So, kids, do you like Lost? More importantly, do you like answers on Lost? If you answered yes to both, then you most certainly enjoyed the heck out of tonight’s episode, "The Other Woman." Not only did the show explicitly answer some big questions, but it also provided some vital clues that provided hints that explain both past as well as future events. And if that wasn’t enough for you, well, there was approximately eleven minutes in which Elizabeth Mitchell’s cleavage was on full display. So, haters, honestly, you’ve got no ammo this week.
I want to look at the title of the episode, because its reference is dual: one obvious, one not so obvious. The obvious meaning applies to Juliet, incredibly un-secret lover to one Goodwin, last seen running off to get information from the tail section. But the not so obvious reference? It has to be Annie, Ben’s childhood sweetheart and, if Goodwin’s wife/Others’ therapist Harper is to be believed, looks a whole lot like Juliet herself.
Now, did we explicitly learn that Annie is the other woman? No, but if you were a betting man, this is as sure a bet as you could make. More over, the fact that Juliet bears a resemblance to Annie reveals a crucial piece of the narrative heretofore unknown: Annie survived the Purge. It was unclear until tonight whether or not this was true. Now, we’ve seen Annie as a child on the show, and she didn’t really resemble Juliet in any way, shape, or form. Thus, one can argue that Annie survived the purge. The question is: where the heck is she?
I’ve actually tackled this topic before. More than once, actually. I won’t make you read all the back story right now unless you absolutely want to, but here’s the gist: Ben’s entire "Operation Make Babies" stems from an incident involving Annie and pregnancy. The specifics are yet unclear, but something catastrophic happened, and everything Ben does from that point forth is in service of either rectifying or undoing this horrendous act.
Understanding this, I believe, is the key to understanding Ben’s obsession with Juliet, something only hinted at before but absolutely, 100% on display in tonight’s episode. In fact, it was SO in your face as to seem horrendously out of character for Ben. It was like the worst pairing that the website eDharmany ever produced. (Who knew mass genocide was one of the twenty-nine dimensions of compatibility?) It nearly took me out of a lot of scenes, to the point where, for a split second, I actually sighed out loud when he screamed, "You’re mine!" to Juliet over Goodwin’s corpse. But then five things happened, and it all made sense.
Ben stopped. Ben stared. Ben blinked. Ben took a breath. Ben averted his eyes.
And after that, I realized that when he screamed, "You’re mine!" to Juliet, he wasn’t actually screaming at her. He was screaming at the other woman: Annie. Whatever deal he cut with the Hostiles came with the caveat that Annie survive the Purge; and with Annie now mysteriously gone, his obsession turned away from the Island, and towards his love, and from that moment on, everything started to slowly unravel for Ben.
But speaking of the Purge: looks like we now know where Ben obtained the lethal gas used during the assault on the Dharma Initiative, eh? We found ourselves a new Dharma location tonight, a facility (not a station) called The Tempest. Its purpose? To power the various stations throughout the island, through a combustible mixture of some of the most lethal airborne toxins known to man. That’s one freakin’ inconvenient truth, people. I’m not sure what the antithesis of "green energy" is, but this has to come close, right?
In any case, what we’re learning is that the four Chopperettes all have missions, but these missions are multifaceted indeed, all designed to neutralize Benjamin Linus and his 784 backup plans. Charlotte and Daniel left the beach with a map, a map that directly pointed towards the Tempest. This facet of the mission consisted of neutralizing the toxins in order to prevent The Purge II: Electric Boogaloo.
And who provided this map? Who could have such knowledge of the original Dharma Initiative schematics, knowledge of Island topography, and indeed, knowledge of the Island’s location itself? Well, I don’t wanna say I told you so, but hey, I told you so. Last year, even. Elliot Reed, take it away!
(Sorry about the gloating. I’m hardly ever this spot on, so I take what little solace I can, when I can. Plus, I miss Scrubs, so linking that clip feels darn good, too.)
