Thursday, February 26, 2009

Lost recap: Between a Locke and a hard place

I must say that I really dug last night's episode of "Lost," even though it was one of those episode that mainly serves to fill in past events, instead of advancing the plot. But I liked the simple, clean format of the episode, which allowed us to gauge the vastly different reaction that each person had to seeing Locke alive. In the spirit of that, I'm going to divide my recap of episode seven, "The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham," into sections, based on each place Locke "traveled" to, starting with the island.
* The Island: The episode opens with one of the passengers of the Ajira flight (we learn his name is Caesar), rooting through some sort of Dharma den. Sayid's escort (whose name is Ilana)then tells him about a man in a suit who is roaming around the island with the survivors, and who she doesn't remember seeing on the plane. Caesar goes to check it out, and after a painfully long reveal, we see that it's Locke. Well, of course we knew it would be. He's alive and he doesn't remember much...except for dying.
* Tunisia: We flash back to Locke and Christian at the Frozen Donkey Wheel. Locke pushes it in, Christian tells him to say hello to his son, blah, blah, blah. And then Locke is in Tunisia -- still with his compound fracture. I just want say that the scene with Locke lying terrified and helpless in the desert, with those cameras looking down on him, is another in the show's long list of memorably creepy moments. Eventually, he's rescued and taken to some sort of makeshift hospital, where his leg is reset in the most graphic way possible (yes, I shrieked and covered my eyes. I know it's just TV, but it was still really gross). It's around this time that we see a familiar face -- Matthew Abbadon, who sent the Freighter Folk to the island, came to Hurley at Santa Rosa and convinced Locke to go on the walkabout that led him to the island. Who is this guy? Not long after, we see another old friend -- Charles. He's at Locke's bedside, explaining that the cameras were his, and wanting to know why Locke left the island. He also mentions having met Locke when he was 17 -- amazing that he'd remember, since the meeting was so brief and unexceptional. Maybe Richard has told Charles about Locke, and about how he's fated to be a leader. Locke explains how he's trying to get the band back together to return them all to the island...and that Richard says he must die. That part doesn't sit well with Charles, who says that shouldn't be necessary. But he agrees to help with the rest, providing Locke with a fake ID bearing the name "Jeremy Bentham," (who, incidentally, is Canadian). Locke asks why Chuck is helping him and gets yet another of the show's creepy, cryptic replies: "There's a war coming, John. And if you're not back on the island when that happens, then the wrong side is going to win." OooooKaaay. Um, I'm assuming the war is between Widmore and Ben. So which is the wrong side? Just who is evil? We don't know yet, but the show is starting to depict Charles in a more sympathetic light (aside from that teenage neck snapping, but hey -- kids will be kids).
Anyway, Locke's pilgrimage begins. As a nice parallel to his pre-Island life, Locke is conducting these visits in a wheelchair, due to his leg injury. Thus, when he visits the ex-islanders, they'll see him in this state for the first time. Interesting.
* Santo Domingo: So Locke and Abbadon (who, we learn, definitely works for Widmore...maybe) are off to find the ex-islanders, starting with Sayid, who is trying to cure his I-worked-for-Ben-Linus hangover with some old-fashioned charity work. Sayid won't go back to the island, but, for the first time, takes a very Zen approach to the loss of his wife. If he hadn't left the island, he explains, he never would have married her and they never would have had even the brief time they shared. Locke moves on, not deterred by Sayid's rejection. On to...
* New York: Locke waits outside Walt's school. Though he's not part of the six (and, presumably, wasn't on the Ajira flight -- at least, we didn't see him on it), of course Locke would visit him. They were friends, and Walt is, by my count, the only one purely happy to see him. He asks about his dad, and Locke confirms that Michael came back to the island, but doesn't reveal that he died (I presume that Locke knows Michael is dead, but maybe he doesn't and was being honest). Note: Didn't Walt tell Hurley that Locke/Bentham told him that the Six were lying? It didn't seem that that was part of their discussion. Did we only see part of their exchange? Did they meet again? Hmmm. Abbadon (whom I'm calling Abby from now on) is giving Locke crap now about his ineffectiveness at convincing the gang to go back to the island. All it takes is one, Locke says.
* I'm grouping all the California visits together, starting with Hurley. This one is my favorite, because Hurley initially takes Locke's visit in stride, thinking he's a ghost. It's only when he learns that Locke is alive that he freaks out. Ha! He also recognizes Abby from his creepy visit and runs off. Locke confronts Abby, asking just who the hell he is. Abby reminds Locke that he's the one who convinced him to take the Walkabout. Locke remembers. That's what I do, he said. I get people where they need to be. Again, oooookaaaay. Off to Kate, who tells Locke that she won't go back, and that he's in love with the island because he's never loved a person. That's not true, Locke says, and tells her about Helen. She's not convinced. And Locke, finally, learns from Abby that Helen died. Locke blames himself, though Abby said she probably would have died anyway. If, in fact, she's really dead. Show of hands -- anyone believe that Helen is actually dead? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
Moving on, they're, I presume, about to see Jack (he really does keep his promise to Jin about not seeing Sun) when Abby gets shot! Not expecting that! Locke, in a panic, tries to drive off, causing the car accident we saw in last week's preview. He's injured and ends up being treated by...Dr. House? No, just joking -- it's Jack, of course.
Jack asks what he's doing there, and is the only one visibly shaken and upset by the encounter. Quick-thinking Locke, realizes that Jack must be Christian's son, and passes on his message. That explains why Jack starts to wig out about his dad shortly thereafter. Locke then heads back to his hotel room, despondent, and ready to commit suicide when...Ben shows up. Because I'm running out of time, I need to shorthand the rest. Ben talks Locke out of killing himself, persuades Locke that he's the future of the island...then murders him. Um, why? Does it have to do with learning that Jin is alive? The mention of Eloise Hawking? The fact that Ben is a skeevy little control freak with a you-can't-quit-I-fire-you approach to life? WHY????
* Back to the island. Locke talks to Caesar, who tells him that certain people, including Hurley, simply disappeared from the crash (Note: apparently, Frank Lapidus and some unidentified woman have run off with the flight manifest. Who's the woman? Sun? Someone else? WHO???). Caesar also takes him to see the people injured in the crash...including Ben!! Hey, Locke says, I know him. He killed me. Boom. End of episode.
All in all, an interesting episode, and definitely an acting showcase for Terry O'Quinn, who could win another Emmy off of it. Next week, former islanders and current islanders unite!


Bill Scurry said...

I feel like an idiot not drawing the conclusion in that first flash-forward that, of course, "Jeremy Bentham" HAD to be a wordplay game on the name John Locke. Dur.

Small nitpick -- I wish Cuse and Lindelof would treat Locke as a strong-willed, empowered torpedo, rather than an easily-discouraged wet-willy.

TV Writer said...

I kind of agree -- I believe any power Locke has comes from Terry O'Quinn, not the writing. Which is odd, because he should be a bit more imposing if he's supposed to be a leader.
But I understand his vulnerability -- this guy has been betrayed by so many people, and had so much go wrong in his life, it's really hard for him to rise above that. The fact that he's capable of any resolve is kind of a miracle.

Col. Mike said...

Maybe he's not supposed to be a leader. I think he's probably just an easily played, sentimental egoist being manipulated into thinking he's a chosen one or leader.

TV Writer said...

That's an interesting thought, and I totally see why Ben and Widmore would manipulate him. But why Richard? And why the Christian ghost?
Their insistence on Locke's specialness makes me think there is at least some validity to it.