The Altered Universe:
We’re back to business nearly as usual in the AU. Sun and Jin have a similar relationship to their pre-crash Original Timeline relationship with one distinct exception: They’re not yet married. Because of this, their love for one another has not be tied to and weighed down by Jin’s duties to Sun’s father. Yes, Jin still works for Paik, but their love exists unburdened by the job: it has remained free and mischievous. Unfortunately, this also means that Paik doesn’t approve, and so we were treated to a more-than-usually-tension-filled AU story as Jin and Sun fought to escape Paik’s wrath. Yes we had another shot of a character staring into a mirror, and another familiar face show up in the form of Season 3’s Mikhail Bakunin, but of most note were the differences between this Sun/Jin story and all the other AU stories thus far: While Kate, Locke, Jack, Sayid, Ben, and Sawyer were all fighting internal battles to try and overcome personal character flaws, Sun and Jin were battling—literally—only to stay together. This parallels their on-Island story nicely. But of perhaps more consequence, was that their AU tale had no resolution, ending on a cliffhanger. Even Sawyer’s story at least showed us he was willing to share his obsession with Miles, an important first step in overcoming it. Sun and Jin are left entirely in the lurch.
The Man In Black & His Agenda:
Whether or not the MIB actually wants to leave the Island (and it sure seems like he does, considering his last scene with Jacob in 6.09 [Ab Aeterno]), we now know that he does indeed intend to gather the Candidates first. As I suggested in my 6.08 (Recon) analysis, this is most likely a con of his to try and trick them into a mass exodus from the Island, since he currently remains unable to kill them outright, thanks to Jacob touching them. Either it’s part of The Rules that he physically cannot leave the Island unless both Jacob and his Candidates are no longer on it, or he’s simply unwilling to chance leaving a Candidate behind who might take Jacob’s place and undo his bid for freedom. And speaking of rules, we got a bit of a lesson in Smokey Physics 101 this week, as he reveals he can’t fly across water while Smoke form. This adds to Season 3 speculation that even though Smokey can float, he can’t just fly anywhere he wants, hence he was unable to go up and over the sonic fence that protected the barracks in 3.15 (Left Behind). One does wonder how far he might be able to reach over those pylons though…
Both purportedly Sick characters were given moments this episode. Sayid tells the MIB that he feels nothing: no anger, no happiness, no pain. This, however, seems VERY different from what Claire is experiencing, who seemed to be a bipolar, emotional wreck in 6.08 (Recon) and continues the trend here. She’s still very concerned about Aaron, very jealous of Kate, and definitely insecure about her importance to the MIB. It’s possible the Sickness makes a person the worst version of themselves. And so Sayid – who has always fought to reconcile his cold-hearted ability to kill easily with his otherwise passionate, life-affirming disposition – finds himself the ultimate killer, sans emotion. And Claire – who always struggled to embrace motherhood – finds herself a child again. Or perhaps the Sickness just works in mysterious ways. I just hope we’re at least told how precisely it is contracted by the show’s end.
Now that we know he’s clearly not on the MIB’s side, I say that whatever he’s up to, be the consequences good or bad, he’s out for himself. He’s always wanted ownership of the Island, and he’s still out to get it. But clearly, arrival and annihilation of his adversaries isn’t enough. With his sound barrier pylons, his subliminal Room 23, and his geo-physicist, he’s taken over the scientific reins from the Dharma Initiative, and is out to do SOMETHING with the Island’s Electromagnetic Pocket’s and his Electromagnetically-zapped time-hero son-in-law, Desmond. I’m uncertain what his goal is, but I’m guessing it’s to fix some of the consequences of that aforementioned failsafe key turn. If “blowing the dam” reset the Island to the same “leaking” status it was at when the Dharma Initiative’s Incident went down, then it stands to reason Widmore needs to make a few repairs to the Island he wants to claim. So, perhaps he is technically on the side of “good” (A phrase which here means “desiring to prevent the collapse of space-time as we know it”), but if he’s the same Widmore who sent a team of mercenaries to the Island to kidnap Ben and kill everyone on it (and he is) then chances are he’s doing all this to satiate his own lust for power. I guess someone ought to tell him there’s an Infected bad-ass treading water near his dock…
Jacob & His Agenda:
Meanwhile at the beach camp, Richard is back from his soul-searching, and has a plan. Jacob told Ilana that Richard would know what to do, and Richard knows that priority one is to keep the MIB from leaving the Island, so their mission is to destroy the Ajira 316 plane. Something tells me Richard isn't going to be happy to find out there's also a submarine, not to mention that his ol' firebrand Otherling Widmore is back. Jack is following Richard, but I'm not so certain he's with Richard. Jack has embraced the notion that he and his fellow survivors were brought to the Island for a reason, but judging from his recent breakdown in the Lighthouse, his willingness to blow himself up to test his theory on the Black Rock, and his promise to Sun that he'll get her and Jin off the Island, I'm not too sure Jack intends to FULFILL his Island purpose yet. He still seems to have a rebellious, anti-Jacob mindset. And Jacob? He's dead and apparently relegated to sit back and every now and then nudge Hurley in the right direction. And what does he want? Well at this point he seems wiling to stay as tight-lipped as he can and hope his Candidates make the right decisions when the time comes. That's almost all he can do, but that's his preferred method of operating anyway. Regardless of his own grey-shaded morality, this makes Jacob at least as "good" as Widmore. (The phrase once again meaning "desiring to prevent the collapse of space-time as we know it"). But, as pondered-over last week, I still think Jacob wants Jack and Co. to prove humanity deserves this preservation.
The Fate Factor:
Jack may be convinced that they were brought to the Island for a reason, but now that he knows there was near-human intent in the matter, that might just pull the whole destiny/fate factor out of the scenario for him. (i.e. manipulation by a guy with supernatural powers ain't the same thing as destiny). But regardless of what Jack thinks, Sun isn't taking any of this "Save the World" nonsense. I thought it was great to see her take a stand again (as well as do ANYTHING again for that matter), and her and Jin being the pair of near-Candidates that don't want anything to do with the Island and it's purpose makes sense and is a logical progression of their story arch. Where Jack will always want to fix as many things as he can, Kate will do whatever it takes to help Claire reunite with Aaron, and Sawyer (as we all know) has a heart of gold buried under his every-man-for-himself attitude, Jin and Sun have frequently been closer to everyday people caught up in extraordinary events, avoiding A-team style missions into the jungle, and just trying to remain together -- particularly Sun who even explicitly prevented Jin from joining the fracas in 2.11 (The Hunting Party). This angle is also consistent with their AU story in which they're not overcoming character flaws so much as battling the elements to be a couple. Even in 5.16 (The Incident), when we saw Jacob visit each of the characters at various points in their lives and help augment one of their classic character traits (Kate's criminal tendencies, Sawyer's self-loathing, Jack's daddy/control issues, Hurley's self-doubt), for Jin and Sun, what Jacob affirmed was the importance of their love for each other. Something key coming down the pike is going to hinge on Sun and Jin's love -- and for whatever reason, that's what makes one or both of them Candidates.