Tonight’s return of LOST was absolutely amazing, possibly the best episode yet in the whole series in some ways. Things that were still speculation are now certain. Many more mysteries are set before us.
Ben teleports to the Sahara Desert. He is wearing a Dharma Initiative jacket and retches, so whatever the method of travelling through time and space, it affects one. He had been wounded on the arm.
When locals find him, Ben addresses them in English, then Arabic, then Turkish. It seems he is not 100% certain where he is yet. He clearly didn’t know what sort of weather to dress for. He overpowers them and rides off on their horse.
We next encounter Ben in Tunisia. He tells the hotel receptionist it isn’t his first visit to Tunisia, but it has been a while. He asks the date, and when told it is October 24th, he has to ask whether it is 2005. Ben then gives his name as Dean Moriarty and says he is a “preferred guest”. When the receptionist looks him up in her book, was it just me or did she seem nervous when she saw what was written about this “preferred guest”? At the hotel, Ben sees Sayid on TV.
Ben next goes to Tikrit, Iraq, and takes photographs of a man watching the funeral procession for Sayid’s wife, Nadia. The man is Ishmael Bakir, and he works for Charles Widmore. Sayid spots Ben taking pictures, and tackles him. He asks him how he got off the island, and Ben lies, saying that he used Desmond’s boat, “The Elizabeth”, which he sailed on a course towards Fiji. Ben says that Widmore’s man killed Nadia. Sayid kills Bakir, and Ben then tells him to “walk away” because “Once you let your grief become anger it will never go away. I speak from experience”. He also tells him “This is my war”, but Sayid replies that he had sought the woman he loves for 8 years, married her, only to have her killed. Sayid asks “Who’s next”, and Ben says he’ll be in touch, and walks away smiling.
Back in the “present” on the island, Ben tells Locke that he must survive because they need Jacob’s help. Although Locke may not know where the cabin is, Ben knows that Hurley does. Ben’s daughter Alex had been captured, and those seeking to apprehend Ben threaten her. Ben bluffs, saying she’s just a pawn and means nothing to him, but when she is shot, he is astonished. He says in disbelief “He changed the rules”. Ben runs into the secret room we had already seen, and then into another one behind a metal panel and an ancient-looking stone wall/door with carvings/inscriptions in it. Inside, Ben unleashes the smoke monster at the soldiers who had stormed the compound. He then cries over his daughter.
In London, Ben goes to a hotel in London and says he’s there to see “Mr. and Mrs. Kendrick in 4E”. The hour is late, but he says he’s expected. In the elevator, Ben uses a key to take the elevator to the penthouse, where we find that he has come to see Charles Widmore. That’s who “changed the rules”, and Ben tells Charles that he will wish he hadn’t done so. For some reason, Ben affirms that he can’t kill Charles. So he promises to kill his daughter Penelope. Charles says Ben will never find her. Charles also says that everything Ben has he took from him (i.e. Charles), and that the island is rightfully his (Charles’). Of the explanations I’ve heard suggested so far as to why Ben can’t kill Charles, the most interesting is that Charles is Ben’s constant. This would make a lot of sense. Hate, it seems, as well as love, can be used to bring stability, but with different effects on those around us.
What is the stick-device Ben carries, which he used against the Arabs who first found him in the desert, and was holding in the hotel lobby in London too? If Widmore’s men found the island, why does Ben tell Widmore he’ll never find it? Can the island, like Jacob’s cabin, move about in space and time and be hidden in this way? What is the significance of Tunisia? Is the “wormhole” that allows travel through time fixed in space, in some sense? It would be odd if the island itself were not fixed in space and time, yet could only allow one to travel through time to a fixed point. But perhaps the island once was in Tunisia, and is a sort of Eden that has been displaced in time and space, but remains connected to that point in space.
Another interesting detail: the doctor, found washed up dead on the island, is still just fine on the boat. Ah, the interesting effects of time-displacement.
Now that we know that teleportation through both time and space is possible, the question becomes what we are to make of it. Did Ben simply gather information on the passengers on Oceanic flight 815, or did he intervene in events so as to bring about the presence of various passengers who suited his purposes?
Religions sometimes view human lives as pawns in something bigger, and speak of God as causing all sorts of pain and suffering for a greater good. LOST may give us a chance to test that worldview. If Ben can know the outcome and works all things together for good, can that justify the suffering, the lives lost, and so on? Can the healing people have experienced on the island justify it? Perhaps this question will be explored further when we find out what “the rules” were and how Charles Widmore changed them.
Another question that must be asked: in the “flash forwards”, are we witnessing what Ben does when he goes into his secret room and travels through time and space? Is there a sense in which what we witnessed in tonight’s episode did not involve a “flash forward” about Ben, but things he experienced within the continuum of the flow of events in his experience depicted in tonight’s episode?
Early in the episode, Hurley says (while playing Risk) that Australia is the key to the whole game. Is this a hint that there can be a relatively isolated island, and yet it can still hold the key to world dominion?
An even more difficult question to answer is this: How will we manage to wait until next week to find out what happens next?