Thursday, April 24, 2008

Michael Seeks Redemption and Tom Crashes His Flashback

Tonight, LOST finally returns, and I get to squeal for joy. Maybe. Though the previews look rather dire. Ah, well; I guess the castaways in peril is better than no castaways at all! At any rate, it's high time I weighed in on Meet Kevin Johnson, the cliff hanger I had to cling to for a month while I contemplated what would befall our friends next. It follows the same format as Flashes Before Your Eyes, the only other episode thus far to do so. I'd rather spend the better part of an episode with Desmond than Michael, so this one doesn't quite compare, but it was still interesting to see what happened to him since we last saw him in Live Together, Die Alone.

Poor Michael. Things really haven't worked out for him, have they? His wife separates from him, takes his kid and does nothing to let little Walt know that he has a father who cares about him, even confiscating the cards he sends. Then he gets stuck with a seething pre-adolescent Walt when his ex-wife dies suddenly, and just as they're finally starting to reach an understanding, Walt gets kidnapped. So he goes on a desperate quest to find him, eventually leading him to kill two people and betray several others. And after all that, when he gets his son back, Walt is so disgusted by his dad's actions that he doesn't want anything to do with him. And then Tom comes calling...

Now, Tom is probably about the last person Michael would want to see in his situation, but it sure was a kick for me when he emerged from the dark alley, swooping by in his trenchcoat. This was almost as much Tom's flashback as Michael's. We finally got to see him off the island and get some idea of what he's like when not living entirely in Ben's shadow. He's sort of a cross between menacing Mr. Friendly and congenial Tom. He looks a lot different in this episode in his posh surroundings and preppy clothes.

And, of course, LOST finally confirmed my long-held Tom Is Gay theory. His boyfriend doesn't seem to know anything about the island. Is this someone Tom just met, I wonder, or someone he meets up with whenever he gets off the island? I can't imagine that's too often, and with Ben's tight security, that would mean no communication, which can't be good for a relationship. I'm guessing he and Arturo haven't been together long.

Mostly, Tom seems like a pretty good guy here. I was happy when he offered Michael that shot at redemption - until he said it involved killing everyone on the ship. Not cool, Tom. Haven't we learned by now that killing one person (let alone many) to save another usually only leads to anguish? And it seems to me that murder is murder, no matter who is being killed. But then, Michael's already a double murderer, so I suppose he figures his soul is in major jeopardy already. But redeeming yourself for killing by killing again seems pretty shaky to me.

Michael clearly isn't crazy about it either, especially once he gets to know some of the people on the boat. One guy we don't see him befriend is Daniel, who I'm convinced is a good guy. It was nice to hear Ben say the same thing - not about Daniel specifically, but about certain members of the crew. Not that Ben's motives are necessarily trustworthy, but it at least seemed that he genuinely wanted to avoid killing innocent people. Maybe feeling a little guilty about the Purge? Michael's got a lot to repent of, but Ben... If he ever went to Confession, he'd be in there all week. The fact that Ben stopped Michael from setting off that bomb could mean both that Ben isn't wholly evil and that not all the boat people are up to no good. I like both ideas very much. And Ben does seem more sympathetic in this episode than most, once again desperately warning Alex to get away for her own safety. That doesn't seem to have worked out so well. I'm really bummed about Karl; I really dug the mentorship vibe between Sawyer and him, and of course you hate to see young love snuffed out like that. I'm not convinced Danielle is dead, though, at least not yet. I think we still need to get her story in greater detail. Maybe, like Eko, she'll stick around long enough for a flashback. I have a strong suspicion, though, that she won't make it to the end of the season.

There are some interesting parent-child parallels going on in this episode. Alex and Ben have a very strained relationship, as do Michael and Walt, and it's largely because of the nefarious things the parents have done. There was something bone-chilling about the part of Michael's conversation with Ben in which Ben told him that he never asked him to kill those women, that their blood was entirely on his hands. The thing is, it's kinda true. Michael took a bad situation and made it worse with an awful solution to his problem. It seemed to him like the only course of action. Was it? I can certainly understand why Walt would be scarred by the idea that his father is a killer, and that he did it for him. I'd think Walt would feel guilty about it and lash out against Michael as a consequence. But when Michael became Kevin, not much time had passed after they arrived in New York. I would think that Walt would be ready to reconcile before too long.

We didn't see much of John's gang in this episode, but the little bit we got was intriguing. Shame on Sawyer, though; kill Tom for stealing Michael's kid, and then kill Michael for killing AnaLucia and Libby. Will the chain of revenge never end? Sayid, too, seems to want revenge against Michael, or at least wants him in a position where he can't work for Ben. Maybe this has something to do with why Sayid winds up doing Ben's dirty work; he replaces Michael, after realizing he should have just left Michael alone. Desmond doesn't have much to do in this episode. He's really out of the loop on the whole Michael saga, so he doesn't have the emotional engagement Sayid does. He's got a grand total of three lines in the episode, all of them pretty pointless. Better luck next time, Des!

So Captain Gault implies that Ben staged the plane crash, while Tom says it was Widmore. Who do we believe? Is Tom more trustworthy, or is the captain? That may not matter, because both of them could be misled or mistaken. So who is more trustworthy, Ben or Widmore? That's a tough call, but I'm going with Ben. I think he ultimately is one of the good guys, despite all his diabolical deeds. I understand he has a flashback coming up. Will we get to see what happened to Annie? I really want her to be alive somewhere, but I'm getting the feeling that she probably is dead, which is very upsetting. Maybe she died during pregnancy and he kidnapped Alex as a replacement baby. I think Annie is incredibly important to our understanding of Ben, so it's bound to come up sooner or later.

I saw a longer than usual preview for tonight's episode yesterday, and Alex shrieked "Daddy!!!" which really struck me, since in that moment of supreme terror, despite all that has happened between her and Ben, she is still his little girl, crying out for his protection. At this point, the fact that she was abducted as an infant is almost moot. Ben is the man she knew as her father, and he's probably all she has left. We know Ben survives, so he can't lay down his life for the sake of his daughter, but I hope he tries. I hope he does something. Alex's life has taken a major turn for the worse, but I don't want it to end entirely. Oh, the nail-biting anticipation. What will tonight bring? Who are those snipers in the jungle? What have Richard and the rest of the Others been up to? Will Daniel allay Jack's concerns? Will we be spared more carnage for a while? I can't wait to find out!

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