Lost: Episode 6.16, “What They Died For” Review and Discussion

By  · Published on May 19th, 2010

Warning: This article does contain spoilers from tonight’s episode of Lost, ‘What They Died For.” We urge you to watch the episode prior to reading and discussing.

The end is nigh. With Lost dancing through the final few hours of its heralded six-year run, it’s hard not to be at least a bit nostalgic every time a character of yore appears on screen. And as we a thrust – more literally than we’d ever expected – toward the finish line, questions are being answered. And characters long since dead are returning. The likes of Ana Lucia (Michele Rodriguez) and that crazy French woman (Mira Furlan) showed up in this episode, almost as little signposts in the alternate universe, one that still has not been explained. Though at this point, Quantum Leap man Desmond Hume (Henry Ian Cusick) clearly has a plan in the alternate universe. What that plan is remains a mystery. But don’t look at me sideways when I say that I’ve been calling it for years. Desmond is the key to everything. It’s good for me to know that I’m right about such things. I have such little else to hold on to.

That said, it’s time to take on some of the questions that were answered and some of the ones that will remain as we head into Sunday night’s grand finale. Two and a half hours remain, and no matter your feelings about last week’s episode, you can’t deny that feeling in the pit of your stomach, can you? Like me, you are just as anxious as ever to see what will certainly be one of the most talked about episodes of television in history, whether it delivers or not. But enough about the stakes. Lets talk about tonight’s episode.

It had to be Jack

Didn’t it? From the show’s pilot, the entirety of Jack’s existence was twofold: (1) to establish that Matthew Fox can cry with the best of them, and (2) to have a character on the show who is unrelenting in his pursuit to save everyone. In seasons one and two, it was almost frustrating to watch Jack fight through the loss of so many characters around him. He couldn’t deal with not being able to save everyone that is in trouble. So when Jacob sat the remaining members of Flight 815 down for his Survivor style tribunal, it had to be Jack. Of all the things that have happened and will happen on this show, this makes the most sense to me.

They were all “lost,” get it?

In his little diatribe about why they were brought to the island, Jacob (Mark Pellegreno) goes all the way up to the point of saying “you were all lost” without actually saying it. The candidates – everyone from Sawyer to Kate to Sayid – were all alone, all looking for something that they could never find in the real world. It made them perfect candidates to take over guardianship of the island. This is a concept that I still don’t understand – what is that damn light and why does it need to be protected? But that feels like one of the answers we’re due to get before it’s all said and done.

The sweet moments are coming

Leave it to the creatives on Lost to not only bring back some of those nostalgic signpost characters, but also to fill their final hours with very touching moments. Like Kate’s words about Sun and Jin as Jack is stitching up her bullet wound. Or Jacob telling Kate that she wasn’t considered a candidate after she became a mother. These little moments, balanced with the intensity of the action happening around them and the promise of big action to come, are what make this show special. It’s a subtle, tender touch that creates well-rounded characters. As we’re reminded this week, it is why we love this show – these characters are what makes it worth watching.

Last week’s episode makes sense

That’s the heart of the frustration around last week’s episode. It didn’t involve the characters we’ve connected with over the years. However, after hearing what Jacob had to say in his welcomed moments of exposition, it makes sense. Sort of. The heart of the island, that supernatural glowey thing at the end of the mysterious babbling brook, must be protected. And without showing us some of the significance of that place in last week’s episode, we wouldn’t care whether or not any of our heroes were interested in protecting it. That said, it could have been done throughout the season. But there’s no going back now. It’s time to move forward. And with forward motion comes a few more questions…

Can the Smoke Monster be killed?

Even Jacob wasn’t sure about this one. And in order for our heroes to get out alive, they are going to have to find away. Again, it has something to do with Desmond. Right before he bought it (finally), Charles Whidmore said that Desmond was the fail safe. Perhaps Desmond is the key to bringing Smokey John Locke down. How is still a mystery.

What will happen in the alternate universe, and how will it affect the island?

It’s clear that alt-Desmond has a plan. He’s bringing the principal players together via Miles’ father’s concert – which will likely involve a performance from Jack’s son, I’m guessing – and he intends for something to happen. Does this involve going back to the island? Is there some electromagnetic anomaly involved that will fuse the two worlds? This will be the true test of planning in season six. Somehow all of this flashing sideways must pay off.

It’s time for The End

In the end, it’s clear to me that most, if not all Lost fans want the same thing: a finale that sends of these wonderfully complex, beloved characters the right way. We want to see some of them survive, some of them lay down a sacrifice that matters, and we’d like to have most of our questions answered. Personally, I’m not asking for the whole run-down. I will survive not knowing everything. But getting a peek at the big picture might be nice. Then again, we already know a lot of the why. We now know why all of these people were brought to the island. Now we just need to know what it all means, and how these characters might find a bit of salvation. For the first time all season, I’m anxious to see what happens in the alternate universe. Will the real John Locke get a chance at redemption? Will the members of Flight 815 – or even just Jack – have to pay the ultimate price? And for what?

I’m sure we’ll have plenty of theories running here on the site over the next few days. I will be encouraging our writers to put their thoughts together and speculate as we count down the days to the season finale.

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Please feel free to discuss tonight’s episode and the future of Lost amongst yourselves below.

Neil Miller is the persistently-bearded Publisher of Film School Rejects, Nonfics, and One Perfect Shot. He's also the Executive Producer of the One Perfect Shot TV show (currently streaming on HBO Max) and the co-host of Trial By Content on The Ringer Podcast Network. He can be found on Twitter here: @rejects (He/Him)