By Jeff Jensen
Benjamin Linus got it wrong. Fate isn't a ''fickle bitch,'' as he told Hurley last season. No, it's a fickle brat who suddenly changes his mind on what can slake his late-night thirst. Should Young Ben survive his Sayid-inflicted gunshot wound and realize his Dharma-purging, castaway-terrorizing bug-eyed bastard potential — the matter was still in doubt by the end of last night's episode ''Whatever Happened, Happened'' — he should send a ''Thank You'' card to a certain creepy little kid who changed his mind about a carton of milk. Follow my logic here, and forgive me if it sounds as sketchy as pair of wisecracking, domino-playing time travelers parsing the complexities of quantum leaping. (That would be Hurley and Miles, angling for their own Odd Couple meets Big Bang Theory sitcom.) The way I see it is this: If Aaron didn't ask for some liquid refreshment to parch his creepy little throat, then Kate — a.k.a., Ms. ''Can't tell my (fake) kid 'No''' — wouldn't stop at the supermarket. If Kate didn't stop at the supermarket, she wouldn't get distracted by Aaron's change-of-mind (Me want juice box instead!) and an ill-timed phone call from Jack. If Kate didn't get distracted, then she wouldn't lose track of Aaron when he wandered off, dazzled by the pudding pop display. If he didn't wander off, then Kate wouldn't get rattled when she found the boy walking hand in hand with a dead-ringer (from the back at least) for Claire. (Pale, long blonde hair, wayyy too much make-up.) If she didn't get rattled, then she wouldn't get the epiphanies that finally compelled her to leave Aaron with Grandma Littleton, go back to the Island, and take it upon herself to save the life of her future foe in order to save the Star Wars generation from timeline-collapsing paradox. Aaron, we owe you one.
Kate's big season 5 flashback episode aspired to reveal why Kate was so emotionally invested in Aaron and managing the lie that he represented. Certainly time played a role. Funny now to think that Kate had been Aaron's mother longer (three years) than Claire had ever had been (a couple months). Yet ''Whatever Happened, Happened'' revealed that Kate needed to be Aaron's mother. To fill her Sawyer void. To assuage her guilt over abandoning the Left Behinders. And because Kate, God bless her, just has a heart for Fate-screwed kids, even ones who grow up to be killers. Which makes sense, given how much Kate can relate. Her Mama did her no favors with her bad choices, bad attitude, and bad-boy attraction. Her stepfather was an abusive monster who turned out to be her biological father, and when she discovered that hideous truth, she snapped from betrayal and dissonance and blew him to smithereens. For the most part, this complicated — maybe over-complicated — bundle of psychology felt correct, and the scenes that mattered the most — Kate leaving Aaron in the care of Claire's Mom; her tearful parting — were money. So did her stated reason for going back to the Island: ''I'm going back to find your daughter,'' she told Mrs. Littleton. Kate evidenced a compelling picture of change and heroism that was real and relatable. As she has done all season, Evangeline Lilly rose to the challenge of the fantasy and found where the emotional reality lived. I'm not going to kid you: It took me two viewings to really like ''Whatever Happened, Happened.'' The first time around, it bounced off me. The second time, it moved me. That happens sometimes.
But let's give a little credit where a little credit is due: Ben certainly played a role in breaking Kate of her pseudo-maternal nature and nudging the fugitive back to the Island and her rendezvous with destiny with his Younger Self. After all, it was Ben who set in motion her post-Island identity crisis by first sending his lawyers after her, then throwing a bucket of ice cold truth at the Long Beach Marina. Kate: ''Why don't you leave me and my son alone?'' ''Because he's not your son, Kate,'' Ben replied sharply. The marina sequence — a nexus point of destiny for the Oceanic 6, originally depicted in ''The Little Prince'' and ''This Place Is Death — was revisited yet again in last night's episode, as it was last week for Sayid's flashback episode. And once again, we saw that boat with the word ''Illusion'' emblazoned on the side. For the Oceanic 6, the marina = ''this place is death.'' It is the place where the mirage of their after-Island happy endings — poof! — faded away. Which reminds me:
You know how at the beginning of the episode, when Kate was singing ''Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket, never let it fade away'' to Baby Aaron? (So cute in that car seat, wasn't he?) Well, ''shooting stars'' are actually comets or asteroids. As it happens, the planetary catastrophe that wiped out the dinosaurs — usually ascribed to an asteroid hitting the Earth — is known as the K-T Extinction Event. And did you catch Aaron's motel room number? According to Kate, it was ''two doors down'' from Mrs. Littleton's room, which was K10. Ergo, K10 – 2 = K8 = KT = An episode about the fading away of Kate's old self and the emergence of her new self, and the foreshadowing for an apocalyptic event by season's end that will wipe away the castaways' shared reality. Obvious, no?
