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The Great and Powerful Oz: Locke Meets the Man Behind the Curtain on "Lost"

Oh. My. God.

Please tell me Locke isn't dead. That Ben didn't just shoot him in the gut. That he didn't just fall in an open mass grave containing the bodies of every man, woman, and child from the Dharma Initiative on the island. Where's that super-fast healing when you need it?

I am just in complete and utter shock from last night's episode of Lost ("The Man Behind the Curtain"), which gave us more than a little glimpse into the entire life of the enigmatic Benjamin Linus and answered more than a few questions in the process. I'm still shaking hours later. (Talk about shoehorning a crescendo of reveals into a single episode. Whew!)

Locke. I have to start with Locke, because I simply cannot get that scene out of my mind. Ben has taken him to "see" Jacob and then leads him to where he "comes from," i.e., the death of the Dharma Initiative and then shoots the poor guy in the gut. I'm thinking that Alex gave him the gun just for this very eventuality, not necessarily to protect him from Jacob, but to protect him from Ben, too. I'm still not sure what Locke's game is. He obviously desperately wants to know the island's secrets but was unwilling to kill his father to do so (he enlisted Sawyer to commit murder for him), yet the Others seem to have a growing respect for him that makes me question why Ben would want to keep him down. There's a power play going on here and Tom and other, er, Others seem to want to side with Locke over Ben. After all, he is a walking miracle, a paralyzed man capable of walking, a man who looked into the eye of the island. Locke was willing to give Sawyer the evidence of Juliet's state as a "mole," but has turned his back on his fellow castaways, much like Ben did with his cohorts in the Dharma Initiative.

Still, I am delirious with worry that they've killed off one of my favorite characters, but I have a feeling that we haven't seen the last of John Locke, especially given the fact that he was able to hear Jacob for a split second... and possibly see him as well. Coincidence that both Jacob and Locke desperately meant that plea for help?

Patchy. So the Others didn't know that Mikhail was alive after all (the sonic fence was apparently not turned on to full power), nor do they appear to care very much for Mikhail, as evidenced by the fact that they turned away when Locke attacked him. Meanwhile, Naomi is definitely not working for Ben. In fact, Ben and Patchy (who seems completely loyal to Ben) seem outright frightened by the fact that there is a boat so close by to the island, that she parachuted onto the island, and that Naomi has a satellite phone with her. Still, they'll deal with her when they raid the camp to take Sun. Well, at least we know for sure that Juliet isn't working with the Others against them: she came clean to Jack ages ago about their plan and showed Sawyer the tape of Ben's instructions to take Sun. (Hmmm, did Richard just happen to let Locke take that tape?)

Jacob. Holy crap, I was screaming with horror during the scene in which Ben and Locke go to see the mysterious man behind the curtain, Jacob. (At least Ben was telling the truth in this case: there really is a Jacob, after all.) The scene initially rang of that memorable scene in Psycho, what with the empty rocking chair and all, but things took a turn into David Lynch territory when Locke raised the flashlight directly at Jacob. Was I the only one screaming bloody murder when I saw Jacob for a split second? (My girlfriend didn't initially believe me, but thanks to the magic of TiVo, I proved otherwise.) The fact that Jacob can't seem to be seen or heard leads me to believe that there's a dimensional nexus on this island and that realities are overlapping, hence the fact that there are whispers in the jungle (heard now not just by the castaways, but by Ben as a boy), dead people returning to life, and an invisible man sitting in a cabin the woods, who seems to have some major telekinetic abilities that probably go behind breaking some windows and pushing Ben against the wall.

Why did Jacob utter the words "help me" to Locke? And how is Ben able to perceive Jacob? Did he appear to Locke knowingly? And was Ben lying when he said that Jacob had a hatred of technology or did he just not want Locke to shine the flashlight onto the chair and possibly expose Jacob? Curious.

Still, it's clear that Jacob appears to be the leader of the "hostiles" and seems to exist outside the normal human perspective. I'm not sure how or why Ben is able to communicate with him or why he was appointed (by whom?) to interact with the invisible man. Still, it's a little scary to think that Richard Alpert (if that is his real name) has never seen Jacob, especially as he has apparently been on the island for far longer than we suspected... and hasn't apparently aged at all in the last 30 years, possibly longer. As the hostile who makes contact with a young Ben, he seems calm and collected yet is leading a purge against the Dharma Initiative. Why did he make contact with Ben instead of snatching him or killing him? Is he immortal, does he have the gift of longevity, is he forever young... or is there just really, really good moisturizer somewhere on the island? And it's interesting to me that he's so freely come and gone from the island, working in Ben's service as a recruiter for Mittelos, conveniently located just outside Portland...

