The title of this episode is interesting, since the phrase refers to a game. Locke (in fact, the smoke monster) has taken over as leader of the others in the present day. He also wants to eliminate Jacob as leader. And the title also highlights the risks of creating a role of authoritarian leadership that people are taught to obey, since the wrong person in such a role can have disastrous consequences.
As the episode begins, crouched in the bushes, Jack suggests that Dan’s plan might be the reason they were supposed to come back to the island. Then Dan is shot by Eloise, and then Eloise sees her own writing in Dan’s journal. In Eloise’s tent, Jack and Kate talk about Dan’s plan. Jack wants to reset time and avoid all the misery. Kate says it was not all misery, and Jack says enough of it was.
Talking to Eloise, she recounts her first meeting with Dan, who said he was from the future, and them disappeared. Jack explains Dan’s plan, and says that Eloise has the chance to undo her mistake of killing her son. Eloise says that the bomb was secured underground, and since then the Dharma Initiative have built a village over the place. On their way, they meet Sayid, and talk about changing things. He thinks he has already changed things by killing Ben Linus, but they tell him that Ben is alive. Jack talks about it being their destiny to change the future, and Kate tells him that he sounds like Locke, and that Jack said Locke was crazy and he was right. But now Jack is not so sure. Kate leaves, the rest swim to the tunnels where the hydrogen bomb is.
Dr. Chang talks to Hugo, Miles, and Jin. He asks if they are from the future, baffling them with questions about when they were born and who the president is. Becoming convinced, he decides to do what Dan asked him to and evacuate the island.In the present day, John Locke shows up at the Others’ camp with a boar for dinner. Richard says there is something different about him, and Locke says he has a purpose now. Ben tells Sun that Richard Alpert is a kind of advisor, and that he has had that role for a very long time. Sun asks Richard about Jin and the others. Richard says he remembers them and watched them all die. Locke asks Richard to run an errand with him, asking if he still has the compass that he gave him. He also asks him to take him to Jacob. We them learn that it was Locke/the smoke monster who sent Richard to help Locke when he had been shot by Ethan and give him a message.
We also learn that the island has never told Ben things, and that he has never seen Jacob. When Locke gets back to the Others’ camp, he says that he understands they have been taking orders from a man named Jacob, whom they have never seen. He says that he is going to go see Jacob, and invites them to come with him. Richard Alpert says he is starting to think Locke might be trouble, and Ben replies, “Why do you think I tried to kill him?”
There are interesting time-travel related questions. Did Eloise send Jack and his friends back to the island already remembering that their plan to detonate the bomb had not worked? Or at that point, did she only remember killing Dan? Was she doing what she thought could change things, or what she accepted at that point was inevitable?