Thursday, May 10, 2007

Lost: He seems to have an invisible touch

"Lost" spoilers coming up just as soon as I enter the Frito-Lay Sweepstakes enough times to ensure I'll win thirty-two point six percent of the prizes, including the car...

This episode right here, folks, this is the reason I stick with this show through the stupid love quadrangles and tattoo flashbacks and characters stubbornly refusing to display any intellectual curiosity. Because this? This was awesome. I don't know that it made a lot of sense, but I was more engaged, more pumped up, writing more of my notes in all-caps (including several "BEN PWNED!" notations) than I have in a long time. Easily my favorite of the season, and one of my favorite "Lost" episodes ever.

Start with Locke turning Ben into his little puppet for most of the episode. It's about damn time that somebody started outthinking Ben, and our nutbar Luddite blower-upper is just the guy to do it. Sure, Ben got over on him at the end, but for the first 50 or so minutes, it was just wonderful to see Ben squirming and dancing to someone else's tune -- and to see all The Others completely afraid of getting on this crazy bald guy's bad side. The Bakunin beatdown was lovely, especially since the explanation for his survival was less interesting than expected (and suggests Kate doesn't know how to take a pulse).

Now, I'm going to be really disappointed if Locke is actually dead, both because Terry O'Quinn rules and because the character is so central to the island's mystique, but I'll believe he's dead when we've gone a whole other season without him popping up again. Yes, Libby died of a similar wound, but we've been told before that Locke is "special" (in the same way that Rose is), and the writers didn't dump him in an open grave for nothing.

I'm really annoyed with myself for having, in my jet-lagged state, hit the delete button on my DVR as soon as I finished the episode, because I had intended to go straight back to the cabin scene to see if a high-def image on pause would be able to reveal what "Jacob" looks like. Because there was definitely one split-second where you could see someone in the rocking chair (right after Ben says "You've had your fun" and gets shoved away), and the picture on's streaming video isn't nearly good enough. The idea that the only person on the island capable of giving real answers is a ghostly figure most of us will never be able to see or hear seems an appropriate metaphor for the "Lost" viewing experience, and that entire sequence was so nuts that it worked.

So much going on in this episode that I feel like I have to move to bullet points quickly to get this thing posted at a reasonable time:

  • For those who didn't get the reference at the top of this post, run, do not walk, to your nearest video retailer (or Netflix queue) and get ahold of "Real Genius," one of the most quotable comedies of the '80s, featuring Ben's dad as Lazlo Hollyfeld, a damaged genius who lives in the steam tunnels underneath his old college dorm.
  • Speaking of poor Roger, I didn't make the connection between Ben's dad and the skeleton in Hurley's magic bus at first, but it finally clicked for me when I saw him drunk on the Dharma beer on his couch. "Tricia Tanaka Is Dead" takes on some new meaning now, as does Ben's insistence that Locke had to kill his father to join their group, just as Ben himself did years before.
  • Biggest WTF moment of the episode: Young Ben meeting Richard, not looking a day younger than he does now, in the jungle. Are all the Hostiles immortal, and that's why Richard thinks fertility experiments are a waste of time? What percentage of the Others are from Richard's native group and what percentage were brought to the island later like Juliet?
  • And do animals on the island age? Is young Ben's bunny the same one he used to run the defribilator con on Sawyer? Clearly, he has no problem with animal experimentation.
  • I don't think we've seen the last of Mr. and Mrs. Goodspeed, as I can't imagine the producers hiring Doug Hutchison and Samantha Mathis for such small parts without more plans down the line.
  • I have to say, I'm kind of annoyed that Jack has been secretly plotting with Juliet to beat Ben. I was really hoping the writers had finally recognized what a liability their "hero" was and were planning to have the other characters shun him, or else kill him outright. Instead, just at the moment he's being doubted the most, he comes up with some stupid plan that will no doubt save everyone's hash and make him their unquestioned savior for the rest of the series. And Jack's reason for not cluing in everyone sooner? Pure writers' contrivance to set up this false tension.
  • Was Richard more impressed that young Ben saw his mother, or that he heard her? And which of our past apparitions have spoken? Dave doesn't count, as he was always a figment of Hurley's imagination, and Kate's horse is obviously out. But what about Eko's brother or Jack's dad? Is there a hierarchy of specialness on the island?

