The Shape of Things to Come

“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.

What did you think? We’d love to hear from you! Comment below, or call the LostLine at (808) 356-0127.

68 Responses to “The Shape of Things to Come”

  1. nerico says:

    Jen & Ryan,
    I’ve recently started listening to your podcast and I’m a fan. I particularly like that while you are open to considering a wide range of ideas, your podcast does the best job of maintaining the discussion within the parameters of the confirmed cannon. It is a nice antidote to forum posts where people keep creating entire theories going down paths that do not make sense because they are full of errors which contradict the stated reality of the show as stated by TPTB. I’ve replied to some of the threads but the discussions get cut-off when the threads get lost and then new ones pop up with the frustratingly same exact stuff. So since you have a wider reach, I would like to hear your opinion on some of the theories I keep reading over and over that don’t quite make sense to me. I guess I’m looking to “settle some issues” as much as can be done without access into the producers’ minds. I’ve separated my posts to your site into two because they are long enough as it is, and one long post would just be too much.

    thanks,

    N

  2. nerico says:

    What is your opinion on how Ben ended up in Tunisia? A lot of post on the lost boards attribute it to time travel but I have a big problem with that. There is also a lot of talk about constants. Both with regard to said assumption that Ben is time traveling and with regard to the line about Ben not being able to kill Widmore (because they are each other’s constant). I also think this is overdone.

    I’m rehashing some of what I posted there. I would like to hear your comments.

    ON TIME TRAVEL…
    “On the other hand. Before speculating on whether Ben is time traveling, two things need to be considered.
    1. The producers have consistently disavowed physical time travel.
    2. They have been nice enough to provide us with a tool to differentiate between flashback/forwards and consciousness time travel. A swoosh sort of sound precedes the switch from present to flashback/forward and back. The sound is not used for mind time travel. It was mentioned on the enhanced episode for The Constant.

    So if there is a sound, Ben is NOT time traveling.

    But there is a theory going around regarding the time-shift from Faraday’s experiment. That it might not be a fixed difference but that is could be manipulated when going back and forth from the island to achieve different time differences. I guess it could be considered a sort of time travel but probably bound within some max and minimum parameters. I like that theory better. “

    ON CONSTANTS…
    “Not everyone needs a constant. Sayid and Frank were also on the helicopter but only Desmond was affected. So it is not just a matter of being off-course. They also need to have the exposure to the magnetic field. Not everyone has that. At least not to the same extent (being at the beach vs hatch vs other side of the island).

    Then again, we cannot say for certain that ONLY Des and Faraday need them. Obviously Menkowsky (sp?) needed one since he was vulnerable to the side effect. I just think that depending on the character’s importance we not be told explicitly where or how they were exposed to the necessary radiation.

    This fits with some people’s speculation that there is a connection between who the Oceanic 6 are (except maybe Aaron) and who was NOT on the beach during the hatch explosion. Meaning that maybe not everyone could leave due to the beach folks getting some of the radiation.

    The point is that we cannot know for sure if someone is not susceptible to the side effects.”

  3. nerico says:

    Such and amazing episode!!!

    The one sad thing about the end of the writer’s strike is that I don’t think we will be getting any enhanced episodes in the near future. I would have really liked to see one for this one (and probably for all the rest of this season if all the eps are going to be this packed with info).

    The scene between Ben and Widmore brought up so many questions…

    It seems some people have the knowledge of how to the to the island (Dharma, the Others) and some don’t (Widmore, and the Losties, even the ones that were rescued). So having been to the island is not enough, it seems that the knowledge has to be passed on to you and somehow Widmore has not found out.

    But where does Widmore’s sense of ownership comes from? Has he been to the island or only knows about it and thinks that because he is rich and get everything he wants, he should get the island too? If he was on the island, what was the circumstance? Was he Dharma or a previous member of the Others? in which case you would think he would now how to find it? Or did he stumble on it like the losties and maybe had a Locke-like affinity with Jacob in which case he could feel entitled to the island but still not know enough about it? And how did he get to leave?

    Why can’t Ben kill Widmore? Is it because the island won’t let him? Does that imply that it thinks that Widmore has “work” to do? Or are there other situations in which the island would protect someone? Or maybe one or both of them have had consciousness time travel experiences to the future and they now that Widmore is alive at some later date and since the universe self corrects so there is not point in trying to kill him?

    My brain hurts!!!!

