Last Week on Lost: There’s No Place Like Home, Part Two

Lost‘s fourth season ended last week with what was pretty much the ass-kickingest episode out of a season full of ass-kicking episodes. These new, shorter seasons really suit the program, as far as I’m concerned. There’s not a lot of padding or filler, and that raises the stakes pretty significantly. Every bit of story feels a bit more urgent, every scrape our characters get themselves into seems a bit more dangerous. And the payoffs are coming fast and furious now. Now we know who was in the coffin. Now we know how you move an island. Now we know how the Oceanic Six turned out to be the Oceanic Six when, for a while, it looked like they might be the Oceanic Seven or the Oceanic Eight. Some viewers and reviewers are already complaining about there being even more questions now than ever before, but that’s hogwash as far as I’m concerned. You can feel this series heading towards its conclusion. The answers are coming, and they’re coming every episode now.

Because this will be our final “Last Week on Lost” until next February, I’ve decided to break it up into two parts. So, here (below the fold) are my thoughts on the first part of last week’s episode, “There’s No Place Like Home, Part Two.”

The first thing I noticed about the episode as a whole was that all of the dramatic cliffhanger set-ups from last time (except for the bomb) were resolved within the first hour, and that many of them were resolved within the first twenty minutes or so. That told me right away that there was a lot of story coming at me, and that realization made me a very happy monkey. I can’t believe how much they crammed into this episode while still managing to make it not feel crammed.

Here are my thoughts, broken down by story thread

The Oceanic Six in the Future

“Who’s Jeremy Bentham?” was the first question my wife asked me when we got around to watching the episode together on Friday evening (I’d watched it Thursday night by myself, because, even though I had to get up at 4:30 a.m. the next day, I’m addicted and I’m weird). So much is getting thrown at the audience early on in this episode that I think the one or two lines revealing that Bentham is the man in the coffin get lost in the shuffle. I had to pause the show to give Stephanie the 411.

But even then, once we’re aware that Bentham is the dude in the coffin, we’re still spending a lot of time wondering who he is. I also wondered why the name hadn’t come up at all in previous flash-forwards. Eagle-eyed viewers with HD television sets probably did spot a name like Jeremy Bentham in the obituary that Jack was carrying around in the third season finale, but the name was never actually spoken aloud until now. I think Kate’s the one who says it first, right after she throws her car into reverse and nearly runs over the stoned sonuvabitch who’s been calling her incessantly and who’s just told her that they have to go back to the Godforsaken island that they spent more than three months trying to get off of. And there’s so much venom in her voice when she says it that I think we can immediately narrow down the possibilities.

It ain’t Sawyer and it ain’t Desmond, which is what made the alternate endings that came out the next morning all the more ridiculous (They actually thought they were going to fool spoiler-mongers with those?). Kate hates this Bentham dude, really despises the guy, almost as much as she loathes Jack right now. And let’s face it, there’s no way she’s grown to hate Sawyer that much and she has so little of a relationship with Desmond that indifference is the only emotion I could see her mustering towards his corpse.

Then Kate talks about “all of the horrible things that happened on the day that [they] left” and she sets up the whole rest of the episode. Sure, the things that happened on that day that we have seen have been bad so far, but she makes it sound like they’re going to get a lot worse.

Which brings us to…

The Oceanic Six in the Present

I love the moment when Hurley sees Jack again for the first time since their parting of the ways, way back in the first episode of this season. I’ve seen at least one person online asking, “Now that we know what we know, why did Hurley feel so bad about choosing Locke over Jack? Like, why was he so distraught in the basketball scene in episode one?” The answers to that question are all right here. You can see in Hurley’s eyes the guilt he feels over everything that’s happened. This is a dude who blamed himself for a deck collapsing, after all. Of course he’s going to feel guilty for leading a bunch of his fellow castaways to their deaths. He knows that nobody else would have followed Locke if he hadn’t followed Locke first. He knows he’s responsible. And when he sees Jack, that’s the beginning of the end for him.

