Wednesday, April 08, 2009

LOST: If I take him, he's not ever gonna be the same again.

Ben goes to the Dark Side

For the most part, I like the way the show went with "saving" Ben. Sort of a deus ex machina, but since it involves the Temple, and, I'm assuming, the Smoke Monster, I'll allow it. It's kind of disappointing that it wipes his memory, but I suppose that's a smart device, and allows for how big Ben would let himself get beaten up repeatedly by these people he knows tried to kill him as a kid. It's also a chunk more disappointing because it seems to mean that the "bad" in Ben isn't really Ben at all. It's something that has been implanted within him. Kind of ruins the accountability/responsibility thing in a metaphysical way, y'know? It immediately had me imagining an Anakin/Darth Vader scenario, in which someone (Locke?) tries to save Ben's soul by exorcising the piece of Smoke Monster that's in him.

Jin does find little Ben's body and the Others do have a hand in saving Ben, but of course it's not quite how I imagined it (see earlier post)... I like it some, I dislike it some. We see Richard carry little Ben to the Temple, the home of the BSM, perhaps for a revitalizing black smoke enema? It's a bit of a jump, but I take this to mean that somehow, it's the Smoke Monster that saves him. I envision it being kind of like Carnage, the spawn of Spider-Man's alien symbiote costume. It's a piece, or child, of the original, and bonded to its host it makes him strong, and at the same time changes him, influences his darker thoughts and behavior. Or maybe something like Eclipso's black diamond, whose shards give a user power, but turn him into another Eclipso, corrupting his character.

Kate: Because we need you to save his life. Can you?
Alpert: If I take him, he's not ever gonna be the same again.
Kate: What do you mean by that?
Alpert: What I mean is that he'll forget this ever happened and... his innocence will be gone. He will always be one of us. You still want me to take him?
Kate: Yes.

This is really interesting. Is THIS how one becomes a real and true Hostile/Other/Islander? Entering the temple and... I dunno... taking a kind of communion with the smoke monster? Letting some of it inside of you?

Like a vampire! That's probably a good metaphor/model for it. You're sort of yourself, with your wits about you, but, y'know, dark, with better hair, and irresistible to adolescent girls.

See, that's kind of cool. I like that this could be a clue to what makes Others Others.

But... When it comes to Ben in particular, I find this metaphysically disappointing... aggravating... Ben's grown to become someone I enjoy hating. Everything he does serves some nefarious purpose, and each word he utters and each person he manipulates is testimony to the darkness of the black hole of his soul.

Or at least that used to be the case...

Now, it seems that the Ben we met, the Henry Gale caught in Rousseau's net, is not really Ben at all. In an Obi-Wan-talking-about-Vader way, Ben really and truly *did* die as little Ben, aged 10 or so, shot by Sayid and carried into the Temple. What comes out of the Temple is a new and different Ben, if not a host or vessel to the smoke monster, then definitely tainted by it. This is Ben losing himself and crossing over to the Dark Side. This is Ben, the real Ben, not being responsible for all the evil $hit he's done in his life. Instead, it's this dark Ben, an aspect of the smoke monster, using Ben's form and Ben's gift, his remarkable ability to plan and maneuver and manipulate people, to accomplish some dark goal or goals...

I can imagine a scenario evolving over future episodes that would resemble Luke's struggle to save Anakin Skywalker's soul. Big Ben might be one step away from... controlling all of time and space, and changing it to erase certain people or events from existence, but someone, his dead/reanimated mother?, along with the Losties, will appeal to his 10-year old self to fight it, and at the eleventh hour, little Ben will prevail, and throw himself at the smoke monster, sending them both down the Orchid shaft and ultimately into the wheel chamber, where the smoke monster will be ripped apart and Ben will be scattered across time, becoming the mysterious Jacob, who's always been on the Island...

...or something.

I also really enjoy the idea that big Ben remembers all the $hit that these time traveling jerkwads put him thru as little Ben, and visits all kinds of suffering upon them in 2004 and on, without once giving up that he already knew them, hated (or crushed on) them, and knew that he wouldn't be able to kill, but could mess with them as much as he wanted, putting them in cages, banging a romantic triangle into a quadrangle, and even enlisting the one he hates or admires most as his agent and assassin. It doesn't all make sense, but I have faith that it could be made to make a kind of Ben-sense, y'know?