Ben. Speaking of Portland, I found it interesting that Ben had lied about his being born on the island, and did in fact spring to life outside Portland (not coincidentally, the location of the fake Mittelos and possibly the Dharma Initiative), only to have his mother die immediately after childbirth, in the car of two members of the Dharma Initiative (including Samantha Mathis). Years later, he and his father, Roger (whose corpse, along with a mountain of beer, Hurley, Jin, Charlie, and Sawyer discovered in his old VW van) come to the island and Roger is shocked and horrified to learn he's been hired as a maintenance man.

I'm curious about what ever happened to the Apollo bar-offering Annie who gave Ben the birthday present of the two dolls so they wouldn't ever be separated. (Hmm, a mystery for another day.) I loved the classroom scene where the klaxon goes off to signal an incursion by the Hostiles (how did they get around the sonic fence, exactly?) and Samantha Mathis whips out a shotgun as Annie secures the classroom. Looks like the Hostiles have been taking people (or killing them) for quite some time.

Was it the monster that appeared to Ben in the guise of his mother, first outside his bedroom window and then on the other side of the sonic fence? Or was it a ghostly visitation, the likes of which we've seen already, from Jack's father Christian (just where is that corpse, anyway?) to Boone and others. Interesting to see that Ben was a Machiavellian terror, even in childhood (nice touch with the white bunny, BTW), as he manages to get the codes for the sonic fence and engineers an escape plan with the Hostiles, who seem very interested in the fact that little Ben saw his dead mother on the island. Does Richard know that Ben wasn't born there, as he claims?

But nothing could have prepared me for the fact that Ben coldbloodedly murdered everyone in the Dharma Initiative, including his father. (I loved the reveal when he pulled out the gas mask.) Just where did Ben get the equipment, including the toxic gas, for this raid? How did they gas people outside? And did Richard Alpert look more than a little sad at the sight of the complete and utter carnage in the Barracks (which reminded me, more than a little, of The Stand)? Could this gas be the contagion that the quarantine signs talk about and which killed Rousseau's team?

Final questions: Why did Ben and Richard Alpert start to recruit people from the outside world and bring them to the island if they had just won the battle against the Dharma-ites? Did Ben kill everyone, including the inhabitants of the Swan and the Pearl? And if so, why does Dharma keep making supply drops? Whose money is funding Ben's organization? And what exactly are the Hostiles?

Whew. Lots and lots of questions, but an all-around fantastically taut, provocative episode, filled with its fair share of brutality (including that ass-kicking Locke handed out to Patchy) and more than enough tension to keep me going until next week's episode. In the meantime, can I please issue a plea not to kill off John Locke? Pretty please?

Next week on Lost ("Greatest Hits"), Jack comes up with a plan involving loads of dynamite to rid them of the Others forever, Desmond tells Charlie that he needs to die this time, while Sayid discovers a flaw within the Other's group.

What's On Tonight

8 pm: Survivor: Fiji (CBS); My Name is Earl (8-8:40 pm)/The Office (8:40-9:20 pm) (NBC); Smallville (CW); Ugly Betty (ABC); Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? (FOX; 8-10 pm)

9 pm: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (CBS); Scrubs (9:20-10:01 pm) (NBC); Supernatural (CW); Grey's Anatomy (ABC)

10 pm: Without a Trace (CBS); ER (NBC); Traveler (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

8 pm: Ugly Betty.

On tonight's installment ("A Tree Grows in Guadalajara"), Betty and the Suarez clan head to Guadalarjara (buy me a poncho, Betts!) in order to solve Ignacio's immigration problems and Betty learns some answers about her late mother from her aunts, while Marc gets jealous of Amanda and Tavares' new friendship and Alexis confronts the woman she dated before her, er, makeover.

8-8:40 pm: My Name is Earl.

On tonight's super-sized episode ("The Trial"), Joy's trial finally arrives and Earl is forced to commit the ultimate good deal to help her but sacrifices all his hard work to do so. Is it just me or does this show seriously need to step it up, given the strenghts of fellow NBC laughers The Office and 30 Rock?

8:40-9:20 pm: The Office.

On tonight's super-sized episode ("Beach Games"), Michael is up for a promotion at Dunder-Mifflin Corporate and decides to hold a day of Survivor-inspired challenges at the beach as a means of choosing his successor, leading a jealous Pam to watch Jim and Karen from the sidelines.

9:20-10:01 pm: Scrubs.

On tonight's episode ("My Conventional Wisdom"), Elliot plans her wedding to Keith while J.D. continues to wonder about his feelings for her, leading Turk to take him to a surgical convention in Arizona, where he runs into ex-girlfriend Kim. Oops.

10 pm: Traveler.

It's a sneak peek at ABC's new eight-episode drama Traveler (click here for an advance review). On tonight's premiere episode ("Pilot"), Jay, Tyler, and Will set off for a road trip but a museum bombing, possibly orchestrated by Will, derails their plans... slightly.

