I've done a few interviews today, and the questions the interviewers have been asking have made me think a lot more about this episode. Several people asked me if I was saddened by Jack's fate, but as I've been saying all day, I really don't think what we saw was his necessary future.
This show has been consistent for three seasons in that everything comes down to science vs. faith; choice vs. fate. Are we fated to do certain things, or can our choices change our futures? In "Flashes Before Your Eyes," Ms. Hawking tells Desmond that he's not supposed to marry Penelope. From the point forward, Desmond continually tells Charlie that he's supposed to die. In last night's episode at the very end, Locke tells Jack he's not supposed to do this. It's like these characters have some vision of the future, and they know how these characters are supposed to spend the rest of their lives, and they believe they're fated to it.
Desmond said Charlie was supposed to die, but he was supposed to die drowning to save Claire; being electrocuted by lightning; falling when trying to catch a bird; an arrow through his neck... these things were what he was fated to do. But Desmond changed that fate by stepping in the way and making a choice to change the future. Yes, Charlie still died, but in doing so, he believes his death has a purpose. Would being shot through the neck by an arrow have served the same purpose?
Locke believes in faith and fate. We've seen him struggle with shooting or killing several people, and no matter how evil Cooper is, no matter how many times Jack pushes all the buttons on Locke, he just can't bring himself to do it. Yet he killed Naomi without a second thought. He believed he was supposed to do it, that he had to stop her, and he didn't hesitate.
Jack, on the other hand, scoffs at those who believe in fate. His dad's old saying, "That's why the Red Sox will never win the Series," was his idea of fate in a nutshell, and Jack's always hated the fact his dad chalked things up to fate. He believes that chalking things up to fate is a lazy man's way of not accepting responsibility for one's actions, and blaming it on the stars instead.
This show is about the constant battle between the two ideas, and we'll continue to see that battle in upcoming seasons. I believe the flash-forwards will be the new way Lost will be presented (with the occasional flashback from people like Ben or anyone new) but what we see in those flash-forwards won't necessarily be set in stone. I don't think Jack will necessarily end up miserable, wasted, and alone. If he makes different choices on the island, maybe his future can change. Time will tell, but there's a good chance we're going to see a very different flash-forward in the coming seasons for Jack.
Critics today have been loving last night's episode as much as we have. Here are some links to other posts:
Jeff Jensen at Entertainment Weekly
Matt Roush at TV Guide
E! interview with Damon Lindelof
E! interview with Dominic
Of course, the praise goes far beyond those, but this will get you started. I've yet to see any serious naysaying going on, which is great.
For everyone saying the proof of the flash-forward was at the very beginning of the episode, you were right:
Jack's phone wasn't officially released until October 2006, so it's about six months old in this flashback, which takes place in April 2007.
Ben's diary, which we see him writing in at the beginning, has been mostly deciphered by brilliant Lost fans (or, at least, one page has):
Click here to read.
And finally, someone posted here in the comment section of my post below that the full text of the obit is:
"The body of John Lantham of New York was found shortly after 4 am in the 4300 block of Grand Avenue. Ted Worden, a doorman at the Tower Lofts complex, heard loud noises coming from the victim's loft. Concerned for tenants' safety, he entered the loft and found the body hanging from a beam in the living room. According to Jaime Ortiz, a police spokesman, the incident was deemed a suicide after medical tests. Latham (sic) is survived by one teenaged son. Memorial services will be held at the Hoffs-Drawlar Funeral Home tomorrow evening."
I can't vouch for the accuracy, so I'll leave it up to you to decide. :)