That’s actually the theme that runs through all of the interactions between the Oceanic Six in the first hour of the finale. Look at the way Kate and Sayid look at each other after they succeed in liberating Ben from the mercenaries. At first, they’re happy to have succeeded. But then they realize how low they’ve sunk, and their smiles melt away. And then, there’s the look in Sawyer’s eyes when Hurley asks about Claire. Dude ain’t living that one down for the rest of his days.

They’re all so broken here, all of them except for Jack, who is on cloud nine now that he gets to fulfill his role as hero and get all of them off of the island. The beginnings of Jack’s own descent into despair aren’t visible until the very end of this hour, when he sees Sawyer kiss Kate.

A few other notes about this portion of the hour: It was Locke’s idea to lie about what happened? Why, then, did Jack decide to go along with it? Oh, and when Locke asks Jack to stay, is that his idea alone, or did Jacob put him up to it?

Oh, and also, was that the spectacular kiss that the producers were promising? It didn’t seem all that spectacular to me. But maybe there’s another one coming…

Time-Traveling Bunnies: The Ben and John Story Continues

I love the disdain in Ben’s voice when he talks about the Dharma Initiative and their “silly experiments.” He’s obviously no fan of the time-traveling bunnies.

All kidding aside, I think what’s been happening this season with Ben is that we’ve been seeing that there are some things that he really does care about, and a few things that he honestly loves. He loves this island, and he despises anyone who thinks that they understand it when, in fact, they do not. Dharma didn’t understand it. I’m guessing that Charles Widmore didn’t understand it. And, for a while, Ben seemed pretty sure that John Locke didn’t understand it either.

But now, with everything that’s happened, there’s an extra element to Michael Emerson’s reading of that line about “silly experiments.” Ben is a little unsure of himself there. He wants so badly to believe that it was Dharma who didn’t understand, but he’s coming to the realization that maybe he doesn’t understand the island as well as he thinks he does either. Ben is very confused. Maybe John does get it, and he’s the one who doesn’t understand. He’s not thinking straight. And, of course, there’s one person who is responsible for that lack of a clear train of thought more than any other: Keamy.

How awesome is it that Keamy didn’t die in the jungle from a shot to the back? I mean, dude’s a punk, but we definitely didn’t want to see him go out like a punk, did we? We all wanted Ben to kill him, didn’t we? And here we go…

John does his whole negotiating thing. In the process, he shows us that he does actually still care about his fellow survivors (at least a little bit). The negotiating ain’t gonna work, and we all know it, but does John? I’m not sure. It seems like he thinks he’s going to be able to reason with Keamy. And that’s when you want to smack John around (which I’ve wanted to do every time I’ve seen him this season). It ain’t going to work John. And, any moment now, Ben is going to come out of his hiding place and…

OUCH!

Ben beating the living crap out of Keamy is so satisfying. But what’s even more satisfying is how he reacts when John tells him that he just killed everyone on the boat.

“So,” says Ben. Classic!

Emerson is just brilliant there. He’s got the spoiled brat aspect of Ben down pat. On any normal day, Ben would never have done anything to harm that many innocents (I truly believed him when he said that to Michael). But this asshole killed his daughter, and Ben isn’t thinking clearly, and just… wow.

******

A couple of quick thoughts on the other stories going on in this first hour of the season finale:

The Freighter

Conspiracy theorists say that Sun tells Michael about her pregnancy because Mike’s the daddy, but I’m pretty sure that line is there just so that Mike has the info for his line to Jin later on (“You’re a father now,” or something like that).

The Beach People

Charlotte has been trying to get back to the island? I didn’t see that coming at all

Dan lets Jules believe he’ll be back. Why does he do that? Why doesn’t he tell Juliet about what’s going on, especially since Charlotte’s just given up her seat on the boat. I know Jules said she wasn’t leaving until everyone else, but still…

******

And that’s all, for now. Be sure to come back tomorrow for my thoughts on part three of “There’s No Place Like Home.”