Thursday, May 31, 2007

Hey Dude (Hey Jude, Paul McCartney)

Here's a little ditty to the tune of Hey Jude focusing on Tricia Tanaka Is Dead, one of my favorite episodes in LOST's third season, and the only one focusing on Hurley. Looking back over the three seasons, I think Hurley has been a quietly positive influence on Sawyer, and that's especially true after Sawyer's return from imprisonment by the Others. Judging by the finale, Sawyer could still use a lesson or two in playing nice with others (and especially Others), but it's nice that Hurley is trying.

In that episode, Hurley was just thrilled to see Sawyer alive and well, and Sawyer was touched enough by his concern - and tempted enough by the beer in the van (or bus, or whatever the proper term is) - to engage in an afternoon of what seemed at the time to be rather pointless male bonding. Of course, that good luck Hurley was talking about extended a bit further than a reckless joyride...

Hey Dude

Hey dude, I found a van
With some cans full of beer from Dharma.
It's karma. I know it deep in my heart.
Won't you take part? Let down your armor.

Hey dude, I was afraid
When you stayed that those guys would harm ya.
They didn't, and see the size of my grin!
We're gonna win because it's karma.

Though being stuck here is a pain,
Hey dude, you've gained a listening ear and crying shoulder.
I missed ya, man, so here's to you!
Knock back a few. I just wish they were a little colder.

Hey dude, until we're found,
Stick around. Don't let me alarm ya.
This Dharma bus soon will sputter and start
Because we're smart and cuz it's karma.

So our good luck will soon begin.
Hey dude, we've been here waiting for something that feels normal.
I think a joyride ought to do. Hey dude, don't you?
Let's pop Roger's head back on his shoulders...

Hey dude, I found a van
With some cans full of beer from Dharma.
It's karma. I know it deep in my heart.
Won't you take part? Let down your armor...

Na na na na-na-na na, na-na-na na, hey dude.
Na na na na-na-na na, na-na-na na, hey dude...

fade out

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Killings Continue

There are not many characters left on the island who have never killed anyone to our knowledge.  Let's see... 
Claire, unless her mother has since died, and in any case a car accident is hardly the same as murder...  (Desmond better watch his back when he returns sans Charlie, though; she knows about their psychic connection, and he just may find himself punctured by a cradle some moment when he's not watching.  No, I don't seriously think she'll go after him, but she'll be spitting nails that he allowed it to happen, in a tearful rage a la the first season finale...) 
Rose.  If she kills someone...  Man, she better not.  Hurley was quite bad enough.
Vincent.  Though it was rather classless of him to deprive poor Roger of his arm.  Which eventually led to Hurley's killing of Ryan...  No.  I'm not playing that game.  Plus, Vincent tried to save Nikki.  In vain.  And we all cried forever.
Steve.  As far as we know.  Same goes for Neil, Sullivan and any other random castaways we have hanging around, plus Zack, Emma, Cindy and several random Other folks.  Have Alex and Karl killed anyone?  I'm thinking no?
Walt.  He's sorta still around I guess, and innocent unless we can pin Naomi's death on him somewhat...  But I'm thinking we'll just let John shoulder the blame for that.  I really doubt his message went: "You have work to do.  I need you to kill that nice lady with the phone."
I seriously don't want all these people in prison if/when they get rescued.  But somebody needs to figure out some way of curbing everyone's murderous streaks.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Jumpin' Jack's Flash

So I'm still bothered by Jack's flash forward, but I'm trying not to look on it as an indication that the series is going to be dead depressing from now on.  Seriously, it had better not be...  LOST has its dark moments, certainly, but I still think at heart it is an idealistic show.  We'll see...  Until we commence with season four, though, and get a better idea of what's going on, here are some possibilities that make what we saw a little less ominous.
* The future we saw is not written in stone, and something can happen to change the series of events leading up to it.
* This is unavoidably Jack's future, but he can bounce back from it.  Just because he's a wreck when we see him doesn't mean he'll be miserable for the rest of his life.
* And even if he is doomed to a lifetime of despondence, that doesn't mean all the other castaways are.  Kate didn't look particularly happy to me either, but we don't know what any of the others are up to at this point.  Some of them could be very happy indeed.  Some are probably still on the island.  Evidently there is something blocking those who have left from returning, so that means it hasn't been seized by civilization and turned into some fancy resort; the island is still "special".  That thought at least gives me a bit of hope...

Monday, May 28, 2007

Jack Shephard Action Figure Review

I bought Jack for a friend. Now I wish I'd grabbed one for myself too. Live together, die alone!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Interesting Epiphany About Eko

Today I just happened upon an article indicating that Adewale had asked to be written off of LOST.  I found that pretty interesting.  I've pretty much decided that The Cost of Living, the episode in which Eko died, is my least favorite of the season, and I've been very cross with the writers about it.  I still am, but maybe this lets them off the hook a little.  Seems to me it would have been better just to let the polar bear finish him off; at least then it wouldn't have impugned his character.  And what was the point, anyway, of having John rescue him only to turn around and kill him off?  Seems like it was just so John could assuage his guilt for getting Eko into that mess, but it sure didn't do much good.
At the end of the second season, Eko's faith was strengthened to its highest point yet while John's was shattered.  Eko was right.  So why should he suddenly undergo such a major crisis?  I guess he has a right to feel put-upon, having just been nearly blown to bits and eaten by a bear, but I just don't understand why they had to make him renounce all of his spiritual progress.  It was a crummy thing to do.  And then to just brush the character aside, sort of sweeping his death under the table so the other folks wouldn't panic...  I don't know.  The whole thing just seemed very off to me.  The more I think about it, the more it annoys me. 
For a while I was thinking he was only introduced to act as a foil for John and then disposed of once the implosion of the hatch rendered him unnecessary.  But this article would suggest they had more in mind for him.  What was it?  And why did the Smoke Monster decide to zero in on Eko?  Was it checking up on him because they'd faced off before, looking to see if he was still worthy and deciding he wasn't?  Eko's death was the worst of them all, I think, because as my friend Beth pointed out - and her reflections may have colored how I read the episode once I got caught up to this episode and realized it was the one she'd referenced, though she didn't mention any names, and I'm sure I would have been disgusted with the way the episode played out anyway - this death put his soul in jeopardy.  None of the others did that.  Well, no, I suppose Nikki's, and maybe Paolo's, did, but they never made much of a positive impression.  But we cared deeply about Eko and wanted him to embrace this holy man persona he'd once adopted merely as a disguise.  This was a character who mattered.  He deserved better.


I'm really struggling with the fact that Mikhail essentially murdered Charlie.  I really wanted to believe that he wasn't so bad, and that Desmond did the right thing in letting him go.  In fact, I went so far as to think that the action constituted a life debt that Mikhail would feel honor-bound to repay if given the opportunity.  But his loyalty to Ben runs deeper than his debt to Desmond, and I suppose the fact that Desmond shot him with a harpoon would cancel out a sense of obligation...  And Mikhail probably didn't recognize him when he was shooting at him from shore.  Still, I thought he might save our friends at the last minute.  Instead, he did just the opposite.  They would have been fine if not for him.  So should Desmond have killed him back in the jungle?  (Would Mikhail have sprung to life again anyway?  If not, who would Ben have sent instead?)  Was mercy still the right path, even though it led to Charlie's demise?  It was one of those scenes that sort of makes me question my convictions just a little...

Secret Identity (Tie-in Novel) Review

Cathy Hapka's Secret Identity is by far the best of the trio of LOST tie-in novels.  Not sure that's saying much, however...

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Lingering Questions From the LOST Finale...

* What and where is the temple where Richard was taking everyone?
* Did Mikhail actually die the third time?
* Did Desmond see Penny in his vision, and maybe not Claire and Aaron?  Where are these visions coming from?  Is Mrs. Hawking somehow involved?  Did she orchestrate the death of the man in the red shoes and trick Desmond into thinking it was inevitable?
* Is Walt a vessel for Jacob?  He was speaking the same weird Parsel-tongue-sounding language Shannon heard, but John understood him.  Is he the only one who can make sense of those "whispers"?
* Is the flash forward set in stone?
* Did Charles Widmore send Naomi's people?  Who else, other than Penny, would know about Desmond?
* Was Naomi really a "bad guy"?  Even if she was sent by "the bad guys", did she necessarily know what they were up to?
* Did Charlie's death actually accomplish something?  (I think so...  I certainly hope so...)
* What is Rose intending to do when rescue comes?  Is there anyone else, aside from Bernard and John, intending to stay?  They've survived so far largely because each person has a valuable contribution to make; it'll be a lot harder to make it if there are only three of them...  Might John take over as leader of the Others, and Rose and Bernard join them?
* Where did John go?  To the Temple, perhaps?  Reinforcements?  And did Walt tell him anything else, or did he just decide on his own what he was supposed to do?
* Might Jack have done better to drop the beach explosion plan once he realized there was a good shot at getting off the island?  Why wage a war when you're leaving?  But I suppose there's a decent chance Ryan's people could have caught up with Jack's group, which would have been bad, especially if Charlie hadn't managed to unjam the equipment...
* Was Mikhail considering defying Ben, and Bonnie ironically convinced him to stay the course?

