and we're back. i'm going to consider that the writer's strike was destiny itself slapping the producers on the wrist for the shoddy execution of 'meet kevin johnson.' 'other shows be damned,' destiny said, 'you will go to your rooms for months and months to think about what you've done, and when you come back, you're going to put things back the way they need to be.'

and so:

directed by: jack bender. back in the hands of our favoritest and bestest director.

written by: brian k. vaughn and drew goddard. each of these guys is at least partially responsible for some of this season's weaker points. after this week, i'm willing to offer a bit of forgiveness to vaughn for co-scripting 'meet kevin johnson.' goddard gets a half-pass for co-writing juliet's logically-challenged 'the other woman.'

  1. alex/rousseau
  2. ben
  3. nadia
  4. the future
  5. when is relative
  6. smokey
  7. widmore
  8. doug
  9. details
  10. minor gripes
  11. *addendum: preboomer

1. alex/rousseau. they killed alex! it's amazing how closely in form and structure 'lost' and 'battlestar galactica' follow each other, right down to season ending game changers, deaths of major characters, and revelation of bigger mythology. last week's BSG similiarly killed a major character in a shocking way, and as with 'lost,' it's a death that seems to set the course for the remainder of the series.

i was upset when she got shot. i jumped and said 'no!' in much the same way that i did when ana lucia and libby were shot. i was even more upset about this than the shooting of rousseau, who i won't believe is totally dead until they show us a corpse. carl however, probably is totally dead, since he is now doing 'spring awakening' on broadway - (though it's been revealed in this week's podcast that the production traveled off hawaii for the first time to shoot the final scene with ben and widmore b/c widmore is starring in the west end production of 'spamalot.' so i guess if they need you bad enough for a scene, they'll make it happen.)

in any case, i'm holding out that rousseau is not dead. she has been on the island for a long time, and probably has the same accelerated healing and strength that we've seen from mikhail. it just isn't right for her to be dead yet - while many of rousseau's threads have been wrapped up - the radio tower recording, reuniting with alex, it still feels dramatically hollow to kill both her and alex right after each other. if the story of their reuniting is going to have any resonance, one of them has to have time to mourn the other. alex never even got to -deal- with suddenly having a mother, and she never got to ask ben the litany of questions she must have had.

it also makes more dramatic sense for rousseau to survive the loss of her daughter. there's still huge potential for a rousseau redemption/return to sanity/get revenge on ben storyline that's aching to be told.

i tell myself this and then i remember that there are less than 40 episodes remaining in the entire story of lost. there may be bigger fish to fry. maybe she really is dead. perhaps that rousseau flashback they promised us will actually come in the form of a ben flashback. perhaps we will see how annie died in childbirth, which drove ben to kidnap alex.

2. ben. he wakes up in the middle of the sahara desert in a dharma parka, with steam evaporating off him. is this the same location that the polar bear skeleton was found? according to the graphic, the skeleton was found in medenine tunisia, which is right on the eastern edge of the sahara. if it's not the exact same spot as the bear skeleton, i'm wagering it's pretty darn close.

i also think it's important that ben is wearing a parka, and that the combination of polar bear, parka, and the arctic observation station from the season 2 finale will all become linked in key ways.

so what does this mean? to me it clearly indicates that there is some kind of teleportation happening, and probably a teleportation that connects a few very specific places on the globe: the arctic, the island, the undersea sunda trench, (the search boat that found the staged wreck of 815 in this trench was actually searching for the black rock slave ship. and we know that the black rock is inexplicably located in the middle of lost island) and perhaps other locations.

ben gives his name at the hotel as 'dean moriarty.' a bit over the top if you ask me. i watched 'star trek: the next generation.' i know who moriarty is! but i'd forgotten who dean moriarty is.

but what's also important about his exchange with the desk girl is his question about the date - he doesn't know the date, but he guesses the year correctly, which i think is the first time that we've been given a solid date to anchor the various flashforwards we've seen thus far. it also indicates that jumping off the island may not be an exact science.