MEMO TO CASSIDY: BITTER MUCH?
The dangling subplot of the helicopter whisper: resolved. Take care of Clementine, Sawyer told Kate, referring to the daughter that he had with his former partner in crime, Cassidy. That's pretty much what we all had predicted, and consequently, I bet some of you might be disappointed that it wasn't anything different. Not me. It worked. And I liked the muted, understated nature of the reveal. We didn't even get a new version of the chopper scene that made the whisper audible, although I doubt Lost could have invented anything that could have lived up to its myth, let alone anything that could have quickly summarized a lot of info. That whisper was — what? — a few seconds? But the message was: I have a daughter. Her name is Clementine, and she was born to a woman named Cassidy who lives in Arizona, and I'd appreciate it you could help look after my little girl if you can.
Kate had once shared an adventure with Cassidy — they did a road trip together; Cassidy helped misdirect the FBI so Kate could have one of her patented soul-crushing conversations with her mother — and she found her kindred spirit acquaintance living comfortably in the suburbs. (Cassidy's socio-economic circumstances were given short-shrift, but remember: Back in season 3, we got that flashback episode where Sawyer became a jailhouse snitch and in return got a nice bundle of cash which he passed on anonymously to Clementine.) Kate forked over some of her Oceanic 815 settlement cash, saying that it was actually from Sawyer, but Cassidy could see through Kate's lies. All of them. Including Aaron. Cassidy seethed with bitterness toward Sawyer, which for me made her psychobabble assessment of Kate's attachment to Aaron rather suspect. ''What a coward,'' hissed Cassidy about Sawyer's decision to jump from the chopper. ''He was trying to get away from you. I told him he had a daughter. Never so much lifted a finger to call her. All I have for you is sympathy.'' I wasn't completely certain that Kate bought into Cassidy's diagnosis, but she sure was in the market for the sympathy she was selling. And maybe the some of her crap-cutting coldness: Kate desperately needed someone with whom she could be ''real.'' And so she chose to keep and cultivate a friendship with Cassidy. It brought into bold relief how the post-Island experience was a largely lonely experience for the Oceanic 6. No one to really talk to about his or her existential crud... except for Ben. Not exactly Dr. Melfi.
NEW KATE = NEW SAWYER
As it turned out, though, Cassidy was somewhat correct about Sawyer. In the episode's final act, when Kat shared Cassidy's theory, Sawyer seemed to corroborate it: ''You and me would have never worked out, Kate. I wasn't fit to be you boyfriend.'' Maybe...but he would sure seem to be so now. Could these two be any more soul matey? Last week, Lost established a symbiotic relationship between Ben and Sayid and showed how their respective life stories mirrored each other. ''Whatever Happened, Happened'' did the same for Kate and Sawyer. Sawyer: Fugitive who found maturity and security during his three years apart from Kate, in large part due to his relationship with Juliet. Kate: Fugitive who found maturity and security during her three years apart from Sawyer, in large part due to her relationship with Aaron. Both Sawyer and Kate were the primary caretakers to and protectors of the lies that protected their respective cliques. Kate saw her happily-ever-after begin to crumble when her lie was threatened with exposure. Now, Sawyer's happiness is beginning to slip away as his deception comes under siege. Peas in a pod, these two!
To be clear, I am a big fan of Sawyer and Juliet. But if anything should happen to the lovely fertility doc — if, say, she gets abducted by a certain remake of an eighties TV show about aliens that may or may not be giving her the lead role, thus taking her away from Lost on at least a regular basis — I'd be good with Sawyer turning to Kate for ''solace'' and ''sympathy.'' (I hear that's what the kids are calling it these days.)
OLD SAWYER = NEW JACK
Featuring Doc Jensen's Crazy Theory of the Week!