  4. nerico says:

    Seeing Ben in this new light, as the “protector” of the island against Widmore as opposed to the “agressor” against the Losties somewhat reminded me Francisco Franco. I’m half Spanish and I grew up hearing family members justify Franco’s dictatorship by claiming that at least he was a “good dictator” because he loved Spain above all and was not hungry for World domination like Hitler or Mussolini. They would further point to all the good things he did for Spain, like building infrastructure, enacting generous labor laws, etc… They really did love and trust him. Much like the others see Ben. Then I went to school and heard the other side. The atrocities of the war, the squashing of dissidents, the suppression of regional identities…

    So I guess “we are the good guys” is in the eye of the beholder. Up until recently we saw him through the eyes of the “Opposition” (the Losties) and he was a bad man. Now we are starting to see him as the “Protector of the State” and we are starting to justify some of his actions as necessary evils.

    What does that sound like? The end justifies the means? The following is an excerpt from the wikipedia entry for The Prince:

    “The theories expressed in The Prince are often venerated as shrewd methods that an aspiring prince can use to acquire the throne, or an existing prince can use to establish his reign. According to Machiavelli, the greatest moral good is a virtuous and stable state, and actions, no matter how cruel, to protect the country are justified. It is vital that he do anything necessary to keep his power; however, Machiavelli strongly suggests that above all, the prince must not be hated. He does give a concise answer on whether or not a prince should be feared or loved. He states, “..a wise prince should establish himself on that which is his own control and not in that of others; he must endeavor to avoid hatred, as is noted.” He also says “It is best to be both feared and loved; however, if one cannot be both it is better to be feared than loved.”

    Now, why does that sound familiar?

  5. ismet says:

    by the way, on ben’s time travel:
    the two guys that ben takes out in the desert are not turks. but, ben thinks he is in Iraq. that’s why he tries speaking arabic and turkish.
    if he knew he was in tunisia, he would have spoken french at least.
    so i think ben tried to travel to Iraq, but failed.
    it’s so absurd that he tries to speak turkish in tunisia.

  6. Frank says:

    1. I love the way the show starts answering major questions without really having one big moment as a “reveal”. That seems to be what is happening with the wormhole idea. By now it seems like it is fairly clear that something of this type is involved in moving back and forth b/w the island and elsewhere. But it didn’t seem this last episode was devoted to revealing that so much as it lifted the curtain back on this being the case a little bit more (ben’s appearing in Tunisia; his not really being sure what date it was; the more cryptic possible confirmations like Daniel’s little toss of comment about ‘when’ being relative). I think, ultimately, this is how Lost will answer even its greatest mysteries and why it is a cut above all other “question” shows: in the course of watching, the momentum keeps pushing, new questions keep getting posed, and it just sweeps you in so much that we barely notice as answers are unpeeled more than they are answered.

    2. Another great thing about the show highlighted in this episode is how well it can shift new light on to characters so as to endow them with new significance. We have seen that happen, overall this season, with Hurley (season premier), and it happ’d again tonight when, suddenly, Hurley became a major force, becoming as significant as Locke. For everyone who has been predicting Claire’s decline or even puzzling too much at her lack of grief over Charlie I think this is worth keeping in mind. It would be brilliant if Lost brought back Claire in some big way in the next few weeks as it seems it might. And did anyone else see a Wizard of Oz reference in the way Claire’s feet were sticking out form under the house that fell on top of her?

    3. Agree with Matt from NJ: there is a big Desmond -Ben conflict coming up and that should be great. These two have curiously never come into contact even though it was Desmond pushing the button for all those years and clearly doing so was quite signfiicant to the “health” of the island (and the world?) as Ben must have known. So there definitely seems to be more history there than we are getting. And, to add to that anticipation, I think this was the first episode in which Ben ever name checks Desmond: in his scene with Sayyid in Tikrit, where he tells him he got off the island by “your friend Desmond’s boat”.

    4. Ryan and Jen: small correction: the two guys Ben kills in the beginning were not “Turks”. They were presumably Tunisia Arab individuals…

    I

  7. Jo in Wales says:

    Hi Guys – Great podcast, been listening in since season one here in Pembrokeshire, West Wales.

    Ryan – When Widmore says ‘the hunt is on for both of us’ I think he is referring to his hunt for the island and Ben’s hunt for Penny – I’m pretty sure Ben can come and go as he pleases from the island.

    Keep up the great work – Iech y da!

  8. paul_in_York_UK says:

    Wow, wow, wow!
    What an episode. The Lost writers changed the game again tonight. Fantastic! The story went to a new level, but also returned to classical themes like a Father’s love for his daughter and Revenge.

