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'Lost' recap: Smokey and the time bandits

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"They have rocket launchers, sure, but if we bar the door with this bookcase, we'll be safe as kittens!" Locke and Ben assume a defensive position in "The Shape of Things to Come."

Do we really need Ben to go all Indiana Jones on us? In tonight's return of "Lost," Ben — previously a maniacally creepy, holding-all-the-cards brainiac — zapped all over the world and all over the timeline ... kicking ass. In the end, he sets up the rest of the show (the episode was, after all, titled "The Shape of Things to Come") as a showdown between two power-hungry obsessives. Yup, he's one of them.

Warning: Spoilers after the jump...

Is it our imagination, or is the storyline here beginning to reflect some "Heroes" lore? We began tonight with Ben suddenly appearing on his back in the middle of the Sahara Desert. The catch: he's wearing a Dharma Initiative winter coat. He also has a fresh slash on his arm, which he takes care of with a tourniquet — a headband of one of the native horsemen he shot immediately upon standing up. So Ben can, indeed, blink his way through space and possibly time, a la "Heroes' " Hiro. Whether he can do this with an "I Dream of Jeanie" bob of the head or by ducking into some magic "hole" on The Island is not yet clear.

But in this flash-forward — to 2005, a year after the plane crash — Ben's in Tunisia (where we saw our red-headed boat gal earlier unearthing a polar bear skeleton, yes?), then in Iraq, where he tracks down Sayid, who apparently finally found the love of his life — only to see her murdered at the hands of, so Ben claims, Charles Widmore's mysterious cabal. And so is cemented the partnership we saw in an earlier episode, with a revenge-driven Sayid doing Ben's murderous dirty work.

Meanwhile on The Island (though time-referential words and phrases are tricky in writing about this show), Ben attempts to keep Locke and the others at the camp from being shot up by the mercenaries from the boat. Yes, they're the ones who shot up the jungle earlier, killing Rousseau and the boy toy (well, maybe they're dead...). Life is cheap on this show, we were reminded, as we watched not only three extras get gunned down but the execuction of Ben's daughter, Alex. Which is what sets Ben off, saying through clenched teeth that, "They've changed the rules." It was both comforting and terrifying to see Ben, for once, seem not in control of the situation.

It's also at this point that Ben disappears into a fortified closet. ("Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!") What he does in there is unclear, though given his rifling through a rack of Dharma initiative winter coats before heaving open a large stone door ... you see where I'm going. Perhaps in the moments Sawyer was banging on the closet door, Ben zapped away to some cold clime before then heading to Tunisia and his murderous spree through next year, trying to right the timeline he thought he was in control of.

Or he could've switched on whatever made the Smoke Monster show up and kill all the mercenaries. Though this left me confused: weren't we earlier lead to believe that the electric fence around the compound was to protect the Others from the Smoke Monster? But Ben now seems to control it, like a pitbull on a car lot, sicking it on intruders?

In the end, Ben waltzes into Charles Widmore's mahogany-covered bedroom and throws down the gauntlet, saying basically, "You killed my daughter, I'm going to kill yours." (That would be Desmond's sweetheart and constant, Penny.) He alluded to some elusive factoid about them being unable to kill each other, no doubt a cosmic connection of this horribly warped space-time continuum. Perhaps they're each other's constants. Ex-lovers, maybe. Who knows.

But if this whole convoluted thrill ride is just going to boil down to two jerks avenging each other, is it going to hold our interest another few years?

What do you think?

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This page contains a single entry by Thomas Conner published on April 24, 2008 11:44 PM.

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