Give us island flashbacks over real-world flashbacks any day of the week, The Brig was one of the best episodes yet. We had revelation (not so much, actually) and resolution (boy was there ever!) as one of the longest-standing issues of the show was brought to a intensely satisfying conclusion. This is what makes LOST so great - so many other shows would try to jam stuff like that into the final 2 or 3 episodes of the series, totally cheapening it. Our writers definitely know better. Things I Noticed:
... An Old Place, Actually
Wherever the Others are going, it seems Ben intentionally planned a stop at the sacrificial pillar. The pillar looked old - older than the Black Rock and way pre-dating Dharma and the love bus depot. It was 4-toed statue old, which means we'll probably get some answers about the more ancient history of the island when the Others reach their final destination. Can't wait for Ben's flashback episode.
You Tell Me, You Brought Him Here
Ben saying this to Locke was a very big revelation, but his next words "We didn't" were even bigger. Cooper's story of being forced off the road would lead us to believe someone in Ben's crew went out of their way to get him, but Ben flat out denies this. There will now be fans of the 'Dharma initiative hired someone to rear-end Cooper and then bribed a paramedic to put him under and then kept him unconscious the whole time as they smuggled him to the island' theory... but personally, I still think he came out of the magic box.
Of importance here is Locke telling them he didn't bring Cooper to the island, which forces them to look elsewhere. Perhaps this causes Richard (either on Ben's orders or all on his own) to dig deeper into Sawyer's file and uncover the fact that it was actually James Ford who brought this personal demon to the island. And upon realizing this, a plan is devised to deal with that demon accordingly.
I Was Flat-Out Wrong
Regarding Cindy, the kids, and my 'watchers' theory... it seems I was totally, unequivocally wrong. Not only did we finally see Cindy with the rest of the Others this episode, but we also saw the kids too. This marks the first time we've directly seen children in the same company as Ben and Mr. Friendly, so I guess the "better place" for them that Goodwin spoke about was with right there with the Others. Which makes perfect sense, because they have electricity, ice cream, and unlimited hamburgers.
All kidding aside, I will say I'm still convinced there are watchers. I think they're responsible for the whispers, and I think they're not really 'there' in the conventional sense. I think Desmond's friend in the antique store is probably one of them. But Cindy and the kids? I was admittedly off on that one.
Sawyer's Got The Jimmy Legs
Kate's hit and run from Sawyer's tent was just another blow to their emotional attachment. Her use of Sawyer for gratification goes beyond the physical sexual aspect; he provides her with a more important temporary comfort. She sinks her face into her hands in an awkwardly "Uhhh, how do I put this..." moment, yet a second later she turns to kiss him with a ridiculously big smile. It's a put on. Her time with Sawyer is a distraction. I'm not saying she's in full-blown love with Jack, but she really doesn't know what she's feeling right now and is struggling with it more and more each episode.
You Gotta Really Wanna Be Here
Once again, belief and commitment are shown to be of monumental importance to the inner workings of the island. Ben all but beats Locke over the head with this, but somehow he's still skeptical. Locke has faith - great faith - but there's still a part of him that won't let go. There's still a part of him that needs to see the magic box, which as Ben verified this episode, was of course only a metaphor.
Ben attributes his being able to walk to Locke showing up. Developing cancer after he was sure the island wouldn't support such a disease, Ben had been questioning his faith. But seeing a walking, talking, dynamite-toting Locke before his very eyes renewed Ben's beliefs. This is interesting because it's a mirror image of what happened to Locke earlier this season. It took Eko's death for Locke to realize he'd strayed from the path of faith, and after that he was back on track.
Boone needed to let go of Shannon. Eko needed to let go of the guilt for his past sins (although it seems the island wanted him to atone for it rather than absolve himself). By the same token, Locke needs to let go of the one thing preventing him from becoming totally committed. As Ben puts it, Locke is "crippled by the memories" of the man he used to be. Since coming to the island, Locke has been the complete antithesis of that man. Only one last strand needs to be severed, only one last issue remains unresolved - Cooper. Ben means to help Locke fully realize his potential. Cindy's words were telling: "They're excited you're here. They've been waiting for you".
Keeping this in mind, I think Ben's now chumping his own men - Richard included. At this point Ben would much rather have Locke as his right-hand man, and devises a plan to go about it. Placing Cooper on the sacrificial altar was a win-win situation for him, the exact opposite of the Desmond's Catch-22 situation. If Locke commits the murder Ben gains another fully-realized loyal subject. If Locke fails, Ben publically re-asserts himself as king of the island, quelling any rebellious mutterings of the Others who might've wanted to rally behind Locke. And even failed, Ben has a use for Locke... once he gets him to kill Cooper anyway.
Was Richard sent by Ben to the hilltop to speak to Locke? I don't think so. Richard's anti-Ben interests seemed genuine. But did Ben know Richard would go see Locke (and subsequently bring him Sawyer's folder)? You bet. Because as I've said before, Ben is the king pimp badass of the island and the master of all plans large and small.
With that seed planted, Ben does exactly what he needs to do: he motivates Locke to kill Cooper anyway. How does he do this? By doing exactly the same thing Locke's father has done time and time again - ditching him. When Locke protests, Ben even uses his own line against him: "Don't tell me what I can't do, John". "But I thought I was special?" Nah, sorry man - you're not. We're going this way, you're go that way... if you wanna catch up with the cool kids again you know what to do.
Another thing worth noting: I don't think Ben was capable of killing Cooper, just as I don't think Locke could. "It's your mess John. Why would we clean it up?" Actually it's Sawyer's mess. Only he can clean it up. Ben now knows this (even if he didn't initially), which is why he sends Locke back to the 815 camp. He leaves the trail because he does want Locke to come back, but he wants Locke to return totally committed, so he can take his rightful place alongside him. "I can't wait to show you what this island can do".
