No post tonight. Sorry. My day job has taken me on the road the last few days, and I haven’t even had a chance to watch this week’s episode yet. I’ll try to put up the usual post tomorrow night (or soon thereafter). For now, feel free to use the comments section of this post as an open discussion thread about “The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham.”
UPDATE: Here’s my usual post.
This was a strong, dark episode, but to be perfectly honest, as good as these last two hours have been, I’m anxious to get back to the island. For that reason, I’m kind of glad this part of the story is over. Lots of significant things happened here, and the episodes continued its trend of piecing together elements from all four previous seasons, so it’s fair to say that the show is rewarding close watching and the devotion of its more obsessive fans.
Spoilers from this episode, and a bunch of other stuff, after the break.
Links and miscellanea
- One of Lost’s actors is rumored to auditioning for other TV gigs. (Don’t click through if you don’t want to be spoiled the possible death of a major character.) UPDATE: Rumor denied.
- The LA Times’ Entertainmnet blog has a nice photo gallery/feature on some of the mysterious minor characters that roam the periphery of Lost.
- And here’s an inverview with Lance Reddick (Matthew Abbadon) from the LA Times.
- By the way, did you know you can sample some of Reddick’s musical stylings by downloading an mp3 from his website? The website doesn’t appear to have been updated in several years.
- TV Guide has a short interview with Michael Emerson (Ben) who, as near as I can tell, is very accessible and has never given a bad interview in his life.
- Here’s a nice tour of the various Oahu filming locations for Lost.
- The latest video podcast features Matthew Fox expounding about Jack’s character.
- In the latest audio podcast (live today, post-episode), Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse offer the following hints and guideposts: In next week’s episode, “LeFleur,” we’ll get a better idea of how all the timelines meet up; the only character confirmed to survive to the end of the show? Vincent; no clones, no nanobots on Lost; we’ll find out what Kate did with Aaron later this season; Cuse is a big Red Sox fan and Lindelof is a big Yankees fan.
Observations and speculations
- As the episode opens, we see Caesar, an Ajira Airlines passanger, exploring the Hydra Station. The Hydra Station insignia is on one of the notebooks he’s reading, and there is evidence of animal studies—skulls, etc.—scattered about (the Hydra Station was a zoological research station, you might recall). There’s also an old issue of Life Magazine dated April 19, 1954, with a cover story about the testing of a Hydrogen bomb (like Jughead).
- Caesar busts into some wooden filing cabinets and takes out a map of the island featuring a an as-yet unknown DHARMA insignia (with a tsunami-like symbol in the middle). Some notations from the map:
- In the center: “UNKNOWN?”
- Towards the top: “POSSIBLE PASS THROUGH NORTHERN MOUNTAINS”
- Along the island’s western coast: “10 degrees N, 21 degrees E HALF A KILOMETER NORTH UP THE COAST A COUPLE HUNDRED METERS EAST UP THE HILLSIDE. FOLLOW PIG TRAIL LEFT OF THE MAIN PEAK.”
- Inland to the east: “8 degrees N, 55 degrees E FOLLOW THE RIVER TO THE EAST OF THE MOUNTAINS (?) HEAD DUE EAST TOWARDS THE SMALLER MOUNTAIN RANGE …”
- Caesar also finds a page that we’ve previously seen from Faraday’s notebook. It has several circles drawn on it with connecting lines and words that say, “Space-Time,” “Imaginary Time,” “Imaginary Space,” and “Real Time.”
- He next finds a small sawed-off double-barrel shotgun stuck underneath a desk drawer, confirming once again that the island is a veritable stockpile of weapons.
- When Ilana (the woman who appeared to be escorting Sayid when he was in custody on the Ajira flight) comes in the room, Caesar hides the gun from her. Apparently, the Ajira people are just as distrustful of each other as the Oceanic survivors were when they first arrived.
- We see the Ajira jet largely intact. My theory is that the plane landed on Hydra Island making use of the landing strip that Sawyer and Kate were forced to help construct during the ill-fated season 3 mini-arc (aka “Passion in the Bear Cage”). Note that this does not necessarily mean that the Others were prescient and knew that the Ajira plane would need a place to crash land. It could simply mean that Frank Lapidus, who has had experience crash-landing vehicles on the island before and probably remembered the special bearings that were given to him by Faraday, used his quick wits and spotted the primitive airstrip from above.
- The beach with the bonfire, as well as the atmospherics and attitudes of the characters, are awfully reminiscent of season one. Locke, wrapped in an Ajira Airlines blanket, looks almost like a wizard. (Three cheers for the return of shaman Locke!)
- After the first commercial break, we open with a shot of Christian Shepard’s wingtips, which pans to a shot of Locke standing on a sandy beach, peering out from the Hydra Island to the main island.