Comments

The CineManiac said…
Holy Jeez! I too was in complete Shock when Locke was shot and left for dead, when Ben was talking about how they were all morons for ending up in the pit and says to Locke "And so are you" I was sure he was going to push Locke in, but I didn't see the gun coming. I'm just glad he didn't shot again, as it leaves hope that John is still alive.
Jacob: WTF? Seriously that was insane and quite freaky. I like your theory of the dimensional nexus, which would explain a lot. and that whole scene really was quite frightening and really weird.
Richard (who I want to call Richard Montalban for some reason)was also creepy, why is this man taking orders from Ben when he's been around longer than Ben and was in fact leading the group of "Hostiles" Also Jace, it was obvious that he aged because he totally, went from having lots of long hair to having almost no hair, duh (said with a sarcastic tone) but yes it was creepy that he hadn't aged seemingly at all.
Why would Ben lie about being born on the island, is that how he became the leader, they deferred to anyone actually born there, or was it because he speaks to Jacob? And if you were one of the Others would you believe in Jacob so freely without seeing him? Then again maybe some of them have heard him instead. But I belive he shot Locke because he feared "his" people weren't following him any more. Tom has obviously had it up to here with Ben, and part of me thinks he's in on Jack & Juliette's plan (how I don't know but I think he might be)
One last thing, if Richard was a hostile, but he wasn't born on the island, where'd he come from?
Anonymous said…
I just assumed that the hostiles took over the Dharma Initiative. Why they still get supply drops and funding is a mystery, though I am guessing that the Hanso foundation will come into play at some point.
Anonymous said…
Wow! I haven't been that excited/freaked out over a show since Lost season one. That scene with Jacob was truly frightening...especially for the split second when you see him. Yikes. There is some seriously bad mojo on that island.

Speaking of which, I truly hope that Locke isn't dead. He is one of my favorite characters not just on the show but of all times. I would be really surprised if they killed him off, though, as his story seems far from over. Especially as he heard Jacob's plea for help. And what was up with that pile of ash or dirt that Locke found in the jungle?

In true Lost form, lots of questions were answered but many more introduced. But the question still on my mind that I'm dying to have answered is...what the heck is up with that huge stone foot?
Anonymous said…
I decided to note this entry as I read it, cause I started to read and already had too many comments!

1) I really don't think he's dead. I know that Lost is a show where anyone can die, but for some reason I feel that Locke is and has always been the exception. To me, he is the center of everything. But get back to me next week after they've buried him and I will eat my words.

2) When Ben and Locke walked into the cabin, I had the exact same though, re: Psycho. I saw the chair and I saw Ben talking to the chair and thought, "If there is a skeleton in the chair, I am out." Then I was hoping there was a bunny in the chair.

3) You aren't the only one who was screaming at the sight of Jacob. My friend said, "I just saw someone!" Her husband and I hadn't seen a thing, so of course we rewound and frame-by-framed it.

4) That first glimpse of Richard, in the flashback? Creeeepy. I don't think it's just a good botox system.

5) I love that this show has woven such a rich mythology for those who have been faithful, so that the second we saw that Roger Work Man jumper, we knew so much in just a second.

6) re: Annie. Why do I feel like we've heard her name before. When she introduced herself, I instinctively thought, "oooooohhhh!", but then didn't know why.

7) I thought this was an interesting comment my friend made - Ben killed both his parents on his birthday. A therapist's dream patient.

8) who goes hiking that late in a pregnancy? :)

9) This episode was insane!!!!!
Anonymous said…
My most nagging question from the episode: Why did Richard require the young Ben to be so "patient" about killing off the DI folks? Why did he have to wait decades? What is the significance of that? OK, so he was just a kid when Richard recruited him, but decades? Have I missed something? It seems like that plan could have been executed (heh, pun) long before Ben actually whipped out the gas. So there must be a reason.
Anonymous said…
No mention of Stanley Tucci on ER? I haven't watched ER in a few years, but I love Tucci and he may get me to at least tune into his segments of the show.
Shawn Anderson said…
The voice that said "help me" sounded exactly like Clancy Brown's voice (listen here,) the character actor who plays Kelvin Inman. Desmond killed him though, so I'm sure if it's Brown, they're just utilizing his vocal prowess (or is it Kelvin's ghost?)

Interesting to note that the woman playing Ben's mom is Carrie Preston, the wife of Michael Emerson (Ben.)
rockauteur said…
The Hostile aka The Others must have taken over Dharma Initiative in the Purge and perhaps even kept the experiments going, or at least partially going, in an attempt to continue funding and financing for their operations, hence the supply drops, the recruitment trips, etc.

Can't wait to find out what happened to Annie - we need another Ben flashback!

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