Lost – ‘Meet Kevin Johnson’ – 4.8

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Meet Kevin Johnson.

So now we know how Michael came to be Ben’s mole on the ship. And, in what was a first for the series, almost the entire episode was devoted to his flashback. We needed the extra time as Michael… errr Kevin Johnson… has been a busy guy in the month since he left the island. I’ll go into more detail below.

While I think the writers had to take some creative liberties with the time line to shoehorn Michael back into the plot, overall it’s plausible enough for me to go along with it. Plus, they did something that they couldn’t do before, no matter how many times they had this anguished father scream for “WAAAAAA-LLLLLLLL-TTTTTTT!!!” They actually made me care for Michael’s plight. Again, more in the traditional bullet points below.

Before we get on with the show, was anyone else stung by the teaser at the end which promised more episodes starting April 24th?!?!? That’s more than a month away – and while we knew this break was coming – what a terrible time for it to crop up. I don’t know what’s worse – the five week layover or the fact that there are only five episodes left.

All right, on with the show.

1.   As I alluded to above, ‘Meet Kevin Johnson’ was all about filling us in on how Michael got from Point A to Point B and then got coerced into heading back to Point A again. Or better yet, how Michael hit rock bottom and then found out that the floor was rickety and he had a little further to fall.

2.   From a chronological standpoint, we know Michael left the show at the end of Season 2. If the plane crashed on September 22, 2004 and the episode entitled ‘The Other 48 Days’summed up the Tailies exodus from one part of the island to the other in 48 days, that would pinpoint Michael’s and Walt’s departure somewhere in late November 2004. Knowing that it is now Christmas on the island, Michael’s roundtrip odyssey (including multiple suicide attempts) had to take place in less than a month. It’s sort of tough to swallow but then I remember the time issues between island time and the real world and 48 days on the island may not be 48 days on the mainland so perhaps that’s the ‘out’ in explaining this away. Either way, I’ll roll with it and forgive the temporal anomalies. In the grand scheme of things, I’m here to enjoy the ride not nitpick the details.

3.   What this episode did a great job of is turn Michael into a more sympathetic character. His ill-fated decision to kill two innocent women in order to save his son is haunting him – driving him to the depths of despair. And, as Tom chillingly intuits, Michael made the other ill-advised decision to confess his sins to his 10-year old son who not only has to come to terms with his abduction but also has to process the fact that his father murdered two people in cold blood to secure his release. And it’s that action, aimed at reuniting father and son, that has driven a deep wedge between the two. As Tom put it “We gave Walt to you in one piece, you’re the one who lost him.”

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4.   But, we learn the island has a long reach. Twice we see Michael try to kill himself and both times he is unsuccessful. In the first attempt, Michael echoes the Jeff Bridges’ plane crash survivor flick Fearlessand drives his car head on into a shipping container (set to the sunshiney strains of Mama Cass who has become Lost’s unofficial siren). Yet, he awakens in the hospital in very bad shape but very much alive.

5.   The more eerie example is Michael’s inability to level a shot into his brain pan. After hocking the Korean-inscribed watch that he liberated off Jin in Season 1, Michael attempts the chin shot before being rudely interrupted by Tom who warns him that the island won’t let him kill himself. Echoing the familiar refrain sung by Locke and Ben, the island still has work for Michael to do. Michael then tries to tempt fate by fully loading the gun and actually pulling the trigger (twice) with no effect. As Tom put it, “Did the bullet bounce off your brain or did the gun just not fire?”This whole exchange has echoes to Jack’s future tempt of fate. We saw that he too was unable to kill himself – as a car accident occurred on the bridge mere moments before he would have taken the Nestea plunge. So this island, as we know, continues to work in mysterious ways.

6.   One last thing on Tom, we finally got visual confirmation that he’s gay. (“Not that there’s anything wrong with that” – to be said in your best Seinfeld nasal). It was hinted last season when Kate changed in front of him and Tom promised her, “Don’t worry, you’re not my type.”Now, in this episode, we find that Tom, like Ben, has the ability to go off island on occassion and when he does, he likes to splurge – hence the Bacchnalian feast and the comforts of Arturo. One thing I’ve seen on message boards is they were surprised that in a show brimming with so many cultural choices – so much diversity – that there wasn’t a gay character on the series. Well, looks like they’ve now been proven wrong.

