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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Commercial Interruption: Smokey and the "Lost" Time Bandits

Sometimes there's just too much television for one Channel Surfing blogger to handle.

That's when we need a break to sit back, relax and indulge in some friendly back-and-forth (via email of course, we don't actually like to speak to one another in person). With a few days to process ALL the information thrown at them, bloggers Thomas Rozwadowski and Adam Reinhard discuss "Lost's" triumphant return Thursday night and whether Iraq truly is lovely this time of year.

Thomas: Well, I'm fairly certain we can make some amendments to our Top Ten "Holy Crap!" list following "The Shape of Things to Come." The Ben-Charles Widmore confrontation at the end. The glyph door and Smokey being "dispatched" to take care of the freighter fighter squad. "He changed the rules." Sawyer having a god damned heart after all.

Please tell me you walked away satisfied from this episode, because after a five-week hiatus, I can't imagine a better push forward than "Lost" made Thursday night. It's Ben and Chaz Widmore's show from here on out, and there's a real sense of clarity that comes with "Lost's" end date, knowing that everything is finally, FINALLY going to fit this real life game of chess they're playing.

Now, I don't know exactly what Ben is alluding to when he says he can't kill Charles or if Smokey was summoned from the underground/is actually part of Ben's little teleportation (?) experiment and serves as the manifestation of course correction per whatever timeline the island is working on -- I mean, c'mon, Doc Freighter's body washing ashore couldn't be more clear. We're dealing with split timelines here. And while we might not get answers regarding everything that happened in past seasons, whatever Ben knows about Charles, Charles knows about Ben, and the subsequent manipulation of those on the island to fit their H.G. Wells-ish reshaping of humanity, well, it gives me goosebumps. And if Michael Emerson doesn't win an Emmy this year ...

Adam: I agree, this episode was a Top Ten "Holy Crap!" Moments list unto itself, and I think a real turning point for the series. Years from now, when the show is over, we'll be able to look back at Alex's death as a pivotal moment, because, as Ben himself said, the rules have been changed. Now we have Charles Bronson "Death Wish" Ben, driven over the edge by anger and grief, focusing his vengeance on killing Widmore's daughter. Would they actually kill off Penny before reuniting her with Desmond? If so, will Desmond then die without his "constant?" And oh, hey, ALEX IS DEAD NOW. Can we talk about that please? That was probably "Lost" at its most hardcore, not only killing off a likeable, innocent character, but a KID. Also, as long as Alex stayed alive, I figured Rousseau would come back, because by God there was no way the producers were going to deny me a Rousseau flashback. But Ben just had to stay in the house, and now we'll never get to see how that crazy French chick got her music box. Alas.

Overall, fantastic episode that propelled the storyline nicely while offering new and intriguing mysteries. For example, when Hurley apologized to Jack in the season premiere for going with Locke, could he maybe have meant going to Jacob's cabin? And does Ben really control Smokey, and does that mean he's responsible for every appearance the monster has made? And why did Widmore tell Ben, "Looks like you're getting more sun," when Ben lives on a frickin' tropical island? So many questions ...

Thomas: "He changed the rules." How did you interpret that comment? Ben's absolute assurance that he was in control of the entire hostage situation makes me think there's more to it than just, "I was going to play the fake daughter card and they'd walk away without calling the bluff." I don't know why. I don't know how. But changing the rules seemed to go beyond some iron-clad pact between Widmore and Ben to not harm their loved ones during this little island takeover business. It was about knowing that certain outcomes affect other outcomes -- and all of humanity potentially rests on it -- which is a time-bending construct I firmly believe in when it comes to future "Lost" storylines. Killing Alex was not supposed to be part of that bargain. Smokey made good on that. Of course, I also now picture a human chess game between two immortals, Ben and Charles, being played for all of eternity and I'm not sure if that's just my imagination running away with me or I'm reading way too much into Chaz's, "I know who you are, boy. WHAT you are," statement.

Here, here on Alex. And I thought Sawyer shooting Mr. Friendly was hardcore. So what's up with Hurley being the key to the Jacob puzzle? Do you see a potential Assassin Sayid-Desmond showdown coming when it's time to take out precious Penny? That could be nosebleedin' brilliant. Oh, and were you laughing when all those island "extras" were getting blasted during the Sawyer "Die Hard" shoot-out that led to Claire's house going kablooie? Sorry, but I had to chuckle when bandana lady was all, "I just came out to hang some clothes on the line ... akkkkkkkkk!"

Adam: The best part was how whenever Sawyer would try to warn a red-shirt to "Get inside!" or "Get down!", BLAM! they'd get one through the chest. Maybe just shut up next time, James. (Is that officially the end of the extras, by the way? Are we down to just the main characters now?)

