So it's been over a week since the 4th season's "mini cliffhanger" before the 5 week hiatus and while the dust has settled, I'm still not quite sure if I really liked it or not. The episode - which documented Michael's history after he and Walt left the Island and explained his reasons for working as Ben's mole on the boat - had it's fair share of "seriously?" moments.
For one, how did Michael eventually make his way back to the mainland? I'll let this one fly temporarily, assuming that one of the Others picked him up in the Sub when he and Walt left on Ben's coordinates and got beyond the electromagnetic/clusterfuck Island bubble...but still, to eventually get back to NYC he would have had to provide ID documents for both him and Walt at some point, right? And once that would have happened, he's found out as a survivor. But ok, maybe Ben left him with all the essentials of a new identity that he needed.
So then he goes back to NYC. And NO ONE in the time that he returns notices that he's back and alive? I know that NYC is a big place, but still, you never know who you might run into. Plus, at least one person knows of his true identity - his Mother - and no one's worried that she'll talk? For someone that is very protective of his Island, Ben really didn't seem dot the i's and cross the t's on this one.
And finally, no one seems to bat an eye at "Kevin" on a boat that the captain KNOWS is being sabotaged? So there's like 10 crew members on board, and you don't suspect the total stranger that boarded in Fiji (well, maybe Miles did)? The guy you have no idea who he is or where he came from? Really?
But enough complaining...I guess I just suspect a little more from the Lost writers. But I bet I'll be putting my foot in my mouth for some of the above gripes - for one, the Captain didn't seem too surprised at all when Sayid turned over "Kevin" to him. Not one bit. We'll have to see where that one goes.
But what did interest me from "Meet Kevin Johnson" was the further explanation of the Island's powers. Mr. Friendly (great to see him again), tells Michael and no matter how hard he tries, he won't be able to off himself until the Island lets him. In fact, Friendly utters a familiar phrase to Micheal, "you've still got work to do" (this same phrase has been said by Tall Walt Ghost to Locke after Locke gets shot by Ben, and by Christian when he has Vincent go wake Jack up after the initial crash - the final scene shown in the "Missing Pieces" shorts. All of the messages indicate that the Island is dictating the command).
Now while Michael needed to be told that his work has yet to be done on the Island, some of other eventual survivors seem to figure it out for themselves. Take Hurley for instance. Both Abaddon and Charlie visit him while he's in the Mental Ward during a flash forward. Both inquire about the Island. Obviously Hurley feels regret for those left behind. Then, during his game of HORSE with Jack, Hurley blurts out, "I THINK IT WANTS US TO GO BACK!" Clearly, Hurley has figured out that his connection with the Island has not been severed, and that he still has work to do.
Let's look at Jack. His future story mirrors Michael's almost perfectly. While he seems fine and dandy in both Hurley and Kate's flash forwards, we know from the scenes in last year's Finale ("Through the Looking Glass"), that his life spirals out of control into an abyss of depression and addiction. Maps cover his dirty apartment, and he continually flies from LA to Sydney with the hope of crashing and returning to the Island. He even attempts suicide by standing on a ledge of a bridge until that car crash prevents him from jumping (hmmm...just like how Michael's gun wouldn't fire). Finally, Jack cries out to Kate, "WE HAVE TO GO BACK!" at the end of Season 3. Jack knows that he has also not severed his connection to the Island, and that he still has work to do.
To further argue the point, let's revisit the coffin that Jack visits at the end of Season 3. Wouldn't it be plausible that Michael is in there? It matches up: the clipping where Jack finds the obit mentions that the deceased was from NYC and had a teenage boy (check). No one showed up to the funeral (check - seeing that Michael's son and mother abandoned him and he was under a false name, not too many people would even know about his death). Kate doesn't give a shit about the death (check - Michael DID kill two innocent people and was a traitor to his own people on the Island).
Furthermore, while Friendly used the "working for us is the only way to save your friends" argument to employ Michael's services, it seems pretty clear that Michael just wanted to be able die ("I came here to die" he tells Sayid on the boat). He knew that the only way he could end his days on Earth would be to do what the Island needed him to do so that he could be free from its grasp. Well, if that's him in the coffin it seemed like it worked. And I think Jack realized just that as he stood over his coffin. He knew that in order to relinquish the power the Island had over him he needed to go back. Again, he knows that he "still has work to do."
What that work is, who knows. All of this sometimes leads me to believe that Ben is actually "one of the good guys." Consider the following: the Island is being attacked. It seems more and more likely that the Oceanic 6 made some super shady deal to get off the Island and left innocent people back there to die (or at least we can assume that it was pretty shady cause the guilt is hittin' them pretty hard). Jack hasn't necessarily been wearing the "Hero" tag lately, and from what we can tell right now, Widmore is doing all he can to get back to the Island and kill everyone on it. Ben is using Michael as a mole on the boat, but instead of just having him blow up the ship (effectively ending Widmore's mission), he instead instructs him to make up yet another list so that the innocent are saved. In Sayid's flash forward we are led to believe that he kills for Ben so that he can protect those still living on the Island. All of these moves do kind of support Ben's rationale of being "one of the good guys."
But then Ben goes and kills Karl and Rousseau, for little to no reason. He doesn't seem to like Karl cause he's screwing his daughter (and might get her preggo, which would be a bad thing considering the death rate with people who get pregnant on the Island), and he has no real reason to kill Rousseau...other than regaining control over his daughter. But don't bet on Rousseau REALLY being dead. I see her healing up just fine Locke style and then really starting to F shit up. That'll be fun. So Ben's actions again confound us. He's manipulating the audience just as much as everyone else. Which is probably why I think he's the best character on the show.
One final note about Sayid. Did it not seem very out of character to turn Michael in? Sure Michael betrayed them all and killed two innocent people. But it's not like Sayid is some angel. He, more than anyone, should understand that sacrifice is necessary to save the ones you love (let's not forget that he killed an "innocent" guard and his army friend when he facilitated Nadia's escape in Iraq). And of course we know that he eventually starts working for Ben in the future, which makes his anger for Michael's employment that much more ironic.
But let' s think about his maneuver for a second. Maybe this has all been planned out. Remember in "The Economist" (Sayid's flash forward episode) when he was alone with Ben in the rec room for a spell after Locke and the others captured them? I had suggested (as have others) that we didn't see the full conversation that those two had, and that it was possible that it was at that point that Ben and Sayid's "alliance" began. So if that is the case, Sayid's actions in last week's episode could be explained in the following way:
Ben knows that Michael's position has probably been compromised on the boat (it's just a matter of time before they figured him out, and as I mentioned above, the Captain didn't seem too surprised when Sayid turned him in). Therefore, he'll need a fresh face to act as his man on the boat. Enter Sayid. He gets on the boat and starts asking questions. Soon enough, he's got a hold on what's going on. And in a final act to gain the trust of the crew and Captain, he turns in the former mole, who's time was pretty much up anyways. Boom, Sayid gains trust on the boat, and Ben's got a new mole. Sound crazy? Probably. Possible? Definitely.
Regardless, we have 5 weeks to think about it. I know I didn't touch on some stuff (Libby's appearance, the question of how Miles got that grenade out of his mouth, etc), but I think that's all I got for now. Enjoy the break and gear up for the final 5 episodes of season 4!
One Easter Egg: some people think that the guy in the bed next to Michael's (after his failed suicide attempt) was Alvar Hanso. Not sure myself, but certainly worth mentioning: