You see it, right? The reason that Sun didn't flash back with the rest of the Ajira crew to the seventies? I think it's pretty clear why Ben didn't; he is already on-island in the seventies as a boy. So what does that say about Sun? Do you remember the baby we saw at the beginning of this season, being fed early in the morning by Dharma training-video curmudgeon Marvin Candle? I think Sun was on-island as a baby.
And hey! So was Ethan! Ethan and Sun, playing together in the sandbox with Charlotte. Maybe Ben babysat the little ones when all the parents went out for a nice relaxing night of "coverall swap", submarine rides, and folk music, and and then sat in a chair, watching them with creepy, creepy eyes, and petting a red eyed rabbit.
Or perhaps not. Either way, I think Sun was that baby, and that's why she's in 2007 braining Ben with a shovel instead of chilling in the seventies with a phat box of Dharma wine. So, what does that say about Locke? I guess we've seen enough of his childhood and younger life to know that he wasn't on the island in the seventies, as much as Alpert was trying to get him there. What is his nature? How does he relate to the island's unique time/space positioning. I'm guessing that he is like the other guy who came back to life on the island after arriving in a coffin, creepy-ass, drunken-sot, door-blowing-open-to-maximize-tension, Christian Shepherd. We'll see.
Note how subtly this episode laid the table for the upcoming major conflict, which seems more and more likely to happen in the past as the future. Questions that previously seemed only to be side-issues to fill in the island back story are now front-and-center. Questions like . . . What is the nature of the conflict between the Others/"hostiles"/Alpertians/Jacobians and the Dharma Initiative? This really seems to be the "hub" question now, even more so than the motivations of Ben Linus and Charles Widmore. It seems to be the central conflict. Science vs. Faith, yet again.
Who is behind the Dharma initiative? We have compelling evidence that it is Widmore, particularly:
1) The Dharma logos on the freighter instruction books. This is really the most compelling direct evidence.
2) The fact that Widmore claims that it was Ben that "tricked" him off the island. This indicates that Widmore was on-island until at least the eighties, and even then Ben would have been a kid when he tricked Widmore off the island. In any event, during Ben's stay on the island, the "hostiles" are pretty obviously led by Richard. Most likely scenario: either Widmore's lying about all of it or he's behind Dharma, which he sees as part of the "Others" in some way, and is only committing lies of omission or limited perspective.
However, we haven't seen Widmore evident on-island during the Dharma years. So. What the hell IS the Dharma initiative? What do we know about them? Here are a few pertinent details.
1) They run (and presumably built) the hatches. Arrow. Looking Glass. Tempest. Pearl. Staff. Flame. Orchid. Swan. There are other ones too, but my head hurts so let's move on.
2) They have an off island hatch, the Looking Glass, which scries the location of the island. It is run by Eloise, who is using as her operative . . . Ben. Meanwhile, Charles has Eloise's address. So . . Eloise is Dharma also? Then is Ben Dharma? It seems clear that this is a more convoluted org. chart than previously guessed.
3) Back to the hatches. Orchid is interesting, since it seems to be a big dig around the already-existing donkey wheel. The Dharma initiative is attempting time travel . . . why?
Swan is VERY interesting now, because, though built in the late 70s at the earliest, it pretty clearly houses the Jughead bomb. The Jughead bomb which was buried. The Jughead bomb which was buried in the 50s. . . by the Others, aka "hostiles." This is to my way of thinking the most direct evidence we have that the "hostiles" and the Dharma initiative are, in fact, split factions of the same group. Why else would they be managing this bomb? Did the Dharma initiative initially start as a project of Alpert and the Others to manage this bomb, with Charles in Charge? Did Charles eventually get too big for his britches and fight a war against heaven? Excuse me while I kiss the sky.
But it was a single detail in this episode that brought the Swan in particular front and center again. Actually, a single name.
4) Radzinsky. The guy with the Paul Giamatti head and the bad attitude who was building a model of . . . the Swan. And he doesn't want any hostiles seeing it, either.