Friday, May 25, 2007

I'm LOST Without Charlie

So... turns out the t-shirt I got for Christmas was prophetic.  Le sigh...  I did wear the Charlie shirt on Wednesday after all.  This summer I'll probably make myself Locke, Desmond and Hurley shirts.  I won't say I'm LOST without them, though, lest history repeat itself...
In honor of Charlie, I have affixed the Driveshaft ring that came with my figure to a chain and am wearing it around my neck.  (I can't really wear it on my finger too well because it's too big.)  One of these days, I'll write to Dom; I wonder if I can still use the LOST address?  Seems they might forward his mail, or Evangeline might take it upon herself to get it to him, or they'll hang onto it until he comes back to be part of a dream sequence or something...
Mom screamed excessively at the TV during the big scene.  I just stared, transfixed.  Libbie consoled me afterward, and I got an e-mail from Beth that must've been sent immediately after the show ended, telling me how sorry she was that Charlie had died and wondering how I was holding up. 
In the long eight months ahead, perhaps I should distance myself from my most beloved fictional characters.  Well, aside from Harry and the gang, of course; that'll be a highlight of my summer for sure.  But I definitely get a little too attached. 
On a side note, partway into the episode, I was trying to work out which one of the gun-toting gals was Bonnie and which was Greta.  I said the blond looked like a Greta at the exact moment Nathan said she looked like a Bonnie.  Hmmm...  Those two weren't really so bad, it seems, especially Greta.  It's a shame Mikhail had to turn all homocidal on everybody...

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Damon and Carlton Give Us Eight Months to Contemplate the Most Depressing LOST Episode Ever