I'm just happy to have an episode that allows me to ask so many questions, even if I doubt we'll get adequate answers to many of them, 48 final episodes plan or no 48 final episodes plan. For too much of this season, there hasn't even been anything worth speculating about.

What did everybody else think?


Kat Coble said...

Yes, Libby died of a similar wound, but we've been told before that Locke is "special" (in the same way that Rose is), and the writers didn't dump him in an open grave for nothing.

Plus, Terry O'Quinn hasn't been arrested for drunk driving.

I had intended to go straight back to the cabin scene to see if a high-def image on pause would be able to reveal what "Jacob" looks like.

Some blog has done screencaptures.

He looks like Kris Kristofferson in the Blade movies. (Jacob,not the blogger who did the screencaps.)

I thought the episode was fairly good over all, but the whole Benocide thing kinda creeped me out.

I was really hoping the writers had finally recognized what a liability their "hero" was and were planning to have the other characters shun him, or else kill him outright.

Frankly, they cannot kill Jack fast enough to suit me.

Kat Coble said...

Ah. Forgot to add that I liked the whole Invisible Jacob storyline much better when Jacob's name was "Management" and the story was on Carnivale.

BF said...

Ditto on Kristofferson.

Eko's brother, I think, is the only other dead guy to speak. Though we still haven't explained Walt's appearances to Shannon yet.

Here's a question. If Dharma no longer exists on the Island (thanks to the Hostile's genocide), why does Dharma keep doing food drops? If the food was to supply the Hostiles, wouldn't they just use the stolen (and now Locke-bombed) sub?

Donna said...

The thing that stuck with me this morning was Ben saying to Locke (something along the lines of) "They (Dharma)could not make peace with the people who were already here. One of the groups had to go." This does not seem to bode well for the Losties, as far as Ben's plans for them.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I went over and over again to see what Jacob looked like. What we could see was in profile. It looked like he had a beard and dark hair almost to his shoulders. We couldn't see anything else. There was a close up of someone's eye that was brown in the frenzy of the Jacob going crazy sequence. We both LOVED this episode and can't wait for next week.

Anonymous said...

The Lost Easter Eggs blog has HD screen captures of Jacob.

Anonymous said...

I liked how Ben's dad looked a lot more like Lazlo than Uncle Rico.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for identifying Lazlo! I was wracking my brain last night trying to figure out he that guy was. I thought he was an old Lostie, which I guess he was.

This episode was pretty awesome, minus (again) the Jack/Juliet stuff. And, as long as Locke isn't dead. If he's dead, then this was the worst episode of the series.

Was there any significance to young Ben's friend, Annie? I didn't see her when they showed the dead Dharmans.

The actor that plays Ben can certainly bring the creepy - his scene with "Jacob" had my skin crawling.

K J Gillenwater said...

Seeing Ben as a child brings back the whole thing about Walt and his 'powers' from a long, long time ago. The Others stole Walt b/c he was special in some way...he obviously has some kind of creepy power that was never fully explored. I think this is very much related to why Ben was 'different' when he was a kid as well.

The true islanders want people like that. Also makes me wonder if they truly let Michael and Walt go or just transported them somewhere else.

This episode really made my mind go in circles. I was so confused, so overwhelmed by the onslaught of new plot points...confused in a good way. Brought back to that feeling of WTF is going on here???

No way is Locke dead. Ben was super-impressed and amazed by his ability to heal his paralysis...when Ben couldn't do the same. Locke *only* had a gut wound. He will probably heal before he bleeds out.

I am dying for next week!

Anonymous said...

Instead, just at the moment he's being doubted the most, he comes up with some stupid plan that will no doubt save everyone's hash and make him their unquestioned savior for the rest of the series.

This is what really kills me. After his plan in last season's finale worked so well, why would anybody let him decide on a course of action now?

