'Lost' in a tangle of lies and deceit
Anticipation can be a great thing. But it can also lead to disappointment. And sadly, the build-up to 'The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham' falls under that category. While providing several powerful and shocking moments, it failed to provide a compelling overall episode. Rather than shedding light on many Lost mysteries, it instead left many of us more confused than ever. Confusion is part of the game here, but the rules right now seem a little less than fair.
4) In Short
"Do you have an opinion? A mind of your own? I thought you were special. I thought you should know."
8) Off the Island
After turning the wheel, Locke ends up in Tunisia. Must be some sort of cultural exchange going on there between Tunisia and the Island. Locke's bone is still very much sticking out of his freakin' leg, which is no less gross off the Island than in the donkey wheel cave. He calls out for help, noticing a series of closed-circuit cameras pointing in his general direction. That night, a group of men pull up in a car and take him to a local hospital. There, as the doctor sticks a piece of wood in Locke's mouth to keep him from biting his tongue off, Locke spies one Matthew Abaddon watching the doctor reset his leg. At least I assume he reset it, as under no circumstances was I going to watch that in high-definition.
Some time later, Locke wakes up. He's got a visitor: Charles Widmore. Course, Locke doesn't recognize Widmore: while it's only been four days since Locke met him, it's been decades for Widmore. The name puts Locke on edge, and he surmises that Widmore put the cameras in the desert. Widmore confirms this, calling that place "the exit." According to Widmore, he once ended up there himself, tricked into leaving by someone whose name rhymes with Genjamin Hinus.
Widmore is confused to learn that Ben left before Locke did, and quickly surmises he left the island to bring the Oceanic 6 back. Boy, it's a good thing he just happened to bring a newspaper from three years ago extolling their return. After seeing this, Locke instantly confesses his plan to bring them back, with Widmore promising to help him do just that. Why would Widmore do that? "Because there's a war coming, John. And if you're not back on the Island when that happens, then the wrong side will win."
At this point in the recap, I need to come up with a word that's not a swear, but lets you know I really want to swear. To send me to a happy place, I'm repurposing Hurley's "Bloop!" So yea, what the bloop was THAT? And yes, I'll be saying "bloop" a lot in this recap.
The following morning, Widmore provides Locke with money, an international phone, a dossier on the Oceanic 6's whereabouts, and his new identity: Jeremy Bentham. Why that name? Because Widmore loves Pearl Jam and Posh Spice's husband. That's why. (C'mon, you totally would see a movie called "Bend It Like Bentham.") He tells Locke he's been watching those that have returned out of his concern for the Island's welfare. Lying blooper. Locke FINALLY brings up that little thing known as the Kahana Death Squad, which should have been the first words out of his mouth upon learning Widmore's identity, but Widmore insists it was all simply to capture Linus. He goes on to ply Locke's sense of importance, claiming the Island has needed him for a long time. That he's special. That leads to this exchange.
Widmore: Because you are.
Son of a bloop, are you serious? With that oh-so-specific answer given, Abaddon pulls up. Before getting in the car, Locke tells the man he once swore to ensure never found the Island about Alpert's insistence that he has to die in order to bring the rest back. Widmore thinks that's just poppycock, and swears to protect him. Abaddon and Locke share a loaded handshake, with Locke seemingly unaware of their past encounter. As Widmore wishes Locke well, Abaddon pulls out a wheelchair from the back of his car.
As the two drive off, Abaddon asks if Locke wants to see anyone, but Locke isn't interested in anything Abaddon has to say. The only words Locke will utter? "Santo Domingo." Looks like Sayid's doing a little Habitat for Humanity down there in the middle off the grid, helping to build a school to atone for his two years of James Bond-ing it up for Ben. The two talk about life off the Island, during which Sayid doesn't reveal that Nadia was supposedly killed by Widmore's goons and Locke doesn't reveal that he's currently working for Widmore and oh look I've gone blooping cross-eyed.
Next up: Locke and Abaddon hang out by a school in New York City. While waiting, Locke asks Abaddon to find Helen for him. School lets out, and yup, out comes Walt. Yes! A Locke/Walt scene! Waited years for this! This should be awesome! The two shake hands, and Locke notes that Walt's not surprised to see him. Turns out Walt's been having some dreams that involve Locke, on the Island, in a suit, in danger from the people there. "Good thing they're only dreams," says the one man who should know Walt doesn't have ordinary dreams. Why not ask if Walt had any dreams of, I dunno, appearing atop a mass grave and telling a near-suicidal Locke he had work to do??? Instead, they talk awkwardly about Michael, with Locke dodging the question of Michael's fate. Instead of asking Walt to come back, he instead merely says he came to make sure Walt was OK. Then, Walt leaves. As Locke and a disappointed Abaddon leave, we see Ben staring daggers at them from nearby. (That whole Locke/Walt encounter was blooping disaster. Just, wow. More on this below.)
