Oh, Michael. Michael Michael Michael. I wanna like you, I do, but you make it so hard. You remind me of something an ex once said to me: "I’m trying to love you, but you’re in the way." Sounds about right, at the expense of potentially TMI’ing myself right there to make the point. It’s also the last episode of Lost filmed before the writer’s strike, so note the almost leisurely paced nature of the storytelling compared with the narrative frenzy of the season’s last five episodes.
(Want to see what I WROOOOOOOOTE the first time? Click here.)
Meet Kevin Johnson
4) In Summary
"Here’s what I did on my summer vacation…"
8) Present Day
In New Otherton, everyone has this incredible WTF look on their face. Looks like they aren’t too happy about having Ben in the midst. Locke brings Miles in, apologizes for the recent delay in planning, and vows there will be no more secrets. Ben reveals that once the freighter folk have him, their orders are to kill everyone else on the Island. Hurley’s not trusting Ben; after all, he won’t even tell them the identity of this spy on the boat. When Ben reveals it’s Michael, a chill fills the room. Sawyer especially is alarmed by this turn of events, noting Mr. Dawson wasn’t exactly too friendly towards them last time he was on the Island.
On the Kahana, Des and Sayid are awoken by an alarm. They rush to the deck and find Gault beating up a few crew members trying to use the tender to leave the ship. Gault insists he’s doing this to save them, not scare them, noting what happened to Minkowski. He calls over Michael to clean up the mess left in Gault’s beating wake. Sayid steps in front of Michael, demanding to know why he’s on the boat. "I’m here to die," he replies. Oh. OK then.
As Locke leads Miles back to the boathouse, Sawyer interrupts them. Turns out he knows about the $3.2 million. Locke doesn’t put much stock in it, but Miles laughs: he knows just how resourceful Ben can be, and feels the money is coming. Inside the bungalow, Ben asks for a word with Alex. He gives her a map to the Temple, perhaps the last safe place on the Island. He insists this is a place only for Others, not everyone, and the tone is in his voice convinces Karl and Danielle that he’s probably got the right idea.
The next day, Sayid and Desmond confront Michael in the engine room. Michael asks his coworker to grab a pressure valve so the three of them have a little time to talk. Sayid wants the story of how he came to be on the boat. So, Michael tells him. That was easy. After hearing Michael’s story, Sayid beats him up, then brings him up to Gault’s office. He tells Gault exactly who Michael is.
On the way to the Temple, Danielle suggests a short break for water. Karl confesses having a bad feeling about this. OK, Han Solo. Alex insists that Ben would never put her in harm’s way. Just then, a bullet shoots through Karl’s water bottle. Another shoots through Karl himself. Damn. Danielle grabs Alex and tells her they have to run. They barely make it a step before Danielle falls down, shot dead. Holy sh$t. Alex stands up and loudly proclaims that she’s Ben Linus’ daughter. Oh great, NOW she says it.
15) Back in the Day
Michael is writing what looks like a suicide note in a ratty apartment in NYC. He gets in his car, where he listens to a song on the radio by The Mamas & The Papas. Man, the Island loves it some Mama Cass. Michael drives to a pier, and then drives straight into a storage crate, crashing the car and clearly kills him. Oh wait…
…he wakes up, much to his surprise, in the hospital. An old man with a white beard lies next to him, comatose. The nurse comes in and tells him it’s a miracle he survived. He looks up and sees Libby, in a nurse’s outfit. He shouts, only to realize she’s not there at all. Another nurse comes in, noting the note pinned to his chest and the lack of ID on him. She asks if he wants to call Walt (the name written on the note), but he shakes his head no.
Later on, Michael visits his mother. He asks to come in, but she won’t let him. Turns out, Michael said something to Walt that scared him plenty good, and now she won’t let Michael see his son. Mama Exposition kicks in, letting us know that Michael and Walt returned under pseudonyms for reasons they won’t explain to her, nor where they were for the last two months. And until he explains, Michael’s lost his right…a FATHER’S right. As Michael leaves, we see Walt in the window. He looks the same as he did upon leaving the Island.