Anonymous said...

Anyone else think the actor who played young Ben bore a strong resemblance to Dan Radcliffe's Harry Potter? Not just the glasses, but those completed the look. Similar downtrodden backstory, too. I found it a bit distracting. Loved the episode, though. As for the quick shot of Jacob in the chair, I totally missed it--I'll have to check it out again with my old-fashioned VCR. I agree with the poster, though, who said that it was the worst ep ever if it turns out Locke is really dead...

Anonymous said...

Was I the only one yelling "TOOMBS!" at the top of her lungs when Doug Hutchison came on the screen? Just me? OK.

Great episode. I was a Lost hater for most of the last two seasons, but they've really had a good run these past few weeks. The only thing I cannot get over is my absolute hatred of Jack, and also of Kate for her blind devotion to Jack. Both of them could get eaten by a polar bear and I wouldn't care one bit.

Anonymous said...

This episode really bugged me, if only because Season 2 now must officially be the biggest waste of time in the history of the show. I mean, whatever Dharma stood for, it's irrelevant. The hatches, the experiments, the Marvin Candle videos - meaningless, except to bring Ben to the Island. Alan, I'm surprised you weren't more upset about this dumping of a major plot line.

Anonymous said...

I think Eko's brother talked one time: "You speak to me as if I were your brother."

Davy said...

I loved learning more about the Dharma stuff.

From the screen caps the one time you can see Jacob's actual physical presence, I'm convinced it's Locke (or, more specifically, Terry O'Quinn). Ben did say that Jacob, like Locke, was distrustful of technology.

This show has always been heavy with the religious metaphor, but after Locke looked at the healed wounds in his hands and then carried his cross ("father's body") away in the last episode, I expected something big for him. Locke's journey of faith led him to a very interesting place. I wonder if he'll make it out of that open grave? Resurrection, anyone?

Based on the biblical story of Jacob, I've been expecting Locke to be revealed as Jacob's twin brother (or probably something not as literal) for a few weeks now, especially with Locke's spiritual journey seemingly coming to a head with his father's death last week.

The Biblical Jacob lived in tents and had a rugged, outdoorsman twin (Esau), but Jacob wasn't one that Esau could trust. Also, Jacob had a son, Benjamin, whose mother died while giving birth to him; in a later story, Benjamin's tribe had to capture the women and children of other tribes because they couldn't procreate.

Jason Snell said...

Isn't it cool when Lazlo shows up in stuff?

He'll always be Lazlo to me.

Thanks for the "Real Genius" reference, Alan. One of my favorite movies of all time.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Mitch: Did you know there's a guy living in our closet?
Chris Knight: You've seen him too?
Mitch: Who is he?
Chris Knight: Hollyfeld.
Mitch: Why does he keep going into our closet?
Chris Knight: Why do you keep going into our closet?
Mitch: To get my clothes - but that's not why he goes in there.
Chris Knight: Of course not, he's twice your size - your clothes would never fit him.
Mitch: Yeah...
Chris Knight: Think before you ask these questions, Mitch. Twenty points higher than me? Thinks a big guy like that can wear his clothes?

Anonymous said...

This episode wasn't firing on all cylinders for me. I let out a big yawn when Ben started talking to an empty chair, and then when I started buying into the idea of him just being plain nuts, I yawned again when the poltergeist showed up.

I'm conflicted about the Jack/Juliet story. On one hand, we've seen strong evidence that Jack can be incredibly foolish, and I would have loved to see him rebuked by some of the secondary characters, like Hurley. But at the same time, him buying so completely into Juliet would have been a much larger stretch. This turn of events makes far more sense.

Eric said...

So if Jacob is Locke, or at least Terry O'Quinn, than can we expect the final episode to include a trial, chimp masks, and an armed assault while the soundtrack plays "All You Need is Love?"

And my favorite quote from Real Genius: "A girl's got to have her standards."

Anonymous said...

Just looked at those screen captures...that is creepy! And what is the deal with the sand outside of the Jacob Hut?

