Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Shape of Things to Come


Wow. Omg. Yikes. Gasp. Burp.
Those were just some of the sounds and words you might have heard had you watched this week's episode of the greatest thing ever put to celluloid with me. This week's Shape of Things to Come episode was 2nd on my all-time list of all-time listed episodes of LOST, right after Desmond's thriller earlier this season, The Constant.

Ben went globe-trotting, a game of Risk provides insight to the show's broader themes, how Sayid became the #2 man in Al-Linus was revealed, and Jack's got the shakes...oh, and that smokey monster thing pulls a T-Rex from Jurassic Park and becomes a hero to the inhabitants of Othersville. Beat that, Gay's Anatomy.

First things first...the title of the episode is also the title of a literary work of fiction by one H.G. Wells (of Invisible Man and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea fame). Few interesting facts about Mr. Wells:

-He was a self-proclaimed, and adamant, supporter of Socialism
-He believed in eugenics, which means he thought it was a good idea to follow Darwin's "Natural Selection" theory to its logical conclusion and the only humane thing to do to keep civilization and mankind going was to "breed out" the sickly, weak, and disabled among us
-He was nuts

In his book, The Shape of Things to Come, Wells creates a future for the world that is centered around his own pet idea: a one-world government. Without going in to too much detail (cause I just ordered the book off of and havent read it all yet), this one-world government is based out of Iraq (see:Babylon in the Bible) and tries to "fix" the world's problems by installing their own brand of authoritarianism. Also interesting about the book is that Wells predicted way back before WWII many inventions and military tactics and weapons that would be later used in the 20th century. It was a visionary account of what was to come before it came. Almost like he knew the future.

But on to the show itself.....

So it turns out my theory was right on it being the Boat People who snipered Krazy Karl and Rousseau at the end of the last episode. The boys from the Boat who had gone to run an "errand", as the captain put it to Sayid and Desmond, ended up clipping a few more inconsequential no-names en route to executing Alex, Ben's fake daughter. (More on that later) Speaking of the boat, its doctor, the one who we'd seen talking to Dez and Sayid in previous episodes, winds up deader than Jack in Titanic. His throat was slit, and to make matters weirder, when Faraday finally got his SOS on, the crew sent the message back: "What do you mean? The doctor is fine."

Hmmm, something's amiss here. I'm no CSInvesitgator (though I have a cousin who has appeared on a handful of episodes of the CSI Miami series), but I dont think the doctor is fine. In fact, he was murdered and either the Boat People are lying or are still stuck in a different time and the doctor isn't dead yet where they are sitting (floating). But the thrust of this episode isn't what went on at the beach, so our focus will now turn to Ben and Smokey and Widmore.

What I considered to be a very important scene was early on when Locke, Hurley, and Sawyer were playing Risk. Hurley makes the comment to Sawyer that "he" (ostensibly he is referring to Locke in this instance) is just trying to get us to fight each other. A few seconds later Hurley says "I cant believe you're just giving up Australia...its the key to the whole game." Oh really, Hugo? I see these carefully chosen/written words as being emblematic of the bigger story arch of the show. Ben could really be the "he" who has been trying to get everyone fighting among themselves on and off the island. The comment about Australia might have implications as to where the island really is, or that there is something more to the fact that all the passengers boarded a plane specifically from Sydney, Australia. Something we've missed thus far. And the fact that Hurley, someone we now know has "special" powers of his own, said all of this only reaffirms in my mind the importance of it.

I want to wrap up the action that went down in Othersville here and then focus solely on Ben and his Around the World in One Episode escapades. The Boat People obviously wanted Ben alive, but for what reason remains to be seen. I think it has to do with the "rules" Ben references, and with the fact that Ben told Widmore "You know I cant do that" when Charles asked Ben if he was there to kill him. But killing Alex changed those rules. I, for one, was not all that sad Alex is gone for one main and cold-hearted reason: that action taken now gives Ben the motivation for almost everything else he does the rest of the series. It was genius writing and a great idea to have Ben's "daughter" (who all of the sudden wanted daddy's help) killed because it shows us that Ben has real feelings and gives him the fuel on his sadistic fire to hunt down Widmore's daughter and other employees of Widmore Corp (with Sayid's help of course).

The big moment was Ben leaving down his secret corridor to "call up" Smokey the Monster. He returns covered in soot and a moment later Smokey does his thing on the unsuspecting Boat Mercenaries. I love how this show can take a creepy cloud of smoke and make it a central, key, fascinating character. Whatever the "rules" involved, Ben isn't happy and his first instinct is to go and get Cerebus the smokey watchdog of Hell Island to lay waste to the gunmen in the woods. But the group in the house escapes the situation and Sawyer leads a team back to the beach. Hurley, Ben, and Locke in turn head off to find Jacob's cabin, the man Ben says will tell them what to do now.

