Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Back to the Island (Boy, That Was Fast!)

It took four seasons to get the Oceanic 6 off the Island and four episodes to get them back on it. I was surprised at how quickly it all happened; before the season started, I would have guessed it would take them at least a season. So they took off on Ajira 316, a flight with as many parallels to Oceanic 815 as they could muster. And it starts all over again...

Of course, I was not surprised to see that the episode with this title had the most overt Christian overtones since Catch-22; it's a short leap from 316 to John 3:16, especially when you factor in John Locke. Instead of a monastery and a discussion of Abraham and Isaac, it was a church, and Ben, of all people, was giving Jack a lesson on the apostle Thomas. I really liked that scene. I liked how Ben was sitting there, hands folded, looking reverent, when Jack came in. How he stood up for Thomas, who I always felt a little sorry for. Or maybe it wasn't so much standing up for Thomas as warning Jack that he might be remembered more for doubting John than for his heroics in caring for the castaways. Or maybe he was comparing himself to Thomas. It's always hard to tell just what Ben is driving at, but I found the conversation fascinating, not least because Ben was so well-versed in the Gospel, or at least a small part of it. And there was just a hint of the Life and Death theme, and it was all very stirring. And then Ben said he had a promise to keep to an old friend, and I wanted to slug him.

I don't know when we're going to find out whether that "promise" was fulfilled. Ben was certainly upset and unsettled when he called Jack, but was it because he failed or because he succeeded but found that sort of revenge was not so satisfying after all? Or was he just upset because somebody beat him up? The most likely culprit there is Desmond, but it could have been Penny herself. Or maybe Sun or Sayid had something to do with it; could Widmore have tipped Sun off that Ben might try something? But Ben didn't seem bothered by their presence on the plane, and if they were involved, wouldn't they let Jack in on what was going on? In any case, things didn't go just how Ben intended, but whether or not Penny is still alive is a mystery that may hang over the rest of the season. Killing off Charlotte and Penny both would be a low blow, though, especially after Nadia last season. And when we get that back story on Annie, it might not be so pleasant. Sigh. Still, it's too early to give up on Penny yet.

I don't think we have to worry that Aaron got killed. He's too critical to the story. But his whereabouts are a big mystery too, and I wonder if we'll see him again this season. Kate was obviously distraught when she came to Jack, but was he forcibly taken from her, or did she leave him with someone because someone sold her on going back to the Island but she was too spooked by that dream she had about Claire to bring Aaron along? It seems like he's going to have to join them at some point. Maybe Walt will bring him back. Or Desmond, despite his seething protests that he was done with the Island. You can hardly blame him for hating Ms Hawking. Is she really on their side, or is she a sinister puppet master? There is something undeniably creepy about her.

I wonder if, after this week, we're done with John, since the episode ends with his death. Will we meet him in the past? Will he suddenly spring to life? Or is Terry O'Quinn no longer a part of LOST? It's hard to imagine a season and a half of the show without him. But the fact that he's a stand-in for Christian's corpse seems to make the resurrection theory slightly less likely. Unless it means that John springs to life and Christian winds up back in the box? Because Christian is an awfully lively corpse... Speaking of which, was that man really Jack's grandfather, or was "Granddad" just a nickname? Because he didn't look a day older than Christian to me. Then again, Anthony Cooper always looked way too young too. It was odd to see Jack's grandpa after all this time, seemingly a major part of Jack's life, but we didn't even know he existed up until now.

How did Sayid and Hurley know about the flight? My guess is that Sun found them and told them, and somehow she convinced them. Sayid was in handcuffs, but I'm not sure if he was really under arrest or if it was for show. The officer with him was talking to John in the preview, which makes me think she was in on it and that the handcuffs were mostly about recreating more conditions of the original flight. Meanwhile, I thought it was sweet that Hurley brought a guitar to represent Charlie, and the comic book was a good idea. But what I really loved was that he bought up the last 78 seats on the plane, trying to do something proactive to keep more people from getting killed. (What, incidentally, makes everyone so sure that they will survive the crash again?) Just a few days ago, Jack was at the point where he didn't care who he brought down with him; he just had to get back to the Island. Now at least he's worried about his fellow passengers, while Ben, who probably has no business returning to the Island at all, is aggressively indifferent. I'm a little surprised at how violently frightened Hurley is of Ben this season; is it just because of Sayid, or did John say something to him? He didn't seem to be that hugely spooked by Ben the last time they were together.

I was amused by Ms Hawking's dismissive comment to Jack that Ben was probably not telling the truth about not knowing about her secret lair with the pendulum (with the wonderfully Lewisian name of the Lamp Post). From what little we've seen of their interactions, she seems to view Ben as a pest. They're tenuously on the same team, but she doesn't have much respect for him. I also thought Ben's snippish reply to Jack about his mother teaching him how to read was funny, though even there he was lying. Unless he was motivated to learn how to read to escape the loneliness of not having his mother, or something like that. Not likely, though. I think it was just a smart-alecky response, and he said the first thing that popped into his head. I imagine he wishes his mother had taught him... Judging by the previews, he was also lying about not knowing John committed suicide; it looks like he actually facilitated it.

I was excited to hear Frank's name and then to see him, barely recognizable without his facial hair. I figured that he must know what was going on because it would be too coincidental otherwise, but it seems he was completely in the dark. "We're not going to Guam, are we?" Ha! Funniest line of the night. It was encouraging because it made me think that maybe he'd let the plane down nice and easy, since he was in the know. Perhaps no crashing would be involved. But then the plane started shaking, and there was a blinding light, and who knows what happened? How did Jack, Kate and Hurley get off the plane, and what became of everybody else? That opening scene was strange; I figured Jack was having a dream, recalling that first Island landing but bringing Kate and Hurley more immediately into it. It was a decent chunk of a scene that we saw repeated at the end, but I think the bookends made sense.

I wonder if we won't be seeing the Oceanic 5 (plus Ben and Frank) for a while after The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham; I'd say Sawyer's crew has a bit of catching up to do. What's Jin doing in a Dharma uniform? How much time has passed for him since John disappeared? I suspect that the guy sitting next to Hurley, the one who offered his condolences to Jack, survived the plane crash and will become a part of the gang. And surely Frank will fare better than the first pilot. I'm glad the focus stayed on Jack's crew for the whole episode; an awful lot needed to happen here, and I doubt many people minded leaving the Islanders for a while.

Originally, The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham was supposed to air first; no matter what, some backtracking would have been involved in that episode. I wonder what made them decide to change the order? I'm guessing we won't see the Islanders this week either. But we probably will see Walt, which is an exciting prospect. And this may be the last dose of Terry O'Quinn we get for a long while, so I'm prepared to enjoy it. And to predict that his name might be on that Emmy list again. Everybody on LOST is fantastic, but O'Quinn, Michael Emerson and Henry Ian Cusick are just a smidge above everybody else, I think, though that's partly because they're getting the best material. Jeremy Davies might actually have a shot this season too. But for now, I'm focusing on John...

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