Things I Noticed – The Other Woman
The only way this episode of LOST could be any less Juliet-centric would be if they dropped the bikini scene. Thankfully, they didn’t. The rest of the episode had nothing to do with Juliet and everything to do with everything else. Things I Noticed:
Dammit Jin, why didn’t you stop them!
Sun’s Translation: “He says they went off into the jungle”.
Actual Translation: “Piss off dick, I’ve got my own problems! I’ve gone from one of LOST’s most beloved characters to getting less screen-time than dead Charlie. Hurley and Sawyer have a VCR and horseshoes. I’m completely out of the loop… the writers have totally Arzt’d me! The new chopper characters can kiss my ass.” (My Korean’s not that great, but I’m pretty sure that was the gist of it).
You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You're the same decaying organic matter as everything else.
Oh yeah, and welcome to the island. Don’t sweat my ‘experimental’ degrees or my HANSO relay-race recognition award, none of that stuff really matters. The real tipoff here should be my freshly-plucked, super-evil, mega-arched eyebrows. Do they match my condescending mannerisms? Good, cause I’ve been working on that all week.
Harper could very well be the ‘Other woman’. Of course, so could Juliet. Hell, Ben could be the Other woman this episode - the way he sashayed up that hill (and ran to get the ham out of the oven) had me questioning a few things. In the end though, it’s all the same. The over-abundance of circles in Harper’s office, the combo of Ben’s safe, the way Juliet dragged her little wooden comb around the shiny black rock in the sand of her meditation pit… all of this is fun LOST stuff. It’s good to ponder, but just how much does it all mean?
This episode, I think not much. It seemed the dialogue was a lot more important than the action (or lack of it), as well as consisting of some of the best lines ever. “It’s very stressful being an Other” was pretty funny, but “See you guys at dinner” nearly made me spit up. And as much as we usually hang on Ben’s every word, we’re always careful not to get overly excited because 99% of everything Ben says is total bullshit. Tonight though, it seemed a little different to me. “I always have a plan” was interesting, but “We have shared interests” was even more so. Ben went on to exonerate the freighter crew of evil with the “no not them… the one they work for” line. Seems for the most part the crew was as harmless (and out of the loop) as they initially seemed to be. And while it’s easy to argue Ben was only fast-talking his way out of captivity, to me that very aspect seemed to make his words all the more genuine. I felt as if Ben had a breakthrough – he’d wasted enough time in his cell, had pondered his next move, and had decided that giving Locke some answers was a lot more productive than the continued mind games.
Maybe you and your gun can go too
It was pretty obvious to me that rain-slicked Harper was just another manifestation of the Smoke Monster. Black, wet, accompanied by whispers… even its goal seemed to coincide with that of tall island Walt: to violently stop whatever mission the freighter crew was attempting to accomplish. We saw it scan Eko and appear as Yemi, and since we know Juliet has encountered it at least once it’s not that big a stretch to say it probably obtained some of her memories too. Jack and Juliet are nothing more to it than guns needed to accomplish a task.
If so, the BSM has shed its mystical smoke-like appearance and more regularly taken on the forms of people familiar to those it tries to manipulate. Much like the Others taking off their homeless clothes, the need is no longer there. When Juliet points out that Harper couldn’t possibly be following a captive Ben’s orders, BSM Harper tells her that Ben is “exactly where he wants to be”. This part I believe. Ben’s been an actor in this play since opening night, and he knows where and when all the curtain calls are.
But is drippy wet Harper truly relaying orders directly from Ben? I don’t think so. I’ve long thought there was more than one force on the island: one associated with Jacob, and one associated with the BSM, the whispers, and the rain. I’m not sure they’re entirely opposing sides, but I’m not sure they have the exact same agenda either. In fact, I’d wager they don’t. I’ll even go one step further and theorize the BSM as a ‘purist’ renegade force sometimes acting counterproductively to the island’s best interests, without really meaning to do so.