Charles Widmore. Corporate giant. Aloof father. Ledger collector. Heart breaker. Dream maker. Love taker. (Don’t you mess around with Charles.) And, now we know for sure, the man responsible for those on the freighter. His purpose? Ben summed it up nicely in what I marked down in my notes as the "Locke=Mold Monologue." Ben argued that if 5,000 went to visit a house that developed mold in the shape of the Virgin Mary, imagine the crowds that would flock to see a crippled man healed by an Island. As if Locke wasn’t having a difficult time of it as it were in Season 4 already, he’s now the equivalent of mold.
And Locke: if you’re reading (and I know you’re not, because you’re fictional, but bear with me), here’s my advice: stay away from any edifice built by the Dharma Initiative. In Season 1, you were a madman of the jungle, a total bad mutha. In Season 2, you spent your time in the Swan, lost your mojo, and turned into a joke. In Season 3, you nearly exploded, found jungle religion again, earned the trust/hope of Jacob, and remembered how to throw a knife from fifty feet. And now, in Season 4, you’re cooking the former lab experiments of the Orchid Station in a bungalow, and wondering why you’re such a tool. Just go all Survivorman again and I’m sure everything will work out just fine.
Because look, Locke, you’ve already let Ben out of the basement, given him 300 thread count sheets, and allowed him to get one step closer to winning the war, just as Juliet predicts at the end of the episode. There’s no way you could know this, Locke, but that Red Sox tape? It wasn’t used all that long ago. Maybe two weeks or so. Which means in the interim, Ben left the Island, went all Candid Camera on Widmore, and then returned to the Island without anybody noticing. And now you’re OK with this man partnering up with Claire during "Game Night at the Barracks"?
It’s not like Ben needs that much freedom to work his mojo, but it can’t help to let him roam about the Barracks. One of the more controversial topics of this week’s episode will center around the appearance of Harper to Juliet (and Jack) at the episode’s outset. Harper’s appearance was preceded and followed by the infamous whispers, which leads one to be skeptical of Harper’s identity. But by episode’s end, I think we’re supposed to be believe that Harper/notHarper was in fact communicating a direct order from Ben. Juliet realizes, once the airborne threat has been contained, that she once again followed orders that would ultimately benefit Ben and Ben alone. As such, the true nature of maybeHarper is less important than the fact that Ben could send it Juliet’s way. Just as Ben exploited Juliet’s emotions about Goodwin over his dead body, he uses her memories of his working at the Tempest in his favor to manipulate her to do his dirty work.
The question remains, then, "How?" But that ties into elements (the whispers, what it means to have communion with the Island) that really haven’t been explored yet. But I think we are ABSOLUTELY supposed to wonder how Ben could send Harper Juliet’s way, and we are ABSOLUTELY supposed to wonder why Jacob’s cabin is on tour, and we are ABSOLUTLEY supposed to wonder, along with Locke, why Jacob (and by extension, the Island) has been relatively quiet since the appearance of Walt. Why the whispers produced Jacob for Hurley and Harper for Juliet is anyone’s guess at this point.
Moreover, we’re really left to wonder just who the good guys and bad guys are on this show. Claire pretty much nailed it when she called Team Locke "hostiles," even if she may not know the echo such a word produces in terms of the Island’s sociological history. But on one side we have Ben Linus, and on the other, Charles Widmore. Honestly, I wouldn’t want either of these guys as a doubles partner in tennis at this point. But neither are necessarily moustache-twirling baddies who want to drink your milkshake. Ben’s a potentially tragic figure (if my Annie calculations are correct), and Charles’ backstory may exonerate/explain part of his actions as well.
And in between these two? Well, there are the Lostaways, to be sure. But also the Others, as well, hiding in some place called "The Temple." Desmond and Penny, likewise, stand in the crosshairs of these two men. But even more so, standing between the titans that are Linus and Widmore, is the Island—the Island that is literally crying for the help of the Oceanic 6 in the not too distant future. Because if even Juliet is wrong, and Ben doesn’t win the war, it’s pretty clear that the Island is the one that loses this upcoming war.
What did you think of "The Other Woman"? What importance can we draw from a station called "The Tempest"? And what could Widmore and Company possibly do that would turn Sayid into a mercenary for Ben Linus? And be sure to check out more news, theories, and insight over at Zap2It’s Guide to Lost.
Ryan also posts every 108 minutes over at Boob Tube Dude.