Namaste was one of those rare episodes that didn't begin with a "Previously on LOST". The beginning was a bit misleading, since we started out seeing something we'd already seen, but it quickly became apparent that we were getting another perspective. I love how the co-pilot recognized Hurley but failed to identify the other four members of the Oceanic Six. I guess Hurley stands out more... Frank is a heck of a pilot, and it's a good thing that he was in charge. I feel bad for the co-pilot, though. Death by tree? Almost as grotesque as death by Smokey. Nice to see Kate and Sawyer's time on the chain gang wasn't wasted. Without that runway, that landing would've been a lot more problematic... Despite his injuries, Frank leaped right into action on the ground, much like Jack. He definitely came across as a natural leader. I'm surprised he went with Sun, but I guess he felt especially responsible for her, given their previous association with each other. Good thing John showed up; otherwise, Ben might have stepped in to take charge of the crash survivors...
The first thing I noticed about Ben this episode was that he was in pretty good shape when the plane landed. It looked like he would be suffering yet another injury between that point and the point at which John sees him. So when Sun started stalking him, I thought she might have been planning to beat him up. What ultimately happened was eerily similar to Ben's last confrontation with John. Evidently she was just waiting for Ben to spill some vital information before whacking him with that paddle. Probably a smart thing to do. But pretty devious. The question remains... Just how much does Ben know? We now see that he met Sayid when he was just a teenager. Presumably he already would have known Sawyer, Juliet, Miles, Daniel - and Jin, which would mean that his survival shouldn't have been a complete shock to him after all... And now, he'll likely be getting to know Jack, Kate and Hurley. So he's actually known these guys for a very long time, and perhaps they figure prominently into his development. The other big question here is why Sun is in 2007 when Jack, Kate, Hurley and Sayid landed in 1977. And how in the world are she and Jin going to reunite? Is a Jin 30 years older than her the best that she can hope for?
There were definitely some interesting things going on in the present-day segments, and Christian hanging out in the Barracks was certainly an odd development. That guy just shows up everywhere, doesn't he? Also, I wonder why, in their several days or weeks of living there, none of the season four Team John folks noticed that group picture from 1977. For that matter, why didn't Juliet; wasn't she in the picture too? Or did Ben deliberately keep them hidden? Or did that photograph not exist in their past? Anyway, having people land in two different time periods certainly complicates matters. But until we catch up with John, I'm finding myself more interested in 1977. And I think the rumblings about Caesar and Ilana being the new Nikki and Paolo just might not be so far off the mark. So far, they're really not grabbing me.
I loved the inevitable bear hug between Sawyer and Hurley and didn't mind that Sawyer gave him a nickname for the first time since mid-season three. It felt affectionate this time, especially immediately followed by "I missed you, too, Hugo." I also loved Hurley's impressed statement regarding Jin's English. And really, everything Hurley said in this episode, which was an acknowledgment of what a load of malarkey we're being asked to swallow here. Also, the first thought in Hurley's mind once he accepted their situation was concern for the other members of the DHARMA Initiative. Wasn't Sawyer going to stop the Purge? I would think that Sawyer would at least be planning ahead for an escape; surely he's not intending to stick around to get gassed in 15 years.
Relations between Sawyer and Jack were a bit less cordial. All Sawyer got from him was a stiff handshake, and Jack was the only one of the three who really seemed to be questioning following Sawyer's lead when he told them to pose as recruits. I think Sawyer rather relished assigning Jack to the lowest rank in the DHARMA hierarchy. For once, Sawyer gets to boss Jack around, and it's an interesting change of pace. What I especially liked was their conversation near the end of the episode. It's strange to think of Sawyer as the thoughtful leader and Jack as the blindly impulsive one, but Sawyer has a point. Then again, in the early days after the crash, Jack didn't have a lot of time to contemplate things. He had to take immediate action, and he did what he thought was best for everyone. In the beginning, he did an excellent job and was critical to their survival. As time wore on, I think he was less successful. Sawyer's implication that Jack got a lot of people killed was rather cruel, but I thought his response to Jack's barb about him sitting around reading was brilliant. Sawyer really is much more intellectual than he at first appears, and it seems that, using a carefully reasoned approach, he has done great work with the DHARMA Initiative. Now let's just hope he can figure out some way to let Sayid off the hook. The previews don't look too promising...
I wish I could say I was shocked to see Radzinsky, but IMDb tipped me off about him a couple weeks ago, and TV Guide mentioned little Ben's story arc last month. Oh, well. I'm sure I would've been wondering about them anyway, especially Ben. Is there a rule that you have to be off-kilter to man the Flame? Or does working there make you crazy? Because Radzinsky seems almost as paranoid as Mikhail. It's interesting to learn that the Swan doesn't exist yet and that Radzinsky designed it, making his suicide all the more intriguing. Did he feel he'd made a big mistake in building it at all? Speaking of loonies, what happened to Daniel? Did he hop a sub to Portland? Sawyer's way of referring to him suggests that he's still alive, but I'm bummed that he's not with the DHARMA folks anymore. Still holding out hope, though, that Whatever Happened, Happened will be Daniel-centric. Just as teen Ben seems pretty harmless so far, infant Ethan holds no hint of the monster he will become. (Unless, of course, they're just faking us out, and he's not the Ethan we know at all. After all, where'd the name Rom come from? And why does he look about 40 when he should be in his mid-twenties?)
In the weeks to come, I think Radzinsky and Phil are both going to pose problems for our pals. They are too suspicious for the castaways' good. Ironically, while John was all gung-ho for the Oceanic Six to come back, it seems at this point that everybody would be better off if they'd stayed away, at least the 1977 folks. Still, it's better for us that they're back.
I feel bad for Hurley, so sick and tired of living a lie and finding himself thrust right into another one. (I wonder what his assignment is? I'm gunning for Gardener - that's what I got! Or given his fondness for cars, maybe Sawyer will make him a mechanic and put him under Juliet's wing.) Poor Jack comes back to find himself a prisoner in the Barracks again, with little control over what happens to him. And Kate, whose motivation for returning may have had a lot to do with Sawyer, gets to find out that he and Juliet are well on their way to a common law marriage. Meanwhile, Sawyer's position is threatened by their arrival, and Juliet clearly is nervous that Kate is going to mess up her relationship with Sawyer.
Sayid's in Ben's season-two position, except that some of his captors are on his side. I still think he's in for an ordeal, and given that ominous snippet on the previews, I wonder if he will try to kill Ben. It's hard to imagine Sayid killing a kid in cold blood, but when that kid grows up to become someone Sayid hates so much, it seems plausible. Maybe he'll attempt it, and Annie will come running up at the last minute and jump in front of him - but if Sayid is responsible for Annie's death, wouldn't Ben have done everything in his power to keep Sayid from returning to the Island? Of course, I'm hoping for a scenario in which Annie survives into adulthood and then gets off the Island. But if we're going to see teen Ben evolve from mild-mannered dork to future super-villain, I'm guessing Annie will be involved. Or might we discover altruistic motives behind all of Ben's reprehensible actions?
Hard to believe the season is already halfway over. How many more answers will we get in the next few episodes? Will we ever find out what happened to Rose, Bernard and Vincent? When will we see Desmond again? And is LOST going to blow my mind by putting John Denver or Simon and Garfunkel on the record player? Stranger things have happened!