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The Tail End: One Castaway Learns the Cost of Living on "Lost"

Poor Mr. Eko. He just never saw it coming. And while I suspected that Eko might not make it through his injuries after the polar bear attack, I never once thought that this would be the way he would go. And with his passing, it nearly closes the book on the Tailies altogether, except for Bernard, who hasn't really been in the series much lately. Sniffle. I miss Eko already.

I try to stay 100% spoiler-free about Lost at all times. Sometimes that's difficult when the ABC promo department works overtime to alert everyone with a television that a character is going to die on Lost. But in this case, I have to say that they actually managed to not put Eko's death into any of their promos and that's a really wonderful thing. I hate knowing if/when a character is going to die as it robs the show of that suspension and tension, not to mention the ultimate reveal, if you're counting the minutes down to the episode's finale. So why then would columnists like Whitney Matheson at USA Today's Pop Candy write a post entitled, "Who Dies on Lost Tonight?" Well, gee, Whit, for those of us who had managed to make it through the week without knowing that, thanks for ruining the surprise right in the very title of your post on the day of the episode's transmission. Am I alone in wanting to preserve the sanctity of Lost?

Anywho, last night's episode of Lost ("Cost of Living") brought us more than a few revelations and some surprises as well as we gear up for next week's fall season finale (and then 13 or so weeks until the series returns in February). This week's installment follows Eko as he is forced to confront the hallucination (or apparition) of his dead brother Yemi, whose presence seems to connect several storylines on the island. Curiously, Yemi was aboard that Nigerian drug-running plane that crashed into the jungle before the castways, which Locke and Boone discovered in Season One. Boone discovered the plane's radio, used it, and managed to make a connection with Bernard and the Tailies, right before the plane came crashing out of the canopy and killed Boone. (Was he really the sacrifice the island demanded?) In Season Two, it led Locke and Eko to the location of the Pearl, hidden beneath the plane, and its orientation film, and the corpse of Yemi inside the plane. So it's no coincidence that this week Eko heads back to the plane crash site and Locke and a group of Losties head out to the Pearl.

What it a fevered hallucination when Yemi appeared to Eko in the hut in the episode's teaser? Or the island? And who dropped the match that stared the blaze? Fortunately, Charlie and Hurley are able to pull Eko to safety, but it's rather disconcerting to think that something started the blaze. And when Locke runs over to see what's going on, Eko has disappeared into the jungle... heading towards the Pearl.

Elsewhere on the island, Ben invites Jack to attend Colleen's funeral, a somber affair in which she's given a Viking send-off and everyone wears cultish white linen tunics. But before they head out, Jack confronts Ben about the spinal x-rays he saw and says that Ben doesn't have long to live unless Jack operates on what is a very aggressive tumor. Ben is shocked and pretends to not know what Jack is talking about, but it's clear that Jack has hit a (pardon the pun) a nerve. (I'm glad that the x-rays belong to Ben and not, as some have surmised, Juliet.) So it was Ben's plan all along to break Jack down and convince him to perform the surgery -- and have him WANT to perform the surgery -- in order to save his own life. And Juliet? Well, she was brought in to help with that conditioning, especially as she bears a striking resemblance to Jack's ex-wife (which I've often thought was deliberate). Ben angrily confronts Juliet, demanding to know why she told Jack, but Juliet shrugs it off, saying that she didn't tell Jack, but she's sure that Ben just did. So we know why Ben needed Jack -- and that he believes in fate/God as two days after learning of his cancer a spinal surgeon literally fell out of the sky -- but what role do Kate and Sawyer play in this game? Are they merely window dressing or is there something else going on?

Part of that something else might have to do with the fact that relations between Ben and Juliet are continuing to fracture. I absolutely loved the scene in which Juliet wheeled the TV next to Jack's plexiglass cell and said she was putting on To Kill a Mockingbird only to instead play a video of her holding up cue cards that contradicted everything she was saying for the surveillance camera's benefit. Namely that Ben is extremely dangerous and that some of the others (well, Others) want a change and they want Ben dead, but it needs to look like an accident. Jack will perform the complicated spinal surgery and make it look as though he tried to save Ben's life but instead will have him die on the operating table.

