Lost: “The Shape of Things to Come”

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Welcome back, smoke monster. We missed you. Oh yeah, and we missed you too, show.

When we last left Lost in March:

-Alex (current Maroon 5 video chick Tania Raymonde), her boo Karl (Blake Bashoff) and the mother she just recently discovered, Danielle Rousseau (Mira Furlan), were ambushed while hiding from the freighties.

-Ben ordered his spy on Charles Widmore’s freighter—a suicidal, in-over-his-head Michael—to sabotage the radio room equipment and the engines to prevent the vessel from reaching the island.

(Spoilers after the jump)

The first of the six remaining episodes of Lost‘s fourth season cleared up the following:

-I thought Ben set a trap for Alex, Karl and Danielle, maybe to prove to Widmore that he’s the bigger badass by having members of his own family executed Keyser Soze-style. It turns out Ben had no idea they were going to be ambushed. (I almost forgot that Ben has been trying to show he’s less of a monster than Widmore: “When I’m at war, I’ll do what I need to do to win, but I will not kill innocent people.”) Mercenary Martin Keamy (Kevin Durand) and his team from the freighter eliminated Karl and Danielle, then took Alex hostage and attacked Locke’s camp. Ben’s attempt to outthink Keamy backfires and the merc kills his daughter. It’s rare and quite jarring to see one of Ben’s mind games blow up in his face so spectacularly. The unflappable master manipulator—who’s triumphant even when he doesn’t appear to be—has never looked so defeated and vulnerable.

-Ben is able to control the smoke monster from inside his panic room, which is also where he stashes the fake identities and passports he uses whenever he leaves the island, a copy of The Day the Clown Cried and Jimmy Hoffa’s body.

The island

The corpse of freighter doctor Ray (Marc Vann), whose throat has been slit, surfaces on the beach. On his partially damaged satphone, a curious Daniel is informed by his shipmates in Morse code that “the doctor is fine,” and the physicist is forced to lie to the 815ers about the ship’s message. He tells the lostaways that the freighter will send help to the island, but Bernard understands Morse code and points out that Daniel’s trousers have flamed up big-time. Daniel spills the truth to Jack about the freighties’ real intentions—they’re not going to rescue the survivors—and the doc, who’s been popping antibiotics to fight a “stomach bug,” loses it.

Keamy’s mercs attack the Barracks and use Alex as bait to draw out Ben, who refuses to step out and surrender. Keamy threatens to shoot Alex in 10 seconds if Ben doesn’t emerge from the house. He pretends that Alex isn’t his daughter and says she’s merely a pawn, but this fails to deter Keamy from killing Alex.

Ben retaliates by unleashing the smoke monster on Keamy’s teammates in an awesome sequence that had me applauding (much of the ass-whupping dished out by the smoke monster takes place offscreen, yet unlike Heroes, which always promises us a major battle sequence only to chicken out of it cut away from it due to budget limitations, Lost makes the sequence work). Then Ben, Locke and Hurley proceed to track down the elusive Jacob—he’s the only figure on the island who can help Ben out of his current predicament—but Sawyer has had enough of the mayhem and permanently splits from Locke’s camp, taking Miles, Claire and her baby Aaron with him back to the beach.

The flash-forwards

We see what happens when Ben time-travels to get off the island. Ben, who’s clad in a Dharma Initiative parka bearing the name “Halliwax,” can’t control where and when his traveling will take him (in this case, he winds up in the Sahara Desert and checks into a hotel room in Tozeur, Tunisia, where he learns the date is Oct. 21, 2005—nearly a year after the return of the Oceanic Six). The process leaves Ben feeling nauseated. Good thing the Lost universe doesn’t require you to time-travel butt-nekkid.

Ben, disguised as paparazzi, follows Ishmael Bakir (Faran Tahir), a Widmore employee, to Tikrit, Iraq, where Bakir is watching a funeral procession for Nadia (Andrea Gabriel), Sayid’s long-lost love. After he returned from the island, Sayid married Nadia, only to lose her to an assassin—Bakir. Sayid, who’s searching for Nadia’s killer, finds out his identity from Ben and eliminates him. The ex-soldier offers to help Ben bring Widmore down, and so begins his alliance with Ben.

In the final flash-forward, Ben breaks into Widmore’s penthouse and warns his nemesis that he’ll kill Penny as payback for Alex’s murder, which adds yet another threat to Desmond and Penny’s starcrossed romance.

Stray observations

-Brian K. Vaughan and Drew Goddard—who co-scripted one of the best eps of the season, the intriguing introduction of the freighties—also co-wrote the action-packed, bullet-riddled “The Shape of Things to Come.” Best moment of BKV/Goddard humor: another classic Lost fakeout. A Sawyer/Hurley/Locke discussion that appears to be about Ben (“We’re all going to die… He wants us to fight amongst ourselves”) turns out to be a game of Risk.

-One of the high points of Y: The Last Man was how Vaughan humanized Yorick Brown’s adversaries, from his sister Hero (who later reconciled with Yorick) to Alter Tse’elon. Vaughan does the same thing here with Ben, and the Others leader’s frozen reaction after his daughter’s demise is an Emmy-worthy bit of acting by Michael Emerson.

-Alex’s time with her batty French mother beat out the James T. Kirk/David Marcus reunion for the briefest and most abruptly interrupted reunion between parent and full-grown child ever.

-This isn’t a good year to be a teenage girl on a mythology show. First the deaf girl on Jericho gets blown away, and now Alex. Here’s hoping death awaits another girl—the annoying Captain Emo on Heroes.

-What use would a dentist like Bernard have for Morse code? Does it come in handy when a patient’s too weak to talk and he can only communicate by tapping his hand or foot?

On a scale consisting of Lost‘s cursed numbers, 4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42 (4 being the lowest, 42 being the highest)…

“The Shape of Things to Come”: 23

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