Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.
In the first episode after the mini-hiatus, Lost focused all of it’s attention on one thing:
Turning Ben from a villain to a hero.
Yes, yes, I know he’s still smirking at his own manipulative genius, looking out only for number one. Turning him into a hero doesn’t necessarily require that he have his figurative nads cut off. He’ll always be a bit of a creep, but he’s a creepy good guy. Don’t believe me? How bad did you feel for him when he said goodbye to his daughter? How cool did you think it was when he clocked the guy with his telescopic baton? Who were you most sympathetic to in the final scene?
All along, he’s been saying that he and his group are the good guys. In keeping with my new “everything at face value” Lost philosophy, I’m ready to believe him.
Gee. I hope someone takes this kinda terrorist looking guy down.
(Before we begin sidenote: This week’s episode is entitled “The Shape of Things to Come” which is the title of an H.G. Wells novel. The book details a “future history” which includes a world wide dictatorship, submarine based warfare and an eventual collapse of government which leads to the rise of a Utopian state in its place. Wells was eerily prescient about many of the world’s troubles in the late 20th Century. I suspect the only Lost connection is the idea of a “future history”. The novel itself is supposedly the edited notes of a man who dreams about a history text created in the future. Lost writers seem obsessed with variations on the time travel theme.)
On the beach, Kate is giving herself a sponge bath when Jack strolls by. She gives him a sexy little wave which he halfheartedly returns. He then wanders over to the supply tent and doses himself up with a handful of tablets. Kate sneaks up behind him and half jokingly asks if he has a prescription for the meds. It seems Jack has a stomach bug and is trying to calm it with some anti-biotics.
Kate changes the subject and asks about Sayid and the freighter. He reminds her that Sayid told them that the engine on the boat was down and that they are now unable to communicate with the boat. In his gut, he’s sure that rescue is only a matter of time.
“I thought your gut was sick.”
Before Jack can reassure her further, Vincent’s barking interrupts them. As everyone knows by now, that can’t be good. Sure enough, it’s not.
After a panicked moment where Bernard is frantically calling for help, the assembled group pulls a body from the surf. When they turn it over, we see a familiar, if somewhat pasty, face.
Someone got new headshots!
It’s Ray! The freighter’s doc seems to have met with a helluva shaving accident.
Back in the barracks, Hurley seems concerned.
“We’re all gonna die.”
Sawyer is less concerned.
“Calm down Chicken Little. The sky ain’t fallin’ just yet.”
“This is exactly what he wants. To fight amongst ourselves. You’re making a big mistake, dude.”
Locke interjects. “It’s his to make, Hugo. Let’s get on with it.”
Sawyer makes the fateful choice. “Right. I’m attacking Siberia.”
Yes, the newest game on the show is my all time fave, RISK.
After Sawyer wins his chosen battle, Hurley has a few more choice words for the gamers. “I can’t believe you’re giving him Australia. Australia’s the key to the whole game.”
(Risk addict side note: Two things are striking here. “We’re all gonna die,” is an odd thing to say when three people are playing. I can see him saying “We’re both
gonna die,” but “We’re all gonna die” was obviously a line for effect. Personally, I don’t mind being suckered like that, but I prefer it to be done honestly which this wasn’t. More interestingly, “Australia is the key to the whole game” could be a little message to the audience. I’ve said all along that there MUST be a reason that they went to the trouble of setting the show in Australia originally, since with a very few minor tweaks the story works just as well if the plane takes off from L.A. rather than Sydney. The expense of location shooting, reversed shots of cars and such are unlikely to be “just because”. Of course, in RISK, Australia often IS the key to the whole game.)
I find it interesting that they introduce RISK to the show this week. Up to now, with the exception of poker, all the iconic games in the show have been black and white oriented. Backgammon and chess have figured prominently and their obvious black and white symbolism has been a device that the writers have used to frame “us vs. them” conflicts. RISK is completely different. First, there are NO white pieces, although there are black. You cannot play RISK properly with less than three people, so it seems as though the writers are trying to tell us that there are no longer just white hats and black hats in play. Taken as a symbol in direct contrast to the other symbolic games we’ve seen, RISK seems to represent a “muddying of the waters” where many sides are after the same goal, and that the show is moving into a phase where the concepts of white and black (good and evil) are no longer simple and obvious. RISK is a game of strategy, luck and shifting alliances and more importantly, it can be a game whose outcome is settled by betrayal.