"stop looking at me with those horrible eyes"

in any case - the big question is: what is ben's objective in all this? did he come specifically to enlist sayid, or was that just a bonus? had sayid not killed bakir, ben wouldn't have had to travel to london to deliver his message to widmore personally, and ben seemed genuinely surprised when sayid popped him sean-young-in-blade-runner style. ..but ben had to be pretty certain that flashing the traffic camera pic of bakik would pretty much guarantee the guy dead. so i'm not sure what to think.

i understand that sayid has nothing more to lose, and it reads from the scene that he doesn't even care if ben is using him, but again, i'm wanting at least one question asked - why would widmore care about nadia? did ben have her killed just so he could manipulate sayid? tough to justify if that's the case, and not really ben's style. ben is more about kidnapping and pretending they came out of a magic box.

3. nadia. poor nadia.

first your boyfriend tortures you. which is kind of hot, but still.

then you move to LA and, confound it, your house needs a gas inspection.

unable to deal with the stress of a gas inspection, you vacation in london, where you are promptly mugged.

back in LA, you're buying a dvd at the santa monica/la brea best buy and bam you get shot by a sniper. ok, we don't know that for sure, but where else would someone be killed by a sniper at santa monica/la brea? target?? too obvious.

i was surprised to start with nadia's funeral without seeing the much-delayed reunion between sayid and nadia that was built as the show's original penny/desmond separated lovers conflict. imagine flashing forward and seeing desmond suddenly go 'i must avenge penny's death!' that would totally suck. and the writers have been very careful to never let us forget about nadia - that she's out there in the world, that she escaped, that she survived.. so to drop her death on us in this kind of cold way was a bit jarring.

i'm hoping that we're not going to see a series of flashforwards in which we are teased with potential deaths for nadia (in a similar way that we were teased with claire's near death last week, and the way that we were teased for 3 years with locke's wheelchair accident). i want to see sayid's reunion with nadia, and i want to see her death scene. mostly because naveen andrews is brilliant and i want to see him sink his teeth into that material. perhaps this is what we'll get during the 3 hour finale..

while we're talking about nadia, i'm wondering about an issue that's largely been swept under the rug of the series, namely, that whole sayid/shannon romance that never made a lick of sense. will that ever be dealt with in any way? or are they just hoping we forgot? locke is still occasionally haunted by ian somerhalder.. will sayid have to atone for bumping barbie? lord knows maggie grace has plenty of time to make another guest appearance as the smoke monster.

4. the future. ok. thanks to lostpedia for doing the brunt of this work. i'm merely reporting. but here's how the flashforwards we've seen thus far line up:
  • (summer, 2005) sun gives birth to ji yeon. cries at jin's 'grave.' hurley is happy to not see anyone else.
  • (october 20, 2005) nadia is picked off.
  • (october 24, 2005) ben arrives in tunisia.
  • (later, 2005) nadia's funeral, ben/sayid form unholy alliance.
  • ben says to widmore "penny's gonna get it."
  • sayid is fully ben's bitch - tries to kill 'the economist.'
  • hurley goes on a bender in his dad's car, goes back to the asylum, has vision of charlie.
  • jack thinks about growing a beard. has screwdriver for breakfast.
  • abbaddon asks hurley if 'they are still alive.'
  • kate's got aaron. he looks about 2 years old, putting this at 2006. if there was no timeshift.
  • jack can't stand to see aaron for some reason. has hots for kate.
  • jack grows that beard. is cracked outta his mind. sees in the newspaper that "j" has successfully committed suicide, which leads jack to try it himself.
  • jack tells kate 'we hafta go baaaaaaacccckkk!'
5. 'when is relative.' you just kind of want to beat up the freighter folk. with so many characters on the show being incredible liars, what makes farraday such a breath of fresh air to the series is that he is one of the worst liars of all time.

but here we have yet another in a series of clues which i believe are setting us up for a major reveal at the end of this season that will explain exactly what kind of time shift we are dealing with.

here is my theory: the 3 hour finale will not focus on any one particular character, but will give us flashforwards for all of the oceanic 6, as well as ben and michael. michael will kill himself, he'll be in the coffin. sayid reunites with nadia, nadia is killed. jack will discover that claire, trapped on the island, is his sister. basically, the finale will be one jaw-dropping emotionally carthartic moment after another, filling in all the key plot points up to jack's "we have to go baaaack" moment which ended season 3.

as this is happening, we will learn the true nature of the timeshift - and it will be one that isolates the events on the island in a separate timeline. so when we get to season 5, half the cast is off island in the now current present, and half the cast is on island, in a "delayed" present - and we will flash back and forth, on and off, but the idea of "flashback" and "flashforward" will no longer apply. there will only be the present. if seasons 1-3 were about the demons of the past, and season 4 is about the destiny of the future, then season 5 will be about now, and the uncertainty and blindness of living in the present. damon and carlton have hinted that the woosh that accompanies each flash may no longer be taking us where we expect it to. i just hope they haven't given too much away, because i'd sure love to be as surprised as i was last year.

