L O S T
They've changed the rules on us. Well, no. But they've clarified the rules mightily, though, haven't they? And, in typical LOST fashion, they've open a whole can of What The Sam Hell??? at the same time.
I will explain. No, there is no time. I will sum up.
First, this was one of the great episodes, and likely to be one of the top ten episodes when the whole thing wraps. Certainly it is pivotal in redrawing the boundaries of the central LOST conflict. As the cards shuffle, we are discovering to what a large extent this is Ben's story.
Since this was a top-notch, Grade A+ episode of television, let's start with the stuff that didn't quite work.
First, the pure comedy of Sawyer's heroic charge, which I will now recap for you.
SAWYER: Stay inside!
RANDOM DUMMY #1: [Running out of his house] What did you sa--- [RANDOM DUMMY #1 gets TOTALLY AND IMMEDIATELY KILLED BY PINPOINT PRECISE SHOOTING]
SAWYER: Stay INDSIDE!!!!
RANDOM DUMMY #2 [Running out of her house] What just happened to --- [RANDOM DUMMY #2 gets TOTALLY AND IMMEDIATELY KILLED BY PINPOINT PRECISE SHOOTING]
SAWYER: STAY INSIDE THE HOUSE YOU DONKEYS!!!
RANDOM DUMMY #3 [Running out of the house] Good idea Sawyer! I'll go right insi --- [RANDOM DUMMY #3 gets TOTALLY AND IMMEDIATELY KILLED BY PINPOINT PRECISE SHOOTING]
[SAWYER doesn't go INSIDE. Instead, SAWYER runs accross an EMPTY LAWN and takes cover behind a TWO FOOT HIGH PICKET FENCE. SAWYER is not TOTALLY AND IMMEDIATELY KILLED BY PINPOINT PRECISE SHOOTING, because apparently the gunmen gave the task of killing the only villager who is actually armed and expecting them to BARNEY FIFE.]
BARNEY: Gosh, Andy! Let me have just one more bullet an' I'll an I'll an I'll hit him fer shure!
GUNMEN: Huh, Barney isn't even coming close to shooting that redneck. Eh, let's let him keep trying.
SAWYER: Claire!!!! Stay inside!
GUNMEN: Huh, I guess there's somebody in THAT house, then.
[The GUNMEN then BLOW CLAIRE'S HOUSE THE HELL UP. ]
SAWYER: Claire! Are you all right?
CLAIRE: I'm a little wobbly. Also, I'm fireproof and completely invulnerable to blowing up.
SAWYER: OK, let's run across this open space. Since you have a speaking role, they'll only let their drunk soldiers shoot at you.
* * *
Got that? OK, so a scene that was meant to be tense was in fact hilarious. Too bad. I'll allow Claire to survive her house's explosion by saying "the island won't let her die." But that whole sequence just shows that it was a bad idea to have more survivors than just the core main characters. It allowed them to bring in Artz (cool) and questions about them caused them to bring in Nikki and Paolo (boo), but other than that they've just been distracting.
Meanwhile, we get to show Sawyer developing as a true hero. Dare I say he's the hero that Jack would like to be, but just can't be, because for Jack it's mostly about Jack, whereas Sawyer's heroism and bravery seems to be born of a genuine regard for his fellow Lostaways. Please note that Locke seems to be OK with leaving Claire out there. Locke seems OK with shooting Sawyer to keep Hurley. And Sawyer vows revenge if anything befalls Big Curley. Not bad.
But but but . . . Hurley has to stay because only he knows where the cabin now is, but once Hugo has defused the situation, Ben knows the way? Weird end to that whole sequence. Maybe Ben just knew how much Locke and Sawyer love pointing guns at other people, and just invented that "We need Hurley" angle. You know, as kind of a present. Aw, that's thoughtful.
One other slight quibble:
So, Nadia really was Sayid's true love. I'd been assuming she was his sister, which would explain why Sayid was so quickly able to fall in love with Shannon. If Shannon hadn't died, would he have kept looking for Nadia? Would he have married her? Would he have kept Shannon on the side? Would it all have ended up on Jerry Springer? Imagine Nadia on Jerry Springer, all "Sayid ain't that skinny white [bleeping bleep] babydaddy." The bouncers would have a little surprise coming if they tried to subdue Sayid, I think.
I think the bottom line is Sayid is just one of those brothas who falls very hard and very seriously every time. I once knew a guy who proposed to each of his girlfriends. He'd had four broken engagements by the time he graduated college. True. Sadly for him, he was a bit of a spazz and couldn't break a man's neck with just his feet, so he was not nearly as cool.
But my main point here is that the future-flashing structure of the story, while reaping huge payoffs already, is going to have it's casualties, and this was one. Sayid and Nadia's story had the chance for some real emotional heft, and that's pretty much been discharged now. If we see Sayid's meeting with Nadia, we'll know what's coming, and while tragic, it just won't hit the same.
However, it does explain very nicely why Sayid would work for Ben, even knowing what he knows. Naveen Andrews and Michael Emmerson really sold that scene. Awesome actors, awesome delivery.
But Sayid, you're usually so clever. Has it not occurred to you that the dude you killed, who almost certainly also killed your ladylove . . . might have been working for Ben?
In much the same way, the story has had to jettison most of the impact of the Rousseau/Alex arc. They set it up and then they basically swatted it aside without much payoff, in order to get things going with this week's storyline.