7.   I’ll say this, this series has always impressed me with their inspired casting. Tom is a great example. The guy that plays him (M.C. Gainey) is a character actor who earned his chops through playing bad guys in various thrillers and action flicks (i.e. Con Air, The Breakdown). He later showed up as the angry naked guy in Sideways. Anyway, here they take a guy who is usually the menacing heavy, cast him as an Other, and then really make him one of the nicer people on the show – making me believe that perhaps Ben isn’t lying when he continually insists that they “are the good guys.

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8.    During the Michael scenes, there was a little Easter Egg that if you caught it, continued the theme of time travel – or at least – time issues. During the scene where Michael attempts to shoot himself, a game show is playing in the background. The answer to the unheard question is “Kurt Vonnegut” who of course, wrote Slaughterhouse Five, which revolves around a character who becomes ‘unstuck in time.’ They’re planting these clues for a reason and it’s just not for my Blog and its outlandish theories.

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9.   We continue to receive more confirmation of Charles Widemore’s nefarious involvement in this – with Tom providing the biggest brain dump so far. Now we know where the bodies came from and we have concrete evidence that Widemore planted these bodies and that fake wreckage at the bottom of the ocean to end the search for Flight 815 and steer people away from his Fantasy Island.

10.   I think the most pivotal scene of the night was the call that Michael received from ‘Walt’. After being summoned by Minkowski (nice to see Fisher Stevens get more to do than just his death scene a few weeks back), an elated Michael is brought back down to Earth when he finds his puppetmaster, Ben, on the other end of the comm. This is why I am starting to think Ben is on the complete up and up. He staged that bombing of the ship just to prove to Michael that he wasn’t as nefarious as Widemore is – to prove who the real enemy is. All Ben wants is for that ship to not reach its destination or at least to buy some time before it does so Michael is called upon to become a saboteur. Of course, sitting dead in the water has led the other freighter folk to get antsy (taking little moonlit excursions close to shore which end up frying some of their minds (hence Minkowski’s fate)). As we saw in last week’s episode, wherever this ship has found itself adrift, it’s close enough that the island is starting to work some bad mojo on their minds. Perhaps, that’s Ben’s plan. As he explained to Michael, he doesn’t want blood on his hands (afterall, it was Michael who made the decision to shoot Libby and Ana Lucia) so if the island begins to unhinge these freighter folks minds, then the job gets done without Ben feeling the sting of responsibility. And, once again, he inferred that a war is silently being waged. What are the stakes – the island, of course – but what happens if Widemore wins?

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11.   As I mentioned, much of the action was relegated to flashbacks so there wasn’t much going on, on the island, but the bits and pieces we got were meaty. The first had to do with Ben’s little bit of advice to his ‘daughter’ Alex. Producing a map, he steered her (and Carl/Danielle) to head for sacred ground – The Temple. The Temple was first mentioned last season in the finale. Ben and a select few Others (including Tom) broke off from the group to attack the beach while Richard Alpert was leading everyone else to the Temple. At the time, Ben explained to Locke that they were headed for ‘sacred ground’ (this actually might have been explained before Ben brought Locke to Jacob’s mobile home.) Anyway, now we get proof that this Temple is out there.

12.   Of course, before they can reach it, we get not one but two deaths (shame on you ABC – I don’t know what’s worse, that you spoil these things in your teasers by annoucing NEXT. WEEK. SOMEONE. WILL. DIE. or that you get it wrong as we got two apparent deaths. Well, I guess we don’t know for sure who is dead but by episode’s end it sure looked like Carl was finished and Danielle didn’t look so hot either.

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13.   My first reaction was we may never get Danielle’s flashback (showing what really happened to her crew). That may be a move to pare down some of the extraneous subplots as the episodes that remain dwindle – but then again, in an episode brimming with cameos of several dearly departed (Tom, Naomi, Minkowski) you can never really count anything out – so, if Danielle is gone, maybe we’ll get that back story in some other flashback.

But, man, what a way to end and what a wait we’ve got ahead.

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Comments now closed (8)

  • I don’t remember from last season’s end, did they kill Tom on the beach?

    That story didn’t make me feel for Michael at all. I don’t know… before it got rolling, I was kinda hoping he was going to be successful in offing himself… not knowing yet if the flashy was pre or post boat trip. (I was actually hoping for him to be teleported out of there right before the car hit the container, thus confirming my Looking Glass theory.) I guess saving the rest of the folks on the island would be a way for him to repent for killing Libby and Ana Lucia, but the fact remains he still killed one of them in cold blood (and the other accidentally).

