Friday, March 20, 2009

3/20/09 - Lost: Season 5, Episode 8 - 9

Thoughts on Lost, Season 5, Episode 8:

- WTF. So Sayid is part of Ben's origin story? That both makes a lot of sense, and no sense at all. The writers of Lost have been playing with fire all season with the time travel paradoxes, and they just ratcheted up the stakes with Sayid's action at the end of this episode. That said, I think that it's not really as much of a game-changer as it seems. Doubtful that Ben will die; much more likely that he will be resurrected by the island and conclude that he should be the leader of its people and maniupulate a man named Sayid into attempting to murder his own self in the past, since he has always known it has happened. Even writing that sentence made my brain hurt.

- I like the suggestion that Sayid had a hand in creating the Monster (The Monster That Is Ben, that is). Over the course of the show we've seen time and again that Sayid's judgments and decisions are the correct ones. He was the one that believed that Ben was not "Henry Gale", and in conflicts among the castaways he historically has had his judgment borne out by the events of the show. I wonder if his decision to shoot will also be borne out by the events of the show.

- Although in the following episode, it looks like the writers are positioning Ben as a flawed but redeemable character ultimately. At some point they have to get off the fence with Ben and with the ghost of Alex giving him his new marching orders it looks like he may yet work his way toward some sort of salvation. Seeing him forced to use his manipulations to serve Locke instead of torment him will make for some interesting new wrinkle's in Ben's method of operations.

- It's easy to forget now, but Lost's whole first season had no Ben at all. It's amazing how primary and elemental he now seems to the central narrative. Although narratively I see no way for him to make it out of the show alive, I have to admit that if they do wind up killing him off I'll be sad to see him go.

- Locke & Ben are a cut above, acting-wise. The contrast between the poorly written and decently acted Kate scenes previously in the season and Locke and Ben's charged tete-a-tete's really bring it home. I don't think the writers do Evangeline Lilly any favors, but it's kind of unavoidably noticable how far above the bar Michael Emerson and Terry O'Quinn consistently reach.

- I love the temple scenes. Straight out of the Indiana Jones school of kinda-hokey-but-actually-really awesome. There's a real sense of place and power in that temple - it's a strength of Lost that it slowly reveals the layers beneath its most narratively important locations. Similar to the way that we first saw the hatch exterior, and then gradually saw what was underneath (ultimately leading to the 'charged electromagnetic deposit' or whatever it is), we've been slowly led to see the temple fence, the exterior, and now the underground layer where the smoke emerges.

- Watching things fall apart around Sawyer is amazing. LaFleur as wielder of authority is great, LaFleur as cover-up artists really tests Sawyer's ability to think on his feet in an amazing way.

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