Next up on Locke's Tour of Rejection, he stops by Hurley in the Santa Rosa Mental Health Institute. Hurley's busy drawing up the Sphinx. Hmmmm. At first, Hurley's pretty blasÃÂ© about Locke's arrival, chalking it up to yet another spiritual visitation. He's not happy about non-corporeal Locke, but he's not too surprised either. He is surprised, however, to learn others can see Locke as well. Hurley's hesitation about returning is only solidified when he catches Abaddon nearby. He describes his previous encounter with Abaddon, which makes the first time in this hour someone's delivered useful info in a timely manner.
Returning to the car, Abaddon makes Locke finally confront the fact that he remembers their encounter in the hospital after Anthony threw him out of the window. "I help people get to where they need to get to, John. That's what I do for Mr. Widmore." Next stop on Locke's Refusalpalooza is Kate, who theorizes that Locke only wants to go back to the island so badly because he never loved anyone. It's like the show suddenly wants me to hate her and her Care Bears Theory of Lost. When did the show turn into Dharma's Anatomy? Locke mentions Helen again, noting that it didn't work out due to his anger and obsession over Anthony. "And look how far you've come," she replies, which is awfully bloopin' nice of her to say.
After leaving Kate's residence, Locke angrily confronts Abaddon over Helen's whereabouts. He finds it hard to believe he could find Sayid in the middle of nowhere but not Helen. Turns out, Abaddon does know where she is: six feet underground in a Santa Monica cemetery. He notes she died of a brain aneurysm, which is a suspicious death in a show where people that die from that usually encountered some form of unique energy. Abaddon notes her path led Helen here, just as Locke's path leads him back to the Island. Locke doesn't like the inevitability of such a statement.
After getting Locke in the car, Abaddon once again packs his wheelchair into the trunk. But before he can reenter, he's riddled with bullet holes. Whoa, did NOT see that coming. Locke hurries into the driver's seat, but while escaping, gets into a major car accident, rendering him unconscious. Whoa. Short, brutal, and shocking. Bye, bye, Abaddon. And with you go about fourteen theories I had about your involvement in Island activities.
Locke wakes up in the hospital to find a bearded, pill-popping Jack staring at him. Locke immediately launches into his speech, which by this point sounds like a pyramid scheme. "Look, you get one person to come back, and they'll get someone..." Jack and Locke once again, and for the final time, engage in their man of science/man of faith debate. "Have you ever stopped to think that these delusions aren't real at all? Maybe you're just a lonely, old man." Boy, not a lot of love for Locke in this ep. Youch. Before Jack leaves, Locke says the most important thing he has all episode: "Your father says hello." Turns out Locke correctly deduced who Christian was, and mention of his name is the trick that breaks down Jack's defenses, even if it's just a sliver. "You have to help me! You're supposed to help me!" Locke pleads, and to paraphrase Cabin Christian in "Cabin Fever," he's absolutely right. Jack, on the verge of tears, tells Locke to leave him and the rest of the Oceanic 6 alone. Fantastic, fantastic scene.
After being released from the hospital, Locke writes his suicide note to Jack. He notices a hole in the ceiling of his room, and ties a recently purchased extension cord around the support beams inside the walls. He slowly ties the cord around his neck, and Terry O'Quinn sells the living HELL out of this season. Just before stepping off, who comes a knockin' but Ben Linus. He bursts down the door, and pleads Locke not to do it. How did Ben know where Locke know where he was? He has men watching the Oceanic 6, keeping them safe. Boy, this sounds familiar.
Ben tells Locke he's there to protect him. Locke correctly assumes Ben killed Abaddon, but Ben insists he only did so to prevent Abaddon, a Widmore employee, from killing Locke first. He reminds Locke, because someone has to, of the evil Widmore has done in the past. He insists that Locke cannot be harmed or... well, he doesn't finish but insists Locke is special. That word singes Locke's ears, and he almost jumps off right then and there. Ben eventually convinces a broken Locke to step down. And yes, we've seen Locke broken before, but this is the absolute low point of his character.
But just then, Ben tells him that Jack booked a plane ticket, LAX to Sydney. And if Locke can get Jack, he can get the rest of them. "You can't die...you've got too much work to do," he tells Locke. He then cuts Locke's cord at the base, and helps him down off the table. First up? Ben wants to go find Sun. Locke says he can't, because he promised Jin he wouldn't. The word "Jin" sets a whole new set of wheels in motion in Ben's head, as he barely hears Locke explain the rationale behind Jin's lie.
