Things I Noticed – The Shape of Things To Come
This is hands down my new favorite episode of LOST. As the writers pull even tighter on the strings that bring all of LOST's loose ends together, it would be easy for them to leave out the stuff that made the show great. Instead they feed us the tantalizing answers we've been dying for while slapping us with jaw-dropping action and heart-rending drama… not to mention explosions, gunfire, and the alien shredding of jungle soldiers the likes of which have not been since since Predator or Commando. Things I Noticed:
Arriving at the island via high tide, Doc Ray's murdered corpse poses new questions for everyone. Of course the real questions don't begin until Bernard correctly translates the freighter's Morse code response. From the look of Daniel's face as he tells the 815'ers that "time is relative", at least he and Charlotte have a pretty good idea of how the doctor could be in two places at once: both alive and dead to boot.
Let's assume for a minute that the freighter people aren't lying about the doc's condition. If the chopper's return journey to the freighter seemed to swallow a chunk of time, it makes sense that a voyage from the freighter to the island would regurgitate it. Yet the doc shows up dead on the island before he's even killed on the freighter (according to freighter time, anyway). Either way, we've finally got a definitive time difference between the island and the real world, and one that's a lot more than just minutes or seconds. In fact, it seems that the time difference has now reversed itself. Over the course of the season it seemed to be decreasing from its original 31 minutes to only a few seconds, and now it's gone beyond the zero point and the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction... right around the same time as our flashbacks have now swung into flashfowards.
Since the ship is anchored, we can assume the island must be moving, and I'm betting that Desmond tore it loose when he turned the failsafe key. I also think this is what Daniel alluded to with the deck of cards and his ominous comment that it was 'getting worse'. Maybe his ability to jump his consciousness through time and see things are they were (the cards for example) is degrading due to the island's movement. And with the island now slipping through both time and space it's no wonder Widmore's had a hard time finding it.
As mind-blowing as all that might be, it's nothing compared to the revelation that the scar on Doc Ray's cheek has been replaced by a freshly, if badly, stitched cut in the same spot. To me, this is the first real concrete evidence that some of the sharper theories out there have probably been hitting the nail on the head all along: the mind travels through time independently of the body. Case in point, the doc's body travels backward through the time storm to arrive at whatever period in time the island currently exists in (1996?), putting his body back into the exact state it existed at that time (when he'd just been cut). Applying this to the 815'ers, this explains how Locke can walk and how Rose's cancer seems to have disappeared: upon waking on the beach their bodies were returned to the same physical states they were in at that past time – before those injuries. These theories have been out there for a while now, and while they don't explain why Claire wouldn't wake up zero months pregnant, I think they still hold a lot of water.
Ben and Sayid Could Put a Dent in World Hunger by Feeding Rifle Butts To All Who Oppose Them
I have never loved Ben more than I did this episode. He smirks, he lies, he manipulates… standard Ben fare, but then he startles us with facets of his persona we've never seen before: ass-kicking time mercenary, for one. "Oh, you do speak English?" I almost shat myself, and I hope I wasn't the only one.
Ben time skips violently into the desert, obviously from some frozen tundra judging by the quickly dissipating frost on the air around him. He looks shocked and pained; in fact he's injured, and immediately he pukes up the same orange gak Ethan made Juliet drink before she unknowingly slept through her own time jump. This tells us two things: Ben knew in advance he was going to make the trip, and that someone was probably trying to kill him as he made his escape. The most likely place for Ben to acquire an Edgar Halliwax jacket is the same place most likely to displace someone in time – the Orchid station. What makes little sense though is why Ben's wearing a parka if the Orchid resides, like all the other stations, on a tropical island. This suggests that maybe the Orchid station itself exists in a region where you'd find polar bears and Portuguese guys playing chess. And although the fact that Ben's arm is hurt points to the eerily similar arm problems of Candle/Wickman/Halliwax, it is Ben's right arm that is injured – not his left.
I think Ben probably knew when but not where he was jumping to. He looks surprised to wake up in the desert, but knows what year it is. He tells the hotel desk clerk that he's been to Tunisia before, but 'not in a while', yet she gives him a strange look after seeing his name in the book. Check out how Ben's name was only one page deep in the register. 'Not in a while' Ben-time (island-time) probably translated to only a few days of real world time.
