Oddly enough, after the second viewing, this episode resonated more with me on the technique in which the sideways and island worlds would mirror each other between flashes. In general, this was more or less probably the last "orientation" episode of Lost; that is, this episode served to put the characters in their proper places for the end-game in both realities. This is not to imply that I was bummed out by the episode this week, as it was probably one of the most poignant episodes is recent memory, as all the characters were (briefly) reunited, though some were oddly lacking in emotional resonance (see: Jack/Claire).
I usually do an Off-island/On-island rundown, but this week's altered narrative structure demands an equal change. "The Last Recruit" abandoned the character-centric take on the sideways realm, and instead served to closely mirror upon juxtaposition the conflict of the Losties in both worlds. Here are some mirrored scenes/storylines:
- Off Island: Sun is wheeled in to the ER losing blood fast, when she curiously not only recognizes Locke, but seems angry/terrified (my Korean facial recognition may be off) by his very presence in the gurney next to her. Eventually, Sun and Jin are reunited upon her waking, to the news that her baby is OK as well.
- On Island: Sun is carried along in Smokey's group losing patience fast. When Darth Locke approaches her in line, she is noticeably angry and writes down on her cry-pad that she blames him for her loss of speech. Ultimately, Sun and Jin or reunited on Hydra island, and Sun recovers her lost English.
- Off Island: Sayid flees the scene after killing an unarmed Keamy, back to Nadia's house. Upon reaching the home, Sayid admits to Nadia that because of his actions, he can never return as it would only put her in harms way. While trying to flee, he is apprehended by cop-Sawyer via the ol' "garden snake got yo' shoes" maneuver.
- On Island: Sayid is tasked by Locke to shoot an unarmed Desmond. When confronting Desmond, Sayid hesitates and flexes a lot as Desmond asks him what Locke could have offered him to make him turn to the dark side. Sayid's reasoning: since Locke brought him back from the dead, he could bring back Nadia. Desmond counters with: even if you brought her back, how would you explain what you have done to bring her back? Desmond's fate unknown, Sayid is caught fleeing by Locke via the ol' "omniscient Smoke-monster" maneuver.
- Off Island: Kate is brought into by doucher-cop Sawyer, who ponders how strange it is that fate would smack her car into his (not a sexual metaphor). Kate maintains her innocence, while asking why Sawyer helped her escape in the airport. She figures that he couldn't bring her in, because he was hiding the fact that he knows it was wrong that he had gone to Australia in the first place.
- On Island: Kate is brought onto the boat by Sawyer, who wants to rendezvous with Jack and bring their group together again. When approached by crazy-Claire, Kate maintains her guilt for having raised Aaron. When Sawyer confronts Jack, the Doc figures that Sawyer is hiding the fact from himself that he he knows it is wrong to leave the island in the first place.
- Off Island: Jack with help of his precocious and similarly-haired son, comes to the conclusion that like his father, Jack has inherited the baggage that comes with keeping things to himself. At the reading of his will, Ilana blows (up) Jack's mind with the reunion and revelation that Claire is his half-sister (thanks to the insistent charms of Desmond). Jack has to put his powerful waterworks on hold as Locke's emergency beckons his healing hands. Upon arrival, Jack is greeted with the dire news that the ER team has never seen injuries this bad, to which Jack responds by confidently taking the plunge into the surgery. Upon preparing to cut, Jack recognizes the familiar face of Locke in the mirror.
- On Island: Jack refuses to keep things to himself as he questions the reasoning behind Smokey taking on the guise and familiar face of John Locke. Smokey dubiously admits to being the apparition of Christian Shepherd that led Jack to finding fresh water. Jack is later reunited with Claire, but the meeting doesn't last long as Claire tells Jack that whether he likes it or not, he is with Smokey. On the boat, Sawyer gives Jack the dire warning that unless Jack cooperates with the escape, he is off the boat - to which Jack responds by confidently taking the plunge into the ocean. Upon returning to the beach, he is greeted by the familiar face of John Locke.
- Do you believe Smokey was telling the truth that he was Christian Shepherd? The circumstances would line up, in that both Locke and Christian were dead and on the plane before Smokey took their guises. Christian's likeness had been used many times prior Smokey assuming John Locke's appearance, though perhaps never in the directly physical form. If Smokey was Christian before - how would he make the shift, since Ilana was convinced that Smokey would be stuck in Locke's form. Also, how was Smokey able to appear off island to Jack in Christian's form, unless of course, it wasn't Smokey - which makes everything he said still questionable at best.
- Oddly, no mention of Alpert's crew. That makes those of note still left on the island at the episode's end: Smokey, Jack, Alpert, Ben, Miles, Sayid, and Desmond (probably).
- Best line of the night was Sawyer's response to hearing that Jack didn't feel complete off-island, "There are pills for that."
- Do you think that isolating Jack was Smokey's plan all along? He took it pretty well that the other candidates, those people he has continually expressed needing to escape, went over to the enemy. Did he subtly orchestrate the rest of the candidates moving to Hydra island so that they can be killed?
- I guess Claire was just too crazy to be a real sister for Jack, as he oddly completely leaves her to her fate and makes off with the rest of the Losties without even a second thought. Also, why couldn't Sawyer have responded to her reasoning for being crazy and following Smokey because "at least Smokey didn't abandon me," with, "Hey Jane of the Jungle, I saw you 'asplode!"