Out in the jungle, Alex is being led around by several men whose faces we don’t see. They force her to her knees and make her enter the code to disarm the sonic fence. She tries to ask them not to hurt the baby that’s with the group, but a pistol to the back of her head convinces her to enter the code as requested. One – Six – Two – Three. Yeah, we all saw that.
In Ben’s house, a phone with no dialing mechanism starts to ring. When Locke picks it up, an automated voice tells him “Code Fourteen J.” Hurley asks who’s calling.
“I think it’s for Ben.”
In another house, Ben is playing piano when Locke and Sawyer rush in.
WAIT! I’m almost done with Endless Love.
“What’s code fourteen J?”
After a beat, Ben recovers. “Where did you hear that?” When Locke tells him, Ben springs into action. He opens the piano bench, pulls out a concealed shotgun, cocks it and hands it to a stunned Sawyer. “We need to get to the other house. It’s easier to fortify and we’ll have better position on the tree lines.”
“What are you talking about?”
When next we see Ben Linus, he’s lying flat on his back in the middle of a desert. The helpful subtitle tells us it’s the Sahara. Considering he’s wearing a parka and a somewhat confused expression, I’d say it’s a safe bet that like my luggage every time I fly, he’s ended up somewhere other than the destination on his ticket.
(Halliwax sidenote: As you’ve probably already googled, “Halliwax” is the name that Marvin Candle uses in the infamous viral video with the duplicated rabbits. So, is this Ben 2.0 or was the duplicate rabbit just a fluke of quantum blah-blah-blah? I doubt we’re going to find out any time soon and even when we do find out, I have a sneaking suspicion that the answer will barely rise to the level of pseudo-science. Still if the folks on the island have a matter transportation device, there could be some interesting and maybe pretty cool story telling to come out of it.)
After getting rid of the airline food, Ben sees two men on horseback ride up. He gives them his best “Hey, I’m just a stupid tourist” look when they point their weapons at him. One dismounts and gives him a rough frisking, coming across a metal object in Ben’s pocket. My Arabic is rusty, but I’m pretty sure that he doesn’t make the requisite “Or are you just happy to see me?” quip. As he moves around behind Ben, we learn something important about Mr. Linus.
He’s a fucking ninja.
Seriously. Benny whips out his “Didn’t I tell you? I’m a fucking ninja” baton, clocks Mr. Frisky, spins around behind him and while using him as a shield he forces him
to shoot Mr. I Don’t Find You Attractive Enough To Frisk.
When Ben turns his “I can kill you in seven different ways right now” bug eyes back to Mr. Frisky, to avoid peeing his khaftan he yells “Surrender! Surrender!”
“Oh, so you do speak English.” Good night Mr. Frisky.
Injured arm? What injured arm. It’s just a flesh wound. Ben can still kill you in seconds with a pair of nail clippers. Considering that basically everybody on the island but Aaron has beaten the living hell out of him at one point or another, this sudden ninja-facation seems…odd. Almost like we’re supposed to start seeing Ben in a whole new light…
Back in the barracks, Ben is leading Sawyer and Locke back to his old house. Note that Ben, capable, calm, in control Ben, is walking. While Sawyer and Locke are almost jogging to keep up. Ben is the leader now. Locke doesn’t know it, but Ben is using this emergency to exert control and more importantly, take control away from Locke. Locke doesn’t realize it, but Ben could have killed him at any moment using nothing more than the melon rind from his breakfast. He’s a fucking ninja.
Of course, Ben still needs Locke.
Ben explains that the code on the phone is a panic code telling him that one of his people has been compromised and forced to deactivate the fence. When he finds out that they debated asking him about the code for nearly five minutes, Ben isn’t impressed.
“Well, so much for our head start.”
Against Ben’s better judgement, Sawyer rushes off to get Claire. Ben keeps Locke close.
“It’s very important that you survive what’s about to happen here, John, so I need you to stay close to me.”
“And why would I do that?”
“Because the people that are coming won’t risk hurting me. You want to live? I’m your best chance.” And, I’m a fucking ninja.
