Things I Noticed – Meet Kevin Johnson
There are so many shows that are formulaic. Take CSI for example. It’s not a bad show, but you know someone’s going to get killed in the first two minutes, and someone’s going to get caught in the last two minutes. And in the other 56, you can count on impossibly clever sarcastic banter, DNA testing (with a turnaround time of an hour or two), and people who never go home until the crime is solved. LOST is the polar opposite of all that. LOST is Thunderdome – anything goes. The show has constantly evolved on every level; characterization, story-telling methodology, and the mass introduction of new characters. And while we’ve been distracted by all that, the show has very subtly gone from spending more time off-island than on island. Two seasons ago, when chicken-suited Jin warned us that everything was going to change, we had no clue just how much. But more than halfway through season four now, LOST is pulling it off by feeding us answers week after week and keeping us sated and happy. At least, that is, until the next time they decide to yank the rug out from under us. Things I Noticed:
No More Secrets… Unless you’re a Red-Shirt
Do they ride the swing set? Play backgammon? What do the red-shirts do while the cool kids have their exclusive little meetings? That’s probably one question LOST won’t ever answer for us. Arntz was onto all that and the writers quickly killed him off.
Sawyer’s smirk rocked the room this meeting – I think Ben even seemed a little alarmed by it. Looks were very big in this scene. Watch Ben’s face as he stares at Aaron… a baby born on the island, a reflection of his biggest failure. All the plans he made, all the people he manipulated - yet this was the one thing he couldn’t do. He smartly approaches Alex, the only one he could possibly convince of anything. He tells her the men on the Freighter are dangerous. ‘More dangerous than you?’ Ben pauses dramatically here, knowing he has to convince his daughter to go. ‘Yes, but your mother will protect you’. Foreshadowing, or does Ben know exactly what’s going to happen next? My guess is he already knows that Danielle and Karl are going to take bullets in lieu of Alex. Watch Danielle’s reaction as Ben says this… it’s almost as if she guesses the same thing. She glances back at him quizzically, looking twice before closing the door.
At this point it’s easy to think that the Temple-dwelling Others shot Karl and Danielle. After all, Ben did send them down that way (or did he?) It’s possible that Ben’s convenient little map was a crock of shit. He could’ve stamped the Temple logo anywhere – neither Alex nor Karl knew there even was a Temple site. I think the gun-happy freighter jocks did the shooting. Last I checked the Others didn’t have silencers, and if they’re still in league with Ben, they don’t kill ‘innocent people’. Going along with that, I find it hard to believe Ben didn’t know where and when the gun squad would show up. Judging from his track record of being ten steps ahead of everyone else, I’d say he knew precisely what was going to happen. Telling Alex they’d want to use her against him was Ben’s way of planting the seeds that saved her from being shot. He knew it was the only way to keep her alive, and quite possibly get her into a position where he could use her later on. Sneaky, underhanded, selfish… but when you’re playing chess with human pieces you sometimes have to sacrifice pawns to gain position advantage on the board.
I also think Danielle will live – that chick is tough as nails. If she does, you can bet your ass she’ll be going very Rambo II in her efforts to get Alex back, especially since the last time she lost her it was for about two decades. This possibly lends even more credibility to Ben’s future sight, with his words about Danielle protecting her.
The Rumors of my Death have been Greatly Exaggerated
Although Miles survived against vast spoiler speculation, I can’t say I was too surprised. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t dragged into the storyline just to speak with dead Naomi for two minutes while the camera was fixed on Jack and Kate anyway. No, there’s gotta be a really spooky Sixth Sense scene coming up soon - what with all the walking dead, vanishing specters, and creepy whispering. We need to understand why Abbadon slid Miles onto the fantastic four team before he’s allowed to eat a bullet (unless of course, he DUI’s).
I loved how Hurley put him right into season 4 check though: ‘Dude… we knew that like, forever ago’. Kinda like saying: ‘Hey, didn't you get the memo? Writer's strike - shortened season – end of the show coming up… more answers than questions this time around, you dig?’
