Lost: Ben gets his smoke (monster) on

It turns out the most heartless, callous character in all of “Lost”-dom, in all of television probably, harbors a soft spot. We learned last night that Ben Linus, my least favorite character played by my most respected actor, cannot kill a new mother.

Ben’s weakness, which is actually a redeeming quality in my view, prevented him from murdering two mamas last night: Rousseau and Penelope. To prevent infant Alex and toddler Charlie from experiencing the pain of losing a mother as he had, Ben spared their mothers’ lives.

Last night also focused heavily on the rules of the island. Ben told Locke he returned to the island to be judged for breaking the rules. Later, Locke called Ben’s bluff, saying he did not believe Ben cared about any rules. Widmore’s rule-breaking – maintaining a life in the outside world – cost him his spot on the island, as revealed in Ben’s flashback. Rules also came up last season, in the scene last night’s episode repeatedly referenced. In season four’s ninth episode, Ben said about Widmore, “He changed the rules,” after Keamy killed Alex.

Apparently, Locke broke the rules in a way by coming back to life upon returning to the island – at least according to Ben. Although Ben told Locke he knew he would be resurrected, he also told Sun that “dead is dead” and the island has never brought someone back to life before. We don’t know what Ben really believes (do we ever?) but his reaction to seeing Locke at his bedside, and his attempts to subvert Locke’s authority and escape his watchful eye suggest Ben thought Locke was gone for good.

WTF is up with Ilana? Chick is bad to the bone and apparently came to the island with an agenda – but whose? The arsenal of guns she and her crew were ready to transport, along with her enigmatic questioning of Lapidus (“What lies in the shadow of the statue?”) make me think she came to the island on behalf of Widmore, who could have quickly gathered a crew after Ben called to brag that he was returning.

The other interesting Ajira passenger, Caesar, took a shot in the chest from Ben last night. But you know me, I’m not buying his death until he’s in the ground!

Take Des, for example. Everyone probably thought he was a goner when Ben shot him, but alas, he came back to beat down Ben on the dock. Why, though, did Des let Ben live? My brother hopes that Des is making his way back to the island now so that he can kill Ben for good to ensure his family’s safety. While I’m not convinced that is the direction of the show, I’d be happy to see Des come back again. Fun fact I learned from Doc J at EW.com: the Hume’s boat, “Our Mutual Friend,” is named for the Dickens book Desmond kept his love’s picture while sequestered in the Swan hatch.

I personally found Ben’s Smokey-producing system very weird. First, I’m not even sure he really wanted to summon Smokey because I think the whole judgment stuff was just to distract Locke, but what was that tunnel toilet about?

The temple itself was interesting. Ben informed viewers that the edifice we thought to be the temple was actually a wall the Others built around the actual temple to keep outsiders out. We still have not seen the temple’s exterior, since they all tunneled under the wall to the basement of the temple, which Ben fell through to reveal another level: Smokey’s room.

Finally we got an insider view of the smoke monster. To be honest, I was really disappointed. Starting with the Egyptian-style temple (or is it Tunisian?), with ancient Smokey etchings on the wall and a grate from which the monster emerges, all the way to the shot of the monster enveloping Ben with all its smokiness, clicking and flashes. The whole floating flashing images from Ben’s past seemed so cheesy. I’m _pretty_ sure I could do those special effects myself so I know “Lost” could have done better. A little piece of trivia: most of the noises emitting from the monster are in fact the sounds of Oceanic 815 falling from the sky.

I have to admit I loved the reappearance of Alex. She looked hot! Maybe it’s because she was actually Smokey. I posit that Alex, like Yemi in the episode in which Eko gets judged (read: smacked down) by Smokey was actually just the Smoke Monster shifting shapes. She/it brought to Ben a crucial message, though: be Locke’s bitch. I’m really interested to see if Ben will stop his conniving ways and start blindly following Locke. I want to believe he will, but more likely than not he’ll just spend more time making it seem like he’s the good guy while he’s really controlling everything undetected.

The temple scenes also brought me back to the episode earlier this season in which Rousseau’s crew got sucked down the temple hole and came back out with a “sickness.” What happened to them down there that made Rousseau think they were not well?

Readers, what did you think of last night’s episode? Any big mysteries answered for you? I’m happy we found out more about Smokey and of Widmore’s exile. But I’m still feeling dissatisfied with the answers I’m getting. How do you all feel?

Also, “send me”:mailto:sefinc@wm.edu your questions about the show! I’m working on a reader’s questions blog and I need more material! Send me your mysteries and I’ll do my best to find the answers – if there are any…


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