Hey look, it's Charles Widmore to get this show back on track!
As my buddy Julius Goat
alluded to last week, the show is a bit directionless at this point. It reminded me of a similar situation
that we faced last season. As the viewer, we just don't know where the story is headed. And not in a good way, like there's this underlying suspense of "Ooh, what's going to happen next?" The show is treading water in the sense that, while we continue to progress our story, and learn more information, the viewers have absolutely no idea what the big picture is in all of this, how things are going to end up, and therefore, we watch these episodes each week, and while they might be interesting, we don't know what they all mean. In Season 5 last year, there was this focus towards getting back to the island. The Oceanic Six, trying to get back, save their friends, etc. We didn't know what the people still on the island were doing in 1977 and the other time flashes, exactly, but the concept itself was interesting enough, and we were getting enough new information about the island, that it didn't really matter. But, once everyone made it back to the island, we sort of got stuck for a bit. Everyone was back on the island, so...now what? And we ended up with a handful of episodes that felt a little directionless, because we didn't know what the big picture was. I'm sure if I went back and rewatched those episodes, I wouldn't have that same feeling, because I know now where the story was ultimately heading (The Incident), but watching through it the first time, it's not clear at all.
Which is kind of where we're at now. We know that Jacob has some sort of plan, we've seen him take steps to carry it out. We know that the Nemesis has some sort of plan, we've seen him take steps to carry it out. We know that Ilana has some sort of direction as to what she's supposed to be doing (protecting the Candidates). But we don't know why
any of them are doing any of this, and what it will ultimately lead to. And that's what gets a little frustrating; when you're being shown all of this, and you know it all means something, but you have no idea what that might be.
But, I got the feeling by the end of last night's episode that things were changing in that regard. Last week, a chapter of the show seemed to be coming to a close. We saw the Nemesis come to power, recruit some followers, and take over the Temple. Watching him march off into the jungle with his posse behind him, it had a certain air of finality to it, as if to say "Okay, that was our story of the Nemesis against the Others, and our story of the Temple. Now, that's done, and we'll move onto our next story." I thought that chapter in the show's history was interesting, but again, left me with little more than what I had at the beginning as far as direction for this season. This week had a different feel to it, a starting over of sorts, which I thought was displayed nicely in the context of the episode, with Ilana's crew making camp at the beach, Ben being "allowed" to join their group, the rebuilding of the beach camp, if you will, and even the reunion with Jack and Hurley. Most importantly, however, we have Charles Widmore. Someone who is very knowledgeable about the island, has a great interest in the island, and also someone who knows about and has talked about the "war" that's coming (or perhaps has already started). While we don't yet know Widmore's reason for being there, it's safe to assume that it's more than him just wanting to return to the island. He's got a purpose, and I believe it has something to do with this elusive big picture that we're desperately trying to understand.
Onto some quick hits:
-As has been the case every week this season, I love all of the throwbacks to old seasons. Being re-introduced to the beach camp, Miles' sarcastic response to Ilana wanting to start a fire bearing some resemblance to Frogurt freaking out over a similar request last season after the island moved, a mention of Nikki & Paolo, all the Arzt you could ever want, and of course the light-hearted music playing at the end of the episode while everyone works together, and even a mini-reunion with hugs all around when Jack and Hurley return with Richard. I can't get enough of it, good stuff.
-Speaking of Arzt, I was very clearly reminded of why I enjoyed him blowing up in Season 1.
-Thought the flash-sideways was really well done, the story of Ben's redemption when it comes to Alex was touching. In Season 4 Ben chose what he believed to be the greater good over Alex, and in his flash-sideways he was able to choose Alex over the greater good. I guess the only thing that irked me about that is that he could have just re-instituted his blackmail threat after the letter of recommendation was written, but that's not really a very honorable thing to do, so maybe that's not something the off-island Ben Linus would do.
-Great scene with Ben and Ilana. You don't get to see Ben being truly honest very often, but when he is, it's always very riveting to watch. Now, I didn't really think Ben was going to die in this episode, the prolonged grave digging, the promise by Ilana to kill him, etc., these are all things that usually mean someone's not going to die. But, I'm not gonna lie, when Ben was racing through the jungle to find that rifle, I was a tad worried at how it was all going to end up. I was a little tensed up there, just waiting for that whole scene to end to ensure they would both walk out of the confrontation alive.
-Jack's scene with Richard made me think of the Matrix. When Neo stays to fight Agent Smith, Morpheus proclaims "He's beginning to believe". That's all I could think of when Jack was more than willing to light a piece of dynamite and sit down and have a frank conversation with Richard. Jack is becoming the Man of Faith, even managing to restore Richard's faith in Jacob. My favorite Jack moment in I don't even know how long.
-Speaking of Richard, it was nice to learn a couple of things about him; first, that it's all but guaranteed that he was originally on the Black Rock when it arrived (aside from Locke's comments about Richard being out of those chains, we had him tell us this week that he'd been in the Black Rock before, but this was the first time that he's come back to it), and second that Jacob touched him, gave him a gift, and that gift seems to involve the ability to live without aging. But that doesn't make him immortal, apparently, although it does seem to make him unable to kill himself (That reminded me a lot of Michael in Season 4, when he was off the island, and tried to kill himself, but he couldn't, because as Tom said, the island wouldn't let him).
-Week 2 of Where in the World are Jin & Sawyer? No new updates.
-I like that Miles doesn't forget where he came from. At the end of the day he just wants to get paid, even if it means digging up some three year-old graves.
-So the Nemesis is rocking the telekinesis now? That's new.
-Fun dialog between Frank and Ben when Frank revealed that he was supposed to fly Oceanic Flight 815, and wondered how his life would have changed. Fate certainly made the appropriate course corrections with Lapidus, as he ended up on the island anyways.
I think that's all I've got for this week. Bit of a shorter entry, as there wasn't much to theorize about. Let's hope that Charles Widmore is the start of some bigger things for the show, and we can start to learn what everything we've learned this season means.