So much to say. Where to begin in describing the most devastating LOST episode ever? I say that not only because of the long-dreaded event come to fruition. I say it because of the undercurrent of utter desolation. Dust in the Wind should have been incorporated into the score, so profound was the sense of despair. Yes, I'm talking about Jack's flash-forward, in conjunction with Ben's desperation and Charlie's startling bit of information from Penny. I always was rather aligned with Locke on the subject of getting off the island. Now it certainly seems as though this rescue is not a good thing.
And so I'll turn first to Jack. I must say, if the "rattlesnake" at the end was supposed to make me gasp in shock... Well, I didn't, because I strongly suspected from the first frame of the episode that this was the Jack of the future, a man clearly haunted by his decisions and feeling utterly out of place in this world that was once his. I waffled a bit, thinking for a while that the fellow who'd died might have been his best man and we were seeing him sometime between the breakup of the marriage and the crash, thinking somehow the island was all this horrible nightmare brought on by a drug-induced haze. But mostly I thought that this was Jack's future, that this was what leaving had done to him. There was a definite sense that this was a Jack informed by a knowledge of the island, just as there was when Desmond came to in his apartment, looking utterly astonished. The beard was a strange addition; I love how Naomi refers to Jack as Moses on the island, what with the exodus of the castaways, but it's off the island where he really looked like Moses. He was an utter wreck of a person, able to pull himself out of a suicidal state only by his unshakable need to save people. Only the accident at the beginning of the episode was his fault, so it just gives him all the more reason to feel guilty. The references to Christian really didn't throw me off; they actually seemed to support my future theory, what with the pitying look the chief of surgery gave Jack when he invoked his father's name and Jack's violent reaction to the pharmacist's attempt to contact his father. Obviously he had forged Christian's name.
The scene with Kate at the airport didn't surprise me at all; it just put into words the unspoken truth that infected every instant of Jack's flash-forwards. Jack made a mistake. Turns out that getting off the island wasn't such a glorious thing after all. He reminded me forcefully of Malcolm McDowell's character in Star Trek: Generations, especially when he talked about flying incessantly in hopes of a plane crash that would somehow get him back there, even if it was at the expense of everyone else on the plane. "We have to go back," he pleaded, every bit as despondent as the man unwittingly pulled from the Nexus. Will he go back somehow? Is this future set in stone, or can it be changed? And why isn't Kate in prison? Did she manage to wrangle up a convincing false identity, or were people so glad that she'd survived that she was cleared of her charges? Was everyone there rescued, or only Jack and Kate? Or Jack, Kate and several others? And are flash forwards going to be the order of the day now? And who is in the coffin? My guess is Ben or John, though I don't particularly like either of those options. The newspaper clipping up close reveals part of a name, and it starts with "Jo" and has an unfamiliar last name, but it could well be someone we know using a pseudonym...
Back on the island, Jack's not nearly such a mess, though we've seen him better. I think it's the right call to keep moving, honoring the sacrifice Sayid, Jin and Bernard are willing to make by getting to that radio tower at all costs. Except that Ben says Naomi's people are "the bad guys", and despite Ben's extremely low level of trustworthiness, his urgency is such that I feel inclined to believe him, especially once we hear from Penny. When it's just Ben's word against the chance of rescue, though, one can hardly blame Jack for refusing to listen. When John shows up to reinforce the message, for a moment it almost looks like Jack might be considering his point, like he is starting to get the sense himself that he's "not supposed to do this". But then he hears the voice and snaps out of his reverie, leaving John to stump away dejectedly.
John, John, John... What was that about? I guess I need to go easy on him; after all, he just extracted himself from a mass grave, where he'd been lying with multiple life-threatening injuries for a day or so. He can't be up to full strength at the moment. But John, if everything hinges on this phone, why don't you shoot the contraption, for goodness' sake? And why didn't you even attempt to run up and pick it up after so callously knifing Naomi in the back? Heck, if John hadn't been so busy having a hissy fit in The Man Behind the Curtain, he might have realized then what a threat Naomi was and planned accordingly. If she was a threat. I guess we still don't exactly know. But my gut tells me Sayid was right not to trust Naomi right away, and maybe he should have tried a little harder to get some answers out of her.
Walt's sudden reappearance would have been a bit more dramatic if Jorge hadn't let slip that we'd be seeing him soon and if his name hadn't been right there on the opening credits. So we knew he'd show up, and a Locke vision was a pretty logical choice, though it was still pretty darn exciting when we saw him, even if he didn't say much and even though he looked drastically older. Shall we say this was future Walt, knowing the consequences of Jack's actions and trying to make things play out differently? I was quite surprised to see sweat-drenched John on the verge of killing himself. I figured he would shoot a bullet up in the air somewhere in an effort to attract someone's attention, but he really was about to give up. So thank goodness Walt, in whatever form that was, intervened. Too bad John didn't accomplish a darn thing when he went back, and he just threw up his hands once Jack made contact. Killing Naomi benefited no one as long as that phone was at large. All it means is whoever she was with is going to be pretty ticked off that their gal got a knife to the back from these people they're rescuing. Now if only Walt had come with John and had a chat with Jack and the gang, it might've made some difference... But I suppose John is the only one who could see him.
So I guess Mikhail did have a good reason for wanting that phone after all, and he's much less of an independent operator than I'd imagined. He actually is quite loyal to Ben, and he has a significant interest in keeping the phone away from the castaways. I had to laugh because getting an eyeful of his scarred-over eye socket was becoming a bit tiresome, so when that scene halfway through the episode opened with him hunched over the microphone in the hatch, I said, "Mikhail, just put that patch back on already." And two seconds later he did! It's exciting when fictional characters heed my requests. If only he'd done so when I made more significant demands.
I was thrilled to see him when he showed up in D.O.C. Thrilled, I tell you! Now I feel betrayed. Patchy, I have defended you valiantly, and look what you go and do... He's obviously aggravated with Ben for keeping things from him, but not to the extent that he refuses to follow his orders. I thought for a moment there that he was going to defy Ben; when he began questioning Bonnie, it seemed he was going to shut off the jamming equipment himself. But it was not to be. After he killed Greta (which was really a shame, because she seemed like a perfectly nice person) and closed in on Bonnie, I couldn't fault Desmond for doing Mikhail in. Nathan and I both declared early in the episode that we thought Mikhail would wind up aiding Charlie and Desmond somehow. Ha! Still, at first I thought Desmond had used a tranquilizer gun, and then, when I realized it was what amounted to a harpoon, I was a tad sad to see Mikhail bite the dust yet again. Not as bummed as the first time, I don't think, but I did find it a shame. But when he suddenly sprung back to life on this occasion, I did not cheer. No, suddenly there was a boulder in the pit of my stomach. Just when things seemed to be going so well, when it looked like Charlie could get the job done and live to tell the tale, Mikhail had to go and ruin everything. And what was the point? I suppose he might not have realized that Charlie had already unjammed the transmissions, so he thought he was stopping him from completing his task. Otherwise it was just for the sake of being mean, it would seem, though why would he blow himself up to boot? Because he knows he's indestructible? Because everything is a mess now and he just wants to give up on life? Whatever the motivation, I'm afraid my affection for Mikhail abated considerably after this week. You're off the Christmas card list, Patchy. That's what you get for drowning Charlie.
Who I'll get to eventually, but I'll probably save him for last. In the meantime, there's a lot more ground to cover. Sayid, for instance, who no longer has anyone on the island to whom he has a particularly strong attachment. He leads Jin and Bernard ably, and he shoots expertly. His determination that Jack get the others off the island is admirable; it would seem that his is the more dangerous job, and he doesn't shrink from it. Jack's refusal to give Ben the phone is a testament to their mutual respect, yet I really was wishing he would just comply. I had a hunch that the three of them hadn't been picked off just like that - the deaths of three major characters all at once, and off-screen, seemed unlikely - but when the possibility was still there, it was truly terrible to contemplate. I'll confess to a grudging admiration for Sayid's little neck-crunching trick, though it makes me rather ill just to think about it...
Jin failed to hit his target - a harder job for him, since he just had a pistol instead of a rifle - but did take out two Others immediately afterward. Cross Sayid, Jin and Bernard off the list of people who we haven't seen kill anyone. Sigh. Jin had a really nice moment with Sun, and hearing him say "because we need to go home" in English was so moving - except where is "home"? They can't go back to Korea, and America probably won't be safe either once people find out they're alive again. It seems to me that they are among those who might most consider staying on the island. Unless going off the island could somehow lead to a cure for Sun. Then, of course, they'll have to leave.
But Bernard? He needs to stay put, so why's he so intent on being heroic? It's for the good of the group, I guess, but Rose is not getting on that plane, so neither is he. And while he does hit his target, it's hard to say whether his spilling Jack's plans to Ryan and the gang is the right course. He saves Jin's life in doing so, presumably, but he endangers the castaways' mission...
I like Rose's little farewell with him, asking if she could change his mind by helping him with the "S.O.S." and making him say, "I'm a dentist; I am not Rambo." And one of the funniest lines in the finale, I thought, was when a worry-ridden Rose tells Jack, "If you say, 'Live together, die alone' to me, I'm going to punch you in the face." She is in no mood for platitudes. Usually Rose radiates calm, but under such trying circumstances her concern is quite understandable. I love the ecstatic hug she and Sun share when Hurley announces that their husbands are alive and well - and the sheer joy on Jack's face. Probably the happiest single moment in the episode. I was so worried for all three of our snipers and was immensely relieved that they came through the ordeal unharmed.
And yet... The body count in this episode was appalling. We were told there would be four deaths; there were 15 - assuming Mikhail's third death took, which may be a big leap to make at this point - plus the mysterious dead man in Jack's future, who seems likely to be someone we know. Are our castaways really the good guys when they wiped out ten Others practically in one fell swoop?
I was sad to see Hurley actually consciously taking a life, but the thing is, Ryan could have easily jumped out of the way. Hurley's main concern was barreling in and causing chaos so the Others would be taken totally by surprise. It really was a heroic moment, and I was very happy for Hurley, who'd had a really crummy day, getting told by both Charlie and Sawyer that he didn't have anything to contribute because he was a fat slob. Neither meant it, of course; they were just trying to protect him. But it felt very fitting for Hurley to save the day out of the blue like that, providing further justification for Tricia Tanaka is Dead at the same time. I liked his comment about how Jack was going to "phone home", and the worried way he glanced out at the ocean when he reassured Claire that Charlie would be fine. And I really appreciated the fact that he voiced his displeasure at Sawyer's execution of Tom. Looking back, that tree frog scene way back in One of Them could be seen as foreshadowing of this moment. Hurley helped Sawyer to get to the point where he could make the kill, though Hurley tried to stop him; in both cases Sawyer should have just adopted a "live and let live" attitude.
Not that Tom was really earning the title "Mr. Friendly" this week. He suggested killing the castaways on more than one occasion - after, it should be noted, seven Others fell at Sayid, Bernard and Jin's hands. Those were seven of Tom's friends, so of course he was going to be a little emotional, but while he suggested killing the castaways, he really didn't make any kind of move to do so, except when he reached for the gun at the end, at which point I don't know what his plan was because he was clearly outnumbered. I was hoping that Tom would do something heroic at the last minute, much as I hoped Mikhail would. Though he didn't, he was not unduly cruel, and we still haven't seen him kill anyone. Usually he's the one trying to smooth things over and calm down those driven to brutality, like Danny. So I was very sorry to see him meet the end he did. He could have been an ally. Instead, Sawyer murdered him in cold blood, and it made me sick to my stomach. Not to mention dashing my hopes for a Tom-centric episode. Tom deserved better, and Sawyer should have done better. I thought he was done with revenge.
Throughout the third season, I've generally been very satisfied with Sawyer, but that decision to kill Tom signaled a major regression to me. Tom was unarmed and surrounded. He had surrendered. Sawyer killed him out of pure spite, making good on his ominous "You and me ain't done, Zeke" back in The Hunting Party. There's a certain sentiment, I suppose, behind avenging Walt, but since the boy is evidently alive and well now, I don't really see the need to hold onto that grudge. Besides, Tom didn't shoot the gun that infected Sawyer's arm, and he didn't throw the lantern that blew up the raft. He was sort of more of a figurehead in that scenario, with random Others committing the most egregious offenses. I'm inclined to think Sawyer shouldn't have gone back at all, but Hurley probably wouldn't have gone off totally on his own. He needed that little push, I think. Sawyer provided that. (I find it amusing that nobody even noticed Hurley was missing; I guess they were pretty preoccupied, but I'd think his absence would stick out...)
Kate didn't have a particularly strong presence in this episode, her scenes mostly limited to heated encounters with Jack and Sawyer. Jack's big "I love you" in the trailer was indeed directed at Kate. Its context was a little goofy - "I'm sticking up for Sawyer because I love you" - but I guess what he means is that he cares about her happiness and thinks Sawyer really does care about her, so he doesn't want to ruin that. Since it comes after he kisses Juliet and its purpose is to push the idea of her and Sawyer making a good pair, it loses a bit of its romantic punch, but I think it speaks well of Jack that he has Kate's best intentions at heart and that he still gives Sawyer the time of day. My guess was that Sawyer was the person waiting for Kate in that last scene, but that might not be the case. She didn't seem to be very happy in the future either. And whoever was in that coffin, she didn't have much affection for him, or at least didn't want to admit that she did. I suppose the corpse could have been Sawyer too, in which case her relationships with Jack and Sawyer are going to deteriorate even further, unless that future can be altered...
Karl didn't have anything useful to do in this episode, which disappointed me a little, but Alex made up for it. I love her stunned reaction when Ben tells her she's welcome to come along with him, and it's interesting to watch her face as Ben talks to Mikhail on the walkie. We still don't really know where Karl came from; it would seem that he may have shipwrecked or something not that long ago. Ben's saying that he "may have overreacted" in his measures to prevent Karl from getting Alex pregnant was rather amusing, and also tender, considering what happens to pregnant women on the island. He was just looking out for her safety. Was that a picture of Alex he had in his room when he was writing in his diary? Do they have cameras on the island? Well, they have video cameras, so I guess I still camera isn't much of a stretch...
It would seem that Ben must have known that Danielle was Alex's mother when she captured him, but he would've kept quiet about it since he was pretending to be someone else. There was a grim humor to a bloody Ben, beaten by Jack within an inch of his life, gesturing casually to Danielle and saying, "Alex, this is your mother." And how Danielle's idea of mother-daughter bonding is tying Ben up together. At this point, Alex is totally disgusted with Ben, but I think she still is shaken to see him such a mess.
I'm sorry too, but he brought it upon himself. I'm glad he ordered Tom and Ryan to shoot the ground instead of the hostages but I don't really understand what he was trying to achieve there. Couldn't he have predicted Jack's blind rage? He's certainly not going to hand over the phone after his friends have been killed. It makes no sense. I very often have trouble discerning the method behind Ben's madness. At first, I thought he was lying about Naomi's people; how would he have any idea who they are, anyway? But his level of urgency is such that I can't help but think he may be telling the truth. In which case, if it's so critical to stop this from happening, why in the world did he shoot John before heading back to camp? Wouldn't he have realized that John would be a formidable ally in blocking the rescue attempts, given his track record? Is it just that his pettiness overpowered his good sense? It's rather funny to see him cheering John on when he shows up, since their last meeting involved Ben shooting John into a ditch. In any case, Ben seems to be losing his grip, both on his people and his own faculties. His panic is evident in his various walkie conversations, especially when he learns of Juliet, Karl and Alex's betrayals. He should have been much more trusting and trustworthy to begin with. This whole mess could have been avoided. Instead, he goes it alone, and eventually nobody can believe a word he says.
Juliet and Sawyer make an unlikely pairing. Sawyer finally decides to trust her, and then it turns out she was lying about the guns, but they creep up on the beach anyway hoping to work out a plan in the meantime. I love her line about the aliens; for a second there, she had me going... It would seem at this point that Juliet has proven herself a friend to the castaways; it's ironic that Naomi closes in on Jack to show him the phone and questions whether Juliet is trustworthy. In their excitement at the prospect of getting rescued, people haven't been asking enough questions about Naomi's back story. Richard gets lost in the shuffle, his one big scene quickly forgotten in the midst of all the unfolding drama. But Ben told him to take the group to the Temple, and that is a very intriguing instruction. Surely we'll be getting back to that when the fourth season resumes.
I'm afraid it's getting to the point at which a discussion of the unfortunate events inside the Looking Glass is unavoidable. I'll start with Desmond, who comes to in a daze with a sore cheek, Charlie's note in his pocket, and Mikhail shooting at him from the shore. Ironically, the safest course is to take the plunge he and Charlie had nobly debated over. He follows the wire downward and winds up in the hole in the floor, luckily at a moment when Greta and Bonnie are in the other room. It's a panicked instant, but he's thrilled to see Charlie, though his bound and bloody state is worrisome. All Desmond can do at this point, however, is get out of the way. Heroics can come in later.
I was a little surprised at how Bonnie insisted to Mikhail that Charlie was alone; she heard him talking to Desmond, and though she was apparently taken in by Charlie's hasty cover-up, I'd think she would put two and two together when faced with Mikhail's information. Good thing nobody bothered looking for him, since that gave Desmond the perfect opportunity to charge in, spear gun blazing, to save Charlie's life. It seems at this point that he doesn't have as much faith in his visions as Charlie does; Desmond says Bonnie's never going to divulge the code, whereas Charlie simply says that it was in the vision so it has to happen somehow. In retrospect, I find myself wishing Desmond would have done something to ensure that Mikhail didn't escape, but he certainly seemed dead at that point, so nobody viewed him as a problem. There was such cautious optimism in that scene when he and Charlie went in separate directions, saying they would meet back there once they'd completed their tasks. It seemed they might actually beat the curse once and for all.
And then the "incoming transmission" button blinked, and I was thinking, "Charlie, don't you press that button! Just get yourself out of there!" I had an extremely uneasy feeling, especially when I realized Mikhail was missing. And then Charlie's joyful realization that he was talking to Penny was flipped on its head when he spotted the maniacally grinning Mikhail outside with the grenade. Desmond made a desperate dash for Charlie, a mixture of wanting to save him from Mikhail and wanting to talk to Penny. With the dramatic slow-motion race between Charlie and Desmond, I knew with little doubt that everything was going to play out just the way he'd said, though Desmond tried most ardently to get into that room, even after Charlie had bolted it. His desperation made way for sad resignation; he knew he could do nothing to save Charlie this time, and it was haunting to see him shouting through the sound-proof glass, his words unheard by Charlie but hopefully understood. Charlie's vital last-minute information barely had a chance to register, but their locked gaze confirms that Desmond got the message, and then they remained where they were for a moment, hands pressed against the glass in a scene highly reminiscent of The Wrath of Khan, their profound bond, formed after only two or three short weeks, sealed forever in this final, reverent moment.
It will be very interesting to observe where Desmond goes from here. I can definitely see him beating himself up over Charlie's death, much as John did after Boone died. Charlie volunteered for the mission because of Desmond. Those visions were also responsible for their finding Naomi. In both cases, it would seem that his interpretation of how events play out is grossly misinformed; it almost seems that someone is planting them in his head in order to set off a chain of events with the opposite of the effect Desmond intends. When he realizes that Naomi was not sent by Penny, he will probably fear that Charlie died in vain, that it was all a big waste, that his actions will result in the ruination of everyone.
At the very least, he will grieve the loss of a good friend, and I don't envy him the task of breaking the news to Hurley or Claire, scenes I fervently hope we will witness though they will be painful to watch. (It seemed that Aaron sensed what had happened to Charlie; I wonder if he really did...) I don't see how the list could have survived, even written in permanent ink; that paper must be a sodden clump by now, so I really hope Desmond looked it over and memorized it in the moment Charlie handed it over so that he can pass those memories on to Claire just as Charlie wanted. And for crying out loud, somebody better find that Driveshaft ring. I think that Desmond will have a hand in looking after Claire now, if they all wind up in the same place, but he'll have other work to do too, so I think the main task will fall to Hurley, who already seems to have taken them under his wing - not to mention Vincent, who was abandoned by Michael. Hurley has had more interaction with Aaron than most of the castaways, and I think he will see taking care of Claire as the best tribute he could offer to his beloved friend.
Charlie displays a fatalistic attitude in this episode that mostly works to his advantage, steeling him for the task ahead. It allows him to square off against the hostile Bonnie with defiance and even a fair share of cheek. He's actually quite funny in many of his scenes, especially when he's singing in order to annoy his captors. Desmond has thoroughly convinced him that "flicking the switch" is his destiny, so he knows it will happen one way or another. It makes him feel almost invincible for a time.
I questioned whether he should have been so up-front with Bonnie, Greta, Ben and Mikhail, but I guess there wasn't much to be gained by lying about his presence. Ben would have sent Mikhail whether or not he knew who Charlie was and why he was there. Besides, he probably figured that coming right out and stating his intentions might help him to figure out a plan, since his captors might let some information slip, thinking he was in no position to actually accomplish anything. And anyway, lying has only led to multitudes of problems for people on the island. Maybe he's starting to see that honesty is often the best policy.
Charlie tapping out the tune to Good Vibrations on the keypad was a definite high point. How incredibly appropriate that this rocker's destiny should be so closely linked with music! It's such a happy song, and he's so pleasantly startled by his success, that I really did dare to hope that he might walk away, close the door and swim back up to the surface with Desmond. But then the transmission came. Yet as much as I wanted him to ignore it and get out, making contact with Penny and passing her message along to Desmond is probably what really will help everyone.
The big question is, was Charlie's death necessary? Couldn't he have run out the door and slammed it so that the room flooded but he wasn't in it? Was there no way to bolt the door from the outside? Was he afraid that Desmond, drunk with the prospect of actually speaking to Penny, would fight his attempts to keep the door closed? Couldn't he have at least tried to swim out the window? It does seem that to a certain extent, Charlie just gave up once he saw Mikhail with the grenade. He said to himself that the death Desmond saw in his vision was about to happen, and rather than wasting his time trying to prevent it, he needed to keep Desmond safe and to give him the critical message that Penny did not send Naomi.
Charlie died a hero, that much is certain. His death didn't completely shock me, especially given the last episode, which certainly seemed like a long farewell to the musician from Manchester, but I'd held out hope that he might still get a reprieve. It's hard to lose such a beloved character - and I'm furious with myself that I couldn't even get myself to cry. That does not mean I didn't feel his death deeply. Yet I am at peace with it - if it meant something. Which I'm pretty sure it did, but the overall tone of the episode makes me worry. If such a bright light is going to go out from LOST, it has to be for a reason. This was by far the most moving death on the show, followed by Boone, I'd say, who also died heroically and had a touching moment with Jack in which he forestalled further attempts to save him. It was the sort of end I thought Desmond embraced in the season two finale, until we saw Penny and I decided maybe Desmond had survived that hatch implosion after all. In that episode, Charlie asks Desmond for help with Eko, and Desmond dismisses him, explaining that he is helping. Turning the key a very brave thing to do, even if he probably would have died anyway if he hadn't done it. In this episode, Charlie refuses Desmond's help, thereby ending the third season on a complementary note of self-sacrifice. But I don't see Charlie getting out of this one. Our dear friend, it would seem, is really gone. I love the heartfelt farewell with Desmond, the smile and what looked like "cheers, mate", and crossing himself just before the water consumed him.
I read an article yesterday in which the producers said that Charlie's presence will still be felt very strongly on the show. That gives me hope, that his friends will keep his memory alive and he will thereby continue to have an influence in what happens on the island. And I can definitely see him coming back in some sort of dream or vision, perhaps by Claire, Desmond, Hurley or Locke. So we may see more of him yet. Still, the loss is not an insignificant one. We've seen Charlie progress from an ineffective, drug-riddled coward to someone who is paternal, brave and self-sacrificing. I've loved him all along despite (and partly because of) his shortcomings. It's ironic that the rock star wound up being one of the best examples of an everyman on the show. It was very easy to sympathize with him. Plus there was a great lightness to his character; he was used for comic relief almost as much as Hurley, and the smiles he brought will most certainly be missed. If he had to go, though, I'm very glad it was while making such a noble gesture. I've feared for his life before; he nearly died way back in the first season at the hands of Ethan. Inherently more vulnerable than many of the castaways, he's dodged death again and again. This time he embraced it. None of us is likely to forget that moment. It will stay with us for the rest of the series and beyond.
I wish I could shake the feeling of despair this episode gave me. No tsunami, but enough catastrophe to last the rest of the series - though I know they won't stop at that. Still, there will be happy moments again on LOST. The next 48 episodes will not be a quagmire of misery. They wouldn't do that to us. I hope. Desmond and Locke will have major roles to play in the next season, and Jack and Ben may find themselves forced into an uneasy truce. We will clearly see the repercussions of Charlie's actions; there will be good ripples. For now, I have about eight months to mourn...

