"Well, all right."
Jumping right in . . .
L O S T
Ben-back! Earlier than expected! It's like filling your draw on the turn instead of the river! Boooooooooooooooooooom, baby! Boooooooooooooooooom!
The new facts, short and simple.
* Dharma and the Others, not one and the same. Or at least not on the surface.
* Jacob? Real but freaky-deaky. The meaning of "help me" will mean much, I think, in time. Is that 'help me' in an "I've fallen and I can't get up" sort of way, or in an "Help me open the seal on the scroll of Apocalypse" sort of way?
* Ben? Awesome. Also a murderous little toad. 60 to 100% out of his fricking gourd. I love his humble beginnings. That flashback is what flashbacks on this show should be. Dude, he gassed his little girlfriend, or at least we have no evidence to the contrary yet.
* The 'Others' apparently don't age. Either that or the 'Casting Director' has been drinking.
* Ben apparently joined them as an adult.
* Ben is still apparently able to lie to them about being born on the island. About that, and a great deal more.
* Ben is having some serious trouble maintaining respect for his authori-taw. Clearly, the 'others' are waiting for someone special, some Messianic figure. My guess is that Ben's interaction with Jacob (pre or post purge) convinced the 'others' that he was that special someone. Locke's challenging that. Ben's willing to kill to keep it. Locke was about one step away from leading the Others, I think. Lesson? Don't TELL the crazy person you're about to expose his lies, or 'lies'. Just do it. Table talk will kill you, showing your hand even more so.
* Ben's obsession with women dying in childbirth makes a lot more sense now. Yes?
* The 'hostiles' are still pretty well funded. They have dossiers, satellite communication, (fake?) submarine, etc., etc., etc. I'm guessing that the castaway gear they were wearing was just as phony as before.
* Remember, Dharma's still around. Food-drops, anyone?
* Locke is not bullet-proof.
* Ben can probably see Jacob, but he can't hear Jacob. Or at the least, he can't hear what Jacob said to Locke.
* Jack is still a dink. "I didn't tell you what Juliette told me about us being attacked because I hadn't decided what to do with the information yet, and I clearly thought that consulting any of you would be a total waste of time, Sayid. Now, why don't you trust me? I'm Jack!" What a maroon.
* If Locke is dead, then this is the most risk-taking show, narratively speaking, that prime time TV has seen since Twin Peaks.
Questions? Have a million, they're small.
* Are we supposed to honestly believe that by giving Richard long hair, we'll believe that he was younger? Ben is at least mid-forties now, but when he was a kid, Richard was the same age that he is now? This must be explained. And I assume it will be.
* How can Ben lie to 'his people' if he was Dharma. Weren't all of 'his people' here first? They know about Jacob. Can they see Jacob?
* Did Ben gas EVERYBODY at the same time as his dad? How was that accomplished? I guess he must have punched the over-ride the fence -- and how did he get that code? I'd have like a little more explanation there.
* When did Jacob get his hooks into Ben?
* Who is Jacob?
* WHAT is Jacob?
* Did you know that the biblical Jacob walked with a limp?
* How is Dharma still funding the island? Did they fail to notice when everybody called in dead? Did Work Man Ben manage to convince them to let him run the show? Were the 'hostiles' actually part of a Dharma-funded double-blind experiment in human behavior? Actually, I think that last one is very plausible. It's probably not right, but plausible it is.
* How can Michael Emerson possibly not win a multitude of acting awards this year?
By the way, I'm calling it right now. Oceanic flight 815 crashed on the long-missing Garden of Eden. The actual physical location. A place where unexplained healing happens. Where the curse of childbirth is strongest. Where an angel patrols and guards (think smoke monster). Where an ancient and evil liar lurks. Dharma tried to study it for the betterment of mankind, and they were purged. Now the castaways are there, for reasons that remain murky . . . I'll try to unpack this theory in another post. This one's long enough as is.
Other Random and Assorted Thoughts? Sure, Why Not?
Hey Locke, how's that Dharma-issued sucking chest wound working out for you? It could be worse, buddy. He could have shot your kidney.
