I feel like there were a lot of answers provided in that episode... but unfortunately I don't think we're to the point where we're able to understand them... yet. Let's get some discussion points out there as we muddle through the confusion...
Jacob. So Jacob and Man #2 have always been on-Island, and have been unable to kill each other - much like the "rules" that seem to exist between Ben and Widmore. Jacob has been visiting our Survivors throughout their lives, perhaps even "pushing them" along their way to ensure they end up on-Island. But why? It seems that the net result of our Survivors getting on-Island thus far is Jacob dying (in the grand scheme of things). Heck, he seemed to bring Locke back to life after he was pushed out of the window by his father (PS - how many of the flashback scenes were you able to "call" beforehand? It's sad how easily I recognize things like background shots from two seasons ago... ) and that definitely eventually lead to Man #2 impersonating him and killing him. Bad move, Jacob.
I'm also guessing that Man #2 was actually the guy we saw in the Cabin (since as I noted in my episode preview, he kinda looked like him), but "escaped" thanks to the gap in the ash around the Cabin. He was then able to impersonate John Locke to manipulate Ben and find a loophole to kill Jacob. So Man #2 is the "bad guy" and Jacob was the "good guy"... but unfortunately now he's dead.
Locke. Conversely, Locke is suddenly the "bad guy" on the Island. But it's not really Locke, it's Man #2, right? Turns out that "dead is dead" after all... and it was Man #2 who told Alpert to tell Locke that he had to die... so that Man #2 could eventually impersonate him as part of his master plan! Crazy.
It makes you wonder how Widmore fits into all this. He went out of his way to help Locke and get him back to the Island, which seems to put him on the side of Man #2. But without Ben killing Locke, the plan never could have worked out. Since Ben and Widmore seem to be enemies, I don't see him being in on the plan - but perhaps he was just a poor pawn in all of this wacky action. He was being used all along.
Alpert. What lies in the Shadow of the Statue? "Ille qui nos omnes servabit", which means "he whom we all serve." Alpert also said it was Jacob who made him "like he is" (never aging). So after one episode of teasing Alpert's true intentions, it turns out that Alpert isn't all knowing - but he is a servant of Jacob. If you consider that the "good guy", then he's on the right side.
Likewise, Ilana and the Shadow of the Statue are on the same side. So right now, pretty much every character we know in 2008 (I refuse to call it 2007 no matter what you say - check Lostpedia and do the math, it's 2008) is on the same side, except for Locke and Ben. Unfortunately, that side is also without their "leader" now that Jacob is dead.
Who wants to bet that this opens the door for Widmore to return to the Island, setting up the "battle for the Island" between Widmore, Locke, and Ben vs. Alpert and our Survivors?
Survivors. Speaking of our Survivors, what now? We've been told that the "time travel" stuff ends with this season, which means they MUST end up in 2008 when Juliet causes The Incident - and it makes me wonder if that's what Jacob meant when he said "they're coming" as his last words... or was he referring to Widmore's men?
What about Juliet? Does she live or die? Logic would tell you that she would die... but the same logic would tell you that our Survivors (Jack, Kate, Sawyer) who were standing right above the Swan Hole would also be too close to survive either... and that doesn't even take into account Sayid - who unless the past is suddenly "undone" is now dead as well.
So I think there are four options:
- Juliet, Sayid, Kate, Jack, and Sawyer are all dead.
- Juliet, Sayid, Kate, Jack, and Sawyer are all alive and transported to 2008.
- Juliet, Sayid, Kate, Jack, and Sawyer are all alive in an alternate 2004 where Oceanic 815 lands in Los Angeles... and who knows where this puts Juliet.
- Juliet and Sayid are dead. Everyone else is alive and now in 2008. The past didn't change, but they did get transported back to the "present" as their work in 1977 was now done (note: this seemed to be a theme of the recap episode that aired before the finale - that they only jumped to time periods where they had something to accomplish... and then jumped out - interesting)
I will say that I was a tad disappointed in the character development in this episode. Juliet and Kate both seemed to change their emotions at a moment's notice, for now other reason than to extend the Love Rhombus further - even when it clearly should have ended with Juliet and Sawyer together, and Kate and Jack hating each other forever. It just seemed unrealistic.
So I guess that's it for Season Five. I need to reflect on the season and the finale a bit to see how I feel - but for now I stand by my Four Word Review. I don't quite get it yet - but clearly this episode sets the stage for next season.