And meeting Miles last episode, I don’t think Ben sees the freighter crew as a threat as much as the person behind the freighter. Ben using the gas to kill everyone on the island is just absurd – it would do nothing to accomplish his end goal. Knowing this, I can’t see him needing Daniel and Charlotte shot dead. Their mission to neutralize the threat of poison gas seemed more like something the freighter-boss would want accomplished (primary objective?) But to Ben the gas is irrelevant, and I don’t think he cares either way.
Tissues, Tissues, Tissues(?)
In S4E1 there were three instances of “Ho’s” in the episode. Tonight I saw tissues on Harper’s coffee table, and a whole Dharma gross of them behind Goodwin when he was scrounging for bandages. I’ll bet there’s a third scene with tissues in it, but if so I missed it. For once Jack didn’t cry.
If you can’t follow the rabbit, you might as well butcher it
Seems that Locke is fresh out of chickens. This episode however, he has something better: patience. Although he temporarily diffused the situation with Claire, Locke was wise enough to recognize that without some kind of direction, Ben’s predictions of rebellion would be a likely scenario. Hence the uneasy truce between them, where Ben willingly shares his “intel” in return for some manner of freedom.
But what exactly did Locke get? The Widmore reveal seemed a bit too obvious for LOST. Whichever side turns out to be white or black, it just seems a little straightforward. As Ben eagerly gave up his safe combination I couldn’t help but think of the magic box – the box that contains whatever it is you imagine being in there. It sure seemed convenient that Ben had an incriminating tape and a neatly organized file – and that’s it – in that safe (box). Just as it seemed convenient Ben came up with a tape of Juliet’s niece on a swing-set when he needed to persuade her to stay, or came up with a tape of the Red Sox to convince Jack to do his operation. Makes me wonder just how many times Ben has ‘taped over’ stuff.
For a long time now, LOST has been all about free will. Ben could’ve forced Jack to operate, but told him directly that he needed him to want to do it. He needed this because it was the only possible way the operation would succeed. Likewise Ben could’ve forced Juliet to stay on the island, but for her work to succeed she had to be a willing inhabitant. Notice that she made progress while she was happy to be there, but the minute she was being kept against her will everything she tried failed to save her patients from death.
Along this same vein, Ben needs Locke to believe that Widmore is the enemy (whether he is or not) to accomplish his next goal. The only way to do this is by physically showing him, because as Locke points out several times “The problem Ben, is that I don’t believe you”. Although Locke is a man of faith, Ben’s track record is way too spotty. Locke needs a visual. Ben provides. Or does the magic box provide him, once again, exactly what is needed – the same way a spinal surgeon fell from the sky?
Goodwin drinks real wine, not that boxed Dharma crap
Seeing Goodwin is always cool, but his relationship with Juliette this episode was important only insofar as showing us how it affected Ben. Aside from that, the only real notable thing about Goodwin was the chemical burn on his arm. Not sure where he got it, but he was sneaking around in order to treat it, probably hiding it from Ben. When Ben talked about insurrection, he wasn’t kidding around.
Hey, wow, nice gas masks and unnghhhh….
Somewhere out there is a school… and at this school, they teach all gun-wielding heroes and villains the exact proper methods for pistol-whipping someone into unconsciousness – one shot, back of the neck - with a 100% success rate, every single time. I’d love to go to this school, because it seems like such a useful skill to have (I think William Shatner went to this school).
Telnet Connection Refused
Now I don’t know if Dan went to the same computer school as the skinny girl from Jurassic Park: “I know this! This is a unix system!” (…it wasn’t a unix system btw), but where I come from when you try to telnet and your connection gets refused, you usually can’t issue ‘set’ commands. No, not even set commands that maximize the coolant on the suddenly overheating giant vats of evil chemical gas in an abandoned station on the ass-end of the island.
Sorry, it all seemed a little Austin Powers to me. I get the whole “looks like they’re bad but they turn out to be good” twist on the whole Dan/Charlotte thing, but the Tempest station was too contrived. In my opinion, there was a better way to do all that.