After helping Locke into his wheelchair, Ben suggests that once they gather everyone in once place, they can figure out what to do next. Locke surprises him by telling him he knows what to do: see Eloise Hawking. That name stops Ben cold. After confirming he heard Locke right, he pounces on Locke from behind, strangling Locke from behind. Well, then. So much for Ben's hope at redemption on the show. Holy bloop. (And I mean that particular bloop in the best of possible ways.)
Ben then wipes down the crime scene, lest CSI: DI get on the scene and figure out whodunit. He snags Jin's wedding ring and puts it in his pocket for later use. Before leaving, he looks at the staged body, hanging from the ceiling, and says, "I'll miss you, John. I really will." If Ben's willing to kill the only person who he seemed to believe could help him return to the Island, then this man is capable of literally anything.
15) On the Island
A man from Ajira 316 enters a mysterious room. He rifles through the room, coming across odd artifacts like old issues of Life magazine. He also comes across a sketched-out map of the Island and what looks like Minkowski's space-time equations. He further search yields a rifle underneath the desk.
Just then, a woman comes in and lets us know this man's name: Caesar. He identifies her as Ilana. He hides the discovery of the rifle from her, but it's clear both have been in this particular building before. She alerts him that Roxanne was scouting south of their location, and found a man in a suit standing in the water. The two walk past Ajira 316, nestled in the jungle nearby. Looks like that runway built during Season 3 came in mighty handy. As they walk to a man-made fire, roughly a dozen or so people are staring at a man wearing a hoodie. The man? Frogurt! OK, it's John Locke. You caught me.
The following morning, John stares at the Island. Yes, you read that right. Turns out they landed on Hydra Island, confirming my runway theory. Ilana brings Locke a mango. Locke notes the outrigger canoes nearby. Ilana states they were there when they landed, though the pilot and "some woman" already liberated one from the shores and took off in the middle of the night. Locke's hoping Ilana has a manifest for the plane, but she does not.
Locke takes a bite of the fruit, and it tastes like home to him. She asks why no one remembers him from the plane. Well, funny you should ask, Ilana: he can't remember being on the plane either. He does remember dying, though, and surmises he's wearing the outfit in which he was to be buried. Creepy old man alert! Ilana backs away, leaving Locke alone with his mango and his thoughts.
Locke confronts Caesar in what we know now to be the Hydra Station. Locke explains to him the history of the Dharma Initiative to a confused Caesar, who still isn't quite sure how Locke ended up among them. He's also confused about something else: how did several people aboard his flight suddenly disappear from the plane amidst a bright light? A light goes off in Locke's head, and once again he asks for a manifest for the plane. Caesar doesn't have that; but he does have a host of injured people currently healing inside the Hydra. Among those wounded? Ben Bloopin' Linus.
16) The Mythology
Normally, I go into a series of individual paragraphs that sum up the various ideas put forth by the episode. But given the conflicting viewpoints in tonight's edition, I'm going to hold off making any vast proclamations. Why? Because tonight's episode muddled things so fantastically that anything I attempt to extract is at best a guess.
Now, guessing is all well and good. Theories are but educated guesses. But there's a difference is having an incorrect theory and having a theory that never had any hope of being correct in the first place. In essence, this episode took Season 4's "who staged the fake crash?" mystery and took it to Spinal Tap's proverbial 11. The show strove to present both Widmore and Linus with equally compelling and believable motivations, but the problem is that both of these two men are huge stinkin' liars! We can't believe either of them! And yet, the titular hero of tonight's episode spent one half of his time begrudgingly following their advice or getting yelled at by the Oceanic 6. It was a horrible episode for Locke, and it wasn't a whole lot of fun for us the audience.
Now, I didn't need the episode to be a walk in the park for Locke. It wasn't supposed to be. But I wanted something approaching an answer or two amidst the increasingly labyrinthine plot the show's dumping on us. Instead, it was a he said/he said, with two men fighting over an important piece on the chess board, Locke, who was literally pushed around throughout the hour. Ben's abject abhorrence of all things Hawking is mightily interesting, and further confirms my suspicion that Cabin Christian is NOT to be trusted, but doesn't suggest much more than that at this time. I can wait for answers, for certain. But tonight left me at a loss as to how to provide an intelligent basis for more mythological exploration of this particular topic.
It's clear that Ben had one agenda going into Locke's room, and then another that started from the moment he learned Jin was alive. The way he looked off to the side suggested to me a conversation he had with someone earlier in which Jin was either not mentioned or confirmed as dead. But mention of Hawking took Ben Plan B and right on through Plan Kill Island Savior. The Ben in that moment has rarely been seen on the show, the one in which a calm exterior betrays no inner emotion. The quiver in his voice while saying his "goodbye" suggests a remnant of that humanity, though clearly it's gone by the time he visits Jack in the funeral parlor. Ben and Eloise have a rift based on something deeper than her not returning a Super Poke on Facebook, that much is for sure. Could this rift finally solve the Annie mystery? Perhaps, though there's no evidence aside from Ben's murderous rampage to base such a notion upon.