I think in this case, though, the ends justify the means, because . . . again, this was a top ten episode.
Awesomeness On The Island:
* Ben just pulling a shotgun out of the piano bench. Which only means that that was the nearest shotgun he had access to. I'm guessing that if he'd been in another room, there'd have been heavy ordinance there as well. So, here's the thing, Locke. I told you so. You let that old boy free in his own house? Then he's in charge. It's like when Jack told Sawyer, "When I want the guns? I'll get the guns." Same deal. Ben's in charge as soon as he decides he wants to be.
* Also? "You lied to me about the smokemonster, Ben?" Really, Locke? Really? So. You're complaining. Because . . . Ben. Lied to you. I think you need to take a break, buddy. Just sit down for a minute. Put your feet up. Have a seltzer.
* They actually killed Alex, and it surprised Ben as much as us. I didn't doubt that SteroidLillard would be willing to shoot her, but I'm very surprised that the show made that move. But that's nothing to the total shock on Ben's face. On the one hand, he had to deal with the shock and grief from the fact that his daughter was dead, and that the last words she heard were unkind ones from him. It was a part of a gambit, but nevertheless, that's a cold way to go out.
More importantly, though -- and, I think, more disturbingly for Ben -- was the fact that this wasn't supposed to happen. Did you see it? Come on, you saw it. Michael Emmerson is an amazing actor, and it was right there. "They changed the rules," he breathed, after he'd been in a catatonic stupor for . . . well, we don't know, but long enough for day to change to night on the LOST island, so for anywhere between five hours and ninety seconds.
* Know what I think? I think it's now become clear beyond preadventure or punk that Ben can time travel, and moreover has a very good understanding of the timeline, due to his unique perspective. Think of quantum time in geographical terms. Think of it as a map, spread out on the ground and stretching into infinity, and then think of the island as a tower, the highest geographical point. Now, imagine Ben at the top, surveying it all. That, I think, makes a decent metaphor for Ben's power.
I think this occasionally manifests itself as "the island won't let you die" for certain people. And I think Alex's death means more than a daughter lost. I think it was an event that was never supposed to happen. Outside the rules. And suddenly Ben just doesn't see as far as he thought he could.
* So he does what any of us would do given the circumstances. He goes down into his secret mystery basement and releases his smoke beast of doom.
Smokemonster Parade! Smokemonster Parade! See the hell-killing trench of death the Smokemonster made!
Dude. Seriously. That was awesome. So, are the controls from within the house? The summoner? Where did Ben go when he went into that chamber?
* WHEN did he go?
Let's not be so sure that Ben didn't take a week, or a month, between when we saw him go into his lair and when we saw him return. I'll have to go back and watch the episode to check the status of his bruises, but he was considerably dirtier.
Also, the angry red bruise on Ben's left eye appears to have vanished. Just saying.
Awesomeness Off The Island
* Ben lying there in the Sarara looked a lot like Jack from the very start. Makes me wonder if this is a visual clue that Jack and Company got on-island in the same manner as Ben got off-island.
* Ben was wearing a Dharma winter jacket. The name on the coat? Halliwax. Which is one of Dr. Marvin Candle's aliases. So, I guess sometime in the future we'll find out why Ben was wearing Dr. Candle's jacket. Which means we'll probably be meeting him in a non-stock-footage sort of way. Wicked.
* Where had Ben been right before? In the Artic seems like a fair guess. There looked to be gusts of chilled air around him in the very first shot. Remember, the Tunisian Sahara is where Charlotte found the polar bear skeleton. Perhaps there is a time travel/teleportation portal between these two places. Certainly there appears to be a connection. Did he meet up with Penny's phone buddies from the end of Season 2?
* Very odd look Mr. Linus received from the Tunisian conceirge. It would appear that Dean Moriarity, other than being a Keruak reference, is a name to conjure with. Also interesting, he didn't know what the date/year was, though he seemed maybe 80% sure of the year. Nice of them to have included that scene, but you'd think a smooth chicken like Ben would have just checked out a paper.
* Finally, the last scene. Perhaps the pivotal moment to date for the mythology. Charles. Ben. Roll call of the facts.
Hello Ben. These guys know each other. They've known each other for a while.
Have you come to kill me? You know as well as I do that I can't do that. Ben can't kill Charles, and Charles knows it. Does this mean the island won't let Charles die, is this some manifestation of "the rules", or is it some third thing?
Charles has nightmares, which he medicates with that Scotch he loves more than he loves Desmond. That he has nightmares suggests he has some kind of conscience, which augers well for him not being the monster Ben makes him.
I know who you are, boy. I know WHAT you are. Yeah, so. So. What is Ben, anyway?
Everything you have you took from me. Charles can't find the island. He feels that it is his, and that it was stolen from him by Ben. I'd say that makes Charles a DHARMA-ite.
I'm going to kill YOUR daughter. And then you'll be sorry you changed the rules. He also thinks that somehow Ben and Ben only is responsible for Alex's death. So, will Penny be on Sayid's list? I'm guessing 'no'. I think that's a kill Ben will want to handle personally. But we may see Sayid vs. Desmond before this is all done.
Mindblowing stuff. I think the LOST boys will be playing out the things we learned here for the rest of the series. The Shape of Things to Come, indeed.
Join us next time, when we hear Locke say:
"Did I REALLY just hand Ben a gun back there? Gosh, I'm foolishly trusting."
L O S T