I'm attacking Siberia
Lots of not-so-subtle little clues here. Hurley's reference to 'fighting amongst ourselves – that's what he wants!' easily pertains to the division of the 815'ers and all the gun-pointing between the groups. Hurley even loses a die roll at this point, when he's always been impossibly lucky. Up until now, the only person to beat him in a game has been Walt – perhaps the one person more akin to the island than anyone else. Hurley then goes on to mention that Australia's 'the key' to the whole game. Could LOST turn out to be just that - a giant game played between Benjamin Linus and Charles Widmore, with everyone else acting as the pieces? Well guess what? It already is.
There Goes the Paintjob on the Swing Set
When you've got a secret monster cave under your secret room, you definitely need a code 14J. And if you're in need of a code 14J, you gotta get a phone with no numbers on it. You're also required to hide a snub-nosed pump shotgun in your piano bench. These things just go without saying.
I'll bet the freighter jocks were just itching to fire that RPG, too. It must've been torturous for them to drag it all the way across the Pacific Ocean without shooting it off at the first sign of a seagull. As Keamy's crew unleashed on the barracks, Sawyer continued to accumulate hero points by going back for Claire. Splattered in the blood of red-shirts (one who was even wearing a red shirt!), he once again pulled off some very unselfish maneuvers. Sawyer's star keeps rising, and he continues to have the best lines of dialogue in the whole show.
The Writers are having fun with us or Claire is Doomed (or both)
Sawyer: "You alright sweetheart?"
Claire: "A bit wobbly, but I'll live."
Miles: "Well I wouldn't be too sure about that."
Punch-in-the-face foreshadowing? Or does Miles know that Claire will die? If Miles can speak with the dead, and perhaps even the whispers (which at this point seem to be made up of mostly the dead or soon-to-be-dead), he might have future knowledge over who bites the dust. I'm betting that he probably does.
He Changed the Rules…
Ever since Goodwin first mentioned 'the list' to Ana Lucia all the way back in season two, we've understood there are certain rules in LOST that must be followed. "We're the good guys Michael" and "We're not monsters" has always followed the assertion that the Others don't kill "innocent people". Yet they've seemingly done just that. And while we might not know exactly what these twisted rules are, we know that Ben has been obeying them - at least in his own mind.
Keamy's execution of Alex totally stunned me. Ben's reaction was magnified a thousand fold – for the first time in the whole series, his face registered pure, unadulterated astonishment. Ben's plans might not have all unfolded in exactly the manner he intended, but he's always known – on some small level – what was going to happen next. At least until now. The death of his daughter was something completely unforeseen to him. He'd intentionally led her into Keamy's hands, as assured of her safety as he was of Karl's (and possibly Danielle's) demise. As long as they knew who she was, he knew she was safe – at least within the scope of the 'rules'. Alex's death changes everything for him, much the way Nadia's death changes things for Sayid this episode.
Ben goes from sinister to sympathetic in the span of a gunshot. Watching him say goodbye to Alex was one of the most powerful scenes of the entire series. Even the reactions of the other 815'ers seemed genuine. Seeing Ben suffer his daughter's loss, surrounded by photos of her as a child, I felt like we were watching a major turning point in the show. The title of the episode rang especially true here.
Smoke Monster Wins… Fatality!
I'm not sure what new aspect we learned about this smoke monster this week, other than the fact it can be called in like some sort of hellish air-strike. I don't think Ben lied to Locke about not knowing what it is, but he certainly knew how to bring it down upon the barracks in about sixty seconds. The cave beneath Ben's home looks ancient – temple ruins and four-toed statue ancient. Maybe we just learned that Smokey has been here longer than anyone else.
Ben strategically chose the house nearest the glyphed door, giving him some measure of control over the monster or at least a secondary method to keep it away. The sonic fence has apparently been off for while, but the creature hadn't come until Ben removed some other sort of safeguard within the cavern. When it did come, the creature passed over the house and went straight for the intruders. They were the main threat – they were obviously counterproductive to the will of the island. They weren't scanned or tickled; they were immediately dealt with in a manner consistent with a furious animal released after a long caging. I still don't think Smokey's agenda is 100% in tune with Ben or Jacob's, which is why I think the Others were probably scared shitless of it.
The End of New Othertown
Ben and the 815'ers take big steps toward new alliances this episode, with Ben even chiding them for their five minutes of doubt. Caution and secrecy is tossed aside - at this point their interests are aligned, fully and completely. As they provide a united front against the incoming freighter commandos, Ben begins to enlighten them even more. Hurley's 'fighting amongst ourselves' line applies here more than ever.