Here's my problem with the "immortals" theory: If everyone who lives on the island -- the "hostiles," "Others," what-have-you -- are immortal, they obviously can by shot to death, since our heroes have dispatched a fair number of them now. So why did Ben tell Widmore he couldn't kill him? If Mr. Friendly could be shot dead, why couldn't Widmore? I think there's more to Ben's statement that an admission of inability.

Which brings us back to "the rules." Something about the killing of Alex completely altered the way Ben handled the armed intrusion. Once "the rules" were changed, it was perfectly OK for him to unleash freight-train Smokey. If he had done that to begin with, would he have been the rule-breaker? I don't know if I'm sold on your theory of determinism and future constructs ... but then again, I don't have a better theory, so I'll just shut up.

Thomas: I don't believe in an immortals theory, per se. It's just what I pictured in my head, particularly after the Risk reference and how Hurley said, "Australia was the key to the whole game." And even if there was some justification for Ben and Widmore not being able to die because of the island -- like Michael -- it'd have something to do with all this teleportation madness going on, being alive in one place, dead in another, that kinda thing. Geez, the look on the hotel clerk's face when Ben said he was Dean Moriarty, a preferred guest, AND THEN ASKED WHAT YEAR IT WAS. Crazy. It's all going to make sense, right?

I mean, I've read it all by this point. That Desmond and Penny are the island's Adam and Eve. That Ben rolled around in some crazy ash and balled up his rage into the Smokey killing machine. No one has pinned any reasonable explanation down -- but all roads go through Ben and Charles trying to wrestle control of the island. I don't think in Season Two when the Tallies were introduced that the writers knew that's where the show was heading. That's why I'm really digging the clarity of this plot line -- as opposed to say, Jack coming down with appendicitis this week. Yawn.

What if Ben and Charles can't pull the trigger because they're each other's constants?

Adam: Dude, Jack's appendicitis is the key to the whole series! Don't you see!? Juliet's gonna tear that appendix out, toss it into the ocean like a live grenade, and when it explodes it's gonna rip a new hole in the space/time continuum and the whole island's gonna fall into a spinning, shimmering vortex and end up in, you guessed it, the "Land of the Lost." It will be Hurley and Sleestak, together at last.

Yes, the Kerouac/"On the Road" reference was a nice touch, coming from a couple of producers who love tossing in literary allusions. And the fact that Ben didn't know what year it is would seem to be a nice hint as to the nature of his teleportation/time travel. No flux capacitor possesses he -- it's likely a more random, ballpark-figure type deal.

I'm a little bothered at the thought of the rest of the show focusing on Ben and Widmore battle-royaling it for control of the island. I haven't spent four seasons getting to know and love billionaire tycoon Chuck Widmore. And Ben was never intended to be a regular character, until the producers realized the awesomeness of Michael Emerson. I want the rest of the show to be about Jack, Locke, Kate, Sawyer, and Hugo motherflippin' Reyes, dammit!

If there's one thing from that episode we can agree on, it's this: Eating crackers makes you feel better when you're sick.

-- Thomas Rozwadowski, trozwado@greenbaypressgazette and Adam Reinhard,

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Guys, you forgot to include the startling revelation that Bernard has yet another MacGyver-like ability. Not only can Bad Bernie sharpshoot, but he also knows Morse code. I can only hope that this point in the series spurs a spinoff dramedy in which Bernard and Faraday become unlikely partners in an island casino/hospital/law firm.

Maybe for a future blog post, one of you can interview a physicist who can explain the "Casimir effect," which Halliwax/Wickmund/Candle mentions shortly before that doppelganger bunny teleports into the Orchid station. The Orchid footage is supposed to have some relevance to this season, and I'm wondering whether it might tie into the "teleporting" by Ben (who was wearing Halliwax's parka).

By Blogger Andy Behrendt, At April 30, 2008 at 2:48 PM  

I like the idea of Ben and Widdy being each other's constants and that's the reason that Ben can't kill him. The immortal idea is my least favorite idea as all I can think of is Highlander and that is not what I want the show to devolve into. But until they reveal the deal with Richard not aging, immortality is still on the table.

I was at least right on one prediction, Nadia caused Sayid to turn to Ben but it happened later than I thought it would (not on the freighter).

By Blogger Antony, At May 1, 2008 at 4:44 AM  

Well, and don't forget that Michael can't kill himself, either. But again, I think immortality is lame if it's a birthright sort of thing. I don't think that's the case with "Lost." It has something to do with shifting between times on and off island and existing in different spaces before you're supposed to. Just think about Ben telling Richard, "You do remember birthdays, don't you?" Clearly Alpert has shut down the aging process because he's not progressing with time. He'e defying it by existing in a different space.

-- Tom

By Blogger Press-Gazette blogger, At May 1, 2008 at 11:07 AM  

Amazing how simple it can be to communicate with people and have them understand a certain topic, you made my day.

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By Blogger Sarah Paul, At April 20, 2012 at 2:46 PM  

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