Here is Jeff Jensen's recap of Confirmed Dead.
I have been told by people who also received preview screeners that they thought last night's episode of Lost, ''Confirmed Dead,'' was flawed. The opening-sequence flashback — in which the wreckage of Oceanic 815 was found on the ocean floor — was a narrative cheat because it relied on perspectives not known to its character. Similarly, the moment when sisterless secret agent Naomi recalled receiving her Island infiltration orders from castaway-denier Matthew Abbaddon played fast and loose with flashback logic because...well, because Naomi was dead. (Maybe consciousness seeps out slowly on Soul Trap Island.) If Frank Lapidus really landed the freighter chopper as he claimed, how come he woke up so far away from it? (Maybe there's a story to be told there.) And come on: Isn't the whole business of Ben manipulating Locke with the promise of Island secrets getting just a little bit old? (Maybe...nah, you're right about that one.)
(Don't roll your eyes at me — especially since we're only getting started! I spent 90 minutes researching Apocalypse Now and by extension the complete canon of Heart of Darkness author Joseph Conrad for Lost resonance thanks to Sawyer's snarky ''Colonel Kurtz'' crack. I found some, too: Check out The Shadow-Line, Chance, The Inheritors, and The Secret Agent. And for those who want to take me up on my C.S. Lewis challenge, consider investigating The Space Trilogy. C'mon, people! Support your local library!)
But for the more casual, less geeky Lostophiles who'd rather not engage the show with their English degrees (what else are they for?), the episode was equally worthy of watercooler kibitzing. For example, it looks like a monster more troublesome than Smokey might be setting its sights on the castaways — a certain green-eyed bugger named jealousy. The Jack-Kate-Juliet love triangle began to simmer anew. Ben mercilessly taunted Sawyer by poking at his I'm-not-as-good-as-Jack sore spots. And Locke was quietly rocked by Hurley's disclosure that he, too, could dial up Jacob's ghost shack. I don't think Mr. Mystic likes having to share the office of Island high priest with anyone. Hurley's recent flash-forward hinted at a looming rift with Locke; might a disagreement over properly interpreting Jacob be the cause?
But topping the talking points list: that WTF? opening sequence, in which remote-controlled cameras belonging to a salvage vessel called Christiane 1 stumbled upon Oceanic 815 — plane, passengers, and all — in the Sunda Trench of the South Pacific. (The backstory for Christiane 1 — which was actually hunting for the Black Rock — was recently told in an online story called ''Find 815.'') Does this wreckage prove that powerful forces are trying to hide the existence of the castaways — or does it prove that we're dealing with alternate-reality theory? Our message boards await your quantum leaps of logic.
They also await your reactions to the Freighter Four, whose imminent arrival in last week's season premiere divided the castaways into two tribes: the Jack Pack, cautiously confident that the freighter is their ticket off the Island, and the freighter-fearing Locke Lot. (Or the Ben Bunch, if you share Sawyer's belief that the seemingly leashed Other is still pulling the strings. Killer line: ''It's only a matter of time before he gets us, Johnny. And I bet he's already figured out how he's gonna do it.''). The Freighter Four fell to earth, like the castaways [or Icarus? Lucifer? David Bowie? Pick one — we're interactive!]; they had to bail after their helicopter encountered electromagnetic turbulence in the airspace around the Island. Lost has sometimes fumbled the needle when injecting new blood into the narrative. (See: the Tailies in season 2, Nikki and Paulo in season 3.) But here, the show has seemingly scored some primo plasma. The casting of Charlotte (Rebecca Mader), Lapidus (the Lawnmower Man himself, Jeff Fahey), Daniel Faraday (an appealingly quirky Jeremy Davies), and Miles Strom (Kenneth Leung, making a strong impression) totally worked for me, while their intriguing backstories left me jonesing for more. And did you notice that each one corresponded to a member of the Fantastic Four, another quartet of curious characters who fell from the heavens after bumping through a weird-science squall of cosmic rays? For purposes of both analysis and recap, let's take each of them in order of appearance:
Name Daniel Faraday
Island introduction Discovered by Jack and Kate in the jungle shortly after Strom shoved his chicken butt from the chopper. (''Hey, genius! Go!'') J&K were clearly puzzled by Daniel's jittery quirkiness — and deeply alarmed by the poorly hidden pistol on his belt and the gas mask in his luggage.