Why am I so flip about my favorite character eating lead? Because John Locke isn't going to die from that little chesty trinket he was sporting at the end. There's been too much chuffing lately about how quickly wounds heal on this island (sorry 'boutchya, Boonester) and how Locke's connection to the island is 'special' (too bad for you, Eko). Nope, Locke walks away from this one, albeit with consequences.
But my wife thinks the Lost producers will keep us totally hanging on the Locke front until next season. They do know how to hang a cliff, after all. So mark it: if that happens, it will be two seasons running that we aren't sure if Mr. Man Of Faith is alive or dead by the finale.
Speaking of faith, Locke . . . you've had bigger stretches to overcome than Jacob. I was with Locke on the skepticism tip at first, given that Ben is at least one limited edition toy short of the full Happy Meal. But when the creepy shack turns into a freakin' Tool video, you have to think something is up.
Also speaking of faith: I've been saying that this is probably the best season of the show yet. This episode nailed it shut. It's clear at this point that the show-makers are working with a definite story (admittedly within a byzantine mythology) with a definite resolution, and that they will unravel it for us over the next 48 episodes. And I couldn't be more pleased that the producers have announced a definite end, and definite number of remaining episodes. This kind of story-discipline is unheard of in a hit TV show, where they typically crank out season after season after frustrating season until finally the whole enterprise collapses in a bloviating, self-referential but unsatisfying, futile but merciful creative infarction. By the end, nothing but the questions. No answers that make sense.
I'm pointing at you, X-Files. I am pointing directly at you. You broke my heart, Fredo. You broke my heart.
Not so with LOST. Episodes are a set number. I'm looking forward to a lean, mean, storytelling machine from here. And has anything about the last . . . oh, I don't know, seven or eight episodes in a row given you any reason to doubt that?
This episode even did the unthinkable: It actually redeemed the "Hurley fixes a VW Bus" episode in some small way, and that was the most time-wasting, silly, unnecessary hour of TV that this show has ever brought us. At least since "Hurley and Sawyer Hunt A Tree Frog, Wackiness Ensues."
Roger Work Man. Roger. Work Man. Oh mama. Chills.
Which reminds me. Hey! Look who's joining the "I Had A Bad Daddy Party!" It's Ben! Apparently having a bad dad can land you in a wheelchair, turn you into an alcoholic brain surgeon, or even maybe turn you into the creepiest mass killer of hippies since Jonestown. Ben, you may be a genius and a maestro at lying and manipulation, but you are an absolute nutter, and that elevator into your psyche is a mine shaft.
So. Bad dad for Ben, check. Bad Daddy is not just an 80s metal band anymore, it's a theme, a motif, I'd even say a totem. I think Jin is the only character whose father (the fisherman) isn't a tool or worse. Jack? Bad daddy. Hurley? Bad daddy. Sun? Bad murderous daddy. Sawyer? Bad murderous suicidal daddy. Charlie? Bad daddy, dream sequence version. Kate? Killed her daddy (he was bad). Penelope? Bad daddy. Claire? Jack's daddy. Sayid? Unknown daddy, forecast calls for bad daddy with an 80% chance of murderous.
Which makes me think of shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, where no character had a positive father character. Which makes me think that TV geniuses all have daddy issues. So if you want your child to have a chance as a TV genius, be a rotten dad.
Even in real life, people have daddies that are 'bad' or baddish or at least fairly regular dill-holes. I'll cite any number of my good friends and Luke Skywalker as ready examples of this.
My point? I think that it is safe to say that John "Eight Stories" Locke has an edge in the Lost Baddaddy sweepstakes at this time.
"My dad left when I was eight and didn't come back until I was rich."
"My dad is a controlling crime boss."
"My dad was a neglectful alcoholic."
"Hey, MY dad was a neglectful alcoholic, TOO!"
"Hey! My dad was HIS dad!"
"My dad abandoned me to foster care, stole my kidney, abused my trust, exposed me to mob loan sharks, chased away my fiance, and pushed me out of an eight-story window, leaving me paralyzed."
"OK, you win."
I hope the writers provide Ben with a little more motivation for his descent into skulduggery.
All I am saying is, old Ben cannot blame his daddy (meanie that he is) for the little pit of death he's got out back. That's on you, Ben. That one is on you.
L O S T
(Brief and meaningless connection to poker: When you're playing with a maniac, go carefully and pick your spot well.)