Biggest missed mythological opportunity of the night? Locke's scene with Walt, a scene I've longed to see and yet fell so short as to make me think I must have had artificially high hopes. If you rewatch Season 1, their interplay is one of the most fascinating aspects of it. Both sensed in the other something akin to greatness, but tonight's encounter felt like a high school kid running into his old friend's dad. No mention of Walt's appearance at the end of Season 3, and no note made of Walt's dream. I guess Locke only thought Walt was special on the Island, and tonight's episode didn't let us think the writers felt much differently.
Biggest mythological detour? The sudden and swift death of Abaddon. I saw that guy in it for the long haul, appearing like Alpert in short, important bursts throughout the endgame of the show. Hell, I even saw Abaddon killing Alpert by season's end. But it looks like he won't be helping Widmore get people to where they want to go anymore. Then again, given his prophetic sense of people's paths, perhaps he avoided Helen's grave for as long as he did due to him knowing that would be the end of his own life. Abaddon's death doesn't mean the end of Abaddon's presence on the show, but it does mark the surprisingly premature end of his time with the living.
23) The Moment
Hard to not vote for either death, but I have to give it up for the moment in which Jack's defenses are penetrated by mention of his father. It's a moment that not only finally sets Jack on his path back to the Island, but reaffirms the titanic struggle he'll have to overcome once there.
42) Random Thoughts
- I'm assuming Sun left with Frank in the middle of the night on the outrigger, determined to find her husband. Not sure how or why the second outrigger gets to mainland, but at least now we know why said outrigger had an Ajira water bottle in it. Also, I tried to work out in what time Locke and Company are in versus Jack/Kate/Hurley versus Those That Flashed and I woke up on the floor half an hour later.
- I don't believe for a second Widmore turned the wheel and ended up in Tunisia. Tricked off the Island? Sure, but not outed from his position as Island Leader. Read this for my initial take on this, which I still believe even after tonight.
- Holy Crucifixion Imagery in the Ben/Locke, Batman!
- Speaking of that scene? O'Quinn and Emerson = FTW.
- Kate's not worried about Sawyer? REALLY? She's running errands for him, off-Island, and keeping it a secret from Jack, but when confronted about being worried about those left behind by Locke, she says nothing. Unreal.
- Speaking of, looks like we've got new context into which we can place Ben's speech about the Doubting Thomas in last week's '316.' He knows he'll never get away with killing Locke, but in his own mind he probably thinks he averted complete disaster for the Island.
- Nice shout out to the hieroglyphics on the Island with Hurley's drawing. Guess we should look closer at Season 4's Eskimo, eh?
- Either the Hydra Station's super easy to find, or Caeser knew it would be there.
- Did Richard know Ben would be the one to kill Locke?
108) In Summary
Here's my hope: that in a day, a week, or after a few episodes, tonight's outing looks better than it does right now. While I had admittedly high hopes going into it, I don't think they were unreasonable ones. But as we near the midpoint of Season 5, now is not the time to add more complexity to an already overstuffed narrative. Perhaps we were supposed to sympathize with Locke's confusion over whom to believe, but we as viewers should not be helplessly left in the dark with the end goal ever nearer. As I stated earlier: there's a good kind of confusion this show can instill, where its mysteries are shrouded but tantalizingly accessible. But tonight provided the type of confusion no one can hope to illuminate. Maybe later, but not right now.
It's not like I enjoy disliking an episode. Far from it. I've labored to provide as objective a recap as I can, pushing past my misgivings to see what I might have missed. But right now, I'm not seeing it. If you did, that's awesome: tell me what you saw, what you liked, what you got out of it. Tell me why I'm wrong. There's nothing wrong with the show trying not to tip its hand in regards to the true "light" and "dark" side fighting the impending War of the Island. But at this point, the show should strive to cast more light, not shroud even more in the dark.
Enough with my thoughts, onto yours: did Jeremy Bentham's life and/or death satisfy? Who is telling the truth: Ben, Widmore, or neither? Should we still trust Richard's word, or he now under suspicion? And given Ben's violent reaction to her name, what role does Eloise play in all this?
Ryan also posts every 108 minutes over at Boob Tube Dude. He invites you to join the hundreds already in Zap2It's Guide to Lost Facebook group. He also encourages you to subscribe to the Zap2It's Guide to Lost Twitter feed.