"The fact that John Locke is walking around this Island scares the hell out of me."
As good as this season has been of late, I do think it's suffered a bit from the lack of Ben, Locke, Desmond and Daniel. And given that a few of the best episodes of the entire series were pretty much all Ben vs. Locke, this one was pretty much guaranteed to be a classic by default.
And while I think it lived up to its hype in general, I kind of wanted a bit more. I also thought the Smokey special effects were a bit weak, didn't you, especially when it came out of the hole ridden slab? I mean, remember how Smokey appeared to Eko in the 23rd Psalm - that was a top notch effect. When he came out of the hole it looked kinda... well, fake and cheesy, I thought. But Ben and Locke were fabulous and we had a lot of holes filled in Ben's past:
1) One of the main areas of contention between Charles and Ben was 1) Ben's decision to let Alex (and Danielle) live and 2) Charles having Penny off-Island with another woman. The former was an odd, rare moment of compassion by Ben that, granted, may not have been motivated entirely by pity, given that he may have coveted Alex to raise as his own.
2) However, it was this act that also caused him to spare Penny's life (which, in turn, may have caused Smokey to spare Ben's).
3) Charles Widmore appears to have been banished shortly after the Purge in 1992, given Alex's age. So did Charles order the Purge himself or was it Ben's idea? Seems strange that Charles would order the catalytic event that ended up with Ben taking control. And it seems Ben was hanging out with the Others quite a bit, pre-Purge, given that he stole Alex (with Ethan, no less) in 1988. Interesting, too, that Danielle would almost certainly have recognized Ben when she captured him and turned him over to Sayid. You would think she would have said something along the lines of "this is the man who stole my daughter."
4) Did Ben really kill Ceasar? Honestly, his character has been kind of Paolo-esque, but WTF? Seems there's a lot more to Ilana than I first thought, eh? Either that or she's gone insane.
5) Ben does not seem to have killed Desmond. In fact, Ben gets his ass kicked by Desmond. I was genuinely (and happily) surprised at the outcome of that scene. And what did Penny mean when she said "my father and I have no relation whatsoever?" Does that mean she's not related to Charles? She's certainly wasn't born on the Island, though. That seems definitive.
6) Ben, in his own words, wasn't supposed to return to the Island. As punishment, it seems that he now has to follow John Locke around like a puppy dog. Good entertainment potential there.
7) Ben seemed to confirm the Others were behind The Whispers. He certainly seemed to know what they were. I always thought they were from a DHARMA remote viewing station that the Others took over, but given that Ben told Danielle this pre-Purge makes me think the Temple might have that ability instead.
The questions this week are going to take a bit more of a philosophical, speculative turn than usual...
1) Is Jacob really the Island itself?
I've lone thought that Jacob was the "god" of the Island, but Richard (I think) in the very beginning of the episode seemed to insinuate that Jacob and the Island were one and the same. Perhaps this isn't really a new thought, but if Jacob is the Island itself, it seems to make a bit more sense to me, especially in how it seems to communicate through the dead bodies that land on him.
Plus it makes sense that when any of the Others say they're doing things "for Jacob" or that something is "what Jacob wants" is really doing it for the Island itself. It also gives new meaning to several things, like when Jacob told Locke to "help me" and The Discharge (and possibly the Incident). Is that why Jacob needs help? Is he hurt?
I know this is just semantics to an extent, but I think it really changes the way we think about things. Including...
2) So how is Locke alive again?
The Island obviously wanted him alive, but as Ben said "dead is dead." Now of course we've seen Christian, Yemi, Charlie, Claire and Alex all wandering around and talking at various points. Some of these (Yemi, Charlie and Alex) were obviously Smokey taking their form. Claire could very possibly be Smokey as well.
But Christian seems to be something else entirely. If the Island can bring Locke back to life (and it does seem like it's really Locke and not Smokey Locke or Zombie Island Locke), then can the Island do it to anyone else? And obviously the parallels between Locke and Christian can't be dismissed. Both of them came to the Island in a coffin brought by Jack and both are now walking around and acting pretty much like their former selves ("say hi to my son for me"), i.e. not like the Monster pretending to be someone.
So the question has to be asked, if Christian is really and truly alive, is Jack responsible for bringing them both back to life? He is a doctor, a saver of lives, - it's pretty much what he's done all is life, right?
3) So now what is Smokey?
Well, he doesn't appear to be Anubis, given that the mural above the holes showed Smokey appearing before Anubis himself. Here's the image from Dark UFO:
Could that be Ammit, as I speculated last week? Smokey's head looks vaguely animal-ish, I suppose. But it's hard to say anything except that he doesn't appear to be Anubis. But perhaps he's not really one of the Egyptian gods, but rather a tool of them? Perhaps he's really just Anubis' way of "judging" people?
But if that's true, then is the Island, and by extension, Jacob, really Anubis, then? Perhaps we'll get this answer when we find out...
4) What lies in the shadow of the statue?
This was the weirdest scene of the entire episode. So is there more to Ilana than what we saw in Sayid's flashback or were she and the others possessed in the same way Danielle's crew was possessed? Is she really an Other?
And what does lie in the shadow of the statue? Does the Smokey tile mean that the statue itself is of Anubis? I think it's a stronger possibility than before, but remember that Anubis is the god of the underworld (where Ben and Locke were exploring). Let's see who's worshipped in the Temple above Anubis first.
I'm also very relieved she didn't kill Frank. :P
5) Where does Locke go from here?
He seems to be getting some instruction now on where to go and what to do (had he ever been to the Temple before, I don't think so). Now he's got a subservient Ben in tow and a Sun who needs to get thirty years into the past. Supposedly Locke's going to help her do that. How? The Orchid again? Or will they finally enter the above ground Temple?
Sadly it looks like we won't get this answer next episode. Fortunately, we get something even better: Miles!
* Did anyone else think the young-ish Charles Widmore didn't look like either of his younger or older counterparts?
* I loved it when Locke walked behind Ben's desk in The Hydra and put his feet up. :)
* Also loved the Risk game still out in Ben's house.
* I liked the method of summoning the Monster with the icky drain.
* The Others' huts looked a lot like the fake huts where the Others kept Michael (the ones Sayid later found)
* Other quote contenders this episode:
"I'm going back to be judged"
"We don't have a name for it, but I believe you call it The Monster"
"If everything you've done has been in the best interest of the Island, then I'm sure the Monster will understand"
"This gentleman and I are taking this boat.
Anyone else have a problem with that?"
"When you hear "The Whispers," run the other way"
"Find Desmond Hume and tell him I'm sorry."
"I did kill Alex"
* Interesting that the Monster's door was in Alex's room
* Young Ben had really nice hair. Charles too. :)
Ben and Locke, Locke and Ben. 4.8/5.0 - it only loses a couple points for some poor Smokey effects and bad casting of the young-ish Charles. Otherwise a terrific episode and it looks like next week we finally get one of Miles! Woo hoo!