Desmond's Caught Up In Believing
Jin, Hurley, and Charlie looked like the three stooges trying to keep Naomi a secret from the rest of the camp. Given Jack's behavior and Juliet's proximity, it's probably not a bad idea. Desmond however, seems very blindly caught up in believing everything Naomi says. Her whole mission seems a little tailor-made for what Desmond expected Penny to do, which was to organize someone to come looking for him. Throughout all the Naomi scenes Desmond's ear-to-ear grin is almost comical. Enter Sayid.
You gotta love Sayid. Everything out of his mouth is important, and he asks the best questions. "Did any of you actually see this helicopter?" The first week on the island this might've seemed an unusual question, but three months later it's totally logical. The others in Naomi's tent are too caught up in possible rescue to remember that nothing on the island turns out to be what it seems. Almost everything comes with a catch - and Sayid's vision is still clear enough to know this.
"I take it you have no means of communicating whatsoever?" Naomi smugly hands him the satellite phone, but in the end it turns out Sayid's right anyway. With the "interference" provided by the island, it DOES turn out she has no means of communication. In the end, Sayid's questions are founded. They almost always are. And just what the hell was Sayid digging, anyway?
What's a Nice Girl Like You Doing In A Hull Like This?
Rousseau's impeccably-timed appearance at the Black Rock was pretty funny. Apparently she's planning some commando-esque subterfuge of her own. As the grand master of island demolition, Locke gives her an approving nod. "Be careful, that stuff's unstable". Yah Locke, we know. :)
Ah, Okay... So We're Dead
Fantastic line. I'm sure many people gasped when Sawyer said it. And even though we know they're "not in purgatory" you have to admit Cooper's argument that they were all in hell was astoundingly convincing. "One minute I'm in a car wreck, the next I'm in a pirate ship at the bottom of the ocean". Pretty incredible, even by conspiracy theory standards. Not to mention we're once more teased with the "Are you sure it's an island?" line.
Two Men Enter... One Man Leaves
Initally I thought the Black Rock was an interesting choice for Locke's imprisonment of Cooper when it would've been just as easy to bind him to a tree. But after realizing his intent to lock Sawyer in there with him, it became the perfect place. It was great re-utilization of an awesome prop, and a cool nod toward the heady days of season one.
Judging from Sawyer's reluctance to kill someone again, Locke was right to imprison him with Cooper. Twice this episode Sawyer tells him "I ain't killin' nobody", and at the time he truly means it. The island has given Sawyer time away from his past life, a time to really think. We've seen him change drastically in these past 90 days, which is why it's so hard for him when the realization steals over him that he's finally, at long last, standing before the real Sawyer.
This was by far, my favorite scene of LOST. The intense hatred building in Sawyer was palpable, yet you could see him struggle. Three months ago he would've happily strangled this guy, but right now he was fighting it. Only Cooper's biting sarcasm and total defiance pushed him over the top. Tearing up that letter with contempt and indifference was the final straw, the last catalyst needed to push Sawyer beyond all control and reason. The kill scene was animalist - absolutely fantastic - and kudos to the writers for not providing a gun or a knife. Slaying the real Sawyer with his bare hands and finally realizing his ultimate goal was the coolest way for James Ford to fulfill his purpose... his reason for being on the island. Now let's just hope he doesn't get killed off, like many of the other characters who've 'let go' of their past.
Whether it be a purging final release from the hatred or just remorse for the killing, Sawyer vomits right afterward. Locke then delivers a line that potentially holds double meaning: "Now you can go back". Back to camp? Or back to someplace else now that Sawyer has resolved his inner conflict? Locke gives him the tape of Juliet's report, which he either stole from Ben or was allowed to 'find'. Either way, it was obviously Ben's decision that he have it. Apparently Ben wants the 815'ers to know and expect them to come for Sun. Will they? Dunno. Does Juliet know about this development? Probably not.
What's The Opposite of a Sleeveless Red Shirt?
A blue sleeved shirt, that's what. I think the writers are having a great time dressing Jack in all manner of stuff to keep us guessing. Or maybe they're showing us that Jack's playing both sides of the fence. This episode we certainly learned that Jack's playing something with the rest of the camp.
Some might be pissed at Kate's decision to rat out the whole Naomi thing, but I give her credit for her loyalty to Jack. In the weeks after the crash Jack did a lot of selfless things and took a lot of grief by taking up the reins of leadership. Kate remembers this. She still believes in him. Keep in mind also that Kate's one of the only people who knows that Jack's change in attitude may be due in part to what he saw on the video monitor.
Watching Kate tell them of Naomi, it was almost like watching a kid tell her parents she saw the boogeyman. Jack and Juliet (who looked straight out of a Pantene commercial this episode by the way) gave each other bemused, knowing looks. Juliet tried to score more trust points with "We should tell her", making Jack the villain when he refused. To be honest I'm not sure what's going on, but the one thing we learned here is that Jack and Juliet both know about it together. Next week it looks like we'll find out what that is.
More Than He Can Chew
Finally, at this point I'll say Locke will probably end up becoming Ben's Achilles' heel. Ben has a knack for getting people to do stuff without really getting them to do it, Locke included. However... I think Locke has his own agenda, and by coincidence I think that agenda happens to coincide (right now anyway) with the plans Ben 'has for him'. In the end, I think Ben's going to discover he made some very fatal errors with the recruitment of Locke. He's definitely not going to be like the others who follow him.