Or at least, I did...

Alas, this visit to the Temple erases that notion. Literally, wipes it from Ben's mind. Pretty frickin vague, tho, donchathink?

RA: What I mean is that he'll forget this ever happened and... his innocence will be gone.

How much do you suppose "this" in "he'll forget this ever happened" covers? He won't remember... being shot by Sayid? Scheming and freeing Sayid from DI jail? Being carried into the rainforest by Sawyer? I suppose we'll find out soon enough. All of the DI knows that Ben had a bullet in him, tho, so he'll have a scar, right? How will he be returned to the DI? Will LaFleur come clean? That he took Ben to the Hostiles, left him w Alpert, and trusted him to save the boy (without giving up any details about memory loss). The smokey amnesia can be attributed to shock, but how much will it cover/cover up?

The trouble with Kate

LOST doesn't quite seem to know what to do with Kate. She's best when she's useful, I think. Y'know, when her zany fugitive skills are brought to bear on a crisis situation, y'know?

Speaking of... how the heck does she pick up the talent for tracking anyone in a frickin rainforest, but doesn't know how to even fake working in the DI motor pool? She can't step up and flip a winch lever? WTF?

She's also effective as the femme fatale/damsel in distress for Sawyer and Jack. I've gotta give her that. But when she makes decisions in regard to the Island and Island drama, I don't know... She just seems kind of weak to me. Not inconsistent, really, but,... weak.

I hated the way this episode kept hitting us over the head with her parent/guardian/caretaker issues. Projection scenarios are forced on Kate in 1977, with Roger trying to be a good father to Ben ("I guess a boy needs his mother." *bonk*), and also in 2005ish, with Cass offering her armchair psych evaulation of the underlying nature of Kate's relationship with Aaron. Namely that Aaron helped Kate get over Sawyer.

And was it not super creepy how Roger was so obviously into her, and how she seemed so OK with that? Frickin gross!

I was SO pleased to see Kate and Aaron finally meet Cass and Clementine! I was SO disappointed that neither of them seemed to understand that their loopy interconnection, thru one degree, directly with each other, and then thru two degrees, thru Sawyer, is a pretty odds-defying thing. Kate's always been a pretty secular Lostie when it comes to Island weirdness. A nonbeliever. I really wanted her to acknowledge the possibility of fate over coincidence when it came to knowing both Cass and Sawyer, but no. Not happening. Bleah.

I think it's sad that Cass has got Sawyer so wrong when it comes to Clementine. In the Sawyer-in-prison episode, we find out that Sawyer's socking away some big bucks in an account for her in some bank in New Mexico. We don't get any details on how/when the money will get to Clementine, but it's sure to be a decent golden nest egg. I *thought* that would be where the money would come from, but I guess Sawyer didn't have enough time to whisper account numbers to Kate in the chopper. Foo. Cass is just SO certain (or at least, this is how she plays it with Kate) that Sawyer's a no-goodnik who turned his back on her and their daughter.

How do we think Cass gets by nowadays? Still running cons?

I do actually like Kate's response to Claire's mom when she asks where she's going (that she has to leave Aaron behind)...

Mrs. L: Where are you going?
Kate: I'm going back to find your daughter.

Is Claire actually alive? Is she reanimated? Possessed? I think she's alive the way Christian is alive. I've still got Desmond's flash rattling around my rusty innards. He told Charlie that he saw him push that button in the Looking Glass and then saw Claire step onto a helicopter with baby Aaron. Will that still somehow happen, or is that no longer a possible future?

Kate's a universal donor. Some of her blood is in Ben!

Abbot and Costello do time travel

Miles: What the hell are you doing, tubby?
Hurley: Checking to see if I'm disappearing.
Miles: What?
Hurley: BACK TO THE FUTURE, man.

Brilliant! I hafta say, the five minutes or so following that initial happiness was a bit aggravating. It was time that could've been spent on other/Other important things, y'knokw? But I have to say that the way it ends, with the apparently clueless Hurley stumping Miles, was very satisfying.

