“I suppose the hunt is on, then.” ~Charles Widmore
Lost is back! And thank frak, so am I! Sorry about the delay in recaps, I was extremely busy when “Meet Kevin Johnston” aired and was late to this week’s party but, after all things said and done, at least I’m still writing. And good grief, I love writing about Lost, especially when there’s episodes like this week’s to discuss. So let’s dive into it, as always.
In my personal opinion, the Ben-centric episode was the best of the season so far (aside from, of course, “The Constant”), with more forward motion than any episode since the start of February. The episode title? “The Shape of Things to Come”. That’s one way of putting it, as the war between Charles Widmore (rich, British, morally dubious) and Benjamin Linus (good-hearted, loyal—ah whatever, he’s morally dubious too) for ownership of Mystery Freakin’ Island was initiated, but judging by the amount of deaths in this episode alone – at least eight dead, including a pretty important supporting character – we can expect more bodies to come. Hell, seeing as there was a big gunfight too, expect more action. And emotion. And answers, some of which were offered by the flashforward (with, of course, some new questions). Thinking about it, this was one of those episodes that we Losties will surely look back on as a pivotal instalment of the show. Here’s a few reasons why:
1. Ben opened his heart (kind of)
The first time we saw Ben in the episode, he was sat at a piano, carefully tinkering away. Then Sawyer and Locke strolled in, saying they’d heard something about a “code 14-J” and boom, calm time over. The man pulled out a shotgun from underneath him and gave a simple explanation: “They’re here!” Which obviously leaves piano lessons and that night’s poundcake supper as lesser priorities.
This was a Ben we haven’t seen since “Through the Looking Glass”: devious and defiant in equal measures, fully aware that the candle is burning at both ends. But in a sense, this was a Ben the audience had never quite seen before. Scared during the island siege from the freighter mercenaries, he paced around his house, weapon in hand, sounding like he was trying to convince himself that things were going okay and that there were still people willing to die for the goodwill of the island. Ben’s never shown real fear – maybe when under Sayid’s watch but that was Henry Gale, remember? The man takes it all in his stride.
Something we have never seen coming from Ben is totally naked pain like the look on his face when he saw that his surrogate daughter, Alex, had been murdered. Seriously. Go back and watch it. The director, Lost regular Jack Bender, allows a wonderful moment to play out in the wake of Alex’s death in which Ben’s shocked face freezes as the camera tracks in closer and closer. It’s a haunting moment, and you can completely believe what Ben feels. He’s stunned to the point of numbness, and he even lets his façade drop for a second so he can properly mourn – of course, away from everyone else. Well, to be fair, there are a couple of people he opens himself up to… but they’re mostly a year from now.
2. The war went to the mainland
In the flashforward, Ben woke up disorientated on the floor of the Sahara (touch on that in a bit), only to be found by two Bedouins with guns and horses. Naturally, Ben’s a bit of a droog, so he kills one of the men, knocks the other one out and steals a horse before heading over to Tunisia – remember the polar bear drop in “Confirmed Dead”? There, he saw Sayid on Arabic TV, back in Tikrit to bury his wife – Nadia, who as we know, he had spent many years prior to the island looking for.
Ben is a master of manipulation, but it is very rare that he manipulates somebody using his own emotions. “Once you let your grief turn into anger it will never go away,” he warned Sayid, adding “I speak from experience.” Nonetheless, Sayid offered to help him fight his war, saying it was now his war as well. (Is this what Ben talked about in “The Economist” when he said Sayid had thought with his heart rather than his gun?)
Ben talks a lot about “rules” in this episode, most notably when Alex is killed. For me, it seems as if Ben has a set of rules we will discover along time, but ones he doesn’t mind about bending every now and then. Perhaps it was against his personal rules of war for Sayid to become his assassin, but the death of his daughter has left him with no respect for the protocol of a war. In short: is Ben fighting dirty?
One man believes he does. Oh, Charles Widmore versus Benjamin Linus? I totally bugged out over the final scene of the episode, texting fellow DoG writer Carl England with the words “monolithic, massive, monumental” to describe it. This is two superpowers in the Lost verse finally butting heads and I love it – especially when one of them is on a total revenge kick.