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

All Hail Jordin; Gotta Find Something to Cheer About...

Tuned in just long enough to see that she won.  Whoop.  Missed the finale otherwise, aside from a snatch of a Beatles finale.  And I don't care.  I just wasn't too engaged this year.  And another finale took precedence.  Last year, I watched American Idol instead.  I denied myself the nail-biting season two finale for half a year. The more I think about it, the more I love Live Together, Die Alone.  And... I did not love Through the Looking Glass.  It is by far the most depressing episode of LOST I have ever seen.  Please don't tell me this is the way the rest of the series is going to go.  I will blog at length tomorrow, or maybe over the weekend.  I'm going to need to process for a while.  Some of the few bright spots, however:
* Charlie singing You All Everybody, much to Bonnie's annoyance, and later keying in Good Vibrations.
* Desmond showing up.
* Rose telling Jack, "If you say, 'Live together, die alone,' I'm going to punch you in your face."
* "I love you" - and it was Kate who Jack was talking to, after all.
* Hurley plowing through in his van, almost reminiscent of the Weasley car springing in to the rescue, justifiying his flashback episode for those who still weren't convinced it was worth the time.  Saving his friends - and nearly saving Tom too, only to have it end just like the frog incident.  Maybe that was foreshadowing.  (Tom's death - not a bright spot.  Just the knowledge that Hurley would have shown him mercy had it been up to him.)
* Alex and Danielle reunion.  "I haven't seen you in 16 years!  Let's bond by tying up the guy you thought was your dad!"
* John's eye opening.  There was nothing light about that moment, but it was a fist-pumping scene, a "Yes!  I knew it!" scene.  And then seeing Walt.  A shame, then that he didn't seem to accomplish anything in the end...
* Rose and Sun hugging each other after Hurley's communication.
I feel like I'm out of somewhat happy moments.  The rescue didn't seem happy anymore by the time it happened.  In fact, it was eerily like the season one finale, the rescue turning out to be something else entirely, something grim and terrible.  And maybe Ben isn't quite so bad after all.  Oh, he's bad - but maybe he's been working for the greater good all along, just in a very manipulative, often sadistic way.  Because it certainly seems like Ben was telling the truth for once...

Signs of Life (Tie-In Novel) Review

Jeff is a philandering artist in Signs of Life, the worst of the LOST tie-in novels.  The plot makes little sense, the protagonist is rather loathsome and none of the characters act properly.  Not much life in this story.

Tonight's the Night

Ooooh, I'm all tingly with excitement.  I ought to go outside, because it's a gorgeous day and there's no good reason to stay shut inside all day.  We'll see.  Anyway, to tonight...
I caught Jorge Garcia on Jimmy Kimmel last night, and I was tickled to discover that not so long ago, he worked at Borders.  We're like book buddies!  I also enjoyed the clip of him on Russian Roulette and his admission that his dog has his own personal chiropractor.  As for the show, though...  Well, the major revelation would be that we'll be seeing Walt soon.  I wasn't at all sure whether we would...  He also said Locke's in the finale, but despite his absence in the previews, that was a pretty fair guess.  And he, like Kate, said the big twist floored him, so it sure sounds like it's something good.  Better than Desmond crashing the plane.  Whoa.
Plus Nathan and I listened to the latest podcast, which was similarly tantalizing but dealt mostly with such crucial subjects as "Will Ezra James Sharkington be in the finale?", "Look at all the cool anagrams I came up with pertaining to LOST's zombie season!" and "Why didn't Charlie take off his jeans to make his big swim into the Looking Glass?"  And among those, not a whisper of my ever so consequential question involving haggis.  Sigh. 
The big hint there seems to be that they said Jack's plans almost always get messed up, and that even if this one succeeds, it won't mean good things for him.  That sounds ominous.  Could this be the end of the line for Jack?  I wonder whether at least a couple of the "deaths" dangled before us could actually be merely departures, meaning at least one castaway - Claire and Aaron, perhaps, a la Desmond's vision? - gets rescued, so they're not on the island, but they're not literally dead?  Here's hoping...