Sawyer's all Mr. Respectable now, the kind of ''Live together, die alone'' leader Jack used to be. Meanwhile, Jack is back on the Island searching for destiny and his fulfillment, and while I don't make that bad (not yet, at least), last night he came off looking a little...well, a little like Old Sawyer to me. In the same way Jack used to go barging over to Sawyer's tent on the beach demanding help from the con man (Band-Aids, pills, etc.) and instead only getting bad attitude and ''What's in it for me?'' selfishness, now it's Sawyer barging into Jack's home, demanding that he apply his surgical skills to Young Ben, and getting a big self-centered ''No'' in return. Yeah, yeah, there was a little more to Jack's response to that — there always is, with anyone — but let us note this conspicuous role reversal. Jack is the new Sawyer. He even went shirtless last night! Wonder where that may lead? Sweaty cage sex? A Dharma library card? Crazy nicknames?
Which reminds me of a theory I've been meaning to share with you for a while now. Remember how Ben murdered Locke? And remember how Eloise Hawking said the Oceanic 815 experience had to be replicated in order for Ajira 316 to return to the Island? And remember how Jack shod Locke's corpse with his father's shoes so Dead Man John could play the role of Dead Man Christian's proxy?
Could it be that Lost may have been intimating that Christian has a little more in common with Locke than a pair of shoes? What if Christian's death wasn't the result of a bad bender Down Under, as we've been led to believe? What if Christian was murdered — say, by a certain someone keenly interested in making sure Jack and all his castaways friends followed paths of destiny that led them straight to the Island? A certain someone whose name sounds a lot like Zen Sinus?
Sawyer got the chance to kill the man responsible for the death of his parents. If Jack is the new Sawyer, might there be a date with Black Rock vengeance in his future, too?
The Dharma folks grappled with the aftermath of Young Ben's VW bus-on-fire diversion. Horace managed the crisis as if it were a terrorist attack. If only Dharma had its own Jack Bauer. But it does have a Jack Shephard, and he dared to open his mouth and ask the uppity Mayor MacCheese of Dharma-Oz a question. Horace regarded his newest ''work man'' as if Jack were an inferior Epsilon to his superior Alpha. ''And who you are?'' he snooted. Later, Kate got similar treatment when Horace caught her hanging with Sawyer in the security station. Is it impolitic for Dharma nobles and Dharma serfs to mingle? And what exactly were Dharma recruits expecting when they signed up? (In the words of Roger Linus: ''They couldn't sucker anyone on that sub if they had told us we were going to be grease monkeys and janitors.'') I worry that Lost won't have the time to answer such picayune questions about the larger Dharma culture this season. So how about a seventies-set Dharma ARG during the off season that could explore and dispense some of this trivia?
Speaking of Roger, Ben's father got to spend some quality time with Kate, forming an unlikely bond that mirrored her rapport with Cassidy. In the same way that Cassidy saw through the lie of her fraudulent motherhood, Roger clearly saw that she was no mechanic, and called her on it. In this version of friends, it was Kate who could offer the sympathy, but she managed to do so without an angry bias. She seemed particularly touched by his self-reflection and need for redemption. ''My son stole my keys so he could bust that animal [Sayid] out of jail. Because of me. I thought I was going to be the greatest father ever. I guess it didn't work out that way. I tried to do what she wanted me to do. But I guess a boy just needs his mother.'' We don't know anything about the Ben-Roger relationship from this point until the Purge, which is about 15 years into the future at this point. It would be a tragic irony if we were to learn that Roger had changed as a result of this crisis, that he wanted to be a better father and redeem himself in Ben's eyes, but Ben couldn't or wouldn't allow that to happen because he had been made into a cold, hard, innocence-challenged...something during his recuperation in Richard's Temple.
Did you get the sense that maybe Roger got the wrong impression about Kate's interest in his life? Can you imagine this guy making a pass at Kate?
ROGER: So... wanna see where I keep my mop heads?
KATE: Me say yes. Me pathologically attracted to bad men. Maybe that's why me want to help your son, too. Hey! Me just think of irony! At the beginning of the season, Adult Ben sent lawyers asking me for my blood to prove a biological connection to my fake creepy little son. Now, here in the Dharma past, me am giving my blood to your creepy little boy to save his life. Hey! Me have universal blood type. Maybe that's a clue to the fact that everyone on Lost is interconnected in some cosmic lifeline kind of way. It's just like Charlie sang....Sigh. Me miss Charlie. So hunky, in a hobbity kind of way. Me think in another life, me would date him.
Nah, that probably won't happen.