In any case, the big question is why was the system overheating to begin with? Did it begin to overheat when Charlotte and Dan got there? Did they set it off accidentally or on purpose? And why did Juliet walk right past that big giant sign that said “Emergency Shut Off Switch”? I really have no idea. Let’s chalk this up to the freighter-crew disabling just one more of the island’s mechanical safeguards in order to pave the way for the big boss.
Juliet + Jack = Doesn’t do it for me
The scene lacked passion. The kiss was obligatory, almost an afterthought. Neither one of them looked like they wanted to be there, and it also seemed to happen at an awkward time. But hey, it’s the first kiss and I’m willing to give it a second shot. Hopefully we’ll see some of the animalistic sweaty jungle attraction of Kate and Sawyer next time.
Horseshoes and Hand Grenades
Both in back-to-back episodes! Does Miles jaw hurt yet? An even better question: does Hurley ever miss? Horseshoes, H-O-R-S-E, ping-pong, the lottery… Hurley is going to be the pivotal character when everything goes down. When a crucial moment requires a golden touch, they’re definitely gonna want Hugo around.
Something to call his own
Okay, so the episode wasn’t about Juliet. It wasn’t about the Other woman, or Goodwin, or the Dan / Charlotte mission impossible last second save-the-day countdown. This episode was all about Ben.
For his whole life (or lives, depending upon how you look at things), Ben’s done the will of the island. He’s followed its orders and its rules – he’s protected it and sacrificed for it. He’s done everything a good son would do, and more.
Somewhere along the line though, Ben began to covet. He wanted something of his own. One of the things Ben wanted was to rectify the fertility ‘problem’ of the island. The jury is still out regarding the source of this. There are lots of theories as to why children cannot be conceived and born on the island; some of them very complicated involving time and existence. I even fronted a theory that Ben inadvertently manifested the problem himself, by remaining so guilt-stricken over the death of his mother during childbirth. Almost as if the island exhibits a “What’s in there? Only what you bring with you…” quality to it.
Regardless, Juliet was brought to the island for a specific purpose: Ben’s purpose. When Ben says “You are mine” he doesn’t necessarily mean it in a romantic sense. While that might arguably be a part of it, Ben’s shiny new toy was supposed to settle in and solve that nagging fertility problem. Instead, Juliet is distracted by thoughts of home and her terminally ill sister. With a little help from Mikhail, this is a problem Ben can handle. But then Juliet is distracted by something else: naked Goodwin. And this is something Ben cannot compete with.
By sending Goodwin off to die, Ben is knowingly sacrificing one of his best men. The outcome isn’t in the best interests of the island, yet he does it anyway. Even the Others were pissed off last season about the fertility project, calling it a ‘waste of time’. Ben’s feeble attempts at wooing Juliet with Opera CD’s and ham don’t work, because the necessary social skills are perhaps the only talents Ben couldn’t obtain while growing up on the island. Ben fumbles around miserably, even comically in this area.
Now think about the only other time in his life Ben tried to do something just for himself – Alex. Trying to be the father he never had, Ben seized and raised Alex as his own… only to have that come back and bite him in the ass too. Coveting certain things for himself is Ben’s one fatal flaw: and as these trains derail they appear to wreck his well-laid plans. Jacob abandons him, his people leave him – Ben’s lost sight of the island’s agenda. Only by putting himself back on that path can he gain favor again.
I’ll also advance one last thought: Ben’s been trying desperately to change the future. His future is also his past – everything comes back around – Ben has seen and done everything on LOST a myriad of times already, and each time he tries something different. For the very sake of sanity, Ben cannot subscribe to Ms. Hawkings belief that you can’t ever change fate. Instead, Ben has got to believe that the future can be altered. Yet even as Goodwin dies, good old course correction steps in and quickly provides Juliet with Jack. And Ben is NOT going to be happy about that.