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Chatty Gals and Charlie

So Dom was on The View, and he was utterly adorable, though I sort of wish he'd been on a show where there weren't four women talking over top of him.  Still, it was nice to hear him talk a bit about the show, and about his Lord of the Rings experience.  He said there was a year between filming and the first movie coming out, and he spent it mostly feeling depressed and useless, which I found interesting.  I didn't think there was that much lag time there.  He did go back for reshoots several times, I'm sure...  But if the brilliant Dominic has been through such a searing period of self-doubt, and after being involved in such an unbelievable experience as Lord of the Rings, maybe there is still a bit of hope for me after all.  I just am starting to feel like I'm running out of time...
Anyway, they showed a clip, which I sort of wish I hadn't seen, but I mostly don't care, because I knew Desmond was down in that hatch anyway from the previews.  It showed Charlie tied up, and Desmond came up through the hole in the floor, wet hair dripping into his eyes, looking astounded.  They had a very quick conversation, then Charlie told Desmond to hide because one of the Charlie's Angels was coming back.  (Hmmm, they aren't being very angelic to Charlie, though, are they?)  She demanded to know who he'd been talking to, and he said he'd been singing, and he started singing You All, Everybody until she whapped him across the face with her gun.  Aw...  I  guess she's not a Driveshaft fan.  Anyway, Dom said that the very end of Greatest Hits was like a rebirth, since Charlie had made his peace with dying but suddenly found himself alive and with a second chance.  And now that he's in this precarious position with the gun-toting gals, he's just going to have a bit of fun with them before he goes out, if indeed he does.
In the latest preview, I saw a massive wave lapping up onto the shore, which could be an indication of the tsunami.  I wonder about Jack's "I love you"; obviously we're all going to figure he's talking to Kate, especially since it cuts to her two seconds later, but we don't know that it actually cuts to her on the show, and even if it did it still wouldn't be proof that he's declaring his love for her at last.  He could be...  It does look like he's on the island.  So it's probably either Kate or Juliet, or else it's more of a general "I love you" to the people he's trying to rescue, or their saviors have shown up and he says "I love you" to them out of sheer relief.  But if the tsunami affects them, I'd say Naomi's ship is probably done for, as are the folks on it, unless they are on the island at the time when it hits with full force.  So there goes the rescue for another three seasons...

Monday, May 21, 2007

LOST Reading List

Perhaps one way to deal with my upcoming LOST withdrawal will be to compose a list of LOST-related books to read over the next 8 months.  Like Turn of the Screw and Our Mutual Friend, actually referenced on the show, and Lost Horizon and The Stand, which influenced the show, and Bad Twin, which stemmed from the show.  I have a feeling, though, that I'll echo Henry and steer clear of The Brothers Karamazov...

Saturday, May 19, 2007

"Well, I Certainly Hope He Helps You, John!"

This has become Nathan's catch phrase, enthusiastically inserted into any available pause in conversation with Ben's intonation and a series of exaggerated facial expressions.  It is mightily amusing.  Sadly, I cannot do a remotely reasonable impression of my good friend Mr. Linus, but I'll just let Nathan do the honors...

For Her Sake / Sacrificial (Scarborough Fair / Canticle, Traditional / Paul Simon)

There is only one episode of LOST remaining in the third season. One episode to last the rest of 2007. In anticipation, I've been reflecting a lot on Greatest Hits, this week's long-awaited Charlie flashback episode. I was literally queasy going into it, feeling almost certain that Charlie would accept his fate at last or Desmond would step in at the last minute and take his place. In the beautifully executed last ten minutes, both of these things happened, but neither course led to death, at least not immediately. It would seem that perhaps Desmond and Charlie's willingness to sacrifice themselves for the greater good, and more immediately for each other, may have lifted the curse at last.

To the tune of Simon and Garfunkel's Scarborough Fair / Canticle, here is an (admittedly unfunny) exploration of their thoughts leading up to their heroic actions, with Charlie driving the action and having the final word while Desmond's inner debate serves as an undercurrent that nearly overturns Charlie's courageous journey. His despair is of a very different sort than in Live Together, Die Alone. It's not utter desolation; in fact, hope is clearly on the horizon. But despite his calm demeanor, Desmond is agonizing under the surface, since the prospect of his long-awaited reunion with Penny is dependent upon his failure to save Charlie, who he's tried so hard to protect. In the end, though, Charlie's determination wins out over Desmond's guilt, and we're left with two heroes out in the water, far removed from but deeply involved in the massive struggle taking place on the island.

For Her Sake / Sacrificial

Charlie: If I'm going to run out of air,
If my fate undoes me this time,
Deliver these five moments to Claire.
For her sake, I'm willing to die.

Tell her I never would let her get hurt.
Desmond: I have tried, but I still haven't changed what I've seen.
If my fate undoes me this time,
Saved from the arrow, you're destined to drown.
It's for a duty I don't dare shirk.
Four times I've spared your life now, but who's counting?
For her sake, I'm willing to die.
Deep in despair, I prepare for your fall.

Tell her the high that I got from my band.
I have tried to distill it with drink, but I grieve.
If my fate undoes me this time,
We are both slaves; fulfillment is near.
Please ask her to wear my ring on her hand.
Why must you be the sacrificial one?
For her sake, I'm willing to die.

Tell her I love her when you give her this letter.
Brother, your bravery sharpens my valiance.
If my fate undoes me this time,
I must implore to exert my free will
Tell her she saved my life on the day I met her.
And to fight off the curse you wrongly have been caught in.
For her sake, I'm willing to die.

If I'm going to run out of air,
If my fate undoes me this time,
Deliver these five moments to Claire.
For her sake, I'm willing to die.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Greatest Hits, Many Partings and the Deadly Calm Before a Storm

So. Color me supremely relieved. Sort of. Because the fact of the matter is that the ending of Greatest Hits was utterly ambiguous, with massive potential for both Desmond and Charlie - but especially Charlie, though Desmond could wind up drifting out to the middle of the ocean, could he not? - to say goodbye to this cruel world. And yet they didn't. Not yet. They put me through the emotional ringer, that's for sure, but not a single person died in this episode. Next week... Well, that's another matter, isn't it?

I was so excited that Naomi answered the question of whether Drive Shaft's popularity exploded with Charlie's apparent demise. That was a great exchange she had with Charlie, and the first time she's seemed like just a regular person rather than a wounded stranger brimming with mystery. She's back on her feet, and she was able to deliver to Charlie the news that he was loved back home after all. To some extent, I suppose Liam could be seen as opportunistic, using Charlie's death to advance himself, but I'd like to think that the new album - hopefully with Funny Now on it - is just as much an act of love and remorse. He must feel badly that his last encounter with Charlie, so soon before the doomed flight, involved him refusing to make a sacrifice for the little brother who had spent his life looking out for him. Reviving Drive Shaft in his memory could be a way of assuaging his guilt.

I guess when it comes down to it I do like Liam, but his self-absorption makes me so angry... He came off pretty well in the flashbacks this week, though. Well, not so much the swimming one, but he was Charlie's rock when the illustrious Mr. Pace was about to give up on his music career. That was such a euphoric scene, highly reminiscent of That Thing You Do! At first I was confused, thinking they were washed up at this point and being surprised that hearing their song on the radio gave them such a boost. But it was the first time on the radio, a truly magical moment, the sheer joy of it magnified by the enormity of the downpour. Classic.

Then Liam gave Charlie the ring, which I always thought was made specifically for Drive Shaft. Turns out it was the other way around, that the band was named to align itself with this family heirloom bearing the initials of Dexter Stratton. It's ironic that everything Liam said would happen to Charlie happened instead to him; he would've been better off keeping the ring after all. But it was such a beautiful moment, despite the rather crude surroundings, boozing it up on Christmas with a couple of strange floozies. Incidentally, as best as I can recall, no other character has had a flashback that takes place on Christmas, but Charlie has now had two. It seems to me this may be significant.

The structure of this episode was unique, since the flashbacks were not one story presented in chronological order but rather five separate events listed in order of increasing intensity. Three were very much wrapped up in his family. Though we didn't see his mother, her presence hung heavy in the Christmas flashback. I wonder whether she died before Charlie hit adulthood. She obviously is very important to him. In the swimming flashback, I really thought Mr. Pace was going to play some sort of cruel prank on Charlie; our only prior introduction to him was certainly not a favorable one, and LOST is obsessed with inadequate fathers. But Charlie's dad stepped up, and I think it was the feeling that his dad really did care about him that made this moment so special, more than the swimming. We never really see Charlie in the water; if he's such a champion swimmer, why doesn't he ever jump into the ocean just for the fun of it like some of the other folks do? And why wouldn't he be able to save Claire from drowning, a much easier task than the one he is set in this episode? I think Charlie was lying about the swim team, just trying to be nonchalant and make himself seem more suitable to Jack. He wasn't even in the water a minute and he was panicking. Still, it's interesting that Charlie selects this memory for his list before he learns about his deadly mission. It gives the whole thing an Owen Meany sort of sense of destiny.

