Last night I received the following email from my mom:
so, i’ve missed many episodes (years) of LOST…so, what the hell is the smoke monster? where did the temple come from all of a sudden? i cannot do this TV thing…can’t keep up. xomom
Whoa, mom. Language! Here’s the thing, though: I haven’t missed any episodes (years) of Lost, and I have no idea how to even begin answering either of those questions. I have no idea what the hell the smoke monster is! And if you are confused by where the temple came from all of a sudden, WAIT UNTIL YOU HEAR ABOUT THE LIGHTHOUSE. You would kind of think that a person who was really sticking with it, really doing his or her best to untangle the mysteries of the Island, would at least have a modicum of authority and satisfaction when a social Loster (“Only at parties, and never alone”) asked a question that definitely seems answerable. And yet here we are, just as in the dark as anyone, holding our satin satchel of Jacob dust wondering where are the answers went.
So we set aside questions of the smoke monster and the temple and basically everything for the moment. And we ask the less pressing but still interesting question, Hey, What’s Up With Ben?
Whuuuuuuuut?! Oh, right. We already know that Ben is a school teacher in Bizarro LA. But still. It is weird! He is giving a lecture about Napoleon and his exile on the island of Elba. ISLANDS! PRISONS! SHORT PEOPLE! I don’t know. I am not smart enough or bored enough to try and unwrap what Lost is trying to say with the island of Elba lecture. Unless they are referring to that other famous story of multi-verse time-travel parallel lives, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, in which case I have a feeling that the Locke Smoke Monster is about finish a
Piggly Wiggly Ziggy Piggy at the bowling alley all by himself. Meanwhile, Ben has an ongoing feud with Principle Skinner, who is removing Ben from his precious HIstory Club and putting him on detention duty. Again, I’m sure there is some kind of meaning I am supposed to extract from this (Jacob put a thumbtack on God’s chair?) but I’m just going to play dumb.
Oh no, not detention!
That day, at lunch, Ben complains to his colleague about the stupid principal making him run stupid detention. Classic Ben with the Classic Whining. I mean, it seems to me that his main complaint against having to run detention is that he has a PhD, eats his lunch with chopsticks, and doesn’t want to. But running detention for a few weeks seems like a perfectly reasonable part of one’s job. You’ve already got the World’s Best Teacher Mug, Ben:
Now earn it. But uh oh, here is substitute teacher John Locke, who is like, maybe you should be principal, and I will support you. Uh, thanks? You are a substitute teacher. Your support in something as entrenched and political as the upheaval and replacement of a Los Angeles high school principal is going to take more than a show of mustard-smeared hands. But this gets the wheels turning in Ben’s head. You can almost see them. They are right behind his eyes.
Of course, Ben’s father wanted a different life for him. None of this HAVING TO RUN DETENTION FOR A COUPLE WEEKS COMPLETELY REASONABLY. That is why he signed up for the Dharma Initiative and took Ben to the island. Imagine what their lives would have been if they had stayed! Well no need to imagine Mr. Linus, I know what your lives would have been like! It is called Lost Season 4, and it is available on DVD. This IS the first mention, however, in Bizarro Town of anything to even do with the Island. So that’s…something. Why did Ben and his dad leave the island? I’m sorry, please save your questions until after the show has ended. There’s going to be a special page on FRUSTRATION.COM for those.
Oh, wait, there is a knock at the door. Who is that?
Of course, Ben’s daughter was never actually Ben’s daughter. She was Rousseau’s daughter. Or was she Claire’s son? (Claire +/- Rousseau = Huh?) It doesn’t matter now, because something something the island, NO RULES. I am pretty sure this show is now available on Zazzle in t-shirt form.
Ben is Alex’s history tutor, which is why they go to the library together to study SLAVE SHIPS (foreshadowing). Speaking of foreshadowing, my only concern is that the library is TOO normally lit like a regular library.
Alex tells Ben about how she caught Principal Skinner fucking Mrs. Krabappel, and Ben is like DING DING DING, now is my turn to run the island, I MEAN HIGH SCHOOL. So he asks his colleague to hack into the principal’s email account. Oh good. No, see, he just needs those emails because of how much he cares about the kids! That’s all. The kids deserve a principal who is looking out for them and pushing them to reach for the stars, and if someone has to violate the law in order to expose sexual misconduct in order to CARE SO MUCH, then so be it. Ben’s logic about his own motivations and desires is just air tight. Like nuclear submarine tight.
Anyway, Ben confronts Principle Skinner with lascivious emails that describe sex on school grounds (hahhaa, very sexy emails, I’m sure. “I want to ravish you where the jazz band practices.”) and the principal gives him a choice: you can have my job, but if you become the principal then I won’t write Alex a letter of recommendation to Yale. HAHAHAHHAHA. It’s a second chance for Ben to do the right thing and SAVE ALEX! Because as we all agree, not getting a letter of recommendation to Yale is the same thing as BULLETS IN THE FACE. 1 for 1. Even Stevens.