    In a way it seemed like some things happened too fast, but it almost felt like a finale, there were so many reveals and game changing points.
    Like others mentioned – Australia is the key – I’m sure Jack’s father and his Australian connections will have a role to play in it all.

    Love the podcast, keep up the great work.

    Paul
    York (UK)

  9. paul_in_York_UK says:

    Just one more point to add – “We’re going to have to see that again”!!!

  10. John Austin TX says:

    Hmm……after reading over everyone’s posts, a few things came to mind:

    – Perhaps all of our Freighter friends die? At least none of them ever get back in contact with Charles. Charles makes it clear in the conversation with Ben that he still has not found the island. Well…..you think Faraday or some of the others might have reported to him if they got off?

    – On that note…….perhaps the “washed-up” doctor really was “okay” on the boat at the time of the morse code transmission. Meaning that the island is a bit ahead of the freighter in time? But that doesn’t seem to make sense with the other things we have seen happen….like the delay in object the freighter shot toward the island for Daniel.

  11. Aitor says:

    I was thinking about that yesterday. When confronted by Ben, Charles Widmore didn’t look surprised at all about Alex’s death, so he obviously knew about it. But how does he know? Was he informed by Keamy, maybe via satellite phone? I think it probably means that at least one of the freighter people will get back to the freighter and somehow inform him.

  12. jim says:

    The music Ben is playing on the piano is indeed Rachmaninov’s C# minor Prelude, Op. 3 #2, a piece that was so popular that audiences would shout for Rachmaninov to play it as an encore. (He in fact grew to hate it!) It was not a programmatic piece (that is, made no reference to a descriptive theme), but his London publishers did provide it with the name “The Day of Reckoning”.
    And — can’t resist mentioning this — Harpo Marx plays it in the Marx Bros. movie “Monkey Business”, gradually playing the theme so fiercely that he completely destroys the piano. Perhaps Rachmaninov would have approved.
    As for the Lost episode — to quote Lisa Simpson, “Can’t talk, coming down!”

  13. Mark from FL says:

    Great episode – Just a thought – could the “rules” that changed be a reference to the following?: Perhaps they can travel to the future and see who is alive and who is dead . . .Perhaps the rule is that you cannot kill someone in the present who is not dead in the future? For example, Alex has been seen alive in the future – killing her in the present “breaks the rules” and now the game is changed . . .

  14. Gary says:

    The Yardbirds actually did not have a song with the same name as this episode. The Yardbirds’ song was titled Shapes of Things. Max Frost & The Troopers had a the song Shape of Things to Come. It was written by Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil and reached number 22 on the Billboard Pop Charts in 1968. The lyrics are:

    There’s a new sun
    Risin’ up angry in the sky
    And there’s a new voice
    Sayin’ “we’re not afraid to die”
    Let the old world make believe
    It’s blind and deaf and dumb
    But nothing can change the shape of things to come

    There are changes
    Lyin’ ahead in every road
    And there are new thoughts
    Ready and waiting to explode
    When tomorrow is today
    The bells may toll for some
    But nothing can change the shape of things to come

    The future’s comin’ in, now
    Sweet and strong
    Ain’t no-one gonna hold it back for long

    There are new dreams
    Crowdin’ out old realities
    There’s revolution
    Sweepin’ in like a fresh new breeze
    Let the old world make believe
    It’s blind and deaf and dumb
    (But) nothing can change the shape of things [4X]
    To come

    Recently the song was used in a Target (department store) commercial and it has been covered by others including the Ramones.

    Now maybe if Ben showed up in Target, this post would have some relevance.

  15. Dustin says:

    Did anyone else notice that at the beginning of each LOST show there is a quick image of the logo from the old TV show “THE MOLE” ?

    I wonder if they are trying to tell us that there is a MOLE in the group or is this just a shameless quick plug for the show (apparently it is coming back to TV soon). it is so quick it is almost subliminal…..

  16. mikefrommaine says:

    dustin, i’m pretty sure it is a shameless plug for the show, I’ve noticed it during commercials for other shows also

  17. LostMan says:

    To Dustin and mikefrommaine:
    A poem I call “Subliminal Mole”.
    ———————————————————————–
    Subliminal Mole,
    Get off the screen,
    Or you’ll be used like a gerbil,
    If you know what I mean!
    ———————————————————————–

    Thank you!

  18. Bonita in Atlanta says:

    Darn, another podcast blocked to me here in 2011

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