I was blown away by this twist which I did not see coming. Can we trust Juliet? Is she really trying to gain power over the Others by killing Ben? Or is this another one of Ben's Machiavellian mind games to see if Jack will take the bait and try to kill him in cold blood or follow his Hypocratic oath to do no harm? I'm not entirely sure, but Juliet just got a hell of a lot more savvy this week with this maneuver. Her words were so rehearsed, so intended for Ben, that each cue card was more and more shocking in their "honesty" than the previous one. Will Jack take the bait? Is Juliet playing him? Why is Ben so dangerous and why do they follow him?

The Lost Flashback of the Week belongs to Eko, naturally, and we're able to glean a little more about his past as we're presented with some tidbits from the days immediately following Yemi's departure. Eko is mistaken as a priest by the local military and he continues this ruse, taking Yemi's place at the local church and fulfilling the obligations of priesthood for his village. But his presence conflicts immediately with a local warlord who demands 80% of Red Cross aid in exchange for "protection." Eko in turn sells the vaccine on the black market himself and then, when confronted by the warlord, kills him and his men right in the church as they beg for mercy. (No one messes with Mr. Eko.) The villagers are terrified by him and board up the church, saying that it is not sacred anymore, and Eko flies to London to take Yemi's place and continue his priestly "studies." Eko is all about survival (as when he breaks into a church storeroom as a child to feed a hungry Yemi or when he shoots the man in an earlier flashback in order to save Yemi's life) and redemption, but I wish that we could have figured out why exactly Eko was in Australia and why he was flying to Los Angeles, dressed not as a priest but as a businessman in a well-cut suit. Will this ever be addressed? I've been wondering about this for months now.

Locke takes a group of castaways, including Sayid, Desmond, and new characters Nikki and Paulo (who have done nothing so far except irritate me to no end), to the Pearl, where he hopes to rendezvous with Eko, whom he believes is heading to the plane crash. I loved the fact that Locke has stepped up as a leader of the castaways again, all be it with a very different leadership method: while Jack orders everyone around and only confides in an inner circle, Locke opens up the excursion to anyone who would like to go. Nikki (Kiele Sanchez) jumps at the opportunity, against the wishes of Paulo (Rodrigo Garcia), despite his constant complaints that they're left out in the cold.

Naturally, they come across Eko just as he confronts the reappearance of that creepy black cloud, which seems a hell of a lot more malevolent and large this time around. Eko's hallucinations have turned extremely unnerving: murder victims that Eko dispatched, Yemi, the altar boy from the church; all of them demand that Eko confess his sins. (Interesting that last time the cloud seemed to scan Eko's mind and produced images of Yemi which it now uses against him.) Eko stares it down and it quickly takes off... because he proved himself again? Or because Locke and the group show up? Curious. And did anyone else think of Walt's creepy appearance to Shannon in Season Two when Daniel, the altar boy, said, "Shhh"? You know, right before she died?

Eko is shocked to discover that, while the plane is still sealed up, Yemi's corpse is gone. Who could have taken it? (Or, rather, what?) It's especially curious since corpses on this island seem to vanish regularly. Where, for example, is Christian's corpse, missing since Season One?

Down in the Pearl, Locke hopes to use the computer to communicate with the other stations and make a connection with the Others, but Desmond says that all of the Pearl's communications are one-way. They watch the orientation video again, which talks about the Dharma Initiative's other experiments on the island. Nikki wonders what all of the television monitors are for and Desmond is tasked with rebooting the feeds to see if they can get an image on one of them. Sure enough, they do... and see a station filled with computer equipment like that in the Swan. And then it gets really trippy when a man steps into the frame, a man with an eye patch and a terrifying gaze. (Even though I saw it in the previews from last week, I still gasped when it happened.) Whoever this one-eyed guy is (remember the glass eye the Tailies found?), he's got to be a the Station of the Flame as it's the only one the castaways have yet to encounter. We know that there are six stations and we've already seen the Swan, the Hydra, the Arrow, the Staff, and the Pearl, so that leaves only the Flame, which appeared rather close by on the homemade map in the hatch.