Unknown said...

Great headtrip of an episode. In addition to Alan's questions:

How does Rousseau fit into this history? I don't think she's Annie (whose body we didn't see).

Did the Hostiles assimilate or takeover the Dharma initiative once they killed them off? What about the mainland operations?

And I wouldn't assume the The Others know the same things about the Island as the Dharma group.

Was this the game changer? I think we have more to come.

BTW: Anyone else fearing for Sawyer's safety? He's got a lot of checkmarks on the "Things That Doom You On The Island": he's in a relationship, he's had sex, he's accomplished his life's goal, he's grown as a person. Add in the fact that he helped Locke (something that didn't help Boone or Eko's life expectancy) could mean James Ford is a dead man walking.

Unknown said...

And great catch on the "Real Genius" reference!

K J Gillenwater said...

If you're going for Biblical references, Jacob also *stole* Esau's inheritance away from his brother by pretending to be Esau when he went to his blind father for a blessing...

Does this mean the island's Jacob stole something away from Locke?

K J Gillenwater said...

Sawyer did not find peace in killing Locke's father. That was pretty clear last week. If anything, he was more messed up than before. Tom Sawyer pretty much taunted any satisfaction out of him.

Like I said last week, if they take away the eye candy, many female watchers would be very upset.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I think a different scene from last night's episode might have foreshadowed the finale. And I wonder about that "sand" around Jacob's place as well.

The other thing that no one's mentioned is Alex giving the gun to Locke. It might have been part of Ben's plan, although I'm not really sure she'd go along with that. If not, what does she know (or think she knows) about Jacob?

And based on something I read over in Ausiello's column, I don't think that was the gamechanger, unless Locke's actually dead. I think that involves somebody else.

Anonymous said...

The screencap of Jacob reminds me of someone from an earlier someone who may have arrived on the island aboard the Black Rock.

Which reminds me of a theory that was floating around a few years ago, that the Others are descendants of the folks who were on the Black Rock.

Just some more thoughts to muddle everyone's brains ;-D

Alan Sepinwall said...

Could the sand/dirt around Jacob's cabin have been ashes? And what are the religious and/or supernatural implications of that?

Anonymous said...

If you think the whole second season is no longer relevant, you are underestimating the show. Very small things have come back as relevant. Big things are even more so but we have to let the show tie things together.

That is my favorite line as well...
Also like:
Let's just pause, put that down. Let's just take a step back. No, I was wrong, I'm sorry, take a step forward. Now, take a step back. Step forward. Back. And then we're cha-cha-ing!

Anonymous said...

I've just had a thought about the ashes surrounding Jacob's house in the woods: I wonder if they are human remains? More importantly, I wonder if the ashes surrounding his home is the key to why Jacob's stuck there, mostly invisible and why he said, "Help me."

I really can't wait for the next 2 episodes!

Jason Snell said...

I used to be you. And lately, I'd been missing me, so I asked Jerry if I could room with me again, and he said, "Sure."

Alan Sepinwall said...

"You're all just a bunch of degenerates!"

"We are? What about that time I found you naked with that bowl of Jello?"

"You did not!"

"This is true."

"I was hot and I was hungry!"

Anonymous said...

I saw this point on TWoP and I think it was worth mentioning: The Others are officially scary again.

They were scary once. Really scary. Remember the black smoke? And then it seemed like they were just misunderstood. They were like our Losties. Hating the others was just ethnocentric and closed minded.

But the Hostiles are officially scary again. Benocide and mass graves, creepy invisible leader people, immortal people, dead people, etc. And the whispers are back, which is scary too.

The Others are scary again and I like it.

Anonymous said...

Which reminds me of a theory that was floating around a few years ago, that the Others are descendants of the folks who were on the Black Rock.

Or The Other ARE the folks who were on the Black Rock.

Benaiah said...

Great episode, and it is nice to see the parallel mentioned that Locke and Ben both had to kill their fathers to join the Others. Fathers are a connection to the past off the island, so the Others are like a weird cult that requires physically cutting any links with that baggage. Since everyone on the beach has Daddy issues, there is going to be some serious carnage.