Really, all the flashbacks fit very well with what is happening, and as soon as Charlie writes down the memory, something on the island complements it. He recalls first hearing his song on the radio; Naomi tells him about the big fuss the world made over his death. He remembers his first swimming lesson; he finds out that he has to swim in order to set a rescue into motion. After the Christmas flashback, he gives Aaron the ring, though I wish he would have made more certain that the ring would not be left behind. He could have said to Claire, "Here, I don't want to risk this falling off while I'm swimming; could you hold it for me a while?" Heck, he could've just asked Desmond to give her the ring along with the list. But now the fate of this precious family heirloom is unknown. I really hope it somehow makes its way to Claire and Aaron, or back to Charlie. It would be such a shame if it didn't.

Anyway, the fourth flashback was really powerful. At first, I thought it might have taken place just after Desmond's meeting with Charlie after his disastrous interview, but it was a different day, a different rainstorm breaking up a performance of Wonderwall. I'm guessing it was later but it must have been before John's father faked his death. Charlie's rescue of Nadia shows that he really does have what it takes to be a hero. He wants to live, but he's prepared to lay down his life for the good of the many. Of course, there's always a chance that he will survive, right? Desmond said he had to die, but maybe he could cheat fate himself, without Desmond's interference.

I figured the last flashback would have to involve him and Claire. I assume the scene was shot recently, but maybe they actually filmed it way back at the beginning. Either way, it's a very nice scene, and Charlie is so sweet and funny in it, and it just cements the fact that Claire is the driving force behind his determination to conquer his fear and die a hero. He promises Claire early in the episode that he will protect both her and Aaron; that's a vow he doesn't want to back away from. I love his little farewell to Aaron, with those tiny hands reaching up to touch him as he declares his love for the baby whose birth he witnessed. And then that tender kiss with Claire; Mom and Dad thought they'd never kissed before, but they did at least once, in the season two finale. But it's all so tentative and gentle, so unlike Sawyer and Kate's roughhousing. His relationship with Claire has turned out to be the most profound of Charlie's life, and it's about a deep, almost spiritual connection, not physical gratification.

I couldn't help but think of Merry and Pippin's dramatic removal from one another in Return of the King as I watched this episode. That was one of the most intensely emotional scenes in the whole trilogy. We get three different versions of the grand farewell here, four if you count Aaron, though I'd tend to lump that together with Claire. The moment with Hurley was maybe the closest to resembling that actual scene, as Hurley came lumbering up and offered to go along and Charlie refused, knowing he had to go on with Desmond alone. I do think that Hurley was too big to fit onto that outrigger, but more than that, he couldn't have come along, because he wouldn't have let Charlie embark on a suicide mission. He needed to not know how steep Charlie's risk was - though I think he had a hunch. He didn't want to just let the man who was probably his best friend on the island go without offering to help, and certainly not without saying goodbye. Actually, this scene was more like Sam splashing after Frodo at the end of Fellowship, but in this case, Hurley didn't come along. Charlie shut him down. But I'm so glad that he called after him, that he went back and gave him a bear hug and told him he loved him. Hurley seemed slightly uncomfortable with the emotion of the moment; had he realized just how dangerous Charlie's mission was, perhaps he would have clung more tightly. But I like the fact that he's the one who sticks with Claire when they all head out to the radio transmitter. It's the least he can do for his friend. (I was also glad to see him tugging Vincent along; I'd hate for him to get left behind again!)

It was the long goodbye with Desmond that really got to me, though. Yes, Desmond arrived somewhat late in the game, especially in relation to Charlie. We met him in the first episode of the second season, but Charlie didn't meet him until the last. This season, though, ever since Flashes Before Your Eyes, the two have been practically inseparable, bound together by this terrible secret. Desmond was so solemn and so gentle throughout the whole of this episode... It would be heartbreaking to be in his position, to finally come to the grim realization that he can't save this man he's been trying so valiantly to protect. Of course, there's always a choice, and one might argue that it wouldn't be so bad if our friends didn't get rescued by Naomi's ship. But they're in the middle of a war now, so sticking around is likely to be difficult. A lot of people could get killed. So Desmond feels it's his duty to tell Charlie what he's foreseen, though he resists, because it's a truly painful message to deliver. Throughout the episode, we get a lot of him glancing sadly at Charlie, muttering softly, trying to bring him whatever small degree of comfort he can. He seems so different from the drunken, despondent, deranged Scot who made his dramatic comeback a year ago.

And yet so much the same, because in the end, Desmond stepped up to the challenge. It was a vastly different scene in this episode, so calm and serene, worlds away from the chaos unleashed by John's fatal error. But in Live Together, Die Alone, Desmond overcame his fear of the unknown to turn the failsafe key and save everyone on the island. In Greatest Hits, after all his quiet agonies leading up to the fateful moment, Desmond offered to take Charlie's place on his task. I was glad he made the offer; I was waiting for him to, and when he finally did it was such a heroic gesture. But as much as I yearn for Charlie to survive, I didn't want him to accept and was a little disappointed when it seemed like he was going to. This was Charlie's moment, and I didn't want him to back out at the last minute. He didn't, so in the end, both Charlie and Desmond were willing to make the supreme sacrifice for each other.

I find Desmond's habit of calling everyone "brother" especially appropriate in relation to Charlie. Since he first revealed to Charlie the fact that the universe was out to get him, Desmond has been his protector, a quiet, steady force in Charlie's life keeping him from harm. He has been the kind of big brother Liam should have been but rarely was. Their lives have become so entwined that Desmond can't bear to leave Charlie's side at this final stretch. He's always hovering nearby, forehead crinkled into thoughtful lines, voice muted, mouth grave with just a hint of a warm but grim "I'm proud of you" smile. As Desmond prepares to adopt Charlie's mission after arguing good-naturedly about why he should be the one to go, he hands back the list and gives Charlie the same cheeky head-jiggling smile he gave his monkish mentor while he slurred, "It's a good thing we've taken a vow of poverty!" It's a "well, isn't this a fine mess" kind of grin. When Charlie knocks him out, there's something very religious about the image of Desmond lying in that boat, arms folded, with that list so carefully tucked away. It's a scene of serene and sacred beauty, like Boromir's body floating away down the Anduin in that little boat. Desmond is not dead, however; instead, Charlie is leaving him with the permission - and the obligation - to live.

Nathan thinks that Desmond lied to Charlie about the exact contents of his vision. I guess I wouldn't rule out that possibility, though I'm not sure to what end he would conceal or change details, and the slow, mumbled manner of his delivery seemed to convey hesitation but not dishonesty. It seems if he was lying, the key detail would have been Claire and Aaron getting on the helicopter. Maybe he saw himself getting into one and made up the other bit in order to convince Charlie to act - but that doesn't seem like something Desmond would do. I don't think he would ask Charlie to die for his sake alone. I think he truly felt it was something that needed to happen for the sake of everyone, and because this was the end of the line, he wanted Charlie to have the opportunity to know everything that he knew. He felt he owed him that much.

Everything - everything in this episode was setting us up to think that it would end with Charlie's demise, with the chance that Desmond would substitute himself at the last minute. But the fact that it was a Charlie flashback, and that he was recalling the five best moments of his life, and that he had dramatic partings with his closest remaining comrades on the beach... And the quietude of those last scenes with Desmond out on the water, especially the way his voice cracked (so reminiscently of Merry's "I don't know what's going to happen") when he told Desmond about his list, and then underneath the water, with the sad music and the feeling of time standing still... It was incredibly moving, with more than half of the episode, but especially the last ten minutes or so, feeling like an elegy for Charlie. When we came back from the last commercial break, I locked elbows with Nathan and willed myself to cry, while he sobbed soundlessly next to me. I never did manage to get my tear ducts to cooperate, but I guess I didn't exactly have to. I may need to mourn Charlie next week - if, for instance, Mom's hypothesis that he'll be stuck in the Looking Glass for the next season or so proves incorrect - and if that occurs then I really hope I can manage to do the thing properly. But for now, I'm just so glad that there is a glimmer or hope...

Speaking of good news, I clapped quite enthusiastically when Rose and Bernard showed up. No explanation for where they've been - apparently right there the whole time, but for some reason they didn't merit an appearance for 20 episodes. I was a little disappointed that Rose didn't have any interaction with Charlie, but I guess she was too busy worrying about ol' sharp-shooter Bernard to chat with Charlie, who was practically fused to either Desmond or Claire for the whole episode anyway. I was relieved to see that Rose seemed to be in perfect health, evidently not adversely affected by the hatch implosion. What is she going to do, though, if everyone gets rescued? I don't suppose it's that big of an issue right now since there's no way they can get off the island with three seasons to go. Well, I suppose a few of them could, but if anyone stays, Rose certainly will. The fact that they were neglected for an entire season only to reappear in the next-to-last episode of the season worries me. It seems to indicate they will be a part of something dramatic. Well, Bernard is, obviously, but I have an uneasy feeling that they brought him back just to kill him off. I certainly hope that isn't the case.

I couldn't tell for sure whether Sayid pointed to Sun or Jin when he indicated the third shooter. I figured it was Jin, but then I thought that it could be Sun, since we all know she can handle a gun pretty well. But I can't imagine they'd let her do that, especially since it's her more than anyone else who the Others want. In any case, way to split up the only two married couples on the island...

Sayid and Jack butted heads a lot here. Sayid has always been very proactive in getting things done on the island, and doing them his way. The timing of the Others' attack is terrible, forcing them to radio for help while they are worrying about whether their plan will work. It's because of Sayid that Charlie has his mission. Is it really worth giving up his life just for a chance that their signal might be heard? I do think Sayid is right to change places with Jack at the last minute. Sayid is the one with the military experience; Jack is the one the group as a whole is used to following. Jack has shown repeatedly that he is uncomfortable inflicting harm on others. Moreover, he spent a week with these people, so he may well have formed a few attachments aside from Juliet. If someone he considered his friend was among the attackers, could he proceed?