Occupation Socially awkward physicist, though ''physicist'' is too small a word for the eccentric egghead. ''I guess you could call me a physicist,'' he later told Sayid. ''I don't like to be pigeonholed.''
Fantastic Four analogue Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic), socially awkward physicist, whose body is as elastic as Faraday's view of himself.
Name game Daniel was an Old Testament prophet who survived the lions' den and interpreted dreams for Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. Michael Faraday was a pioneering scientist in the fields of electricity and magnetism. Remember when Daniel noted how the sunlight ''doesn't scatter quite right'' on the Island? Exactly the kind of anomalous phenomenon Michael Faraday might have noticed.
Backstory intrigue According to Naomi, Faraday is a ''headcase.'' We got a taste of that in his flashback. While watching news coverage of Oceanic 815's (faux?) discovery, Faraday, dressed in jammies and robe, began to tremble with emotions he couldn't explain — as if experiencing a deeply disturbing bout of déjà vu. It reminded me of ''Flashes Before Your Eyes,'' when Island Desmond projected his mind through time and left Flashback Desmond feeling seriously discombobulated. Is Daniel destined to dance the time-warp shuffle, too?
Name Miles Strom
Occupation Ghostbuster + hustler = Ghosthustler! Miles can commune with the spirits of the deceased; he vetted Jack and Kate by psychically interviewing Naomi, whose mortal remains he dismissed as mere ''meat.'' I wonder what Miles is going to make of the holy trinity of Island spectral entities: Jacob, Christian Shephard, and Ghost Walt.
Island introduction Found on the windswept rocks near the shoreline by Jack, Kate, and Faraday. He appeared to be unconscious but was playing possum and popped up with gun drawn. Remember Naomi's dying words last week? According to Strom, ''Tell my sister I love her'' was code for ''Ugh! They got me! Bring weapons!'' Hence, Strom's haughty guardedness.
Name games ''Strom'' is an anagram for ''storm,'' which befits his blustery personality. But ''Miles Strom'' sounds very close to ''maelstrom,'' a wickedly strong whirlpool. (Shall we plum Edgar Allen Poe's ''Descent Into the Maelstrom,'' about a whirlpool that destroys a fishing vessel?) (No, we shall not.)
Fantastic Four analogue Johnny Storm, the hotheaded Human Torch, as fiery as Strom's temper and wit. When Sayid suspiciously inquired as to why Miles and Daniel weren't surprised to find the castaways alive if the outside world considered them dead, Strom sarcastically responded, ''Oh my God! You guys were on Oceanic 815! Wow! That better?'' Even Sayid seemed to smirk at that one.
Backstory intrigue Strom was hired to scare away the ghost of a murder victim (a drug dealer, it seems) who was haunting his grandmother's house. The eerie exterminator plugged in a portable cold generator (chilled air flushes out lurking spirits, according to poltergeist lore), meditated himself into a twitchy state of mind, and then shook down the specter for his secret stash of cash. Surely Dr. Stantz would not approve, though Dr. Venkman might. Creepy, hilarious, so very cool. (Is Scammy Strom greedy enough to resort to grave desecration if Nikki and Paulo blab to him about the diamonds buried with them? Would Lost risk provoking our N&P-hating wrath to tell us that tale?)
Name Charlotte Staples Lewis
Occupation Cultural anthropologist.
Island introduction After her splash-about, Charlotte was discovered by Locke's crew as they were hiking to the old Dharma barracks. She was stunned to find them alive — or at least pretended to be — but then grew weary of Locke's third-degree and bossiness. ''Me Tarzan. Me survive Ben bullet because of missing kidney, convenient plotting, and Magic Healing Island. You White Devil Freighter Woman come to ruin my good thing. You be prisoner and clean the Dharma latrine.'' Then Ben grabbed Karl's gun and shot her. So much for the homecoming party!
