Monday, April 28, 2008

Season 4, Episode 9: "The Shape of Things to Come"

Well, with a title like that, we knew that this one had to be a keeper, but wow - what a way to come back from a 4 week hiatus! This episode certainly seemed to act like a significant turning point for the series. The "rules" have been changed, and for many, the future seems as uncertain as ever. Let's look at the show in a couple parts, starting with the Ben's flash forward.

Winter in the Desert

So the first thing many of you probably noticed after Ben woke up in the middle of the desert was that 1) he was wearing a winter parka with the name "Halliwax" on it, and 2) he had a breath of cold air escape his the desert.

Well, before we get to the details, I think you need to view this unearthed Dharma orientation clip below, which will at least answer who Halliwax is and may also shed light as to how Ben found himself dropped into the middle of the Tunisian desert, seemingly out of nowhere.

So our old friend, Dr. Marvin Candle (and apparently now - Dr. Edgar Halliwax) is back and he's introducing new Dharma workers to the (yet to be seen on the show) Orchid Station. But this station has nothing to do with botany. No, instead the Orchid seems to specialize in sending cute little bunnies through time and space (and later graduating to Polar Bears apparently...that Bear that Charlotte found in - yes, Tunisia - is not so mysterious after all). Interesting.

This video was actually released prior to Season 4's premiere, but only now does it fully make sense. Flash forward (no pun intended) to Ben's awakening in the Desert and we see that he's swiped Dr. Halliwax's jacket and possibly took off through time and/or space. But why the cold breath? Could the station be located somewhere separate from the in the Arctic Circle (where Penny's search party was)? Or is time travel just really cold? And did anyone catch that he threw up some nasty orange substance after waking up? Well, remember what Ethan made Juliette drink before they left on their long trek to the Island? That's right, some sort of Orange drink that put her out for the "bumpy ride ahead." I guess it takes more than a DeLorean and flux capaciter to travel through time these days.

But really, if you think about it, Ben has always been a step or two ahead of everyone else throughout the show. He always seems to know what will happen. Could that be because, well, he DOES know what is going to happen cause he's seen it happen in the future already? I'm not sure if I believe this theory entirely (cause then he should have known that Alex was going to die), but it's worth keeping in mind. Especially since we now know that there is a Dharma station devoted to some sort of time travel.

But getting back to the Desert, Ben seemed to know where he was going. He's even a preferred guest at the Tunisian Inn and confirmed that it is, in fact, October 24 2005, a good 10 months ahead of our Island Time, which is probably right around January 2005 at this point (but as you'll see below, who the F really knows). He finds Sayid and we know what happens from there...Sayid falls for his bait so hard it's not even funny. Now, I don't see a ton of people agreeing with this, but I think it's pretty clear that Ben had Nadia killed. Whether or not it was actually that creepy bald dude who did it (probably not), Ben knew how to manipulate Sayid and he executed that plan to perfection. It's possible that he didn't have her killed, and just saw an opportunity to rope Sayid into his web via her unconnected death, but I doubt it. Things don't necessarily happen randomly on this show (emphasis on "necessarily"). But the bottom line is that Sayid is PISSED. Like, shoot a guy with a full clip (and more if he could) pissed. No wonder Ben wants him on his side.

Ben and Widmore

So Ben continues his bad ass streak (who knew?), by dawning his best Neo from the Matrix outfit and breaking into Widmore's crib unannounced.

This showdown, which seemed to be happening much earlier in the series than expected, was where we see that the show may be taking a turn. Ben announces that while he can't kill Widmore ("we both know that's not possible"), he's going after Penny. And Widmore, drinking whisky to avoid the nightmares that plague him, tells him that Alex's death was his fault, and creepily adds, "I know who you are, boy." The war is on, and the game of Risk that Hurley, Locke, and Sawyer were playing at the show's opening is coming to life this very room. But the rules have apparently changed. And the "Shape of things to Come" may be just the opposite of what Ben is used to: uncertainty. Ben always knows what's going to happen next, but not this time. Alex is dead, and now Ben has become unhinged. He seems to be playing a card out of Sayid's deck and is striving to exact revenge rather than protect the Island, his usual goal/excuse. Maybe that was Widmore's play all along. Ben is distracted, and now he's got an opening to claim what was once apparently his.

And what about that statement? Was Widmore a part of the initial Dharma Initiative? Or, rather, was he connected to descendants of the Black Rock? I tend to think that the latter makes more sense (seeing that he snatched up that Diary at the auction), but regardless I think it's safe for us to assume that Widmore has both been to the Island and has dealt with Ben before. This cozy bedroom meeting definitely did not seem to be their first.

And finally, why can't they just kill each other already? Well, some tend to think that like Michael, neither of them CAN be killed. The Island won't allow it. But what about this...what if they are each other's Constant? That kind of makes sense, in a wierd, frenemy kind of way...

Island Scenes - Dr. Dead Body and the Return of an Old Friend

Alright, so I touched on some of the Island scenes already, but the most important (and confusing) revelation of this week's show was the freighter Doctor washing up on shore. However, later when Bernard correctly decodes the Morse Code we find out that the Doctor is alive and well on the boat. what's the story here? Well, it could be that the Freighter folks are lying. Simple enough, and easy to believe given the shady freighter characters we've met already. OR, it could be that the Doctor is in fact alive on the boat and that he hasn't been killed.....yet. We know that in past episodes that Freighter time has been ahead of the Island time (as exhibited by Daniel's rocket and by the night/day Helicopter trip and probably more). But is it possible that now the Island is ahead of the Freighter? I certainly don't think we can rule that out given that the idea of "Time" has been all over the place this season. After all, as Daniel puts its, "when is a relative term." So by that theory, it is possible that the murder of the Doc hasn't happened on the boat when he washes up on shore.

But wait, there's more! What about that freshly (and badly, I might add) stitched up wound on his face when they pulled him from the water? Well, turns out that the last time we saw him on the boat that same wound was already healing! So that means that the Doc must have been killed a good while ago, since the stitches indicate that the wound had just recently happened. Could the Island be THAT far ahead? And how could we have seen the Doc all stitched up in other Freighter scenes, but still alive? Could there be TWO versions of the Doc? Hey, looking back at the Orchid video there were two #15 bunnies in the same room. Oh Lost, how you wreck my brain. I'll leave this one up to you guys.

And how about that other Island event, what was it? Oh yeah, the part where Ben takes off to his secret place, goes through a creepy Heiroglyphic door to call his old pal the Smoke Monster, so that Smokie can unleash the fury on all the bad guys in what is arguably the coolest Lost scene to date. Right, that one.

So I guess we learn that Ben can in some way control the beast, but I'm still not convinced that he knows all that much about it. And I certainly don't think he or Dharma created it. While he was able to call upon it, I think that the Smoke acted on its own to kill who it thought was detrimental to the Island's well being (read: mercenaries with rockets and guns). And the fact that the old looking stone glyph door seemed to lead to an already existing tunnel, I would assume that the Smoke is more related to the four toed statue than it is to Ben and Dharma. But who knows, all I know that it was nice to see him kicking ass again. And I loved how one of the dudes tried to shoot it....dude, it's a Smoke're dead.

Well, I think that's it for this week...these things seem to get longer and longer as it is. Sorry about that, but there is just too much going on. Chime in on anything I missed below, and see you again next week!