- The pontoon boats are on the beach and Ajira survivors are loading them with gear, pretty much sealing the idea that these are the people who shot at the Left Behinders at the beginning of the season.
- One of the biggest mysteries of this episode: why did Lapidus leave in the night with a woman, and who did he leave with? And why did they take the manifest? It sort of suggests that perhaps the woman was an Other, who learned from the mistakes of Ethan “he’s not on the manifest” Rom.
- Okay, I’ll concede that an even bigger mystery is how it is that the island resurrected Locke. It’s worth noting that (as I think someone has already pointed out in the comments) Locke is not some other being in Locke’s form, he is John Locke, with all of Locke’s memories and his personality. This makes me much, much more likely to believe that the apparition of Christian Sheppard we’ve seen on the show is, in fact, Christian and not just some Jacob puppet. It also introduces the possibility that Christian was being brought back to the island just as Locke was (although I’m still more skeptical about this part).
- Locke’s honesty is refreshing, powerful and hugely upsetting to the other Ajira passengers.
- Apparently, the Frozen Donkey Wheel is like a revolving door that only spits people out at a single location. Locke appears to land in precisely the same spot in Tunisia where Ben ended up three years earlier, except instead of being greated by men on horses with guns, Locke is noticed by surveillance cameras and taken by Widmore’s men to a field hospital. That spot was being watched.
- You know, the writers have always treated Locke fairly sadistically. In the time we’ve known him, he’s been conned out of a kidney, pushed through an eighth story window, crushing his legs, conned and manipulated (repeatedly), shot and left for dead in a pile of corpses, and now suffered a compound fracture in his leg that was reset as he bit on a stick, then strangled to death with the same cord with which he planned to kill himself. I’m just saying.
- We’ve definitely seen a much kinder, gentler side of Widmore this season. We know that he cares about Penny (and maybe even Desmond), that he funded Faraday’s research, then provided for Theresa Spenser when Faraday’s experiments left her an invalid. Of course, this doesn’t totally mitigate the fact that he unleash the fury of Keamy on the island. Maybe Widmore’s the good guy, or maybe Ben is the ruthless executor willing to use whatever means possible to achieve the greater good. I’ll submit that it’s not really an either/or proposition, though. Both Widmore and Linus can be evil.
- Widmore’s story is that he was the leader of a group on the island who “protected the island, peacefully for more than three decades” until Ben tricked him into leaving. We might find out that this story has more than one version, or at least more than one perspective.
- Widmore gives John an issue of the “London Daily Tribune,” a tabloid-style newspaper, dated January 14, 2005.
- Widmore was only 17 years old when Locke first met him, meaning that he’s about 70 years old now. He was even younger than he looked when he palled around with Richard Alpert and young Eloise Hawking on the island.
- Most portentous lines of the episode: “Because there’s a war coming, John. And if you’re not on back on the island when that happens, the wrong side is going to win.”
- It’s Widmore who provides Locke with a Canadian passport in the name of Jeremy Bentham. “You’re parents had a sense of humor when they named you, so why can’t I?”
- When Widmore tells Locke that if he needs to reach him, “Just press 2-3,” it reminded me both of the numbers (23) and Desmond’s daily task in the hatch.
- How exactly did Widmore get a photo of the exact pose that Sayid would be in when Locke showed up in the Dominican Republic to chat with him? That was weird. (Yes, I’m being facetious.)
- Widmore seemed genuinely concerned when Locke told him that Richard said he had to die. Not sure if that was an act.
- The site of Matthew Abaddon pushing the wheelchair serves two purposes: it reminds us of Locke’s disgust with his former disability, and it calls us back to the image of Abaddon as the orderly in the rehabilitation center that suggested Locke go on his walkabout. Speaking of, this may be the first time we’ve had any direct evidence that anyone on Oceanic 815 was put on that flight for the express purpose of ending up on the island and didn’t simply end up there as a victim of circumstance.
- Abaddon, who’s name refers to a destroying angel from the book of Revelations, seems to be baiting Locke into asking him to find Helen (Locke’s ex-girlfriend who was played in season two by Katey Sagal). I think there’s more to her story than that she simply died of a brain aneurysm while Locke was on the island.
- Sayid has apparently given up his life as Ben’s international assassin and joined some sort of Habitat for Humanity-like organization (“Build Our World”). Funny that Locke would find him on an island (Hispaniola). Frankly, I liked the intentional-man-of-mystery version of Sayid better.
- Locke is not very persuasive, and not a terribly good liar. Appealing to what people feel “deep down in your heart” isn’t all that effective a strategy. All the people that Locke approaches (with the exception of Hurley) not only rebuff Locke’s pleas, but also sow seeds of doubt within Locke about his own character:
- Sayid: “Is it just because you have nowhere else to go?”