Ben explains to Locke that he needs to survive, and how he himself will not be hurt. After the chaos, Ben talks freely in front of everyone about meeting with Jacob. He provides Locke with both a direction and a purpose. Looking relieved, Locke hands Ben back the torch of leadership, both literally (as he hands him the torch) and figuratively. The new Others are dissolved - Sawyer and Claire head back to the beach. This sets Miles up for what I believe to be his primary purpose: a trip to Jacob's cabin.
Jack's got the Meat Sweats
Jack has extreme nausea and his Right Guard suddenly takes a left. The first thing through my mind was that he was experiencing some sort of time-sickness, just as Ben had done in the Sahara. As he sweated through that shirt I expected him to hurl orange gak all over Bernard at any moment. My reasoning here was backward: since we know Jack's leaving the island soon, I thought perhaps he was experiencing some sort of reverse time travel symptoms. Anyway, that was my first idea. Watching the previews for next week seemed to shatter that theory just as fast as it had hatched.
It's Better to have Loved and Lost… than to Never have Loved at all…
… unless you're in love with Sayid Jarrah, because that guy is an absolute DEATH-MAGNET. Fresh from the island he's managed to find, marry, and get Nadia killed – all within less than a year. Not quite as fast as he did with Shannon or Elsa, but an impressive time nonetheless.
Ben hasn't missed a step since leaving the island. His courtship of Sayid is as brilliant as always - in his own words: "I gather intelligence on people and I exploit it". Knowing who killed Nadia, Ben gathers the evidence and approaches Sayid from the only angle that won't get his neck snapped. He lays the trap with some very Mr. Bean-like 'tailing' of his suspect to his bumbling capture in the alleyway. Ben shrewdly plays the Widmore card right before Sayid pumps a clip of real and a half clip of imaginary ammo into his wife's killer. One look of mock surprise and a gentle protest later, our vengeful Sayid is ready for an international man-hunt. Best friends forever!
The question now becomes who Ben and (an unknowing) Sayid are hunting? He knows exactly where Widmore is, and getting to him seems pretty easy. Apparently, killing him is not in the scope of the rules either – at least for Ben. Is he truly after Penny? And if so, why would he need Sayid for that?
MacCutcheon's Whisky – it isn't just for Breakfast Anymore
I honestly didn't expect a showdown between Ben and Widmore, at least not this season. I always thought such a meeting would be more climactic than the quiet bedroom scene we were provided with, but it was far from disappointing. In the dialogue between the two of them, we learned some of the most important stuff yet.
"I know who you are, boy". This is the second time someone's said that about Ben. The first time was not so long ago, when Miles told him essentially the same thing. I think he even punctuated it with an "I know what you are". That alone is extremely interesting to me.
Ben knows Widmore too. They face off like old arch-enemies. "Everything you have, you took from me", Widmore tells him. "The island is mine. It always was, it will be again". This seems to associate Widmore with Dharma. It also reinforces my belief that Charles Widmore has physically been to the island, which I think is very important. Probably when Ben was a boy. He mentions nightmares, and I don't think he's speaking of normal everyday ones.
Most interesting of all is that they cannot kill one another. It could be they're indestructible in the same sense that bullets would currently bounce off Michael's head. Personally, I tend to think they need each other for something, or more specifically, they rely on each other in a Ying-Yang sort of way. A light/dark, good/evil, black/white sort of thing. As Tim Curry says in Legend: one can't exist without the other. Maybe Widmore is even Ben's constant.
When Ben accuses him of changing the rules and murdering his daughter, Charles Widmore calmly corrects him. He tells Ben that he himself was responsible for Alex's death. In retrospect, this is probably true. In the past I mentioned how Ben had wanted something all his own, something just for himself, something not pre-determined by the will of the island. That something was Alex. Ben took her from Rousseau, took her as his daughter, and made her his own. If he hadn't done this, she might still be alive. From a Jacob-following, island-serving, one-directional Ben, this one thing has always seemed a little unorthodox. And here Charles Widmore calls him on it.
In the end, it seems they're both playing a high-stakes game. Widmore even uses the term 'game' during their meeting. Only now that Widmore has changed the rules, can Ben also? Does this mean that fate can be re-written? That's the trick here, I think. The Shape of Things to Come might just mean that things to come can be shaped. The future is an open canvas - nothing's really predetermined. Except maybe, for the ending of LOST.