, Abrams set the snare and the X-Files vibe was the bait. After all, that’s my all-time favorite TV show and although Mulder turned in his badge almost a decade ago, he’ll always be that man crush.
With all that said, Fringe should have been a slam dunk but for some reason, I just couldn’t get into it. There was a chill to the atmosphere that instead of leaving me breathless just rendered me bored. For those that don’t know, the show follows an FBI agent who is partnered with a disgraced “mad” scientist and his son to investigate strange cases that reside on the fringe of science – think things like teleportation, time travel, etc. Essentially – Fringe Division is the X-Files – which in a neat scene earlier this season got a shout out as a forbearer to Fringe division when a Congressional sub-committee classified their work as “case files formerly designated ‘X’.
Despite the fact that I had an on-again, off-again affair with show last season – I started watching it again near the end of the season last May and suddenly it clicked. The mythology they concocted (involving parallel universes) was genuinely cool – leading to a jaw-dropping finale that acted as a seed for things that are beginning to flourish now. Where I finally grabbed the hook last season, I found myself completely ensnared this year. This is a show that rivals Lost in terms of balancing the grand mythological beats with the smaller character drama – and it does The X-Files one better by effortlessly layering in the mythology into the stand-alone episodes. You never get the sense that the viewer is asked to sit back for a spell until the next sweeps session for their next nugget of overarching plot development. They’ve been ladling this stuff all season and where it’s heading is truly compelling.
So, I’ve decided that next season, I’m handing the torch to Fringe and will begin a weekly series providing recaps of that show. For those of you who watch it, I hope you’ll continue to pop in for our weekly visit. And if any of you are intrigued, you now have your Summer Viewing Assignment – just pop those discs in your Netflix queue and we’ll meet again in September.
All right, enough about that. Let’s get Lost.
1. After a string of solid episodes, ‘The Last Recruit’ was a necessary place-holder. Again, we return to our proverbial chess board. With only 4 episodes remaining (including a one-week hiatus next week), this was all about putting the pawns in place for the end game. There’s an episode coming up (two from now) called ‘Why They Died’. I have a feeling that the elements put in motion in last night’s episode are gonna’ lead us to that question.
2. While the title and the final scene indicate that Jack is ‘The Last Recruit’, this episode was less about the good doctor and more about getting people into place – in both time lines. As usual – we’ll handle the off-island stuff before getting back to Lostralia (until they give us an island name – I’m going with that one).
3. And we pick up immediately in an ambulance, as John Locke is being rushed to the hospital after fate once again took aim at this poor, broken man. Desmond’s actions have certainly fueled a ton of debate and I’m sure when we saw Locke on his way to the ER, many of you threw a collective fist bump in the air that Desmond was simply trying to send Locke to the good doctor so they could share a mind-altering awakening to their “past” lives. That may happen BUT I still hold tight to my theory that barreling into a guy in a wheelchair is a pretty good way to kill him. There’s no guarantee he would survive that – or survive long enough to see the World’s Most Kick-Ass Rock n’ Roll Spinal Surgeon. So, I think Desmond was simply aiming to kill the beast.
4. And that’s a theory that is supported by our one confirmed awakening when Sun, being wheeled in to the hospital alongside Locke, notices him and is terrified. “It’s Him“, she says in her native tongue – which, of course, leaves Jin completely vexed. I think the trauma of her wounds coupled with this chance encounter with Locke, has triggered a tsunami of bad tidings from her “locked” island memories.
5. That being said, I think it’s clear that this John Locke is who we think he is. Just a man – and not the escaped Man in Black. He’s definitely down for the count in that ambulance and he seems scared and confused and likely near death. It’s a nice little scene where Ben gets to play Mother Hen and assures his newfound friend that he will indeed live to marry Helen.
6. That means the jury is out on whether MiB did indeed escape his island prison and is not “free” in our world. As we’ve always felt he is an entity – an idea – the true essence of evil, simply bottled in John Locke on the island, I think were that force to get free, it would no longer need to roam around in the visage of man. It would be all Men to all People when it needed to. So – this world could still be a world that has been “infected” by evil – and hence, the world where MiB won – but he’s not wheeling around in John Locke’s body.
7. Which makes Desmond’s actions even more cruel. He may have a plan but it doesn’t mean he’s 100% right.
8. Elsewhere, Desmond continues ticking off his To-Do list by tracking down Claire Littleton, whom he directs to Ilana – an attorney who just so happens to be looking for her. Earlier this season, Jack and his Mom found a reference to Clair in Christian’s will. It appears Desmond isn’t the only one looking to drive all these people together – again – as some sort of influence is trying to make sure that all of these people – former strangers who once upon a time found themselves stranded on an island together – are once again sent into each other’s orbits. It’s almost a cosmic correction. Evil won but the universe and forces within are continuing to seek balance – and that balance hinges upon these strangers coming together once again.
9. After all, Desmond didn’t drive Kate to smash into Sawyer’s car. A fact that our lovable lawman intuits on his own when he remarks that some force has compelled them together. And by episode’s end, he and Miles would collar another castaway – tracking down Sayid before he can skip out after gunning down Keamy and his merry men.
10. Finally, Jack comes face-to-reflection with Locke, who waits for the surgeon to perform the exact same procedure he described to Kate in the series premiere. A procedure that in one world left him shaken, afraid of how he was going to repair a shattered dural sack. In this world, a more-relaxed Jack takes one look at Locke’s X-Ray and confidentially announces, “I’ve got this”.
11. Of course, Desmond’s actions did indeed seem fated. Locke refused to track down Jack for a consultation on his own, but so destiny had to get nasty with him. If he wasn’t going to seek out a meeting with the good doctor, then it was gonna’ throw a car at him to insure he got to that hospital bed. And I think that is a fine difference between Desmond knowing this (which he doesn’t – he just wants him dead) and destiny (or the island) needing it to happen.
12. I’m guessing that Jack’s awakening will come when he comes face-to-face with his former adversary next episode.
13. On the island, Widemore announces he means war by sending The Nefarious Tina Fey (and a mortar blast) as a shot across the bow. It seems he doesn’t take too kindly to Locke boosting Desmond behind his back. (“Get your own damn time traveler!”)
14. Locke sends Sawyer to grab his boat (the same sailboat that brought Desmond to the island in the first place) and I’m wondering if MiB knew that Sawyer would betray him. He doesn’t see too annoyed at the end of the episode when he encounters that Jack all alone but it might be because a Smoke Monster can only do so much and right now, he needs to take down Charles Widemore first.
15. But, that makes me think. A few weeks back, I offered that perhaps MiBs intention of drafting all 6 candidates together was to kill them all, thus insuring that he killed the true successor to Jacob’s throne. Given his demeanor at the end of this episode, with the knowledge that Jack jumped ship to avoid leaving the island – as if compelled by the island to stay – has MiB now found exactly what he needed. He’s identified the Once and Future King. He doesn’t need those others. Not with Jacob 2.0 subconsciously realizing his destiny and heeding the call back to the island.
16. It’s at that little sit-down – where MiB welcomes Jack back into his fold – that you get the sense, he feels he’s finally found what he’s looking for.
See you in two weeks for Episode 6.14, ‘The Candidate’.