Prediction one: Locke can't die or the show will be in serious trouble.

Prediction two: Ben will die, even though he provides 90% of the forward momentum at this point.

Prediction four: Anne, the girl who carved the statue for Ben will turn out to be Rousseau. Ben was playing with the doll recently, which shows that he hasn't forgotten, and Rousseau was once a member of Dharma. Alex is adopted by Ben because he loved Anne, and perhaps Ben's undoing will be involved in this revelation.

Anonymous said...

This episode is a perfect example of them seeming to give us answers but only raising more questions. But unlike that stretch in the middle of the season, they did it very well.

Click here for the screencaps of Jacob. He's definitely some kind of ghost-pirate. Or at least somebody from ye olde days. And is it just me, or does he sound a lot like Clancy Brown?

Whoever cast the kid who played young Ben deserves a raise. That kid had the Ben Stare down pat.

Yeah, Jon Gries was Lazlo in Real Science, and also Uncle Rico in Napoleon Dynamite. And he was on The Pretender for a long time.

Kat already got to my O'Quinn joke in the very first comment. Damn it!

Anonymous said...

Benaiah: I've often wondered how is it that Ben is Alex's "dad." However, I would have a very hard time believing a plot that made Rousseau, Annie. They look and sound so very, very different. I just don't see any way they could be the same person. It's a cool idea in theory...anyone else's thoughts?

I wonder if anything will come of Ben actually killing his own father while Locke had someone else do it?

Susan said...

benaiah - Rousseau was part of Dharma? Did I miss something? I thought her ship crashed and the others in her crew died (or something else happened to them).

Alan - my guess about the ashes: volcanic ash. Which would tie it to the volcano lesson in Kid Ben's classroom. What does it all mean? I have no idea.

By the way, I like how Locke bringing Ben his dead father in exchange for answers mirrored Dorothy bringing the Wizard the Wicked Witch's broom... again, no idea why this matters, but I like it.

Anonymous said...

I just thought of a question. I'd really like to hear people's opinions on this: how do you think young Ben was able to get the numbers that turn off the sonic fence?

Anonymous said...

Wasn't there some sort of P.A. announcement when they first came to the island that everybody would get the daily code to turn off the fence? He probably got it from his dad when he was passed-out drunk.

Anonymous said...

Also: last night, as Emily (Ben's mom) was going back into the jungle (she was wearing a blue dress,) my husband remarked that she reminded him a bit of Alice in Wonderland. I agreed.

Anyone else think this?

Anonymous said...

Does anyone think it is significant that Ben's mother died at around the same time during her pregnancy as the Island women who also died while pregnant?

Anonymous said...

Jim Treacher: that makes a heck of a lot of sense! Thanks. I'll go back and peruse that part of the episode.

Anonymous said...

Anon: I definitely thought so....

Anonymous said...

Wacky theory: Weird sand/ash around Jacob's cabin = dormant smoke monster.

Maybe Jacob's consciousness drives the monster.

Stranger things have happened...

Anonymous said...

I dig that wacky theory, Anon. I read another theory elsewhere that felt it might be volcanic ash and tie in to the volcano stuff we saw last night.

K J Gillenwater said...

I thought that, too, about Ben's mother dying. But he, the baby, survived, unlike all the babies on the island. Now I'm wondering if maybe Ben is engineering the deaths of these mothers & babies for his own twisted reasons.

Remember how he said episodes back that he doesn't want anyone to leave the island, but he had the sub there so that they could *believe* they could go back. Could it be that is the only reason he brought back Juliet? To make it *seem* like he brought her there to find out why women couldn't carry their babies to full term...but really he was involved in killing the babies/mothers all along? Why else would he want to keep tabs on the Losties and their possible pregnancies? If their babies/mothers don't die in the same way, the Others will begin to wonder what is going on with their women/babies.

If the *real* Others (i.e. the natives) are eternal and unaging, why would they need children at all??

Anonymous said...