Michael then hocks Jin’s watch for a gun. The pawn shop owner gives him what he wants, what he really really wants. Michael takes his newly acquired weapon, goes to an alley, loads in, then…hears a familiar voice ask for the time. That voice belongs to Tom Friendly, looking svelte if I must say. Michael tries to shoot him, but Tom quickly subdues him, asking if he’s ready to talk like adults.
Michael begs Tom to kill him, but Tom refuses. He soon realizes that Michael told Walt exactly how he freed Ben from the Swan, noting the guilt must be what drives Michael to suicide. It doesn’t matter, though: the Island won’t let him die. Say WHAT? That’s right: no matter how hard Michael tries, he can’t. Why? He’s got more work to do. Tom hands back the gun, tells Michael where he’s staying in town, and leaves. In his apartment, Michael realizes the truth of Tom’s words: the loaded gun won’t work. Michael’s attempts only stop when he sees news of the discovery of Oceanic 815 on his television.
Michael visits Tom’s penthouse apartment, where Arturo is prepping drinks for the pair. Nice work, Tom! He tells Michael a "few" of them can come and go as they please from the Island. Some of them even get to wear ill-fitting sweaters, like Tom does in this scene. Michael wants answers about the Oceanic 815 discovery, and what Tom tells him directly contradicts what Gault told Sayid and Desmond last episode.
He tells Michael that Charles Widmore staged the crash so no one but him could find the real location of the plane, and thus the Island. When asked for proof, Tom produces a looted gravesite, purchase orders for a plane, and shipping records of the ship that dropped the sucker into the Sunda Trench. He tells Michael about the Kahana, and wants him onboard as "Kevin Johnson" in Fiji. His mission? To prevent the freighter from ever reaching the island, thus saving the lives of everyone on the island. How? By killing everyone onboard. Alllllrighty then.
In Fiji, it’s Crew of the Living Dead, as we see a host of people that have already kicked in: Naomi, Minkowski, they’re all here! Minkowksi introduces himself and asks him to check in with Naomi, who tells "Kevin" that a crate was already delivered for him. As he walks in the ship, Miles casually mentions he knows his name isn’t Kevin. But don’t worry, he tells Michael: 80% of the people onboard are lying about something, so his secret’s safe. Tom calls him and asks Michael to open in about a day or so onboard. Realizing putting faces to names has given Michael cold feet, Tom reminds him the names of those left behind on the Island. That steels Michael’s nerves for the time being.
At sea, Lapidus fights with Naomi about her desire to visit the Island without him. He introduces himself to Michael, and asks his story. Michael says he’s there for adventure. Lapidus shares his theory about Oceanic 815, and that he signed up for this trip because Charles Widmore believes the same thing. He asks Michael to imagine what would happen should they find anyone alive. Yea, imagine that.
As Michael washes the deck, he spies Keamy’s Krew shooting clay pigeons with great fervor and riotous laughter. When Michael mentions he thought this was a rescue mission, Keamy brushes him off, asking him if he has something to mop up. This sends Michael towards the unopened crate. Inside? A million dollars. He’s won Deal or No Deal! Oh wait, my bad, it’s a bomb, not a million dollars. It’s easy to mix those up sometimes.
He sets the bomb to blow, but before pressing the "Execute" button, he hears both the Whispers and The Mamas & The Papas. He turns around to see Libby, in the same outfit in which he killed her, say, "Don’t do it, Michael." However, after much deliberation, he sets the timer anyways. After the counter reaches zero, a flag pops up. The note on it reads, "Not Yet."
Michael sits in his room, throwing a tennis ball against the wall. (So, now we know what made the noise heard by Sayid and Desmond. Least interesting mystery solution ever.) Minkowski pops in and says he’s got a call for Kevin in the radio room. He says that it’s Walt on the phone, which shocks Michael something fierce. Michael asks for a bit of privacy, but learns it’s not Walt at all but Ben, calling from his super secret closet of all things awesome.
