I always try to lead with some non-sequitor (or at least, something that isn’t a direct commentary on the actual show content) so we’ll go with this. I’m really digging Lost’s placement on the schedule. Wednesday nights at 9:00 p.m. just does a great job of bisecting the week for me. I find myself beginning each work week with a slight spring in my step, knowing a new installment is only a few short days away and then by the time I’ve soaked it all in – it’s almost the weekend again.
Now, what will I do when the show departs the airwaves in May 2010. Maybe adopt Bromance as my personal savior. And with that, I apply a hearty pat on the back for knowing that I have zero knowledge of when THAT show even airs. Yeah, next May I’m going to have to light a candle. (sniffle).
With that said, on with the show. Let’s get Lost.
1. At the risk of sounding like that broken record that heralded the start of this season, I’ve got to say it again. Loose ends are dwindling. Once again, we were served up an episode that tied a lot of connections and applied a little more color to the overall mosaic. The big picture is really starting to take form.
2. ‘The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham’ did just that – it gave us all we needed to know about what Locke did following his self-imposed exile from the island. For starters, we learned where that name came from. This is one of those chicken and the egg things. I’ll explain. Two years ago, following the Season 3 finale which saw a depressed Jack clutching a tattered obit, eagle-eyed obsessives examined screen caps of the episode with all the fervor of a Zapruder film investigation, and pulled out portions of a first and last name of the deceased – ‘Jer…entham’. So, the web was bombarded with a number of guesses. ‘Jerald Lentham’. ‘Jerry Wentham’ And then someone connected the name Jeremy Bentham to a noted philosopher – a stock in trade of Lost names (i.e, John Locke – which Charles Widemore helpfully pointed out last night) and there was the Eureka moment. But, why that name and who the hell was Jeremy Bentham? (again – asked before we knew it was Locke’s alias).
3. And this is where I start to wonder if the producers knew Locke was in the box at the moment they dreamed up that climax. My guess – absolutely. See, it was a few months prior that they negotiated their deal with ABC to close the show at 6 seasons thus freeing them to etch an end date and sketch the rest of the show’s narrative arc. I think one of their first orders of business was creating a climax that would really change the rules of the show (i.e. Jack had made it off the island) and set the stage for the end game. And for that to happen, Locke was put in a box. So – here’s my toast to the Lost obsessives for picking this one out.
4. But why the name? Now we know. Charles Widemore gave it to Locke as part of his new identity. The new identity makes sense. Locke is supposed to be dead so he can’t go cruising the world as John Locke. While it’s doubtful his name would raise red flags, an alias seems the safe bet. And, as Widemore said, it was a tip of the cap to another philosopher. The only think that bugs me is when the Oceanic Six would refer to Locke as Bentham in some of last season’s episodes in a bid to retain the secret identity of who was in the box. That just seemed like lazy trickery. In close quarters, they should have called him Locke. But, that’s all in the past.
5. All right, I’ve gotten way ahead of myself. I actually intended to begin where the episode began, with that mysterious dude Caesar raiding a Dharma station for something. He finds a few files, including a map to the island, which don’t interest him before laying eyes on a sawed-off shotgun. There’s an old rule in cinema. You don’t show a gun unless you intend to have it go off. Funny, how in the same scene, he also briefly paged through an old issue of Life magazine showcasing H-Bomb testing. A shout out to ‘Jughead’ from a few weeks ago. If you recall, I said the same thing back then. Mark my words – by seasons end, the bomb and the shotgun are gonna’ speak.
6. As for who this dude is, I’m sticking with the theory that he was planted by Widemore. Seeing the Locke/Widemore connection makes that more plausible. Sure, he pretends he doesn’t know Locke but if he works for Widemore, I’m sure this guy has a very good poker face. Although, the last shot of the episode dashes my theory a bit. I’m not sure he would keep the conniving Ben confined to an unguarded hospital bed. So, I don’t know.
7. Where he is, though, I am absolutely certain of. Locke and his new band of merry men are not on the island we think they are. As evidenced by the Dharma logo on that file Caesar was flipping through, they were in The Hydra – which is the holding tank that Jack was stuck in during Season 2 – on the second island. There had been a lot of Internet speculation that the plane would land on the supposed runway that exists on that island (it you remember when Kate and Sawyer were incarcerated, they were made to do manual labor by Ben). Many people speculated he was building a runway and then the uber-obsessives went on a flight of fancy last week blabbering on and on about how the runway was built by Ben because he knew that somewhere in the future, that second plane would need to land on the island. Thankfully, the first few moments of this episode sent these crackpot theories into a tailspin as Frank apparently pulled a Captain Sullenberger and brought that thing down on the foliage in one piece.