Of course, I don't entirely want the plan to succeed. Jack's finally decided to toss the Hippocratic Oath out the window, but I do not believe that every person coming to that beach deserves to get blasted into little bits. (I also don't think it was a good idea to have Danielle do her little demonstration with the dynamite. Wouldn't he think someone might hear that? And isn't that kind of a waste of explosives?) I sincerely hope Tom stays behind from the raid, though chances are he's one of the ten most able-bodied men. You'd think that as a hemophobic he would not want to be involved in a situation that could turn violent, but he probably feels he has little choice. Then again, if Tom does go along, he could possibly try to change his fellow raiders' minds. Or not, since they're not really planning to kill anyone. I didn't see Tom at all in this episode, so I'm not too sure what he's up to, but based on last week, he seems to be questioning Ben's judgment.

Richard certainly is. He seemed quite alarmed when Ben came back. He's startled, for one, that John did not return; I think Richard really is on his side because he is convinced that John is "special", and either he or Alex may well have a hand in getting him out of that ditch in the next episode, which has to happen. Richard still creeps me out a little, but he's growing on me. He's a very soft-spoken fellow; you pretty much never hear him raise his voice. Everything is this calm, murmured tone. I don't know what his deal is, and I know he had a major hand in the Purge, but I'm growing fond of Richard.

Ben pretty much went ballistic in this episode. He's not thinking rationally anymore, and he's losing control over his people. Ryan, that rarely-before-seen Other who seems comparable to Sayid, appears to be loyal to Ben, but most of the people at the camp appear to have lost faith in Ben's leadership abilities, and I don't think very many of them actually believed that Jacob had authorized this change of plans.

It's nice to see Alex continuing to take an active role in helping the castaways, though it's sad to see her conspiring against her dad. Of course, he's not really her dad. Or is he? Anyway, I was glad to see her and especially tickled to see Karl, who has been out of the picture for quite a while now. I was wondering where he'd gone off to. I think we're going to see more of him. I love how he greeted Alex with, "I thought you were bringing me a rabbit!" Sheesh. Whiner. That rabbit was really gross, by the way. I hope it wasn't one of Ben's pets... But Karl's arrival on the beach was so dramatic: "THEY'RE COMING RIGHT NOW!!!" Okay then. That was pretty alarming. Good for Karl for saving the day, though.

I'm very glad that Sawyer jumped in to stop Sayid from hurting Karl. I don't know for sure that he would have actually done anything other than knock him over just then, but I love the mentorly relationship Sawyer seems to have established with Karl. He really does care about the kid. If Sawyer's Han, I guess that makes Karl Luke, in which case he's bound to get a lot more integral to the show... I really need to knock it off with trying to make this Star Wars. (Wait! Maybe Ben is really Karl's father, not Alex's! I'm done now.) The rest of the beach folks aren't quite as quick to trust him; I love how when he pulls out his gun to offer it to Sayid Hurley just about topples over in panic, and Sayid accepts it as though it were something extremely unsavory...

While I was watching this episode, I was thinking that it was going by incredibly quickly. Ironic, then, that this is the longest LOST recap I've ever posted. It was just a gorgeous episode from start to finish. Bad things will happen in Through the Looking Glass. Carlton and Damon have promised a bloodbath. I want them to be liars. Everyone on the show lies, some of them incessantly; why should the writers be any different? In any case, though, now that we know what the looking glass is, it completely changes the context for the last episode. I suspect that Charlie will survive, and some amazing thing will happen inside that hatch. Of course, I think the original notion is true too, that we'll get some massive revelation (not "reveal", dagnabbit!) with Jack and the gang about what this particular Wonderland is and whether there is a way to get back to the real world. We've seen three different (or were they?) white rabbits on the show this season. Maybe that was a clue.

I'll echo Merry and say that I don't know what's going to happen. But I'm not too despondent about it. This last episode for eight months will be cataclysmic, but if it's anywhere near as good as the first and second season cliff-hangers, it will give us enough to think about to last us through the long wait. Bring on the finale!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

"You're Gonna Die, Charlie..."

Well, tonight's the night we determine whether Erin needs to send a hundred angry letters to Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse. Please don't do it, guys. I'm begging you, here...
Tonight, Libbie's coming over to watch Nathan and me wring out hands for an hour worrying about Charlie's fate. Ha.
Dad informed me yesterday that Sayid is his favorite character, even though he watched One of Them before we did and warned us we wouldn't like Sayid after that episode. I guess he forgave him for torturing Henry once he found out that he wasn't Henry after all. I'd forgotten that he would have killed him if AnaLucia hadn't intervened. That was unfortunate. And quite ungrateful of Ben to turn around and try to kill her...
I will be very surprised if everyone survives tonight. I'm holding my breath...

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Hatch Boxed Set Review

The numbers are bad, but that's not gonna stop John Locke, who is joined by Jack, Kate and Hurley in this epic set that captures the moment of opening the Hatch.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Mcfarlane Toys LOST - Series Two

So I was rooting around McFarlane Toys, trying to find a picture of the hatch set to link to for my review, and I discovered that series two is on the horizon, due out in July.  So I am excited.  And disappointed.  Because there are only four!  Unless they're only showing four, and they're adding more later.  This all started with Charlie at Christmas, and when I got him I'd never heard of the figures.  Now I want them all, though I have the four figures from the first series that I wanted most, and Libbie has Jack, so between the two of us all we're missing is Shannon and Kate - and Kate is in the hatch set, after all...
Anyway, only four.  How disappointing, yet better for my self-control.  I need to not buy any more frivolous things.  Besides, I have my three favorite characters, aside from Desmond, who I really think will not be showing up in plastic form for quite a while.  How many series are they planning?  How about... 10?  We don't even have to restrict ourselves to the island; let's have all the parents and ex-spouses and buddies and mentors and whatever else!  Christian.  Mr. Kwon.  Monk whose name I can't remember.  'Twould be awesome!  But for now, it's Sawyer, Jin, Sun and Eko, and I'm afraid I do want them all... 

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Rose and Bernard

So I'm really excited/nervous about this week's episode, which evidently will in some way provide the payoff for Flashes Before Your Eyes.  I assume that Greatest Hits is a reference to Charlie, presumably in connection with Drive Shaft, or maybe just some comment he makes about bands putting out greatest hits albums, since it doesn't seem like Drive Shaft has had enough hits for such an album.  But maybe they'll throw us off and make it a reference to Bernard or Rose, which I would be excited about.  Only two more episodes for them to make good on their promise of showing them this season...  It seems like it makes sense to bring Rose back in a Charlie-centric episode.  They have a connection; those scenes they shared after Jack saved Charlie in season one were wonderful.  She's the most overtly Christian character on the show except perhaps for Desmond, and as a fairly faithful Catholic boy, Charlie has been drawn to both of them, not to mention the very spiritual - if not necessarily Christian - Locke and the scripture-spouting Eko.  When it's down to the wire for Charlie, I think he might well seek solace with Rose, who is a maternal presence (and we know how devoted Charlie was to his mother) as well as a spiritual mentor.  I really want to see their stories intersect...
Today, I finally listened to some of the podcasts, and now I'm wishing I could listen to the ones from before this season.  Ah well.  I saved all the ones from season three and intend to listen to them, and try not to feel too jealous that Damon and Carlton have pretty much the coolest job in the world.  Couldn't happen to two nicer guys.  Really.  And I won't kid myself that I would have anywhere near the talent to help write an episode of LOST.  A gal can dream, though...

Thursday, May 10, 2007

"Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain..."