Ben is somewhat surprised that Michael actually activated the bomb, but tells him he did it to demonstrate the difference between himself and Widmore. Ben insists he does not kill innocent people, with many onboard unaware of Widmore’s true nature. He orders Michael to compile a list of everyone’s name onboard, then disable the radio room, followed by the engine room. "Consider yourself one of the good guys," he says.
16) The Mythology
As promised: who staged the crash of Oceanic 815?
We’ve now heard two sides of the story: Gault tells Sayid that Ben Linus staged it; Tom tells Michael that Widmore said it. And Lauren Conrad insists that Heidi did it. So who’s correct?
Before you ascertain that, you have to look at the reason why each would point fingers at the other. As we learn in "The Shape of Things to Come," neither can cause physical harm to the other. Heck, I’m not even sure they can touch each other without ripping a hole in the time-space continuum. So rather than have a Neo/Mr. Smith-esque throwdown, they have to motivate others to do the work for them.
Now, Ben does so through mental manipulation; Widmore, through financial recompense. But clearly the latter only goes so far: while there are some literal/figurative mercenaries aboard the Kahana, others are motivated psychologically. Some, such as Gault, are fed the story of Linus’ involvement as a way to motivate him when things start going funky around the Island’s periphery. Others, such as the Freighter Four, have other aspirations on the Island above and beyond Ben’s capture. So staging the crash would provide excellent motivation for those aboard the Kahana to fulfill the mission.
While Ben cannot offer Michael a scholarship to the University of Michigan for Walt, he can nevertheless play upon Michael’s guilt in order to place him above the Kahana. However, it takes the "evidence" of Widmore’s involvement in the crash to truly get Michael onboard. So, in both scenarios, you have either man’s purpose in constructing a fake crash to frame the other for the same, odious task.
Is it possible there’s a third party involved, with both Linus and Widmore honestly deceived into thinking the other did it? Possible, but unlikely. That adds what to me seems like an unnecessary layer of complexity into an already headspinning mix. Either Gault’s black box or Tom’s intelligence is falsified. Given Widmore’s penchant for accurately predicting/anticipating/motivating actions years ahead of his own time, I’m giving the slight edge to him. I’ll select his patient, corporate mentality over Ben’s improvisation. But that’s just an opinion, one I wouldn’t lay a heap of money down in Vegas.
What’s your take?
(I will address the Libby visions come the end of the season, as a contrast to notChristian showing up.)
23) The Moment
When a few million fans realized they probably weren’t gonna get that Danielle flashback after all.
42) In Retrospect
If Lost ever truly botched a character, Michael is it. Every time I hear the phrase, "a father’s right," it makes me want to punch the nearest father. Ugh. I don’t think it’s Harold Perrineau Jr.’s fault. I’m not even sure whose fault it really is. All the plot mechanics look right from an objective point of view, but everything Michael-centric from Seasons 2 and 4 fall flat when put into play on our screens. Let’s hope Walt, a character will incredible untapped potential, doesn’t suffer the same fate.
108) In Summary
I think this episode suffers by knowing what comes after it. The idea of off-Island work to do is still compelling, and retroactively sheds new light on things such as Jack Shephard trying to commit suicide by jumping off a bridge and Charlie scaring Hurley inside a 7-11. But everything else is "fill in the blanks" more so than "expand the universe." Yes, I’m actually complaining about getting answers, but only because sometimes the questions end up being far more interesting.
Next up: Ben goes behind Door #1, right after Charles Widmore changes the rules forever.
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Ryan also posts every 108 minutes over at Boob Tube Dude, then peruses Zap2It’s Guide to Lost Facebook group. He also encourages you to join the all-new Zap2It’s Guide to Lost Twitter feed. Pretty soon he’ll have as many platforms as Keamy has homicidal tendencies.