A Case of the…. Lost – Episode 4-9

First things first: Does this mean that Scott and Steve are now BOTH dead???

So Sunday afternoon I returned from my friend’s wedding in South Carolina, and after a day and a half or so of relaxation, what else is there to talk about other than the latest episode of Lost?

I actually managed to view this episode “live” (as in, when it originally aired), and I watched it with three people who had never seen a single episode. It was actually quite an interesting experience, and the three of them were extremely courteous to reserve their questions for commercials (which I greatly appreciated). Only one person made it to the end of the episode (one fell asleep, the other – the groom – had to greet family members who had just landed), and he told me the episode really made him want to watch the show. That’s pretty impressive, considering that this episode wasn’t always particularly easy to explain.

By no means is that a criticism, however. In fact, I thought this was a fantastic way for the show to return. As we have come to expect from Lost, this episode answered some questions while bringing to light many, many new ones. I’m sure that this frustrates some people, but I must say that, in my opinion, practically every single episode we’ve seen this season feels like it’s leading to the finale – not of the season, but the entire series. I guess that’s what it comes down to. Perhaps this season has been so phenomenal because it has a sense of direction (incidentally, the opposite was true of the second season of Heroes, which is likely why so many viewed it with such disdain).

This episode very prominently featured “nice guy” Sawyer, which I’m sure upset the legion of fans that much prefer the character as a smarmy jerk. I really don’t have a problem with Sawyer occasionally showing a softer side, however. In the past, we’ve seen that when push comes to shove, Sawyer really isn’t that bad a guy. In pretty much every finale – where something significant and dangerous happens – Sawyer does something selfless. The whole “if you harm one hair on his curly little head” line MAY have been a little much, but even that didn’t bother me. Hurley and Sawyer have grown really close over the past couple of seasons, and with Charlie gone and Sawyer geographically detached from Jack, I consider these two best friends. And with the episode so heavily focused on Ben and Locke, it desperately needed a hero that the viewers could get behind and cheer for.

I find it interesting that Team Locke has now officially dwindled down to just Ben, Locke, and Hurley. Sawyer, Miles, Claire, and Aaron are returning to the beach, and everybody else is dead. If nothing else, “The Shape of Things to Come” did just that: It set in motion the events that will likely culminate in the season’s finale.

Naturally, one cannot discuss this episode without delving into the deliciously intriguing Ben adventures. We learned a lot about the Others leader, both in the present and in the future. On the island, we learned that Ben hasn’t been sitting around twiddling his thumbs. Nope, he’s got a nice little arsenal of weapons hiding in his piano bench. Along with that, Mr. Linus has been holding out on the Flight 815 survivors. It seems that he’s well aware of Hurley’s capability to find Jacob (but how? Very interesting…) And perhaps most intriguing of all, it appears that he not only knows what the Smoke Monster is, he may possibly even have the ability to control it. This was a huge moment, in my opinion, and I’m really glad that Locke brought attention to it.

Of course, there’s also Alex’s death. It’s funny how the horror movie genre is based upon the premise of massacring teenagers, yet it was incredibly surreal seeing one executed in this episode. That said, I’m actually pleased that this happened. If Rousseau IS dead, then Alex’s character doesn’t serve much of a purpose. This show doesn’t need a Kim Bauer character that just flounders around aimlessly and is really only used as a plot device to control the actions of her father. And while Alex was hardly a main event player, the fact that they were willing to kill off an innocent teenage girl – to punish the villain, no less – reminds viewers that, yes, they’re prepared to kill people off without any warning.

Speaking of surreal, it was extremely odd seeing Ben portrayed in a somewhat sympathetic light in the present, and as a borderline hero in the future. Before I get to that, though, I have to ask this: What did Ben mean when he said, “he changed the rules”? One theory I came across, which I quite like, is that Ben has knowledge of the future, and in the future Alex is still alive. Perhaps “changing the rules” refers to Widmore’s successful attempt to change the future. What makes this theory particularly interesting is that it also means that the Oceanic Six may not necessarily be safe.

The flash forwards also added a lot of credibility to the popular belief that Ben can time travel, particularly with his surprised reaction to waking up in the desert and his curiosity over what year it was. I was also intrigued by his interaction with Sayid, who seemed quite adamant in his assertion that nobody should have the means to leave the island. Through this episode, we also came to understand why Sayid eventually becomes Ben’s hired gun. The question, though, is whether Widmore actually did have Nadia killed, or if Ben was 100% manipulating him.

And then there’s Charles Widmore. Bearded. And as we’ve learned from Lost, when you’re newly bearded in the future, your life is in disarray. What transpired to turn this once powerful, confident man into a drunkard plagued by nightmares? Ben made reference to Widmore changing the rules, which may very well mean he “changed the future.” Perhaps Widmore was victimized by his own actions. Maybe by altering the events of the future, Widmore rewrote his own history, and not for the better. Perhaps Alex’s murder forced Ben to intensify his attempt to protect the island, and succeeded. Hence Widmore’s comments that the island is rightfully his – maybe he would have taken control of the island had he not rewritten history. And, as always, a very interesting dichotomy is created now that Ben is determined to kill Penny. You essentially have two bad guys fighting against each other. Will the show attempt to portray one as “less evil”? It’ll be interesting.

I should also note how cool it was seeing these two characters finally confront each other. Both of them have been written so well and are so delightfully evil. Both are confident and manipulative, and extremely intelligent. Yet one appears to be a multi-millionaire, while the other seemingly comes from meager beginnings. And with the casual comment that Ben “can’t” kill Widmore (why?), and how the island was once – and rightfully is – his, the conversation was chock-full of great little hints and teases.

I don’t have too much to say about the beach occurrences, especially since I think the real drama will happen next week. But it’s always great to see Bernard. It also contained some slight Jack/Kate flirting, which I’m always a sucker for (this also leaves me a bit disappointed that Sawyer is returning to the mix). I don’t really have any prediction of what happened to the doctor, although I did enjoy Daniel’s passing “time is relative” comment. Again, there were LOTS of indications that the whole time travel thing is a reality. And it seems that after being caught in a lie, Daniel finally admitted that they have no intention of rescuing them. Again, it’s interesting how Locke has appeared to be such a nut this season, yet he’s right about everything.

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