The reason this episode was amazing to me were all the scenes of Ben off the island and in the Middle East. The opening one finds Ben in the middle of the Tunisian desert, dressed for the arctic, with a cut on his arm and no tracks anywhere around him. When we first see him there on the ground, he violently wakes up, breaths what appears to be cold air out of his mouth, and then proceeds to hurl. Icky. He's in the middle of the desert and wakes up with cold air in his mouth and dressed for sledding. Hmmm. Ben can transport not just his mind, but his body. Desmond could only do it through his consciousness, but Ben has learned how to send himself as a whole, in tact, to other times and places. Important here is the name on the jacket Ben is wearing: Halliwax which happens to be the alternate name for Dr. Marvin Candle who you might remember from such Orientation films as The Swan and The Pearl. Dr. Candle calls himself Halliwax in the Orientation film for the Orchid Station. This is the one they released last Fall and it did not appear on the show itself. In this clip, Dr. Halliwax is startled when a bunny shows up unexpectedly in the frame with him. It's a bunny that has the same number and look as the bunny he himself is holding in the video.

I think the Orchid is where Dharma people had harnessed the Island's powers to move through time and space and had sent animals (you know, like Polar Bears) as guinea pigs to test this out. That would explain the bear being in Tunisia when Charlotte Staples Lewis found it back in the beginning of this season. Ben must have sent himself to Tunisia many times before, or maybe different forms of himself. Maybe, like the bears and bunnies on the island, there are more than one Ben's running around the world. His story to Sayid about using Desmond's boat and chartering a plane doesn't add up. Plus you add in the fact that at the hotel in Tunisia (of all places) Ben is known as a preferred customer. He went under the name Dean Moriarty, which was one of the passports we saw in his secret room back on the island when Sayid first found it. So obviously somehow Ben can transport items with him, where Desmond could not.

Ben heads to Iraq from Tunisia to recruit Sayid for his terrorist organization, the afore mentioned Al-Linus. Now it goes without saying that the guy Ben tells Sayid killed his wife Nadia does work for Widmore, but I dont think he was the one who killed her. I think Ben did. I think Ben killed her to set up Widmore's people so that Sayid would want to join up and wreak some havoc for the creepy little guy while Ben does what he can to find Penny and keep Widmore from finding the island. We learn of this more in the final scene when Ben sneaks into Widmore's London town home in the middle of the night.

These two are opponents in some sort of "game" to control the island, and possibly, the world. The name Moriarty that Ben used in Tunisia might shed more light on to this. Moriarty was Sherlock Holmes' fictional nemesis. He was a criminal mastermind and legendary manipulator. In some of the stories, Moriarty was said to have figured out how to control time and actually had time traveled. Sound familiar? The struggle between Holmes and Moriarty culminates with Sherlock falling to his death, but grabbing on to Moriarty as he falls, thus killing the most evil man in the world along with him. Just some things to consider, but I really think we're being given clues to the fact that Ben is truly the evil one here (if you hadn't already thought that).

Couple of thoughts/theories to wrap up:
-There is a good chance that when Ben went down in to that secret room where he keeps Smokey, that it was during those few moments that Ben traveled forward through time and all the things we saw in the "future" happened between the time Ben shut the door on Sawyer and when he came out and said "Excuse me, James." Think about it.

-I like the idea that the cold breath of air that comes out of Ben's mouth might have something to do with the guys Penny hired to monitor electromagnetic activity at the end of season two. Not sure how it fits in, but that is really the only other cold place we've seen on the show so far. Maybe Ben went to where they were and killed them or to find out where the person who hired them, Penny Widmore, might be found. And tying in what Rose was told by that healer in Australia about there being many other special places on the planet, maybe Tunisia is one of those special places, like the island, and that is why polar bears and Ben end up there. Ben's relative lack of surprise to find himself in the middle of the Tunisian desert really points to the fact that he must have done this many times before.

-We're soon gonna find out what Christian Shepard's, Jack's dad, role is in all of this. I really think he's got some connection either to Dharma or Widmore or Ben. Still trying to come up with a good theory on what that connection is though.

-"Australia is the key to the whole game"....someone's gotta have some interesting take on that line, right? Post it for everyone to enjoy if you do under the Comments section below.

-Star Wars tie-in's: Tunisia is where the original Star Wars film was shot. Another important location in the original trilogy is the Hoth planet of snow and ice, where the characters (i.e. Luke and Han) wear jackets somewhat similar to the one Ben has on when he breathes out cold air. Luke = Jack. Han = Sawyer. Princess Leia = Kate (or Claire). Darth Vader = Locke. The Emperor = Ben. Obiwon = Widmore. If you dont like Star Wars you're probably already navigating away from this page. Sorry.

-I didnt need Wikipedia to identify the homage to my favorite movie of all time, Lawrence of Arabia, that takes place when Ben walks in to the hotel in Tunisia and rings the bell. If you haven't seen this movie, go to where movies are sold or rented and buy it or rent it and watch it.

I have finals this week, otherwise I'd write much more. But please send me your own theories and thoughts of not only what I've written here, but of the episode and show in general. Things are heating up and we've got four more hours of the show to go this season.

Onwards and upwards,

JL's Pants

Friday, April 11, 2008

Two more weeks...

Something from Entertainment Weekly to hold you over till the 24th. How bad do you miss it?