On the beach, Jack is still trying to figure out the dead doctor. He asks Charlotte and Faraday if they know anything about it, but the good doctor was fine the last time they saw him.
“Which was when?”
“When? ‘When’ is kind of a relative term.”
The look on Jack’s face says that he’s not buying the whole time travel thing at the moment. Charlotte changes the tack of the conversation by interjecting that the two of them simply don’t know what happened.
Jack asks about the sat phone, but the microphone was broken and that’s one component you can’t bypass. Trust this former cell phone repair guy on that. Bernard suggests that they could use the phone to transmit a telegraph type message and Daniel agrees, providing they have some essential parts. Kate thinks that they might have salvaged what he’d need from the plane and Mr. Wizard is happy to have something to do that doesn’t involve dead doctors and awkward questions.
Jack catches Bernard before he wanders off.
“Bernard, you got a second?”
In Ben’s house, Ben and Locke are fortifying the weak points with furniture when Hurley comes into the room with Aaron. When he sees what the two men are doing, he wonders how Sawyer is going to get back in.
Speaking of Sawyer, he runs into a redshirt gathering firewood and asks him if he’s seen Claire recently. He hasn’t, but he has seen his final moments as a gunshot from nowhere takes him out. Redshirt number two comes bounding out to see what all the commotion is about and promptly finds out the hard way. Redshirt number three, not wanting to miss his big scene, jumps out the door to check on his fellow disposable castaways and gets a nice bullet in the chest as his reward. The whole time Sawyer is yelling at them to get back in the house, but no one is listening to him.
I was waiting for redshirt number four and a smart ass remark from Sawyer, but alas, redshirt dominoes ended after three large caliber rounds.
This is all your fault, you damn dirty baby.
Sawyer shoots back, runs through a hail of bullets across the compound, returns fire from behind an upturned picnic table. As he runs for Claire’s house, someone in the tree line fires a rocket propelled grenade and turns it into matchsticks.
Sawyer can do nothing but shout her name as her house goes up in a gout of flame.
Ben finds his way into a hotel lobby, still wearing the dead man’s headscarf as a tourniquet. The receptionist speaks excellent English and asks him if it’s his first time in Tunisia.
“No, but it’s been a while.” Last time he rode a polar bear in…
It turns out that Ben’s alias, Dean Moriarty, is a preferred guest at the hotel and by the look on the receptionist’s face, an important one.
As she hands him the key, she asks if there’s anything else she can help him with. He asks her for today’s date. October 24th.
“Yes, sir. 2005.”
With feigned embarrassment, he thanks her and walks away. As he heads for his room, his attention is caught by the name “Sayid Jarah” on the television where a newscaster is speaking in Arabic, as he turns, the words “Oceanic Six” come through in English. Sayid is on the television saying that he only wants to bury his wife in peace.
Back in the barracks, Locke is demanding answers from Ben and yelling at Hurley to take Aaron away from the window. As Hurley leaves, Ben explains that Locke needs to survive because the only person that can help them is Jacob, and he and Locke need to go to him together.
“What makes you think I can find him? I… I don’t even know where the cabin is.”
“I know. But Hurley does.”
Sawyer rushes into the rubble to find Claire.
He pulls her out and rushes to Ben’s house. He doesn’t even have a smart ass remark when she calls him “Charlie”. I suppose it’s not surprising that she’d see a munchkin…er, hobbit after having a house dropped on her.
Go ahead. Take my shoes. My sister will beat your ass up.
With Claire in his arms, Sawyer pounds on the door of Ben’s house, but while Hurley is ready to move the furniture and let him in, Ben has other ideas and cocks his gun to make his point.
Hurley makes his heroic choice and picks up an ottoman and heaves it through the front window. He then helps Sawyer lift Claire across the glassy threshold.
Once they get her safely inside, Sawyer has some serious questions to pose to Ben.
“Why slaughter people without even telling us what they want?”
“Those people were murdered to make you angry, James. So you’d be more likely to come storming in here and throw me to the wolves.”
“Yeah, what’s wrong with that? Sounds like a great plan to me.” He turns to Locke and suggests that they do just that on a three count. Before we can learn if he’s serious or just blowing off steam, the doorbell rings.
