Lost season 4 episode 9 review

Multiple cast murders, time-travels and a few clues about the nature of the smoke monster. It's all going on in episode 9...

Time travel in Lost: Nothing like Back to the Future.

Lost! It’s back and it’s a complete bloodbath! At least, it is by the standards of this show. With a limited cast to draw from, Lost is very careful about making sure it doesn’t kill people too often. That is, until today, when a further 4 characters join the 2 who were killed in the previous episode. Admittedly, we didn’t really know who some of these people were, but here’s some advice for all you background characters in Lost – when a main cast member screams at you to “GET BACK INSIDE!” you should probably listen to them.

With a body count of 6, Charles Widmore’s mercenary team who arrived on the increasingly poorly-named “rescue boat” are proving to be a credible threat. So far they’ve killed that crazy French girl Rousseau, brainwashing-victim Carl, 3 nameless people from Locke’s camp and Ben’s daughter Alex. Anyone could be next – though more realistically, now that the cannon fodder is out of the way, it’s more likely that no-one will be next.

Even so, it’s hard to deny the breakneck pace of Lost’s current season. If the murdering of superfluous cast members doesn’t interest you, then you’re still in luck! I don’t think there’s any element of Lost’s canon that isn’t touched upon in this episode. First, we have Ben talking more about “The Temple” which will quite probably tie into that four-toed statue from a while back. Then there’s Jacob, who Hurley can find, Locke can talk to and Ben needs. And there’s Jack, who’s getting sick and self-prescribing antibiotics that don’t seem to be working, which on an island where Rousseau’s former crew died of “a sickness” you’d better believe it’s not going to turn out to be the gastric flu.

And then there’s the Smoke Monster. Turns out, when Ben said he didn’t know what it was, he was lying about that too. What a shocker! Horrified at Alex’s murder, Ben opens up one of his many secret hatches and taps in a few numbers into a keypad, and shortly later all hell breaks loose as ol’ Smokey does what he does best – scare the living crap out of people and smash them into a tree. Oh, and did I mention that future-Ben, who we meet in flash-forward, has clearly been doing himself a spot of time travelling? Well, he has. After 3 seasons dancing on the edges of being a sci-fi, Lost has undeniably embraced the genre of late. It entertains me, but you can never be sure it’ll please everyone.

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All increasingly awesome plots aside, Lost, at its core, is about the characters, and the best episodes combine a strong plot with a strong, character-drive subplot. This episode is all about Ben, the weasel you love to hate. Having made a mistake negotiating with the mercenaries that led to the death of his “daughter” Alex, Ben seems genuinely devastated – in the way only a Machiavellian supreme manipulator can be when he loses. As we see, he takes poorly to discovering that Widmore (his mercenary-hiring, rescue boat-sending, Island-seeking arch-rival) has “changed the rules.” In the future, he does the teleporting/time-travel thing to get off the island, recruits Sayid, and then breaks into Widmore’s penthouse suite and tells him he’s going to kill his daughter in return. That’s what I call taking it personally.

The idea of Ben and Widmore treating the Lost Island as some kind of prize in a bizarre game is a great development in the psychology of both characters. Suddenly, Lost has a kind of super-plot which encompasses all that we’ve see so far as strategic moves in the battle between these two amoral-obsessive types. Men with more money and power than they really know what to do with. I can’t help but imagine the whole fight over the Lost island probably broke out only after they’d raced each other around the world and climbed a couple of mountains.

There’s little to complain about in this episode. It’s not quite the Sci-Fi tour de force Lost can prove itself when it really wants to, but as am introduction to the latter half of Season 4, it’s doing a great job as establishing which plot threads we can expect to see a focus on over the next few episodes – all of them!