THE LOST SPIN-OFF COMING NEXT SEASON TO THE CW:
PARADOX PLACE 90666!
Grand Inquisitor Goodspeed deduced that Dharma had been betrayed by one of its own. Sawyer knew it was an inside job, perpetrated by a certain workman's disgruntled son, and hustled the newly arrived, under suspicion castaways to unofficial ''house arrest'' until he could straighten everything out. The cabin fever chamber drama of the time traveling castaways cooped up inside Jack's house gave us a sense of what kind of show Lost might be if it were a prime time soap opera.
Where comic relief comes from two dudes debating time travel logic with cheeky knowingness. Hurley and Miles churned out two very funny, slightly winking conversations. Hurley's instinct was to embrace a 'We're changing time!' interpretation. Miles insisted that they were merely doing and experiencing for the first time what had already happened. Hurley: ''That was really confusing.'' Miles: ''Get used to it.'' But their scenes did give me a 'been there, done that' feeling; it played like the water cooler conversations all of us were having during the first half of the season. And I was a little surprised that a comic book geek like Hurley couldn't quite pretzel his mind around time loop puzzles. Surely a geek big enough and savvy enough to be reading Y: The Last Man has larger frames of reference for time travel than just Back To The Future? (Do Spanish language editions of Crisis On Infinite Earths and The Exiles not exist?) Still, I was pleased to see and hear that characters on Lost can't explain this stuff any better than any of us. Their banter culminated on a point that Lost seemed to want us to keep thinking about, a point I brought up last week: Why didn't Ben acknowledge knowing Sayid when the Iraqi was torturing him in season 2 during The Hatch/Henry Gale period?
Where lovers quarrel over their inability to commit...to saving the time-space continuum from collapse! Kate wanted Jack to operate on Young Ben and save his life. She felt guilty for bringing chaos (and especially Sayid) into the Dharma past. Instead, like a good Greek/Italian/Jewish/whatever-the-stereotype-is matriarch who responds to a family crisis by whipping up a feast, Jack decided to hit the kitchen and make some sandwiches for everyone. ''I spent all my time trying to fix things [on the Island],'' explained Jack. ''Did it ever strike you that the Island wanted to fix things on its own? Maybe I was just getting in the way.'' Still, Jack's stance struck me as odd. Is he really that addicted to his Mr. Fix-it persona that intervening in Ben's situation would have been tantamount to falling off the wagon? (''Hello? Messiah Complex Anonymous? It's Ja — I mean, 'Jesus.' Yeah, I screwed up. Went and saved the day again. Can you tell me where the next and nearest meeting is? The Temple? Where's that?'')
idea of Wannabe Enlightened Jack grappling with his control freak tendencies. And this exchange — winking at the audience's complex regard for its marquee hero — was classic:
KATE: ''You know I don't like the new you. I liked the old you. The one who didn't sit around and wait for things to happen.''
JACK: ''You didn't like the old me, Kate.''
Great lines. Honestly. My only gripe with them, though, was that with nothing less than possible quantum catastrophe on the line, Jack's rationale for non-intervention was streaked with scorned-lover passive aggressive wahh-wahh, and when Lost plays these chords, it just makes me roll my eyes. So soap opera. So...
Where a hottie like Juliet would barge in on Jack as he emerges dripping wet and half naked from the shower and engage in hot and bothered...conversation about Island destiny and life's purpose. Juliet felt furious with Jack over his inaction and lack of community spirit, not to mention the disruption that he represents to her life. Why did you come back, my former would-be lover? Jack: ''I came back because I was supposed to.'' Juliet: ''Supposed to do what?'' Jack: ''I don't know yet.'' Juliet: ''Well, you better figure it out.'' Watching and listening to Jack talk about Island destiny was a little bit like watching and listening to...well, John Locke. Except 20 times more desperate. I really want to like and support ''new'' Jack. But I worry he's just as flawed as ''old'' Jack. We shall see.
WHAT WAS JULIET THINKING?