- Kate: Locke was “desperate to stay on the island … because you didn’t love anyone.”
- Jack: “These delusions that your special aren’t real…maybe there’s nothing important about you at all.”
Ironically, it’s these doubts that lead Locke to consider suicide, resulting in the Locke’s death (which would have happened with or without Ben’s assistance), and ultimately all of the Oceanic 5 returning to the island. It’s also interesting that each of the characters seem to be projecting their own dashed hopes and fears onto Locke. Sayid has nowhere else to go now that the love of his life is dead; Kate is fearful that Sawyer, who she really loves, rejected her and that she made a mistake in leaving him; Jack’s feeling that he was someone special, a leader apart from others, was simply an empty delusion.
- How did Abaddon know what Walt looked like before? He comments that “the boy’s gotten big.” Did Abaddon have something to do with putting Michael and Walt on Oceanic 815?
- Walt’s dreams about Locke have the following elements: 1) Locke is on the island; 2) he’s wearing a suit; 3) there are people all around him; and 4) and the people wanted to hurt Locke. Remember that Walt is “special” and was taken by the Others so that they could study his (probably psychic, astral projection) abilities. These dreams have to have significance (despite what recent studies may say). In fact, they are fairly transparent. John will 1) return to the island; 2) in a funerary suit; 3) live among different factions of island-dwellers; 4) several of who are hostile.
- Something that doesn’t add up—and might just be a tiny plot hole. When Walt visits Hurley at Santa Rosa, he tells him that “Jeremy Bentham” came to visit him, even though none of the others did. Yet Locke never tells Walt that he’s going by the name Bentham. Did someone else tell Walt about Locke’s alias?
- I love that when Hurley sees Locke, he just assumes he’s dead. Hurley sees dead people. And yet, it’s live people that he finds frightening.
- After visiting Hurley, Abaddon tells Locke, “You may want to step up your game…or we’re all in serious trouble.” I wonder who he means? Just those connected to the island? The whole world? Eloise Hawking, Widmore and Ben have all expressed similar sentiments.
- Abaddon, who’s name refers to that of a destroying angel from the Book of Revelations, tells John that his job is to “help people get to where they need to get to.” Abaddon of the bible is, more literally (I think) the angel of the abyss or bottomless pit. Is the island, then, an abyss?
- I thought the scene involving Abaddon’s assassination, though gory, was exceptionally well filmed.
- I actually really enjoyed the scene with Locke and Jack. (I think I like the bitter-and-angry version of Jack best.) Once again, Locke and Jack were sparring over fate and the meaning of the island.
- But, of course, the suicide/homocide scene in the Westerfield Hotel with Ben and Locke was the real show stopper. As I’ve mentioned before, any scene with Michael Emerson and Terry O’Quinn is something to feel grateful for. This one was certainly no exception.
- Not to brag or anything, but I totally called it.
- There seem to be two possible scenarios about Ben’s motives on the night that Locke died: either he arrived with the intent to kill Locke and simply wanted to get a little more information before he did, or something about Locke’s mention of Eloise Hawking (coupled with the realization that Hawking may be allied with Widmore) caused a visceral reaction to Ben and put him in a murderous rage. I lean toward the latter explanation because Ben seemed to be acting on emotional impulse, similar to what we witnessed when Ben killed Keamy in the Orchid Station. On the other hand, he seemed to have the crime scene scrubbing tools at the ready, which suggests premeditation.
- Both Ben and Widmore either actually want Locke to be the island’s new leader, or one or both of them realize that telling him that is the key to manipulating him. For some reason, I believe they actually want him to lead. Of course, this presupposes that Ben realizes Locke can be resurrected when he returns to the island. And that might not be a stretch, considering how much care Ben gave to preserving Locke’s body and making sure it was on the Ajira Airways flight.
- Caesar tells Locke about the Oceanic Five vanishing mid-flight. Here’s my theory: Locke, Ben and the Ajira Airways folks all landed on the Hydra Island in 2007. The island didn’t flash for them, and there is no time-skipping. Kate, Jack, Sayid, Sun and Hurley somehow were sucked into the time-skipping vortex. Those who thought when the Oceanic 5/6 returned to the island that the time skipping would end are, I believe, wrong. I think we’ll continue to see more time skipping. And two alternate on-island stories.
- Ben was apparently injured on the flight. You just knew he wasn’t going to far from where the action is. It turns out that when Ben told Locke that whoever turns the Frozen Donkey Wheel can never return to the island, he was either lying (again) or just flat-out wrong.
- Great final line: “He’s the man who killed me.”
Upon reflection, this was really an excellent episode. There were a lot of layers here, and a lot of attention to matters that arose in seasons 1 through 4. Still, I’ll be glad to be spending a lot more time on the island in the coming weeks.