After a little eye-speak as they clear away the barricade, Sawyer pulls someone inside with all three guns pointed at him.
“Who the hell let you out?”
“The people who gave me this.” He holds out a walkie talkie. “They want to talk.”
What’re you doing? Nothing. What’re you doing? Nothing. Me too! You’re pretty. You are!
As Sayid prepares to bury his wife, the funeral procession is watched by Ben, posing as a part of the press. He goes up to a roof and photographs a man who is watching the procession as it passes. At one point, Sayid seems to sense his presence and looks up to the roof where he’s perched and right into the camera lens.
Ben runs for his van, but before he can get there, a very pissed off widower tackles him. At first he’s angry that the press has invaded the somber moment of laying his wife to rest, but when he realizes just who he has in his grasp he slows down a bit.
“What are you doing here?”
“I’m here to find the man who murdered your wife.”
Sayid isn’t satisfied with that and shoves Ben roughly into a corner. He should be careful. Ben’s a fucking ninja.
“How did you get here?”
“I came across the Syrian border. It’s really not as difficult as you might…”
“How did you get off the island?
“Your friend Desmond had a boat, remember? The Elizabeth. I followed a heading to Fiji. Then I chartered a plane.” Ben is also a fucking liar.
“You remember the name Charles Widmore, don’t you? The man who tried to convince the world that your plane was on the bottom of the ocean?”
“What does it have to do with me? With Nadia?”
“There was a man at her procession. He goes by the name of Ishmael Bakir. He’s one of Widmore’s men.”
Ben shows him a picture of the man he was just photographing. “Bakir was last seen five days ago in Los Angeles, caught by a traffic camera, speeding away from the corner of La Brea and Santa Monica.”
“That’s three blocks from where Nadia was killed. Why would these people want to murder her?”
“I don’t know. But they did.”
Sayid angrily crushes the photograph in an “I may not be a fucking ninja, but I’m a fucking badass in my own way and I am going to extract some epic, over the top, summer blockbuster style revenge on these people” gesture.
Back at Ben’s house, Miles gives Ben the walkie-talkie after explaining that the hostage isn’t one of Ben’s people who are all prepared to die in the name of the island, but his daughter.
Ben makes contact with Keamy.
“I’d like you to go look out your east window so we can talk about this face to face.”
Ben obliges him and peeks through the curtains. Keamy offers to spare everyone if Ben turns himself over to him.
“You and I both know that once you have me, there’s nothing to stop you from killing everybody else on this island.”
“What kind of guy do you think I am?”
Well, you look kinda ate up, to be honest. I’m skerd.
“Martin Christopher Keamy. Former first sergeant, United States Marine Corps, served with distinction from 1996 to 2001, but since then you’ve worked with a number of mercenary organizations, specifically in Uganda. So I know exactly what kind of man you are, Mr. Keamy, and we can dispense with the formalities.”
Keamy obliges with a whistle. Alex gets roughly shoved into view and pushed to her knees.
(Dirty mind sidenote: I really wish that they had made the Alex character older than 16. Even though the actress is 20, I’m just not comfortable with all the “pushed to her knees” references that I could have made in this episode…)
“Get your ass out here right now…or I’m gonna kill your daughter.”
“I’d like to present a counter proposal.”
“You and your friends… You turn around. Walk back to your helicopter. You fly away and forget you ever heard of this island.”
Ben seems unclear on the whole “negotiation” concept.
“Dad… They’re serious. They killed Karl and my Mother.”
Ben tries to reassure her. He’s also unclear on that concept too.
“You have ten seconds, Ben.”
“She’s not my daughter.”
“I stole her as a baby from an insane woman. She’s a pawn, nothing more. She means nothing to me. I’m not coming out of this house. So if you want to kill her, go ahead and do it…”
And Keamy, apparently unclear on the whole seven through one concept, does.
And if you don’t think that Ben started down the road to hero in that moment, you weren’t watching the same show I was.
The group paces, absorbing the enormity of Alex’s death. Sawyer and Locke discuss what their next move should be. Sawyer favours turning Ben over to the mercenaries. Locke is wary that the mercs have no intention of letting them live either way.
Ben whispers almost to himself. “They changed the rules.”