Backstory intrigue Bribing her way onto a hush-hush archaeology dig in the deserts of Tunisia, Dr. Lewis discovered a polar bear skeleton (!) and a Hydra Station collar buried in the rocky soil. Charlotte's face lit up; clearly, she had a hunch — and perhaps feverish hope — about what she was going to find. (My skeleton theory: Dharma was using the polar bears as guinea pigs for teleportation and/or time-travel experiments. Why? To invalidate the God-killing theory of evolution by planting false evidence in Earth's fossil record, of course!)
Fantastic Four analogue Susan Storm, the FF's token female, whose ''hard light'' powers were handy for conjuring bullet-repelling shields and making herself invisible. Wanna bet Charlotte is hiding something about herself — something that's right in front of us but we can't see? Something besides a bulletproof vest? More on this in a minute.
Name Frank Lapidus
Occupation Pilot; also ''a drunk,'' according to Naomi. And since he sports the required accessory for spiritually wasted TV boozers — a scruffy beard — she must be right. (But since it's only a small beard, maybe he's only a little boozer.)
Island introduction Found by Jack's crew. Despite the electrical storm, Lapidus managed to land the helicopter, the sight of which caused Jack, Kate, and Sayid to beam like kids on Christmas morning.
Name game Lapidus is a type of granite.
Fantastic Four analogue Ben Grimm, who piloted the team's ill-fated spaceflight through a storm of cosmic rays and was transformed into the sad-eyed, rock-encrusted Thing for his trouble.
Backstory intrigue While watching coverage of the Oceanic 815 salvage, Lapidus became convinced the corpse in a pilot's uniform couldn't really have been the plane's pilot because he wasn't wearing his wedding ring. Of course, we have reason to know he's correct. After all, we saw the pilot get eviscerated by the Monster in the first episode. But how could Lapidus be so certain? Because he used to work with Capt. Seth Norris (Heroes' Greg Grunberg in a still-photo cameo) at Oceanic Airways. Lapidus, in fact, was originally scheduled to sit in Oceanic 815's captain's chair. (Did you try calling the number on Lapidus' TV screen? It's 888-548-0034 — and it works.)
Clearly, the Freighter Four have more secrets to spill, not to mention their own private agendas. But we were told their primary common objective for coming to the Island. Their job — initiated by Abbaddon, the creepy suit who last week harassed Flash-Forward Hurley at the mental hospital — isn't to rescue the castaways but to abduct Ben. (''Their mission is a man,'' to borrow the tagline from Saving Private Ryan, which featured a brilliant performance by Jeremy Davies as a courage-challenged soldier.)
While the Jack Pack wrapped their mind around that revelation, the Locke Lot was on the verge of screwing things up for the Freighter Four by assassinating their quarry. The über-Other begged for his life by pulling the old I'll-tell-you-secrets trick, but Locke called his bluff with a dead-serious question encoded with a slight wink at the audience: ''What is the Monster?'' Ben looked baffled, then said, ''I don't know.'' Locke cocked the gun, and with no choice but to come clean, Ben blurted out Charlotte's complete résumé. How does he know so much about Freighter Girl? ''Because I have a man on their boat!''
So who could it be? The safe bet would be ex-castaway Michael: If you've been reading the press about the new season of Lost, you know that at some point Harold Perrineau will be returning to the show. But what if Ben's lying? What if his spy isn't a man but a woman — the same woman he just tried to kill? What if he and Charlotte are in cahoots and that shooting business was all a ruse — another move in Ben's 20,000-steps-ahead-of-everyone Island chess game? Theories! I have tons more of them, including the logic-tortured argument that Charlotte is the daughter of Ben's Dharma-days gal pal Annie. (Do the research — they look a lot alike!)
But it's time for me to turn the space over to you for your thoughts and quibbles. Did you dig Superhero Jack as much as I did? (''I don't know, Miles — how stupid are you?'') Do you think something dark is brewing inside Sawyer? How did you like Locke's disclosure that he's taking orders from Ghost Walt? And hello, Vincent! Post