One of the episode's more intriguing moments came when the camera doted on Juliet's face as actress Elizabeth Mitchell allowed a dreadful epiphany to pass across it. It came as she and Kate banged their heads against the wall to find someway to save dying Ben--and then, suddenly, Juliet thought of one. The Others. Her old people. But whatever she was thinking, I got the sense there was slightly more to it than, ''Hey! Richard! He's got magic potions and healing powers and stuff!'' And while it may have been simply been anxiety over initiating contact with them, I wonder if there was even more to it — if perhaps Juliet was keenly aware of the cost of seeking help from the Others, to Ben and/or herself. I was also struck by the fanciful thought that in that moment, something supernatural was happening, like she was literally receiving instructions from the Island or Alpert himself. This may have fed her fury toward Jack. In that moment, Juliet realized that Ben was going to get saved — but at a steep price, one that could have been avoided had Jack intervened. What did you think she was thinking?
RICHARD ALPERT: HOSTILE OR ALLY?
The Richard Alpert Look, exclusively from Banana Republic: slim, fit solid dress shirt, dress pants, belt. Oh, and make sure you accessorize with eyeliner and intrigue. A few episodes ago, there was his boast about being superior to Dharma's sonic fence. Last night, there was that bit of business about knowing that Sawyer and Kate were coming to him. But how? Psychic powers? Hyper-attuned jungle senses? A Desmond-esque flash from the future? And why not let them come to him? Is that just not the Others way — or did you get the sense, as I did, that Richard didn't want them to know anything about the Temple, aka The House of Smokey? So far, we only know of one castaway who is aware of the Temple's existence: Jin. (See: The Affair of Montand's Severed Arm.) I'm going to hazard a guess and say that his knowledge of this mysterious Island landmark is going to play a crucial role in the season's endgame. And while we're on the subject of the Temple: Do you think Richard and Smokey are roommates? (Presuming, of course, that Smokey is even on the Island at this point in its history. I have to think so. It's the only justification for the bother of the sonic fence at this point. Methinks Lost will clarify this point before the end of season.)
Richard was challenged by his fellow Hostiles on the propriety of bringing Ben into the fold without discussing the matter with ''Ellie.'' And then one added: ''And if Charles should find out...'' This statement would seem to stand as our first official corroboration of Charles Widmore's claim to Locke that he was once the leader of the Others. Or was it? Maybe ''Ellie'' — Eloise Hawking, Daniel Faraday's mother; the one who, as a young girl in the Island fifties, took her future son out to deal with leaking Jughead — was the one who was in charge, and Charles was a hothead who played a secondary role. Richard's response was most provocative: He didn't care, because he didn't answer to them. Again, we are prodded to ask: What exactly is Richard's relationship to the Others and his role in the leadership structure? My current take on Richard is this: He is like an angel to be wrestled with and overcome, like a sphinx to be solved and beaten, and should you be successful, you get the keys to the kingdom, the Island, and as part of the deal, he serves you faithfully until someone else comes along and knocks you off the mountain.
Richard agreed to take Ben and work his magic upon the lad — but not before shooting Kate a long, hard, quizzical look that seemed to ask one of two questions: 1. ''Do I know you?'' (Perhaps Richard was recalling Kate from the last time he encountered her during previous passes through the time loop.) 2. ''You don't belong here, do you?'' (Perhaps Richard was sniffing the time travel musk wafting off her.) The blockbuster was this: ''If I take him he's never going to be the same again. He'll forget this ever happened and his innocence will be gone. He will always be one of us. You still want me to take him?''
Lost innocence? What, does getting healed come with an installation of evil spirits? Or is does Richard hang out with strippers or something? (The Temple = the Bada Bing! of the Hostiles) In the Bible, the fall from innocence was a result of eating from a tree that gave Adam and Eve forbidden knowledge. Is that what Ben's going to get? Knowledge of his future? Regardless, once again, the castaways are being made to understand that their participation in past events is shaping the future that they have already experienced. They have themselves to blame for the thing that is Benjamin Linus. We are the causes of our own suffering. Think about your life. At the same time, I didn't quite know how to interpret this idea that Ben would be getting a memory wipe as part of his healing treatment. Did Richard mean that Ben would only be made to forget how Sawyer and Kate helped save his life? I hope so, because if Ben's whole childhood is about to get erased, it really makes me look stupid for insisting to the whole world that Adult Ben remembers growing up with the castaways in Dharmaville. We shall see. In the meantime, I want to hear your theories: What do you think is going to happen to Ben down there in the bowels of The Temple? And what do you think is in store for Adult Ben, last seen waking up in the Hydra Station under the watchful gaze of Nurse John Locke? ''Welcome back to the land of the living.'' The conch has been passed to you. Speak! And see you next week!