Back on the island, Team Jacob is heading to the beach after everyone was killed at the temple. Miles is like “what the hell was that thing” and my mom was like, “GOOD QUESTION, MILES!” Ben explains that it is what killed their friends, which is not a very good explanation at all, and then Ilana is like “and it killed Jacob, right?” and Ben is like “oh duh der doy no doy, yeah, of course, duh, haha, duhhhhhhh.” Good answer, Ben! So Ilana makes Miles talk to the bag of Jacob dirt (don’t worry about it, mom) and he is like “Ben definitely killed Jacob.”
Whoops! But Ben is like, “psychics are unreliable.” Haaaaaa. Double haaaaaa, actually. Because on the one hand, Ben’s frantic self-defenses are hilarious, as frantic self-defenses always are, but also ha because you are on a MAGICAL ISLAND of SMOKE MONSTERS and FABULOUS LIGHTHOUSES, so you can’t really become a Scully all of a sudden.
So Ilana rips down some wiring and creates an unbreakable ankle shackle (Mrs. Wizard over here) and shackles Ben to a tree and gives him one of those classic Lost Island Patented scoop shovels and tells him to dig his own grave. Sure. And Ben digs pretty slowly as anyone who was facing their own death and also tasked with the nightmarish job of
monitoring detention for a few weeks digging their own grave would. But my favorite part is how he does make sure it is a very neat and geometrical grave.
What does a man have if not pride in his work? Anyway, at one point, Miles walks over with some food in a “banana leaf.”
And somehow this moment just captured for me everything that is wrong with Lost this season. Because WHAT IS THAT BANANA LEAF? That is literally a laminated piece of green construction paper. If the show never said “this is a banana leaf” I would have let it go, but they do say it, and so it’s like, NO. Honestly, Lost, you are a big budget cultural phenomenon TV show on a Big Three network in its highly-anticipated final season. If the script calls for a banana leaf, GET A FUCKING BANANA LEAF. Or, cross the words “banana leaf” out of the script and hope no one notices that big bright green sheet of paper in Miles hand. “Oh, I hope they don’t think that’s a banana leaf.” “Well, no one said banana leaf, so it could be anything. It’s probably just a piece of paper…from the airplane.” Either take the time to make your show good, or put it in the garbage with the rest of the shows, but stop making me feel like the asshole for actually liking you, Lost.
Anyway, dig dig dig, grave grave grave, and then Locke shows up and Ben is like “well, you got what you wanted,” and Locke is like, “I don’t want you to die, Ben.” Which is probably pretty true. I mean, Locke has killed a bunch of people in the past few days. So he releases the ankle shackle with a flick of his hand (really, Lost? Actual just straight up fucking Harry Potter MAGIC now?) and tells Ben that there is a gun propped up against a tree in the forest and that if he runs, he will beat Ilana to the gun, and he can shoot Ilana in the face, and then when everyone leaves the island, Ben will be put in charge. Oh fun? Who wouldn’t want to be trapped all alone on a deserted island of rotting corpses with one empty grave waiting by the beach? Ben gets the gun and all he wants is for Ilana to let him go to Locke. Why? Because Locke is the only one who will have him. Awwwwwwwww. SWEET BABY BEAR! “I’ll have you,” Ilana says. (Hotcha!) So Ben doesn’t go with Locke. He sticks with Team Jacob, fixin’ tarps n’ stuff. And we are treated to our first slow-motion-everyone-doing-stuff-on-the-beach-montage in a long time.
Back in Bizarro LA, Ben decides not to blackmail the principal into being the principal, and instead he secures Alex her letter of recommendation to Yale. It does make you wonder why Locke didn’t just give him the gun? Why did he make him run to it in the forest? It is almost as if Locke and Jacob are the same? Or something? I don’t know! Honestly, this show:
AND THEN THERE IS JACK AND HURLEY. Hurley, wake up from your hilarious nap!
So they are making their way back to the temple from the lighthouse (don’t worry about it, mom) but Hurley is stalling because Ghost Jacob told them they couldn’t go back to the temple, and that is when they run into Richard Alpert. He leads them to the Black Rock, which apparently he was on when he first came to the island? As a slave master or some shit? You racist, Richard Alpert! CafePress knows!
He wants to die, but he can’t kill himself, because he’s been touched by Jacob. He needs Jack to light the fuse for him (on the dynamite, you know, suicide stuff). Jack does it. Whoa, Jack. But then Jack is like, “let’s talk.” DOUBLE WHOA, Jack. But it turns out that Jack is confident that the dynamite isn’t going to explode, because he is a total Jacob-head now? That was fast. One second it is all smash up the most wonderous lighthouse of all time, and the next second it is like “Jacob has a plan for me, and I can’t wait to find out what it is.” Jack is a clown.
And then there is this shit:
Oh, Widmore. OH BOY.