8. It was through Caesar that we learned Jack and company mysteriously vanished from the plane. In a flash of light, they were gone. So, we have evidence of two warps happening. The plane hit the window and made it onto the island but Jack and company were whisked to the past. My guess is this has to do with the island needing the core Oceanic group together and with Sawyer and company hanging with the Dharma group circa 1970ish, they were sent back to be reunited. So why not Locke? Probably because he was dead.
9. Was being the operative term. I love the fact that they don’t play coy with this. Locke died. We saw it. He knows it. And now he’s reborn – found standing in water (more savior imagery) – and happily chatting up his miracle to the doubting Thomas’ around him. The only thing that’s worrisome is Walt’s premonition that he has seen Locke, surrounded by people that want to hurt him. At the start of this episode, Locke did find himself surrounded but the group did not appear violent. So, what does Caesar to do to incite that? More to come.
10. Off island, we returned to Tunisia – where Locke was deposited in the same sandy stretch that Ben woke up in last season after leaving the island. This time, Locke catches a surveillance camera trained on that very site – which as Widemore explains, is the exit spot. So, he’s keeping watch for the next person to come along – or more specifically, for the inevitable to happen. For Ben to trick Locke off island just as he had done to Widemore years earlier. Now, I don’t know which one of the liars to believe. If anything, Widemore does have a better poker face as his tale seemed sincere whereas that bug-eyed bastard Ben makes me want to strangle him with an extension cord every time I lay eyes upon him. And, aside from Widemore’s meddling in Desmond’s affairs, we’ve never actually seen Widemore perpetuate any dirty work. All of Widemore’s transgressions have been filtered through Ben. So what is it? Is Widemore really just trying to reclaim his role as the once and future king or was he cast off for good reason?
11. I’m gonna’ stake my claim to this theory. Both Widemore and Ben are bad and Locke is the true savior for the island. Widemore and Ben are like two brothers squabbling over their Dad’s fortune – neither one the proper heir. I think at the end of it all, Locke does indeed achieve his destiny and Widemore/Ben cancel each other out.
12. In fact, Widemore prophesized it best. “There’s a war coming John. And you need to be on that island.”
13. So, just as we begin to learn a little more about the mysterious Matthew Abbadon, he’s taken out by Ben so that the actor, Lance Reddick, doesn’t have to keep jetting back and forth from the Lost and Fringe sets. Abbadon was first seen last season, prepping Naomi (the freighter operative) about their mission to the island and the roles that Miles, Daniel, Charlotte and Frank were recruited to play. He then popped up in Hurley’s asylum with some cryptic warnings and finally appeared in Locke’s flashback as the orderly who helped him following his paralysis. As he put it, “I get people to where they need to go.” In essence, he is Destiny’s cruise director.
14. I don’t have a lot to say about the various visits Locke made. This was done to give us some back story on his travels – including tying up the Walt loose end. Abbadon said what we were all thinking – “that boy has gotten big.” There’s another plus for the 3 year leap ahead. It helpfully explains Walt’s growth spurt.
15. I thought it was interesting seeing Jack as he is beginning to unravel. If anything, Locke’s visit pushed him in two directions. First – to seek out the island. Second – straight to that bottle of pills, although Jack had that nasty beard beginning to invade his mug so maybe he was already deep into the pills to dull that nagging ache gnawing away inside – the itch the island desperately wanted him to scratch.
16. In the end, it all leads to Locke’s fateful last night on Earth – in a seedy, fleabag motel where he scribbled that last gesture to Jack before fastening the noose. Now, the big question posed here is why did Ben stop Locke from killing himself only to wait a few beats and murder him, himself. I think this follows religious doctrine. I think if Locke had killed himself, then he would have been tainted and refused admission back to the island. In last week’s episode, Christian tells Locke that he must die (not kill himself) – “That’s why it’s called sacrifice, John.”
Maybe there are two sacrifices at work here. By killing Locke, Ben assures Locke’s safe passage to the island while sacrificing his own good standing in the end of this all – having sinned. Or perhaps, the island isn’t above a little murder to further its own gain. Either way, Locke was not meant to take his own life and Ben was driven by the island to intervene.
I have no doubt that Locke did need to die in order to be reborn. We know the island works in mysterious ways and has long reaching arms. This episode was evidence of that. Locke was returned to the mainland with his ability to walk manifest but severely crippled – as if the island were taunting him that it could take it all away if needed.
17. It obviously needs Locke. And now it’s got him back.
That’s enough for now. Let me know what you guys have.
See you next week for Episode 5.7 – ‘LeFleur’.