25 April 2008

Lost 4/24 -- The Shape of Things to Come

Lost, more than most shows, speaks to it's audience. There are the literal ways in which the audience gets involved, such as "The Lost Experience" internet game. There are the ways in which the writers use characters to answer audience questions or to take gentle jabs at fan nitpickyness, such as the in-show "answer" to why Hurley wasn't loosing any weight despite being stranded on an island with only fruit and fish to eat. There are the ways in which the show rewards the careful viewer, such as the name "Halliwax" on Ben's jacket from last night's episode. And there is the way in which the show leads us down an emotional path, only to confuse it all again and again. We want shows to be simple, for characters to be simple, yet Lost keeps adding angles and complexities that make it hard to find a hero and a villan.

If I had to pick one thing this season has been about, it has been the humanizing of Ben. We ended last season with Ben being seemingly irredeemable. He shot Locke and left him for dead. But this season we've seen Ben mistreated by a raging Jack, taunted by a confused Locke, and the target of an island invasion. Last night, we saw his daughter killed right before his (wide, staring, creepy) eyes. We saw him have remorse and grief. We felt for him a bit, despite his past sins and constant attempts to manipulate everything to his advantage. This episode humanized Ben further, while reminding us of what he is capable of. The smirk that crossed his face after he "recruited" Sayid was that Ben, even as the sobs that he gave as he closed Alex's eyes was something new. The episode ends with the viewers having an emotional dilemma. We still don't trust Ben. We know he's manipulative. But it looks like he was right all the time about the people on the boat. It looks like he is trying to protect the island from Whidmore. And we understand his desire for revenge given what Whidmore did to his daughter. The dilemma comes when Ben reveals he's going after Penny. We really like Penny, especially after the best episode of Lost this season -- "The Constant". The show has pit Ben against Penny; that's a hard one to stomach.

Other questions/comments:
1. What is up with the Smoke Monster? Can Ben control it?
2. Obviously, I need new cable and a new TV, since I missed all the cool writing on the stone wall because our cable sucks.
3. The final scene with Ben and Whidmore was just very well done. The white/black contrasts, the shadows, the scotch -- it just looked good. Plus we get all sorts of questions from it. What were "the rules"? Why can't Ben just kill Whidmore? Why does Whidmore say things like 'I know what you are' to Ben? (Could be that Whidmore knows Ben is just a nasty guy). What sort of relationship do these two have?
4. Who killed the doctor and why? How did Bernard learn Morse code?
5. Nice foreshadowing of Jack's pill addiction. From next week's previews, it looks like he has appendicitis. Ouch.

3 comments:

  1. Maybe I was just in a bad mood, but last night's episode frustrated me. Up until this point, I've been extremely patient with the twists, turns, and dead ends of the plot. I suppose after such a long break, I was expecting a big reveal of some sort. My girlfriend was right, we should've watched the last couple episodes to remember what was going on and to get in the right frame of mind.

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  2. Disagree with "mistreated by a raging Jack" - if you constantly manipulate people on every possible level, you run the risk of those people finding anyway possible to put an end to it, even if only temporarily. He had it coming, and I wouldn't have hesitated to do the same thing.

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  3. Maybe poor word choice by me, Winston. While I understand why Jack would not trust Ben and want to beat the crap out of him (if not kill him outright), I do think Ben was shown in a more sympathetic light during that sequence.

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