6. smokey. the rule for smokey is that each time we see it, we learn something new.

so what was it that we learned this time? does ben have some kind of tentative control over it? is he able to summon it? where does the crazy hieroglyphic door inside his secret room lead? the door is another clue leading us to the "old place," that is likely tied to the 4 toed statue. pretty impressive, teasing us with that statue and then holding out for two years.

7. widmore. i thought this final scene was terrific, and i have to credit the show for dropping a plot circularity on me that had been hiding in plain sight the entire time and never even occurred to me - that both ben and widmore have daughters. they helped mask it by raising real doubt about whether ben really cared for alex, but it can be seen in his efforts to keep her away from carl, that while tyrannical, she (and probably annie, and juliet b/c she looks like mom) is one of the only people he's ever truly cared about.

there is nice parallel in the way widmore similarly tried to protect his daughter from a lover he didn't feel she deserved. ben puts carl in jail and tries to brainwash him. widmore sends desmond on a wild goose chase designed to find him his island - and seeing that henry gale's balloon is a widmore ballon, it's probably not the first time papa widmore has sent people on this particular goose chase. did henry gale have a thing for penny too? the widmore balloon is first mentioned in episode 17 of season 2. they've held their cards on this storyline for a long time. this is why i love this show.

the big questions now are: what was the agreement between these two men? what were the (probably unspoken) rules? did widmore finance dharma? at what point did widmore become aware that the hostiles had taken over? was this before or after he purchased the black rock journal at the 1997 auction?

i imagine that the uneasy truce between them exists because both men want to control the island, but both also want to protect the secret of it. i can imagine that each had a hand in staging the wreck, knowing that the world would come looking for flight 815 - so perhaps ben provided the plane, and widmore provided the bodies. the relationship isn't unlike ben's uneasy power struggle with the survivors: they both need each other, so they must work stealthily to grab power, but not without making use of the other's resources first.

'the shape of things to come' indeed, as this final scene sets up a final major arc in the story of lost. will widmore get his island back? will ben kill penny? will sayid be the one to do it?

7. doug. who is doug you ask?

doug is the original, and true nikki/paolo 'hey, i've been here since the beginning' guy in the background, who, unlike those posers, actually was there from the beginning. doug was in the series pilot! and they killed him! a moment of silence for doug, please.

9. details. ben's parka has a new dharma logo on it:

the thing in the center looks a bit like a boomerang. whatever station this came from, it probably has something to do with the timeshifting hinted at in the orchid video.

ben's parka also had the name halliwax on it - belonging to edgar halliwax, also of the orchid video, aka dr. marvin candle, aka dr. mark wickmund.

the orchid video introduces the idea of a "shift" with a "setting" that somehow creates a duplicate bunny. is it possible that mark, edgar, and marvin are accidental duplicates caused by the timeshift? perhaps this same accident is what caused marvin to lose his arm, and to appear much older? did the showrunners know all this way back when they first introduced dr. mark wickmund looking significantly different from dr. marvin candle? you know, i think so.

10. minor gripes. some friends were not as impressed by this episode as i was. where i felt excitement at the new plot points, others did not sit right with it. mike wonders, "does the magical mystery fucking Time Bandits door lead to Tatooine and only Tatooine?" i don't think we've yet seen whatever door leads to "tatooine.." the time bandits door lead only to whatever it was that allowed ben to summon the smoke monster. i think watching it again, it's clear that entering the door and appearing in the sahara are not connected events.

the mystery fuckin time bandits door.

but what does bother me is that 3 redshirts (one actually wearing a red shirt!) get picked off faster than you can count to two-and-a-half, but no one seems capable of hitting sawyer, who's only protection is a widely-spaced picket fence.

it was conspicuously inept, almost as to be deliberate, but with no indication of why they might not want to hit sawyer. couldn't they have staged this a little less ridiculously?

this week: jack
next week: locke
and then: finale part 1
and lo: finale parts 2 and 3

and then: 34 episodes until the end. i'm already kind of in mourning.

11. preboomer. "sleep tight, charles." boom. love it. right up there with "you guys got any milk?" ben always gets the best preboomers.


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