Naomi’s got Plumber’s Crack
Yeah, we all noticed it. Some of us paused it, sniffed it, and studied high-definition screenshots of it. Still, it needed to be mentioned here, because it was certainly one of the things I noticed.
Can’t a Brotha Get Some Sleep?
Sucks to be Desmond. For years you get to wake up every 108 minutes to the swan timer beeping its brains out. Then you wake up naked in a jungle, wake up in your old apartment, wake up in 1996, and now you have to wake up to the Swan’s two-minute warning horn… and without the benefit of any Mama Cass. No canned peaches, either.
Since the dawn of LOST, we’ve seen recurring themes, people, places, and numbers. But the most interesting to me, have been the recurring objects. Some of them are innocuous, like chessboards and McCutcheon’s whisky. Others are a lot harder to explain, such as why the same Geiger counter in Locke’s season one apartment showed up in the Swan hatch with Desmond. Or why the alarm clock in Desmond & Penny’s flat sounded exactly like the countdown timer.
This episode, the Freighter’s klaxon horn is a 100% reproduction of the Swan’s two-minute warning siren. Sorry, but I’m not buying any more uncanny coincidences. If the island can have a conscience, an agenda, and even (if we are to believe Mr. Friendly this episode) an influence on people in the outside world… I give it enough leeway to have influence over the flashbacks, flash-forwards, and just about anything else in the show. Hell, I’d even say it went to Fiji and pulled Naomi’s pants down.
Michael Loves Himself a Good Fried Wanton
Unless the island’s been prank-ordering Michael some serious deliveries, he’s got a Chinese food addiction to rival Charlie’s heroin habit. Other than that no mystery here, only answers. We found out exactly what Michael and his boy have been doing since leaving the island at the end of S2: Walt’s been battling puberty from his grandmother’s protective fortress, and Michael’s been turning over a new leaf.
It’s extremely impressive that Michael had enough balls to tell Walt exactly what he did to get them off the island. I’m sure he never thought to see any of those people again, and could’ve cruised through fatherhood without ever being found out. Putting Walt in a place where he’d be better off, even though it meant he couldn’t see him anymore, was a very unselfish move - part one of Mike’s long redemption process. Unable to live with his actions, he was genuinely guilt-ridden to the point of rocketing himself into a dumpster. Step three was buying a gun and pulling the trigger – another key moment of indisputable penance. And finally, with his son already safe, Michael was willing to go back to the island - something worse than even killing himself - on a mission to keep his castaway-mates from danger.
Now hey, I’m not forgetting Mike gut-shot a pair of women who were just chilling out in the Swan hatch. But I am saying that Kevin Johnson is very different than the man who drove the boat off the island. By triggering the bomb sequence he passed his final exam - Ben was testing him to see if he was serious about redemption. At that moment Michael became ‘one of the good guys’ in Ben’s eyes. But then again, list-happy Ben might not exactly have 20/20 vision when it comes to what’s right and wrong.
Michael’s story filled in a hell of a lot of blanks for us. We learned that ‘some’ people can somehow leave the island, and I seriously doubt it was by submarine. Between the time the sky went purple and Jack/Kate/Sawyer woke up at the beating zoo, Friendly managed a trip to NYC and back, a nice penthouse suite, and maybe even a male escort. We got confirmation that Friendly is gay, although we could’ve surmised that from the way he throws a football and how light on his feet he can be in a darkened alley. Tom had been following Michael, and knew he’d been to the pawn shop to sell Jin’s watch. This was obvious when the first thing he said to him was: ‘Sir, you got the time?’