I also realize at a meta-level that this conversation probably (ha!) HAD to happen. Since for whatever reason the writers are still keeping Faraday out of the picture, having Hurley and Miles explain away some of the audience's time travel headaches using this "Who's on first?" meets time travel routine is effective and entertaining. A spoonful of sugar.

And in the back and forth, Miles says something that rings to me like the writers telegraphing a punch...

Miles: I can die... Any of us can die, because this is our present.

And y'know, Hurley actually puts a point on things, which the show doesn't often do, with his question about little Ben's 1977 experiences and big Ben's 2004 behavior.

Hurley: But when we first captured Ben, and Sayid, like, tortured him, then why wouldn't he remember getting shot by that same guy when he was a kid?
Miles: Huh... Hadn't thought of that.
Hurley: Huh.

It's almost disappointing that the show has to spell it out like that, but delivered by Hurley, in his "dude, what about this?" way, it's a treat.

I love Miles's exit line...

Miles: Hey, ask me more questions about time travel.

State of the Hostiles

In a very short exchange with one of his Hostile lieutenants, Alpert reveals a bit about the power structure in Hostile society in the 70s...

Hostile: You shouldn't do this with out asking Ellie. If Charles finds out...
Alpert: Let him find out. I don't answer to either of them.

So, it's King Charles and Queen Ellie! And Richard, the outside consultant? Interesting. It seems like Richard is unhappy with the way Charles and Eloise are running things. It seems like a total 180 given the young Charles we met back in Jughead times, but perhaps the truce is Charles's idea? Maybe he developed a philosophy about coexistence with outsiders that Richard doesn't buy into... anymore?

He does give little Ben a very thoughtful look before taking him into the shadows of the Temple. Pinning his hopes for a new leader on the boy?

Or maybe Charles and Eloise are playing both sides? Investing in the DI in the outside world while at the same time leading the Hostiles...?

I like that.

... and the rest

I like that Sawyer picks up on little Ben's and RA's history...

Alpert: Is that Benjamin Linus.
Sawyer: You two know each other?

The spineless spinal surgeon continues to be a general dork. Maybe this is how his withdrawal from whatever oxycodone-y drugs he was on manifests itself? However, he does get an insightful moment of clarity...

Jack: When we were here before I spent all of my time trying to fix things, but did you ever think that maybe the Island just wants to fix things itself, and maybe I was just... getting in the way.

I really loved the way Sawyer pegged him as a leader who only reacted to things, without thinking. I think it's funny, and good, that Kate pegged him as the opposite this episode. She said something about missing the old Jack, who wouldn't wait around for something to happen. Totally inconsistent evaluations, but each true from their respective POVs. I'd say Kate's POV is wrong, tho. Heh. =)

Still ultracreeped out by the idea of Kate being so OK with Roger being into her. Bleah. He probably reminds her of her dad.

A kinda grody-goosey Claire knock-off finds Aaron in the supermarket... I dunno. Just weird. I guess that was supposed to be a fateful guilt-inducing sign, a coincidence that would crystalize her motivation for returning to the Island—for the sakes of Claire and Aaron. Still... weird.

For an episode I didn't love (sorry, Kate), it did feature a couple of satisfying "Why?"s...

There's the why-not-kill-baby-Hitler? thing...

Kate: Hey, why are you doing this? Why are you helping me?
Sawyer: When I found out Ben was gone, Juliet told me what you were up to, I asked that exact damn question, "Why are you helping Ben?" And she said, "No matter what he's gonna grow up to be, it's wrong to let a kid die." So, that's why I'm doing this. I'm doing it for her. (puppy dog eyes)

Alas, coupled with a strong commitment to Juliet.

And then there's Jack's reason for coming back. Of course, it's kinda no-accountability lame, but at least it seems honest...

Juliet: We didn't need saving. We've been fine for three years. You came back here for you. At least do me the courtesy of telling me why.
Jack: I came back because I was supposed to.
Juliet: Supposed to do what?
Jack: I don't know yet.
Juliet: Well, you better figure it out.

Keep on keepin on~

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