“That was intense,” a breathless Jen said at the closing thud. It certainly was. The practical result of squeezing eight hours of planned plot into
five six post-strike hours of broadcast was evident tonight, as “The Shape of Things to Come” barreled through five deaths (though three were socks), the smoke monster, Sayid and Nadia, Ben vs. Charles Widmore, and Ben vs. Time and Space. Not a single scene dragged, and at worst a few seemed rushed, and for once a character’s “who what now?” confusion (Sawyer, in this case) seemed perfectly reasonable. Tonight I think we were given the juiciest morsels yet when it comes to the overarching conceit of “LOST.” There are power brokers and pawns, there are rules and regrets, we’re seeing deeply personal stakes in the love of a parent for a child, and yet also the edges of a conspiracy that spans the globe.
Is the battle between Ben and Widmore a game? Albeit one of real life and death? The injection of the board game Risk (and Hurley’s assertion of Australia’s importance to victory) is surely significant. Ben gives Charles notice of his next move, one of revenge, but it’s obviously not his last. The Island seems to be the prize, and in their conversation some interesting reveals. Widmore says the island was always his, that everything Ben has he took from him. And Widmore calls Ben “boy,” reminiscent of many an epic story where a master is usurped by his protegé. Widmore also says, “The hunt is on, for both of us.” So both powerful men had once possessed the island, but lost it. And I suspect the next grand arc in “LOST” will be finding it again.
And we still don’t exactly know what’s so great about this island in the first place.
This episode also teased us with more time travel talk. When Jack asks Daniel when he last saw the dead doctor, Daniel says, “‘When’ is relative.” And indeed, someone on the ship reports the doctor is just fine. More audaciously, we find Ben in the middle of the Sahara Desert in a ski parka, shuddering and injured, as if he’d just suddenly appeared there from someplace cold and… sharp? His first questions to the first person in Tunisia (that he doesn’t kill) are about what day it is, and what year. If I were in a wacky theory mood, I’d say the next Ben episode will find him in the arctic, battling for his life with a polar bear.
Speaking of Ben, what a badass. Taking out two heavily armed Turks with a baton, moving about under clever aliases (Dean Moriarty), dressed to the nines, dapper and deadly. Yet in this episode, we also see Ben make a grave miscalculation, betting on his impeccable information and powers of persuasion with Alex’s life. Her death was as big a shock to Ben as it was to us, sudden and unsentimental. In that moment, the full scale of the tragedy hits: Ben did love Alex, perhaps more than anyone. And yet the last thing Alex hears is her father asserting that she meant nothing to him.
And how about that smoke monster? Summoned by a Ben who clearly decided to pull out all the stops, it tears through New Otherton like an unholy cross between a tornado and a rabid pit bull. Releasing it to dispatch the murderous freighties was probably a step too far (and I wonder if it will be a looming danger for the next few episodes), but Widmore broke the rules first. Right? Keamy pulled the trigger. But I think even Ben knows he’s not faultless in her death.
Notes and Notions:
- Ben’s parka had yet another DHARMA station logo on it, a swirly spiral of some sort. More interestingly, it bore the name “Halliwax.” Halliwax is one of the names used by orientation video host Marvin Candle, most recently in “The Orchid” video. This station will surely be a big part of the next chapter in “LOST,” and will probably factor into how (and when) Ben gets around.
- It was simultaneously heartening and tragic to hear that post-island “Oceanic Six” Sayid apparently found and wed Nadia, but that she was killed in L.A. Given the backward timeline we’ve seen with flash-forwards, though, I hope we’ll soon see that reunion and some happy moments. Though, of course, they’ll be bittersweet.
- Sayid spent eight years looking for Nadia, both before and after the crash. I guess Shannon was a forgotten footnote, after all.
- Of course the episode opens with Kate eyeing Jack on the beach. “Wet Kate! Take a drink.”
- It was nice to see Sawyer step it up. He risks his life to rescue Claire, and ultimately gives up on Camp Locke and takes Claire and Aaron back to the beach.
- Both Ben and Locke want to see Jacob, but Hurley is key to finding him. The showdown between Sawyer and Locke over Hurley was great, and Hurley making the call to end the standoff was even better. Now we see why Hurley later tells Jack he regretted not staying with him.
- On Claire, the writers are just messing with us now. Her house explodes, but she miraculously survives. Her next line, after blearily calling out for Charlie? “I’ll live.” Ha!
- Where is Penny? Perhaps with Desmond? Perhaps back on the island, in fact? That may be why Widmore is so sure Ben will never find her.
- Have we yet seen Sayid think with his heart instead of his gun? Or is that just further foreshadowed with tonight’s discussion of Nadia’s death?
- The episode was titled, “The Shape of Things to Come,” a book by H.G. Wells.
- Anyone know what song Ben was playing on the piano?
- Locations: The Tunisian hotel was the downtown YWCA. I’m surprised at how much they showed, considering how distinct the architecture is and how much we saw of it when it played a mosque in Australia for a Sayid flashback. Iraq was on a back lot at Honolulu Community College. (Photos here.) The Sahara desert was a rock quarry, I’m guessing in Waianae. Not sure where London was.
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