    Speaking of Libby, why do you think she kept appearing to him? Because he felt most guilty for her death? I’m thinking this isn’t his head playing tricks on him, but rather, the Island. However, why would she be telling him to not set off the bomb? Loved that by the way… the little flag gimmick was classic.

    Liked the confirmations — physical confirmations — that the Island can impose its will. I think Tom asked if the gun “jammed” but you have the point.

    What’s with Ben and his lists? These people aren’t even on the island, so yeah, maybe he is one of the “good guy’s” and legitimately doesn’t want innocents hurt, at least by his own hand, cuz, ya know… if Ana Lucia puts your romantic rival on a pole, it’s okay, even if you put him in the situation. Liked his expression of surprise when Michael told him he set off the explosive.

    Who are the snipers? (Worst snipers ever by the way. How many shots missed?) I’m thinking it is the mercs from the freighter and this was Lapidus’ current mission, to fly them there. It wouldn’t make sense for the Temple folks to be sniping them since they could welcome them in and kill Carl and Danielle if that were the goal.

    Also interesting with Lapidus’ conversation with Michael. It would seem that Widemore’s organization was behind that phone number which Frank rang up upon seeing the underwater footage. He thinks he convinced Widemore it wasn’t really down, meanwhile Widemore already knows that (obviously). Of course, we don’t know how he knew that already though.

    Interesting play by Sayid to turn Michael in. Gotta figure it is to find out who he can really trust, Michael/Ben or the Captain/Widemore.

    Lastly, and continuing from last week’s discussion in the comments, I can’t decide if it is Michael in the box. On one hand, it does make sense that he’d still be something of a pariah to the Six, especially Hurley, but why would he be in LA (and not NYC)? Obviously it fits with the suicide angle and maybe the Island finally allowed him to succeed. I know I called him out as a possibility a few episodes ago, but my gut is telling me it will be someone else we don’t expect right now.

  • @Sean,

    I’ll go in order of some of your questions.

    1. Tom was killed on the beach. I think Juliet shot him. So he is definitely dead.

    2. The story didn’t make me feel for Michael but it is more dramatically compelling – now he has the chance to become a tragic hero meaning I believe he will die. He’ll either sacrifice himself as a way of making amends to his fellow survivors or he ends up killing himself and in the box. I will say this – that newspaper clipping that Jack was holding was deciphered last year and it mentioned that it was death by suicide (hanging) so as you say, maybe he fulfills his mission and the island lets him do it.

    3. I think you are right that the snipers are the freighter dudes that Lapidus flew to the island. He probably has no idea why he had to fly them there (let alone know they were going in for the kill). They didn’t seem like crack shots on the ship either (granted they were using automatic weapons for skeet shooting) – more like second rate mercs.

    4. I think you are right with Sayid’s gambit – plus, Sayid really doesn’t like Michael and I imagine Jack isn’t going to be happy to see him return – if they do come face to face.

    5. Great, I went out of order. I think you are right that Libby’s visitations were the Island manifesting itself (much like it has brought messages from other dead people). Meaning – maybe Smokey is the physical embodiment of the Island’s will.

  • Hey all, just watched the episode. One quick note from the previsous posts. Sawyer was the one who shot and killed Tom. He said it was for taking the kid.

    We learned a lot about Michael post island and I still wonder how he got from the little boat in the Pacific to the NYC? But Ben did tell him if follows the heading he will find rescue. Michael if obvisouly conflicted about killing Ana Lucia and Libby because as Ben points out he didn’t have to and they didn’t ask him to. I was thinking at the time he had been brainwashed in some manner to do it, but I guess not. It must have been hard to go home and not tell anyone he and Walt were on the plane but got off the Island. Sounds like Walt is not saying anything to Grandma either.

    Sean, I agree worst shooting ever by the “snipers”. They had sitting targets and missed three times before getting a hit. Although they had silencers which I think affect accuracy and they did get Danielle once she made a move. I hope she is only wounded as she has always been interesting and I agree with Ed that I would to know more about her past. It seemed stranged that Carl (we will not miss you) sensed there was something wrong before it happened. I didn’t think Danielle would get hit. By saying she Ben’s daughter I wonder if she knew they were from the boat and would not kill her because they would want to use her to get to Ben, or because she thought it was the others?

    It’s interesting that Syaid still does not believe anything Ben says and therefore turns Michael into the Captain. Something obvisouly changes as we know he works for Ben once they get off the Island. Although the Captain didn’t seem to be surprised when Sayid told him Kevin Johnson was not who he says he was.