Meanwhile, Eko follows another manifestation of Yemi, this time covered in ash and soot, to a beautiful field where Yemi asks Eko to confess his sins. But Eko says simply that he will not ask for forgiveness, because he does not think he has sinned; what he did, he did to survive and nothing more (a common theme on this series, me thinks). "Yemi" is not pleased and says that Eko is talking to him as though he is his brother. (That gave me shivers.) And when he follows after him, the black cloud gathers (that clicking noise gives me the willies) and coalesces into an enormous elephantine shape which picks up Eko with its "trunk" (it later seems to take the shape of a fist as well) and begins savagely bashing him against the trees and dragging him.

Locke claims that the first time he saw the "monster" (let's call it Cerebus), it was a beautiful white light, but he seems to have forgotten that the second time he encountered it (in the Season One finale), it nearly dragged him to his death. Eko meanwhile only says that that was not what he saw. (Hmmm, one side is light and one is dark, eh?) While the energy crackle and visual ghosting might not be present this time, Cerebus is just as scary. It lifts Eko up into the canopy (just like the pilot in the, er, pilot) and then smashes him down against the ground, crushing him, before dissipating back into the jungle. Locke and the others rush over to Eko, but it's too late for him and poor Mr. Eko dies after whispering a warning to Locke: it will come for them next. It's a chilling premonition of things to come and a haunting message that each of our beloved castaways will have to repent or pay the ultimate price.

Next week on Lost ("I Do"), it's the fall season finale as ABC tortures us with nearly 13 weeks of Lost withdrawal. Jack comes to a decision about Ben's offer (he'll free him if he successfully operates), Kate and Sawyer finally get it on, Pickett attempts to kill Sawyer, and Locke discovers a secret message that could unlock the island's mysteries. Damon and Carlton promised a doozy of a cliffhanger and this episode looks to be it.

What's On Tonight

8 pm: Survivor: Cook Islands (CBS); My Name is Earl/The Office (NBC); Smallville (CW); Ugly Betty (ABC); 'Til Death/Happy Hour (FOX); Desire (MyNet)

9 pm: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (CBS); Deal or No Deal (NBC); Supernatural (CW); Grey's Anatomy (ABC); The O.C. (FOX); Fashion House (MyNet)

10 pm: Shark (CBS); ER (NBC); Six Degrees (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

8 pm: My Name is Earl.

On tonight's episode ("Made Lady Think I Was God"), Earl disguises himself as God, while Joy needs to improve her image. First stop: getting that pesky restraining order against her lifted.

8:30 pm: The Office.

On tonight's episode ("Diwali"), Michael and the gang take racial insensitivity to a new low when they're invited to celebrate Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights by Kelly (Mindy Kaling), who is eager to introduce Ryan to her parents, in this episode written by Kaling.

Comments

Jon said…
Granted, I didn't rewind and replay to confirm, but it sure sounded like Eko's last words were "He's not my brother." If so, then either Locke lied, or there was a script change ....
Anonymous said…
I have to say - I was completely surprised by his death. I am SO happy I had no idea it was coming. Also, kudos to the ABC promo machine for keeping it under wraps.

Honestly, when Ben made that "striking resemblance" comment, all three of us watching went, "Huh?" I really don't think EM looks strikingly like JB.

Cue card video scene was fantastic. What a great twist!

re: Nikki and Paulo. They are totally useless so far. Or, as my friend Karri said every time they spoke last night, "Shut up, extra"

I'd forgotten about eye patch man as well, so definitely a shock. I still think he looks like Clancy Brown.
Eye Patch Man was as scary as the new characters were boring.

I am really going to miss Eko. He and Locke were my favorites!
Anonymous said…
Eko's story seemed like a very unceremonious end to a great character. What's more, it seemed that they totally betrayed who they built Eko to be. Eko DID believe he was a sinner. As I recall, he hated killing the Others he dispatched, even though it was for survival. He had turned from a soulless killer to someone with an unshakable faith. Yet all that went away in last night's episode.

His hallucinations were retreads of other times the castaways followed ghosts through the jungle...

Really, instead of screwing with the very good backstory they had, they should've answered your questions about Australia and the flight to LA.

It would have been nice to see Eko as someone unafraid to die, with faith that he is indeed forgiven... It would have been good to see him concerned for his fellow castaways, instead of just saying "You're next." In fact, it would've been cool if he told Locke to finish the church...

Ugh. I don't know what's going on over there in Lostland. It really seems they're tripping over their own feet.
Me said…
.. and new characters Nikki and Paulo (who have done nothing so far except irritate me to no end)..

Amen!

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