You’re not supposed to just kill bad actresses. You’re supposed to call their agents and tell them you’ve decided to go in a different direction.
Locke wants to know who changed what rules, but Ben ignores him and bolts for his secret room. He gets there before Sawyer can stop him and triggers a door that locks Sawyer out.
Inside, he pulls aside a hidden door (secret doors behind secret doors – what’s next? A shoe phone? The Cone of Silence?) that reveals what looks like an ancient stone door. Strange writing covers it almost completely. With the force of his body, Ben pushes through the strange door…
At a cafe in Tikrit, Ben watches his quarry as he sips coffee in a cafe. When Bakir leaves, Ben does his best to follow without being spotted. After losing sight of him, Ben turns a corner and finds only an empty alley. Then he feels the gun.
Bakir has the drop on him. He pushes him into the alley and roughly frisks him. He asks him who he is and why he’s following him.
“My name is Benjamin Linus…”
Mr. Frisky II seems to recognize the name. At least he lets his gun lower a bit.
“…And I need you to take a message to Mr. Widmore for me.”
“And what message is that?”
A silenced gunshot is heard and Mr. Frisky II slumps to the ground. It’s not too shocking to realize that the whole thing was a set up. After all, Ben is a fucking ninja.
Behind him, Sayid stands stock still, pointing the gun at Ben for a heartbeat before turning it on Bakir. He pours his hate, his rage and his sorrow through the barrel and into Bakir’s body until the gun is empty, clicking the trigger impotently as if more bullets could somehow ease his pain.
“That should do it.”
Ben turns to leave, but Sayid stops him.
“We’re finished here, Sayid. Turn around and walk away. Mourn your loss. Get on with your life.”
“I have no life. They took it from me.”
“Go home, Sayid. Once you let your grief become anger, it will never go away. I speak from experience. This is my war. It’s not yours.”
Ben turns to leave again, but Sayid won’t let him.
“I spent the last eight years of my life searching for the woman I love. I finally found her and I married her. And I buried her yesterday. So don’t tell me this is not my war. Benjamin. Who’s next?”
“I’ll be in touch.”
As he walks away, a “Long con successfully executed” smile touches Ben’s lips.
While Sawyer pounds on the hidden door, Claire wanders out into the living room, shaken but not stirred. As the group looks to her, Ben emerges from his hidden office and gives them their marching orders.
You guys. My agent just texted me. Someone’s been calling but they haven’t left a message. Ideas?
“Okay, listen to me very carefully: I need all of you to do exactly as I say. In a minute, we have to run from this house as fast as we can. At that moment, when I give the order, I want you to head straight for the tree line.”
Hurley asks the obvious question. “You mean towards the guys with guns?
“No, we want to be as far away from them as possible.”
As Ben speaks, the house begins to shake. Ben watches as the smoke monster barrels into the compound past his house. After it passes he rushes the group outside.
The four watch in awe as the smoke monster devastates the mercenary group. One guy tries to escape, but smokie pulls him back, presumably to his doom. Ben shoos the group into the tree line. Locke is surprised that Ben is not running with them.
“I have to say goodbye to my daughter, John.”
Again, if you missed Ben’s first tentative steps on Hero road, the next moment between him and the lifeless body of his daughter was there to make sure you were paying attention.
Back on the beach, Faraday has managed to cobble together a crude Morse code device to send dots and dashes through the satellite phone.
And STILL, not ONE Gilligan’s Island Coconut Radio joke.
He sends “What happened to the doctor?”
An extended message comes back and Faraday listens to the entire sequence before translating for the group.
“Okay. They didn’t exactly say what happened to the doctor, but your friends are fine, and the helicopter’s coming back in…in the morning.”
Jack plays his trump card and looks to Bernard for confirmation. “Well?”
“He’s lying. What the message said was, ‘What are you talking about? The doctor is fine.’”
Apparently, Daniel was unaware that Bernard was not only a dentist, but a former sailor in the merchant marine, versed in Morse code.
“Why are you lying? Why did you say that the helicopters are coming back?
As Jack grabs Faraday by the shirt, Kate tries to calm him down, but he’s past that point.
“Were you ever…gonna take us off this island?”