I fully believe the island does have an influence in the outside world, at least on the people who were unlucky enough to spent time on it. Jack not being able to jump at the end of last season and Michael not being able to die… the writers would have us believe the island isn’t done with these people yet and still need them for something. Perhaps this is akin to Locke surviving his gunshot wound and Mikhail surviving just about everything else. But as suspicious season four viewers, as soon as something like this becomes obvious to us we immediately reject it. We look for logical answers instead of supernatural ones. I’ve talked to people who think Friendly disarmed Michael and swapped his gun off for an identical one that had no firing pin. Admittedly that idea is kind of slick, but what’s even slicker is the way the producers slid that in there – casting doubt over what the true answer is. But this time, I think the more obvious answer is the correct one: the island can’t let Michael go just yet.
I think we also learned that Michael changed the ship’s radio frequency… the one that Naomi had to change back in order to re-establish contact with the freighter right before she died. They made a point of Minkowski showing him the frequency knob. He wouldn’t have destroyed the radio outright, because it was his only link to Ben. And obviously of course, Mike was the one sabotaging the ship and unlocking the sick bay.
But Wait - Was there Mama Cass after All?
If you still need proof that the island’s reach extends beyond its shores, Libby came to Michael in the hospital. They dressed her as a nurse to open up the possibility that Mike was hallucinating as he woke up, mistaking the real nurse for Libby, his crushing guilt manifesting itself in the form of one of the people he killed. But nah – it was Libby. And she showed up carrying blankets, just as she did when Michael drilled a bullet through her solar plexus.
The second time Libby appeared in the engine room, I thought I heard spooky whispering and music that sounded kinda like Mama Cass(?) I could be wrong on that, but the way LOST repeats everything, especially sounds, made me wonder. This time Libby was dressed in her death-garb, appeared for a split second, and then vanished like umbrella-less Harper, or underwater Charlie, or the rain-slicked Walt who appeared to Shannon. It’s almost like these people come from another place or time, dragging with them the residual sounds from wherever they truly are, and have only seconds to do or say what they need to. Interestingly, the only exception to this is Charlie’s visit to Hurley in the mental hospital. Not only did he show up completely dry on a sunny morning, but Charlie strolled casually up to his friend as if he had all the time in the world. He didn’t utter a spooky warning or act ghostlike at all – Charlie spoke (and dressed) with the laid-back mannerisms of a rock star. He didn’t speak backwards or suddenly disappear - at least not until Hurley dismissed him. Somehow I think it’s important to detach this one occurrence and treat it differently from all the other ghost-sightings splattered throughout all four seasons.
The Freighter Captain is soooooooo IN on Everything
After this episode, there should be little doubt that the Freighter captain knows a LOT more than just the fine art of desertion beatings. Not only is he totally in the loop, but I think he actually knew who his saboteur was long before Sayid used badass submission techniques to march Kevin Johnson into the captain’s quarters.
Watch Gault’s reaction as they present Michael to him - he’s not even the least bit surprised. In fact, he looks almost disappointed. I think he and Widmore knew exactly who Michael was from the very beginning, and were planning on somehow using that knowledge to find Ben. Sayid and Desmond just blew it for him. He intentionally called Johnson to “clean up this mess” to see if Michael’s ex-friends would approach him. Check out how he watches them over his shoulder on the way back to his quarters. I actually think Gault expected them to secretly buddy up together… he had no way of knowing that Michael committed double-homicide and was totally hated. The captain was completely caught off guard by Sayid turning him in.
I’d also bet the captain is in no big hurry to get the engine fixed whatsoever. His orders are to stay anchored off the coast of the island, going no closer than the time-storm, until his mission is accomplished. Part one of that mission seemed to be disabling the evil poison-gas dispensing power-station (rolling my eyes as I write that…) and part two might be the brute-force elimination of everyone else via wedgie-giving freighter-jocks.
Rough Postulations about Widmore
We know very little about Charles Widmore, and what we do know has come in bits and pieces. At this point, I’m going to speculate that Widmore has been the island before. I think he has to have. There’s no way I believe he’s just some billionaire yahoo looking for ultimate power or the fountain of youth. Without having been on the island and knowing first-hand what it’s capable of, he wouldn’t be searching with such absolute fanaticism.