Ben is adamant in taking no responsibility for his daughter’s death, and even though I can see where he’s coming from, it doesn’t quite stick. He tried to disown Alex in front of Keamy so that he would recognise her as expendable, leaving her alive. As we all know, it didn’t work that way. I believe that there and then, Ben got a harsh reminder that not everyone is an island loyalist. Nonetheless, there he is in Widmore’s private suite (trivia: first scene ever shot abroad from America!), telling him he’s going to settle the score by gunning for Penelope, his daughter/Desmond’s squeeze. “Once she’s dead,” he threatened Charles, his voice breaking, “then you’ll know how I feel”. To which both agreed that, well, “the hunt is on” – for Penelope, for the island, for vengeance.
The big conflict has, therefore, been set in motion. Oh how I love this show.
There’s not a heck of a lot to be said about the Team Jack shenanigans this week, apart from… oh yeah, THIS COULD BE THE START OF JACK’S DOWNWARD SPIRAL. Sure, the man has a few moments of glory in his off-island future (see Hurley and Kate’s flashforwards for proof) but they’re scuppered by bad personal decisions – believing the lies the Oceanic Six have been fed are for the greater good, refusing to see Aaron, not seeing the point in going back to the island. It takes a while before he’s popping pills and contemplating suicide but in “The Shape of Things to Come” he most certainly showed the basis for his hellish life off the island.
Jack seems to be suffering from some kind of stomach bug, so he took a little bit of initiative and subscribed himself a bunch of painkillers. (Hmmm, that rings a bell.) Kate, in full-on flirt mode, told him “you look terrible” to which Jack could only respond to with a “thanks”. (HMMMM.) Then a dead body washed up on shore – doctor Ray from the boat, it seems – and Jack’s suspicions started creeping in over Daniel’s ever-cryptic responses. When asked when exactly when he had last seen Ray, he replied “When is kind of a relative term”. You can see it on Jack’s face that he’s sick of not getting the answers he wants, so when a Morse code medium is introduced to communicate with the freighter folk, he goes to Bernard with help.
And Bernard knows Morse code. Obviously. Because dentists must know how to in such a dangerous field. (I’m not hating on him, no – but now I can’t help but think he fought in the Korean War or something.) What matters is that Bernard called Daniel’s bluff, saying that the freighter folk have no idea about Ray’s death (Daniel tried to cover up by telling Team Jack the message sent said the helicopter was returning in the morning for them). Jack, in a rage, grabbed Daniel and forced him to come clean.
“Were you ever going to take us off this island?” he seethed, only for a one-word reply courtesy of Daniel…
Then Jack’s stomach ache started kicking in and he walked away, heavily disappointed and in great pain. Ladies and gents, the downward spiral starts spinning right here.
4. Claire got given something to do
Well, she didn’t die when a rocket fired into her house. I’m telling myself it’s because the island doesn’t want her to die but it’s probably down to Brian K Vaughan and Drew Goddard (this ep’s writers) being told to just write their way round it. Either way, I hope Emilie de Ravin gets given something important to do soon.
This is random I know, but in my head, I wanted Claire to become the big hero of the island in the final few seasons. My idea was that Charlie was right and that both Claire and Aaron would leave the island but at a cost. Somehow, the Oceanic Six (in this case five) would get off somehow else and that she had to find them to drive forward Operation: Return To Craphole Island. Now, I know it isn’t going to happen. Not a big deal – I have hope in Darlton – but still…
Okay, some quick things before I start getting psyched for this week’s episode. Ben, in his Saharan hijinks, was seen wearing a parka with the name ‘Halliwax’ on it and later asked what year it was to the hotel receptionist. Without saying too much, I recommend you research “the Orchid”, a station highly rumoured to show up this season. Take my word for it. Can we find ourselves learning something about time/space displacement very soon? Has Ray the creepy freighter doctor suffered from it too?
What’s the deal with Widmore claiming ownership of the island? Is he, like I shared in an earlier recap, a man with familial ties to the island via the history of the Black Rock? Are you excited for Miles going back to the beach? Is Team Let’s Find Jacob (Hurley, Locke, Ben) about to do something that will change everything? (Could that be what triggers the Oceanic Six’s stage-right exit? Can people only leave the island with Jacob’s permission? What do you think about that?) Didn’t it hurt to see Sayid lose his lady love? Wasn’t Alex’s death the most upsetting thing this show has thrown at us in some time? Do you, like I, stubbornly believe that Danielle is alive somehow? And where do you think Bernard learnt Morse code from?
‘Til next week (and I promise you, on time!), I’m Lost.