A question...did I hear correctly when Mikhail told Ben that Naomi (the parachutist who had the book "Catch-22" in Portuguese) said her ship was 130 klicks west of the island?

Another question...were the Portuguese guys at the end of season two on a ship in the Arctic/Antarctic or in a listening post?

Final question...if they were on a ship, could it be the same ship that Naomi referred to? Could that ship possibly be THAT close to the island?

Just wondering...

Anonymous said...

At least we know why the Dharmans aren't around any more. So why is Mikhail "allowed" to live outside The Others' compound? I'm still not clear on that.

Abbie said...

Ooh, Kristin, eerie: my wife, who never watches this show, watched last night, and at one point said, "Ben's killing the mothers."

Unknown said...

I guess I'm coming at the show from a completely different angle than most of you, because this episode just pissed me off. I'm interested in plot advancement. I'm not as interested in character development and creepy hints of shadowy things.

I'm sick of getting jerked around by the writers, and that's how I felt after they introduced yet another mysterious something (an invisible guy -- Is he in charge? Is he in trouble? Why should I care when I won't get an answer for three years?) and kept on with the ridiculous Jack and Juliet subplot (Is she good? Is she bad? Who cares as long as the writers can chew up whole episodes with ambiguous signs!) without answering any meaningful questions about any of the other mysterious somethings they've strewn all across the island.

Depending on what happens in the last episode (I don't watch the previews), I may be wandering off again. I didn't watch season 2 because I was so pissed off about the end of season 1. I can walk away again and find something to do with my time that doesn't frustrate me so much.

Maybe hearing that they're going to take three years to make 48 episodes put me in a bad mood before I ever watched this, but they're on a short leash with me. I think this could have been an amazing series if they'd taken three seasons to do it.

Davy said...

A few more thoughts:

I'd have to go back and look, but was the ash circle around Jacob's cabin, or around the mass grave? Is it magic to keep Jacob in the cabin, or to keep Locke's body/soul in?

I wonder if the women on the island didn't have the pregnancy problem until after Ben, but he's not causing it directly. His father told him so often that it was his fault his mother died in childbirth, from that point on, on an island that brings forth your desires and helps you resolve your issues, his secret desire made all births kill the mothers, so his circumstances wouldn't be special anymore and he wouldn't feel guilty. Thing is -- he feels MORE guilty, hence the research.

If Danielle is Annie (the names have do a similarity about them), it wouldn't be a stretch for survivors of the Dharma purge to lie about their pasts to the rest of the islanders. Ben did. But is she faking an accent, too?

Andrew Dignan said...


I think your Ben's killing the babies theory is fantastic. What a twisted tactic to maintain control; contrived but not so contrived as to be beyond belief. I'd prefer that be the answer as opposed to some mystical island reason that only affects children conceived on the island. It's like the only reason Claire's alive is Ben simply didn't have time to get to her.

Also, has it dawned on anyone else that even with the 2010 deadline we will still never see Sun come to term unless they dramatically speed things up (which begs the question of what were to happen should any of the actresses on the show become pregnant in real life).

K J Gillenwater said...

Why, thanks, Andrew! Glad you like my theory. Maybe Ben made up an explanation for his people when Claire showed up super-duper preggo and didn't spontaneously go into early labor/death spiral. Perhaps that was the reason for kidnapping her and giving her these injections. To give a reason why Claire's baby was conceived off of the island, plus they could give her some magical injection that might ward off some made-up illness. This would keep the Others believing Ben.

Remember how there was the secret room where the ultrasound was? And Sun asked why they would need a secret room? Juliet explained that this is where the women went to die...perhaps this is the room where Ben kills the women and babies. I don't know...just a theory here.

I just don't think they would have shown us how Ben came into the world without it meaning something about how Ben operates and how he thinks. Clearly, the death of his mother (and him being blamed for it) is something that drives him even in the present.

Anonymous said...

^ That, and looking like Harry Potter when young and psycho-bug-eyed freak when adult :-D

Anonymous said...

That sand is possibly volcanic ash - something the Losties haven't bothered with before now.

What happens if there's an eruption???