Who knew economics could be that exciting? Honestly, if I’d known this back in college, I would have gotten off the English Literature track and learned me some monetary theory. If Season 4 of Lost has taught us anything, it’s that getting the survivors of Oceanic 815 off the island truly was only half the story that the writers wanted to tell. The narrative has moved from a contained playing field to a global spectrum. On that larger field, two forces are waging a silent but crucial war. And leading the Oceanic 6’s side? Benjamin Freakin’ Linus. I can’t even say “Benjamin Linus” anymore. It’s Benjamin Freakin’ Linus. If this were a less family-friendly site, I might have another name for him. But let’s stick with that for now.
I will admit that while the bookends of The Sayid Identity truly enthralled me, the middle section (ie, everything involving Elsa) left me a bit non-plussed. Only with the reveal that she wore a bracelet identical to that worn by Naomi did my interest perk up for the first time after the bloodiest hole of golf ever. (Quick, readers: who is the “RG” inscribed in Naomi’s bracelet?) The pieces of Sayid’s future tale started to fall into place, culminating in the “Ben’s M to Sayid’s 004815162342” encounter in the final scene.
While I will confess to being shocked by his appearance in this particular scene, one earlier line in the show did foreshadow this appearance. While incarcerated in the game room of New Otherton, Sayid tells Locke, “The day I start trusting that man is the day I sell my soul.” Indeed, no better description of post-Island Sayid can be made. And once he told Elsa that the name of the “economist” was on a “list,” I nearly spat out my Diet Dr. Pepper. Avid golfer, suave lover, dispenser of cold-hearted “justice,” this is a man who lost his way once he let Ben’s words penetrate his ears. Wouldn’t be surprised at all if those words were from the Quran that Sayid saw on Benjamin Freakin’ Linus shelf.
What makes this development so interesting is that you’re looking at two sides, post-Island, at war, and both of them are led by absolutely terrifying figures. On one side, you have Team Abaddon; on the other side, Team Freakin’ Linus. This is on the opposite end of the martial spectrum from Dance War: Bruno vs. Carrie Ann here, people. The Oceanic 6 are caught in a power play between these two sides, and whatever happened between Sayid getting on the helicopter and Sayid being treated inside the Kennel of Evil Foreboding, something(s) happened that made Kate, Jack, Sayid, Hurley, and Two Players to Be Named later to say, “You know what? I’m gonna go with Ben on this one. That seems best.”
From what I could gather in the last scene, it looks like Sayid agreed to side with Ben once Nadia was killed. Which makes the “superstar” status of the Oceanic 6 so confusing (in a good way). Precisely who engineered their celebrity? Team Abaddon? Team BFL? Karl Rove? It’s hard to tell at this point. In a way, their celebrity status protects them; but it also puts them consistently in harm’s way. And moreover? Puts those close to the Oceanic 6 in harm’s way as well. There’s been a détente of sorts between the groups, and with Elsa’s death, it looks like the REAL war is about to begin. And BFL couldn’t be happier.
Yes, good ol’ Benjamin Freakin’ Linus, he of the best bungalow in New Otherton. You know, the one with the secret compartment with clothes, passports, and oodles of cash in all sorts of currencies. Forget The Sayid Identity; maybe I should have called this episode The Benjamin Freakin’ Linus Identity. The name on the passport shown (one of seemingly dozens) appeared to be “Dean Moriarty”: the name of one of the protagonists in Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. (Quick, Kerouac fans: why would BFL have this name?) Looks like he didn’t merely get all his information about the Lostaways from Mikhail: turns out he’s been doing a bit of sight-seeing. A little bit of light travel, if you will. And in doing so, may have been slowly building up a network on a global scale that threatens those represented by Team Abaddon.
Just how Benjamin Freakin’ Linus plans on using the Oceanic 6 is unclear at this point. In fact, it’s unclear if anyone besides Sayid is actually working for him post-Island. (It does give Kate’s “He’s gonna be wondering where I am,” at the end of “Through the Looking Glass” a lot more shading though, doesn’t it?) What’s clear is that Benjamin Freakin’ Linus has a history of sneaking off the Island undetected, and Abaddon could have sent in the Boaties to capture him on-Island, since he’s proving so elusive off-Island. The fact that Elsa does NOT know that Benjamin Freakin’ Linus is Sayid’s boss only goes to show how elusive he continues to be.