As next week’s preview shows, Ben is genuinely afraid of him. I don’t think we’ve seen Ben afraid of anyone, and this gives Widmore more island-cred than we first might’ve realized. Maybe if Widmore has flashed through his lifetime the way Desmond and Minkowski have, he has the same type of advanced knowledge that Ben has. Knowing what, where, and when everything is going to happen might be the only weapon that could possibly defeat Ben/Jacob. In the two sides of LOST’s chessboard, these are the kings. They make the plays, they give the orders, and they always try to keep a few steps ahead of each other.
If what I just theorized turns out to be true, it might explain why he sent Desmond to the island. He knew Desmond would need to be there to push the button. What he might not have counted on was flight 815, the crash, and our main characters causing the implosion of the Swan hatch.
The Plane STILL Really Did Crash
Sorry, but Friendly’s little folder didn’t impress me at all. I don’t care how many photos of empty gravesites he shows us, or how many bogus invoices he can mock up using MS Word. There’s no way I believe that anyone planted a Boeing 777 loaded with rotting bodies (wouldn’t like, um, their heads and limbs fall off?) into the deepest ocean trench just to ‘convince’ people to stop looking for a crashed jetliner. As if they’d even look to begin with. When you arrange that little mission what do you list as the target search area? The lower half of the Pacific fucking Ocean? Yeah, okay.
And let’s not forget that the Lawnmower Man wasn’t just concerned about the ringless pilot. He was also dropping a toy plane into his fish tank to see how it would rest on the gravel floor. A crude and probably inaccurate little experiment, but the fact remains that Lapidus doesn’t just doubt the pilot’s identity – he doubts the whole validity of the crash footage itself.
On a side note, I watched the Orchid Video for the first time today (youtube). I’m not sure how much weight these outside-of-LOST clues hold, but if we are to trust them, the whole duplicate objects shifting in time thing really makes a giant impact. Watching the secondary #15 rabbit pop up in the future(?) from a place it had been in the past, while Hallowax was holding its twin counterpart could easily explain how there are two flight 815’s. The split would’ve occurred at the moment the aircraft hit the purple sky. One plane skidded into the beach of LOST island, while the other one crashed miles away in the trench. Why miles away? Because maybe that’s where it existed previously, however many hours ago into the past – perhaps the exact moment the pilot lost radio contact.
So check it out: The plane disappears from the current world, reappearing on the island. The absence of that matter (both the physical aircraft and the people inside it) needs to be accounted for in the real world. Hence, universal course-correction: the plane is placed on the ocean floor. Who’s in the plane? The original passengers, our main characters, except for the people who were “not supposed to be here”. Who are they? Hurley for one. Seth Norris, for another. Crazy stuff, but this is LOST.
“So he’s one of us now?”
No, sorry honey. You’re one of THEM.
Claire has it backwards. Ben hasn’t joined the 815 club, it’s more like Team Locke has joined the Others. The slow transition of how that happened has been the best plotline of season four. Next episode’s preview of Ben and Locke working frantically together had me grinning from ear to ear. He’s employing Michael, he’s got Sayid working for him in the future, and now he’s pushing into position on Locke. Not only is Ben free, but he’s a few steps away from leading his own little group once again. And if they hook up with Richard and crew (I’m crossing my fingers that this happens), it’ll be a much bigger group.
The way Ben manipulates things to his advantage makes him so awesome. He moves people and resources around the island, revealing knowledge only where and when it leads others into doing what he needs. As I watched him send Danielle, Alex, and Karl away to their ultimate fate, I was reminded sharply of something Locke said a long time ago, when he was describing the game Mousetrap (which happens to also exist in Ben’s rec-room) to that little boy in the store:
“Well you start with all these parts off the board. And then, one by one, you build the trap – shoe, bucket, tub – piece by piece it all comes together. And then you wait until your opponent lands here on the old cheese wheel. And then if you set it up just right, you spring the trap.”
This is the very heart of LOST, summed up for us in season one.
See ya in a month.