Thursday, May 15, 2008

Well, Ben, It Looks Like Jacob Helped John After All...

I was really looking forward to Cabin Fever, both because I was itching to learn more about Jacob and because John-centric episodes are pretty much guaranteed pure gold. Was this one? Oh, yeah. I love how we got to see John in three different stages of life we hadn't seen before: birth, childhood, adolescence. Every step of the way, someone connected with the island was keeping tabs on him. First Richard - and boy, John ought to be kicking himself that he didn't go to that science camp - then Matthew, who seems to be batting for the other team, which makes me wonder why he would want John on the island. Wouldn't he just be a roadblock?

At any rate, I loved seeing John as a silent, sullen kid already intrigued by the thought of being a warrior - which apparently really upset Richard - and a cranky teenager tired of being picked on by his peers. He reminded me of Sam at his most disenchanted in Freaks and Geeks. But John is so off the beaten path, it's pretty disappointing to think that he would let his peers' petty bullying dissuade him from an amazing opportunity. His teacher picked entirely the wrong tactic to try to convince him to go, though, and I knew that teen John was going to snap, "Don't tell me what a can't do!" Even though his belligerence in that instance made me sad, I still cheered when he said it.

It's odd enough already that Ben and John both had a mother named Emily. Now we see they were both born under tragic circumstances. Ben's mother died, John's was seriously injured. I assume that Anthony is the guy Emily's mother was referring to. I don't blame her for disapproving if that's the case, and Emily was a bit of a smart-alecky brat. But her mom was obnoxious too, and smoking in a neonatal unit? What was she thinking? I'm not entirely clear on what caused Emily to reject John so tearfully. Was it because he was just a reminder of her whole ordeal with the accident? Or she was afraid to get close, knowing her mother wouldn't let her keep him? I also found it interesting that both Emilys were very insistent on the naming of their sons. Benjamin is reminiscent of Old Testament Benjamin, son of Jacob, while John seems to recall John the Baptist.

It's nice to see that John really is as special as he seems to think he is. His sense of destiny is not all in his head. It was pretty spooky seeing that picture of Smokey in little John's living room, especially since it seemed to prefigure the death of Mr. Eko. The compass could be a reference to Eko as well; I'm not too sure what the sand is about, other than the fact that there is, obviously, a lot of sand on the island. I love that John was playing backgammon as a young child, and as a teenager he was listening to Geronimo Jackson. I don't like the idea that he owes Abaddon one; I don't think he's the kind of guy you want to owe something to.

Anyway, all of the backstory stuff was incredibly intriguing, and the on-island stuff was just as good. I thought the interaction among John, Ben and Hurley was hilarious, especially in the scene in which Ben says that he's following Hurley, who of course has no idea where he's going. The blind leading the blind! And then there was his impressed, unsettling comment about John fooling Hurley into thinking it was his idea to keep going to the cabin with them. Ben is a master manipulator; John's getting there. But seriously, I wouldn't want to go wandering off through the jungle by myself. Hurley's done it before, but it wasn't fun - and John almost killed him on one occasion.

I felt so sorry for Ben in this episode. I know he's up to no good in the future, but at this particular moment, he's so sad and defeated, struggling with guilt over his failure to save Alex and grief over losing her, not to mention his sense of control over what's happening. He's lost his exalted position, and at this point, he seems willing to admit that John is now the favored one. I thought his admission that he "really wasn't thinking clearly" when he shot John last season, in what I think of as the bookend to this episode because of all the parallels (birth of Ben/John, presence of Horace, mass grave, Jacob's cabin, question of whether Ben or John is rightful leader, etc.), was funny in its understatedness. Yeah, it probably wasn't a good idea to shoot John. Very petty of him. Not to mention that John was about his biggest asset in protecting the island, and if he'd been around maybe the confrontation with the castaways would have played out a little differently.

I thought his demurral when John asked him to join him in the cabin had a very defeated ring to it, and it seemed to be the final indication of him yielding his leadership at last. When he earnestly asked John what he found out inside, the roles really did seem to be reversed. Oh, and what I love, love, loved, more than any moment in the entire brilliant episode, was Hurley taking that trusty Apollo bar out of his pocket, glancing over at Ben, breaking off a small chunk for himself and handing Ben most of the candy bar. No words. But an almost heartbreakingly sweet and simple gesture that is an encapsulation of everything I love about Hurley, and I thought bedraggled Ben seemed genuinely touched. I got a screencap of that moment, and it now is serving as my desktop background. Gorgeous.