Jack almost gets to cry, but the pain in his gut cuts off the water works and he stumbles off into the night, alone.
Out in the jungle, the group is gathered, waiting for Ben. He shows up and Locke offers his simple condolences.
“Sorry about your daughter.”
“Thank you, John.”
“That being said, you lied to me. You told me you didn’t know what the smoke monster was.”
“You can ask Jacob all about it when we go to the cabin.”
Sawyer is fed up with not being in the loop. “Hang on. ‘Jacob’? Who the hell’s Jacob?”
“He’s the man that’s gonna tell us what to do next, James.”
Sawyer has had it. He tells Ben that he’s taking Claire and heading back to the beach. Miles opts to tag along.
“Let’s go. You, too, Hurley.”
Hurley starts to join Sawyer, but Ben gives Locke his permission, via a little eye-speak, and Locke cocks his gun and points it at Sawyer.
“Have you lost your mind?”
“Hugo stays with us.”
Sawyer is having none of it. He whips around and points his gun at Locke. “Not a chance.”
After a few seconds of the two men arguing at gunpoint and ignoring him, Hurley finally convinces them to lower their weapons. He’ll go with Locke.
“You harm so much as one hair on his curly head… I’ll kill you.”
After a second where he seems to be admiring Sawyer’s loyalty, Locke agrees. “Fair enough.”
Bizarrely, despite claiming to need Hurley to find the cabin, Locke asks Ben which way and Ben confidently tells the two men to follow him. Ben is comfortably back in a leadership position. A perfectly executed coup. Well, except for the dead daughter…
Ben steps out of a cab in London. He walks into the lobby of an upscale apartment and is stopped by the doorman.
The doorman seems surprised that someone would be calling so late at night, but Ben convinces him that he’s really there to see the Kendricks in 4E and that he’s expected. Considering that he’s got his “I’m a fucking ninja” baton behind his back the whole time, the doorman is fortunate that he’s a gullible idiot.
Ben gets in the elevator and instead of pressing a button, he first pulls out a key and turns a lock that enables the “penthouse” button. A beat later, he’s stepping out of the elevator in the penthouse and into a darkened bedroom.
“Wake up, Charles.”
“I wondered when you were gonna show up. I see you’ve been getting more sun.”
“Iraq is lovely this time of year. When did you start sleeping with a bottle of scotch by the bed?”
“When the nightmares started.”
As he pours himself a glass of McCutcheon’s, Widmore asks if Ben has come to kill him.
If kill = make love to, then yes.
“We both know I can’t do that.”
I’m reminded here of the early James Bond films, where Bond would announce his intention to destroy the villain’s empire while casually playing cards, or golf or whatever. Again, Ben is cast in the role of hero here.
“Then why are you here?”
“I’m here, Charles, because you murdered my daughter.”
“Don’t stand there, looking at me with those horrible eyes of yours and lay the blame for the death of that poor girl on me, when we both know very well I didn’t murder her at all, Benjamin. You did.”
So, Widmore feels that Ben’s actions forced him to act as he did, hiring mercenaries who kill indiscriminately? Villains always feel that they’re in the right, even when killing innocent people to further their cause. Again, Widmore has solidified as the villain, Ben as the hero.
“No, that’s not true.”
“Yes, Benjamin, it is. You creep into my bedroom in the dead of night, like a rat, and have the audacity to pretend that you’re the victim? I know who you are, boy. What you are. I know that everything you have, you took from me. So… Once again I ask you: Why are you here?”
“I’m here, Charles, to tell you that I’m going to kill your daughter. Penelope, is it? And once she’s gone, once she’s dead, then you’ll understand how I feel. And you’ll wish you hadn’t changed the rules.”
Think my hero hypothesis is broken here? Nope. Remember that. I have a bet with myself here about how Ben will achieve his goal AND remain the hero. Watch this space. I’ll tell you more as the event draws near.
“You’ll never find her.”
Ben doesn’t say anything. He simply turns to leave.
“That island’s mine, Benjamin. It always was. It will be again.”
“But you’ll never find it.”
“Then I suppose the hunt is on for both of us.”
“I suppose it is. Sleep tight, Charles.”
I bet Ben finds Penny before Charles finds the island. After all, Ben’s a fucking ninja.