So we finally got to see Ben's flashback. The Man Behind the Curtain still left a lot of questions, but it offered a fascinating glimpse into Ben's past. First big revelation: He wasn't born on the island. (He was born right near Portland, where Dharma seems to have a foothold.) Hmm. So maybe people never could have babies on the island. We saw several kids, but they all were brought there as far as we know. But where did the Hostiles come from? I was really looking forward to this episode because there's so much to learn about Ben. One interesting thing about it was how much time we spent in his childhood. We've never spent more than a few minutes before on a character being portrayed by a different actor than usual. We saw little Jack, Sawyer, Sun and Hurley... Oh, and mini-Walt. But to have more than half of the flashback scenes showing a main character as a child was pretty interesting.
Sterling Beaumon (which strikes me as a very pretentious-sounding name, but I don't suppose he can help that) is a real cutie. Probably too cute to play Ben; the two actors really don't look anything alike to me, but the kid does a great job. He doesn't strike me as an especially disturbed child, just very quiet, which he's probably learned to be by the time he arrives on the island because he knows his father would rather pretend he doesn't exist. He did not have a good childhood. I couldn't help but think a little of Harry Potter, with his ever-present round glasses and the picture that he kept by his bedside so he could gaze wistfully at the pair of loving parents he never knew. His dad is not a Dursley-sized monster, but losing Emily fundamentally altered him, so Ben never had direct experience with that happy man in the photograph. He misses the man his father used to be. But mostly, he misses his mother, with such a ferocity that he begins to see her, and we again wonder whether the jungle is like the planet in the Star Trek episode Shore Leave, where whatever you're thinking about springs to life. (Speaking of white rabbits, Ben had one, and it looked exactly like the one he faked Sawyer out with, except for the lack of a number on its back.) Jack saw his father, who always undermined his sense of self-worth; Kate saw the horse, a symbol of her restless spirit; Hurley saw Dave, whose presence cause him to question his sanity... Was Ben's mother really there? Did he imagine her, or did something else assume her form? Jacob, perhaps, about whom the Smoke Monster theory seems especially plausible now?
It's interesting that John and Ben both have a mother named Emily. Perhaps it's not a coincidence, since the two have pretty parallel lives. Both grew up feeling unloved, yearning for parental affection; both long for a deep sense of connection with the island; both lie incessantly; both are manipulative; both have really creepy smiles. They seem in control, but they really aren't. I feel sorry for them.
Roger was a piece of work. Something seemed slightly off about his character; he seemed a little less real to me somehow than most of the characters, his reactions a bit hokey, like his utter disgust when he got his uniform (at which point I realized with an excited jolt that he was skeletal Roger from Hurley's van, which meant that episode contained a pretty juicy bit of foreshadowing) and his inaction when Ben pulled on a gas mask and whipped out an ominous spray can. He didn't quite gel with me, but in any case, Roger was a pretty crummy dad, though you could tell he felt at least a little badly about it, and the poor guy did lose the love of his life, after all. Still, actually telling Ben it was his fault that she died? That's cold, man...
Poor Ben probably never had a good birthday in his life. His father forgot it every single year, and he was such an introspective kid that nobody else paid much attention to him besides Annie. Horace, maybe, who came across as kind of an affable goofball who nonetheless must have known a lot more than he was telling. And maybe Richard and the gang, once Ben got in with them, though probably not, since the conversation Ben had with him in the present day seemed to indicate birthdays are sort of a foreign subject to most of the community. This year was certainly no exception to the bad birthday rule. John shows up demanding massive insight; Ben's people refuse to restrain John when he goes after Mikhail; his own daughter arms John and, seeing Ben's hurt face, shoots him a snarling, "Happy birthday, Dad." Yes, John is the man of the hour, apparently everything that Ben has never been. He seems almost poised to take over, though I doubt that's really what he wants. He just wants some answers. But Ben doesn't want to enlighten John when he himself is still in the dark.
A word about Annie. What a sweet girl. Her relationship with Ben was so tender, probably the only truly meaningful one of his life. She remembered and acknowledged his birthday. She made him feel welcome and loved. But we don't know what happened to her. She could have been killed in the purge, but while we saw Ben respectfully close Horace's eyes - a nice indication of humanity, I thought - the camera didn't linger on any women, and he didn't seem to be looking for her. He stared at the doll she made him and tucked it into his pocket before he went off for his afternoon of father-son bonding and patricide; the air was heavy with emotion, and it seemed to me that whatever had happened, Annie was already gone. Did she leave on the submarine? Run away into the jungle? Get killed by Hostiles? They left it so open-ended that I'm pretty sure they'll revisit this question later. We never saw her as an adult so we don't know what she looked like. Maybe she died in childbirth like Ben's mom, and Alex was abducted as a replacement for the child who never made it into the world. But if Mikhail's timeline is at all credible, the purge must have happened within the past 11 years, so where was Alex during this time? Were the Hostiles taking care of her?
I definitely got a late 60s vibe from the opening scene of the episode, which would put Ben in his mid- to late 30s. He seems older than that; Michael Emerson is in his early 50s, after all. He couldn't just tell us what birthday it was. That would be too simple... But I really don't think Ben can be much older than 40. How did he get to be the apparent leader of the Hostiles when he wasn't one of them to begin with? Did he spend a lot of time with them over the years or only have a couple more brief meetings? Why was it necessary for the Hostiles to kill the members of the Dharma Initiative? The barrier was there; why did they even have to interact with each other? And did the Dharma folks realize the island was inhabited? If so, why didn't they find some other island? Or was it part of their experiment to see if they could get along with the natives?
Richard most definitely didn't look a day younger in the flashbacks, which leads me to think the Hostiles have some sort of Tuck Everlasting kind of deal with the island that leaves them immortal. Which means they could've been there for who knows how long? Though if it had been such a very long time, you wouldn't think they'd sound like a bunch of modern midwestern Americans. Why is Richard taking orders from Ben when Richard is the one who's been on the island for years, who presumably had a big hand in sparing him from the purging? I didn't recognize any of the other folks in gas masks, I don't think. It was a very sad scene, with the elegiac music and the slow panning across the ground littered with bodies, and nobody seemed to be cheering for their victory. It seemed as though they saw it as a necessary evil; I think Richard really felt sorry for Ben when he asked if he wanted to give his father a proper burial. And that would explain why Ben was so obsessed with Locke killing his dad, since the Hostiles made him kill his. It was something part of him had always wanted to do, yet part of him would always resist because he, like Locke, kept seeking his father's love. His eyes were tearing up behind his mask as his father succumbed to the poison gas, but he didn't hesitate. He killed his father in cold blood, so if there was any doubt before, it's time to welcome Ben into the murderers' club. Sigh. And yet, for the most part, the flashback did reinforce my feelings of sympathy toward Ben.
I assume that Mikhail was in his communications base and Kelvin and Radzinsky were busy doing their thing at the time of the purge. Evidently nobody ever got around to smoking them out. Ben claims most of the Others are people he brought to the island; I guess he's been pretty busy in the last few years. For all we know, everybody except Richard is new, but then what happened to the rest of the Hostiles? If they're immortal they certainly shouldn't have up and died. Probably it's a mix, and maybe there are still a lot of Hostiles living deep in the jungle.
So Mikhail is still with Team Other after all. I didn't really think he'd go back to Ben. They certainly don't seem to like each other very much, though Ben did try to intervene on his behalf when John started beating him to a bloody pulp. John really has it in for Mikhail. It's not enough to kill him once; let's do it twice! He's just unnecessarily ferocious, like when he knocked Charlie around after the baptism attempt. It displeases me to see him acting so bloodthirsty. He was kind of like a whiny little kid in this episode, begging his mom for some treat in the store and raising a temper tantrum because he wasn't getting what he wanted right at that moment. Of course, he had been waiting a long time for the revelations he thought he was about to receive, and he had his father killed so he could get them. So he feels like he deserves it. Even if it's just going to lead to yet another crisis of faith.
What was up with Tom? When we actually did see him, infrequently, he was just standing there looking dumbfounded, first when John showed up, then during the fistfight when his lack of action spoke volumes. Mutiny was heavy in the air in that scene, and I was frankly rather shocked to see Tom going along with it. Okay, so everyone else may decide to turn their backs on Ben, but Tom? Tom, Tom, why have you abandoned him? You're all Ben has! He needs you, even if he doesn't realize it! Fight for his honor, doggone it!
I really thought we would meet Jacob in Ben's flashbacks. Silly me. His appearance was scarcely an appearance at all. What do we know about him? That he's not a normal person, that's for sure. That we're not even positive he exists. But what was all that chaos in the cabin about? And was there a figure in the shadows or just some invisible force? I think some of what Ben said and did was an act, but I don't know how much. Can he hear Jacob? When Jacob talks to someone, can he only be heard by that person? If he really was talking to Jacob, they don't have a very good relationship. If he wasn't and Jacob doesn't exist, he was just trying to pull one over on John, but if he thinks Jacob is real and just hasn't had the pleasure of conversing with him, what was he playing at? I think he does believe that Jacob is real but perhaps he has never actually communicated with him because he is unworthy, and he resents the fact that John is worthy. But how can John help Jacob, especially when he's such a formless being? Maybe Jacob really is the Smoke Monster. But John already "looked into the eye of this island"; shouldn't he have had a spark of recognition if that was the case?
We're not done with Jacob, or Ben, or John. (I love the fact that Ben told John that Jacob "feels the same way about technology that you do." It broke the tension, and it once again emphasized John's connectedness.) No way in the world that John is dead. Now, I suppose it's possible he could die in the next two episodes, but I certainly hope not, since he's such a core character and so intriguingly linked to the island. A bullet to the belly can't undo Locke, though, especially at the rate he's healing. Speaking of which, Ben barely seemed to need his cane throughout the trek. Seems to be healing quite nicely. It's interesting that the last two episodes focused on a journey of two people, one of whom was Locke, to a secret location where a strange man was waiting. Last week, Locke led the way; this week, it was Ben calling the shots, though only just. He may have been out in front, but this seemed like a trip he didn't want to make. I think he is genuinely afraid of Jacob, who I'm convinced is real.
I'm still not sure if Ben knew beforehand that the attack on his village was going to happen. He knew he had to kill his father at that designated time in order to win the acceptance of the Hostiles, but I'm not sure if he was fully aware of their grand scheme. I think he was a little shell-shocked when he came back and saw everyone dead. He seemed traumatized to me, though Ben usually hides his emotions well. The puffy eyes, the way time seemed to stand still... Whether or not he knew beforehand, I think it affected him at some deep level, even if he didn't feel any real sense of closeness to anyone in the community. If he was in on it, though, that speaks much more strongly for the possibility of him being an evil psychopath, even if he was merely acting out of self-preservation. Still. I'm not ready to give up on Ben yet.
Oh, and then there was the beach. Just barely. I wouldn't have been surprised if we hadn't seen it at all, but we got just enough of a hint of it to ease the segue into the final episode. Well, and next week too, but I don't think the Juliet stuff is going to come into play that strongly next week. It's set-up for the season finale. It would appear that Jack and Juliet are trustworthy after all, which I had hoped was the case, but you never can tell. It was nice of John to give Sawyer that tape so they had a bit of fair warning. But I guess they didn't really need it if Jack really is on their side and is cooking up a plan.
The beach scenes were very minimal, though. First time through, I caught several very brief glances of Desmond looking thoughtful and didn't see Hurley and Charlie at all. Second time around, I noticed Charlie hanging around with Claire, and I know I caught wisps of a conversation between Hurley and Desmond regarding haggis, but I couldn't make out most of the words, which is a shame...
Next week's episode may well be the most emotionally gripping of the season for me. They've been building up to it since Flashes Before Your Eyes, and something major is going to happen. Desmond says his number's up: "I'm sorry, brother, but this time, this time, you have to die." Yup. Charlie's definitely going to go for that: "Oh, well, if you say so, Des, better get on with it then, shall we?" Riiiiight. Charlie will not go gentle into that good night. But with all this extreme buildup, something spectacular is going to have to happen if we are expected to believe that Charlie is in no greater immediate danger than the other castaways. TV Guide said this episode would answer the question once and for all. So if he doesn't die, I have a feeling someone else will, and that someone will probably be Desmond, since their lifelines are so intimately connected now. If both of them make it out of Greatest Hits alive, you will see one supremely relieved Erin.