But let’s leave the post-Island world and turn to the on-Island activities of our very own version of Mr. Wizard, Daniel Faraday. I can see this character annoying the bejesus out of me in a few episodes from now, but for now, I am positively giddy every time he’s onscreen. Watching him timidly ask Lepidus for permission to do a science experiment was like watching a 1st-grade ask his teacher for permission to go to the bathroom. And what he discovered? Well, I expect you loyal readers to chime in on the following, since it’s only the most volatile topic going on the Lost comment boards round these here parts: the rocket time traveled.
Now, now, don’t get in a huff: I put it so plainly largely to provoke. But honestly, at this point, if you’re not calling it time travel, you’re largely changing the semantics of the situation, right? What should have taken fifteen seconds (roughly, given Regina’s countdown) took thirty minutes. That led to my favorite line of the night: “That was far more than weird.” No kidding, Daniel. No kidding.
Looks like Faraday’s done some research on this Island. At the very least, he did research on topics so similar to the Island that Abaddon took notice. I’d be willing to wager that Faraday designed that rocket test to prove a hunch he had about the Island. And while it didn’t produce the exact results he discovered, it did lead him to tell Lepidus that in order to leave the Island, he had to follow the EXACT path out that he took in.
Now, I’m no science major here, as mentioned earlier. My folks paid six figures so I could read obscure books by dead white dudes. So I’m a bit out of my realm here. But Faraday’s character exists largely to explain the unique properties of the Island in ways that should make sense for science plebians such as myself. So far, he’s imparted that light doesn’t “scatter” quite right on the Island, that something traveling to the Island takes its sweet time in getting there, and that in order to come and go via air travel, one must essentially retread one steps (possibly along compass point 325). What can we glean from all of this?
To answer that, I think we should look at the scene between Kate and Sawyer. I know, a weird place to look. But I’m not asking you to look at them. I’m asking you to look at the astronomical chart that lies directly between them. The camera frames their conversation so this chart sits in the direct line of site of the viewer. I’m thinking this isn’t some artsy way of saying, “These two people are worlds apart.” I mean, this isn’t According to Jim we’re talking about here, people. It’s a subtle clue that the Island itself sits at a nexus, cosmologically speaking, and that nexus is worth the global struggle between Team Abaddon and Team BFL.
Now, when I say that, I don’t want to imply that the Island sits at the center of the Universe, the center of All That Is, but that in a small way…yes, it’s at the center of what we as humans know as reality. I’m sure Dharma/Hanso viewed this metaphorically, but the importance/relevance still holds true. One need only superimpose that astronomical chart atop the Blast Door Map and see just how attuned The Dharma Initiative was to this fact. Let’s ask John Lennon what he’d say if he were a physicist who landed on the Island:
Images of broken light which
dance before me like a million eyes
That call me on and on across the universe
Sounds like light that doesn’t quite scatter right to me, people. And you can call it time travel, time slippage, parallel time lines, alternate dimensions, and heck, you can it Al, but only if you call me Betty, but in going from the freighter to the Island, Faraday et al went from a place where time works one way to a place where time works another, plain and simple. I’m not sure how much more clearly the show can say it.
Given all of this: the astronomical map, the unique scattering, the time slipping, and “Where in the World is Benjamin Freakin’ Linus?”, I now ask you the following: do we know that Jacob’s cabin lives on the Island? By that I mean, what does the binding circle of ash actually DO? Is it meant to contain the cabin, or summon it? And with the arrival of the Boaties, does the circle even work anymore? Is the correct question about the cabin the same about the island, a matter not so much as “where” as “when?” So many questions, to be sure. But perhaps the when/whereabouts of the cabin have something to do with Ben’s frequent flier miles.
A final thing to consider before signing off this week. I’ve been rattling on about Team Abaddon and Team BFL, and how well-funded both seem, and how global in scale both teams seem to be. Is it so hard to imagine they were once on the SAME team? Couldn’t have Abaddon’s group fashioned all those passports, provided funding, and given intelligence to him? Is it hard to imagine that Benjamin Freakin’ Linus had an experience on the Island that split him from Abaddon’s group? Is it hard to imagine that once Linus essentially “hid” the Island from view, it would take a while for Team Abaddon to find it again? And after a few unsuccessful attempts (by hot-air balloon, for example), it took the disappearance of an entire airplane for them to triangulate a location and begin their assault on the Island? All food for thought.
But it’s time for me to cede the floor over to you, gentle readers. What did you make of tonight’s episode? How does Ben’s leadership/control over the Oceanic 6 change how you think about the flash-forwards? What did you glean from Faraday’s experiments? What else intrigued/delighted/frustrated you this week?
And be sure to check out more news, theories, and insight over at Zap2It’s Guide to Lost.