I wasn't entirely disappointed with Horace's appearance. Yeah, it would've been cooler if he'd been alive, or "alive," whatever the case may be. But I'd rather he be John's dream than Ben's, since John had no idea who he was, just like he had no idea who Christian was. Gives the idea of a "vision" more credibility. (Maybe John ends up spilling the beans about seeing Claire and Sawyer puts two and two together and tells Jack? I think Jack will know she's his sister by the time he leaves the island.) Horace did give John some worthwhile information, and for some reason I was very amused by the noise he made when he wiped his brow. "Phewwwwww!" Hehe. Building a cabin is hard work.

A cabin in which Christian and Claire are hanging out. Is she dead? I'm starting to think maybe she is. She's acting sorta zombified, like most of the deceased in Our Town. Wandering around in a vaguely contended haze. Of course, I would prefer that she's alive. We'll have to see. Why doesn't Christian want John to let people know about her? And why can't Jacob talk to John himself instead of sending Jack's pop to intercede for him? When we actually do see him, it's gonna be crazy. Now, if I were Hurley, I'd want to inside that cabin. I'd want to know what I was the one who could see it, if nothing else. Hurley has a very special connection, but he doesn't seem too interested in exploring it, partly because he doesn't really like being set apart and partly because he's easily spooked. I'm not complaining; if he'd gone inside, we wouldn't have gotten the candy bar moment! But I couldn't be so incurious.

Meanwhile, back on the freighter, just as I was really starting to love Captain Gault, he got killed. Grrrr. He came across as a pretty good guy when he was chatting with Sayid and Desmond and telling them about Widmore, but Michael said not to trust him, and we're predisposed to distrust everyone on the freighter anyway, though it's starting to look like just about everybody aside from Keamy and his crew are decent people. Even the cranky doctor, who probably should have high-tailed it the other way when he heard that he'd washed up on shore with a slashed throat. We knew it was coming, but I really didn't need to see that.

I adore Frank. It's really a tough call between him and Daniel, who's so sweet and soft-spoken, but Frank has such a heroic streak, and he's proven to be a real friend to the castaways, more than any of the others. He's incredibly proactive, and he puts himself on the line to do what is right. I love that he liberated Michael and stood his ground against Keamy, even though it didn't do any good and ultimately actually got somebody killed. And watching this episode, I finally remembered that we saw him leave the ship with Keamy's crew in Ji Yeon. So that solves the mystery of when they left. Anyway, Frank is awesome.

Keamy is not. By far the most despicable villain LOST has introduced so far. Worse than Ethan, Danny and Cooper. Maybe worse than Widmore. Definitely worse than Ben. He told Hurley this time that he wasn't responsible for the Purge, which I always figured was the case, but I was starting to think maybe it was his doing after all. He played a role in it, yes, and he did kill his father, which was awful. But if my first hunch was right and he's not really a mass murderer after all, it does make me feel better about him. Anyway, Keamy is horrendous, just a completely one-dimensional villain from what we've seen, and regular killing machine who couldn't care less who he hurts. I almost never approve of resorting to capital punishment to eradicate murderers, but in this case I think I'd like it if Frank figured out some way of dumping him in the ocean. Maybe he'll just crash the helicopter altogether, sacrifice his life for the sake of everyone on the island, and the Oceanic Six are just the ones who fit on Sayid's raft. At this point, I wouldn't put it past Frank to resort to those heroic measures, though it would make me really sad to lose him.

How are they getting back to shore? Gault, whose outright decency kinda floored me in this episode, is gone. Desmond has sailing experience; could he do it? Drive the ship to land and then disappear? Widmore knows who he is, obviously, but if he could get off in time, maybe he wouldn't realize he was there. I sure hope he doesn't get himself killed on the freighter. His presence there makes me a little nervous. But his farewell to Sayid was touching, and anyway Sayid can get more people off the island if Desmond doesn't come along. My impression is that the castaways will be rescued in the present, not in a flash-forward. We'll be getting a flash-forward, though, if we're going to find out who is in that casket. So far, none of the main folks have died in the future; when it happens - because I assume that whoever's in the casket is someone we know well, or will - it'll be strange to see them in the present, knowing their ultimate end.

The two-part finale should be very revelatory, and I can't wait to see how in the world they're going to go about moving the island. Get the Dharma shark and some of his buddies to pull it? Have Smokey give it a monstrous push? Will we finally see the temple? Will we learn the fate of Jin and Claire definitively? So many questions, most of which probably won't be answered. But it seems this ought to be a fairly optimistic finale. At least compared to last year, my least favorite of the three. If it's anything like Cabin Fever, which I'm declaring my favorite episode of the season with the exception of The Constant, it will be fantastic.

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