Let's all pause a moment and pour some Old English 800 on the curb for Radzinsky, perhaps the last surviving member of the Dharma Initiative. This is the guy who was in the Swan hatch who trained Kelvin in the button-pushery, hatchy ways. Kelvin is the guy who trained Desmond in the same, and told us what we knew about Radzinsky. Specifically, that Radzinsky drew that glow-in-the-dark map of the island that Locke found in Season 2, and that Radzinsky finally left his brains on the ceiling of the Swan one fine summer day.
Also, this means that either Dharma was permitted to continue operating the Swan post-purge for some reason, or else that the hostiles continued to operate the Swan post-purge, but to continue the ruse that it was a part of the Dharma initiative. This second seems half-likely, since the hostiles would want to "replace" Radzinsky but might need to get his trust. We'll stay tuned . . .
Interesting as a grace note that Radzinsky, the probable actual last survivor of Dharma, was apparently the keeper of the Flame station in Dharma days, and that when we first saw the Flame, it was being minded by Mikhail, who claimed to be the last survivor of Dharma.
I just love how they slip so many backstories in through the side door.
* "I've got to figure out a way to bring them in before they screw up everything we got here." That's Sawyer, making it clear that his heart and his lfe are now ultimately with the island and with Dharma. We don't know where his loyalties will go if the chips are all the way down, but we can't count on it being with his old Oceanic buddies at all.
* That random door blowing open in the deserted Dharma town was one of my favorite Lost moments ever. It may have greater meaning, it may have just been a little suspense-building flourish. Either way, creeeeepy.
* I think the actors playing Jack, Kate, Hurley and Said did a very nice job of subtly showing how deeply weird it is for Sawyer to be in authority . . . in the Dharma Initiative . . . in 1977, and ALSO how relatively immune they have gotten to even the weirdest of occurrences that they are basically able to just roll with it.
* I actually think Jack is relieved to not be calling the shots. After Sawyer's soul-crushing (and honest) assessment of Jack's leadership skills, I didn't notice much of the old Jarcasm and defensiveness. It flared up for a second ("I got them off the island!") but then he just backed right down. And why not, because . . . what ARE they supposed to do? Jack thought he was charging back to SAVE the left-behinders. They don't really need saving, so . . . what are they back for, anyway? Why, to participate in the big war that happens in the past, of course.
* Faraday is off the reservation. Wonder what poor ol' Faraday did down in the Orchid dig, anyway? I bet our boy joined the "hostiles." And I reckon that Sayid is likely to do the same, since there's no way he can pass for somebody just off the boat.
* Thank GOD Hurley brought up the fact that the entire Dharma initiative gets killed and dumped in a pit. I'm OK with Sawyer not really knowing what the hell to do with that information -- after all, he is a roll-with-the-punches kind of guy -- but they had to at least acknowledge it. It seems this show is getting a lot better at bringing these sorts of things up without letting exposition and rehash get in the way of the action. And with all the hippy-dippyness, along with the fact that they have a picnic and punch (!), and they are on an island, and they all end up poisoned and laying around in piles of corpses . . . the Jonestown parallels just couldn't be more obvious, no?
* Have Frank and Ben ever met? I don't remember that. I guess Franks knows of Ben, though. OK, I'll move on.
* "I'm sorry for the mix up. I'm Juliet. Keep your filthy dad-killing Aaron-stealing freckleface paws off my man, or I'll 'lose' your paperwork again.."
* Sun has figured out how to handle Ben. Do what he does. Act like you trust him, wait for him to give you some of his plan, as much information as you can get, then when his guard is down, hit him in the brain with an oar. So awesome. So, so, so, so awesome. I like Sun 250% more now.
ETA: Tip of the hat to Hoy for helping realize that Sun is probably the baby at the beginning of the season, and why.
Also: A quick prediction I meant to shove in here. A major character will die. And it will be Sawyer. I don't read spoilers at all, so don't take this as anything but my guess. However, we haven't had a major character death since Charlie in Season 3 (Jin is explosion proof), and the show is going to need to up the stakes. Meanwhile, Sawyer's fought and won against his personal demons, he's achieved a large amount of inner strength and peace, and he's grown into the person he always had the potential to be. He's toast. He's toast the most.
Now . . . when are the rest of the Arija crew?
L O S T