OK, mini-recap time. I thought this was a pretty good episode, as all Ben-centric episodes are. I had ONE problem with the episode, but more on that below. There was a lot in this episode, so this post may be a bit longer than normal, so away we go, somewhat how the episode unfolded:
*One question from last week's episode, "What Happened, Happened," was what exactly did Richard mean when taking the injured Little Ben about Ben "not having any memory of this." Would Ben not remember the injury, or more of his past? At first, I thought this was answered pretty plainly when Little Ben asked the young (and dashing!) Charles Widmore what happened to him [Ben]. He clearly didn't remember how he was injured, but he did reference his father when protesting that he didn't want to return to Dharmaville. However, later in the episode, adult Ben, upon seeing the Dharma Class of 1977 photo, asked if Jack, Kate and Hurley were in the Dharma Initiative, not remembering them from his past. Now granted, I'm 31, and really don't remember that much from when I was 13 or so. Then again, I do remember people I spent every day of my life with at that time. Then again again, Jack, Kate and Hurley were only back in Dharmaville for a couple of days when Little Ben was shot and taken to the Temple. I guess I'm still as confused as I was before.
*I took pretty much everything Ben said in this episode as telling the truth (an absolutely ridiculous position to take, I know). I think he was really surprised Locke was alive despite his belief he would be "resurrected." This was a nice allusion to his telling of the Doubting Thomas story in "316." Further, I believe he did think he was going to be judged for Alex's death, although he may have had alternative reasons for heading back to the Island (to gain back his position of power). And I think Ben is actually sorry for shooting Desmond (see below). Why else blurt this out to Sun as he was about to meet Smokey?
*I LOVED how Ben dealt with Caesar by sowing seeds of doubt about Locke. Well, what I really liked was Michael Emerson's delivery of these lines by deftly making the manipulation blatant to us, but not so much that it would be unbelievable Caesar would listen to him and not be wary. Lost will probably never win another Emmy, as it has probably become too weird for Emmy voters, but should it ever be so lucky, Michael Emerson should definitely win. Oh, and for what it's worth, I really don't think Caesar is dead. Great scene though: was Lost making fun of John McCain's constant use of "my friends?" You be the judge!
*If there was anything that we learned about Ben this week, it is that he has a soft spot for mothers and children. Obviously, mothers and children have been a major thrust of the series (e.g. Claire/Aaron/Kate; Sun/Ji Yeoh; Rousseau/Alex; Mothers dying while pregnant; Ben/Mrs. Linus, Juliet's raison d'etre), but the fact that Ben was so motivated by the fact that he never knew his mother was still somewhat surprising to me. He was motivated enough to disobey a direct order from Widmore, the leader of the people that "saved" him. However, this ended up being the challenge to Widmore that heralded Ben's replacement of Widmore as head of the Others. By the way, nice parallel to Locke's later challenge to Ben's leadership of the Others, epitomized by the fabulous direction of Locke sitting in Ben's chair and kicking up his feet on Ben's desk. Having studied directing (albeit theater directing), I love stuff like this. It's subtle, but it shows Locke's displacement of Ben, which was later hammered home when Alex appeared to Ben and told him in no uncertain terms that Locke was the leader now and that Ben must be obedient. Brilliant! This must have really stung Ben, as he admitted to not being able to follow someone else.
*The whole calling of Smokey scene at Ben's house had some interesting stuff going on. First, what are Locke's ideas for getting folks in Dharmaville back to the present? Sun was certainly interested to hear, and so was I for that matter. What was with the drain stopper Ben released to "call" Smokey? It didn't really seem to do anything as Smokey was under the Temple. Weird. Weirder, where did Locke go off to in the woods? To actually call Smokey? It did lead to probably the best line of the episode: in telling Sun to wait in the house, Ben stated that was about to come out of the woods was "something that I can't control." Then out came Locke! Great stuff.
*Fantastic to see Desmond again, if only for a minute. Now, Doc Jensen has questioned how Desmond survived the "point blank shooting" administered by Ben. I didn't think this was that hard to believe. The milk that exploded from the bullet was clearly covering Desmond's right arm. Then, when Desmond pummels Ben, he does so only with his left hand, and only gingerly uses his right to throw Ben in the water. Did the Island mess with Ben's shot? Probably, as we've been told the Island isn't "done" with Desmond yet. But, I don't think we need to get into a tizzy about how Des could have survived.
*Ilana clearly has a crew, and clearly wanted to be on the Island. Methinks arresting Sayid was just a reason to be on the plane. Likely, she also knew that Oceanic 815 needed to be reconstructed as close to possible, and that Ajira 316 was going to go through the appropriate window. As far as "what lies in the shadow of the statue?" I have no idea. It did make me think of one of the best lines in the movie Ghostbusters: 'Ray, when someone asks you if you're a god, you say 'Yes!'" I am very interested to see what Ilana has planned.
*OK, there I was, totally enjoying the episode. Ben starts getting engulfed by Smokey, and then, all of a sudden, the CHEESIEST EFFECTS EVER happened. I don't know if they didn't have time, or it was a director's decision or what, but the flashbacks looked absolutely ridiculous. Where were the flashes Mr. Eko saw? It just totally pulled me out of what was going on. That was one of the biggest "fails" I have seen on the show. Still better than Nikki and Paolo though.
*What kind of aesthetician did the Others have in the jungle? Between Widmore's flowing locks in 1977, Richard's guy-liner and well-coiffed head of hair (except as seen in Season 3's "The Man Behind the Curtain." Are we ever going to get an explanation of why Richard looked so, well, dirty?), I expected to see a salon chair or two in camp. And where did they get a horse?
*We did learn that the whispers do come from the Others, and are somewhat of a warning.
*Was that the "Hurley" bird stuffed behind Ben's desk? I think so.
*Locke told Sun not to worry, that he was "the same man I have always been." As if that is supposed to somehow assure her!
*Any irony that Penny named her son the same name that her despised father has? I know, I know, Charlie Hume is named for Charlie Pace, but isn't it ironic? Dontcha think?
*Interesting tidbit that all we have seen is the wall protecting the Temple, and not the Temple itself. I assume (and hope) we will see it at some point. Ben said that "we" built the wall to protect the Temple. By "we" does he mean literally he was involved? If so, why all the hieroglyphics and aged look to the wall? Or did he just mean "we" as in the royal we = the Others in general?
*There was a depiction of Smokey with the Egyptian god Anubis. I initially assumed the depiction was one of partnership -- Smokey helping Anubis usher the dead to the Underworld. This would make sense as we saw the full Anubis statue in "LaFleur," and all of the hieroglyphics around/under the Temple, near the Frozen Donkey Wheel, and on the door in Ben's secret room in his house. When I rewatched the episode, it seemed possible that the picture showed Smokey in opposition to Anubis. Not exactly sure what that would mean, but just throwing out the possibility.
Anyway, that's all for now. Again, I thought it was a pretty great episode, with a whole hunk of information. We have a new episode this Wednesday, "Some Like it Hoth." This will be a Miles-centric episode. Then there is no new episode on April 22. Boo! I'll be back tomorrow or Wednesday with a preview of "Some Like it Hoth." As always, read Erika and Doc Jensen's recaps for much more insight.