Friday, April 18, 2008

22 innings, Miguel Tejada and another lonely Friday, thinking about "Lost"

Very little time to blog today -- we've got the first round of baseball playoffs starting this afternoon, and a race coming up, for which we must prepare. Incidentally, if you're ever trying to decide whether to get into sportswriting, keep in mind that you'll probably have to go to Talladega, at least once. If you can handle that, maybe this is a business you'll want to get into.
(Speaking of sportswriting, has anyone else followed the bizarre Tejada thing? Why exactly did the WWL feel the need to ambush him in that interview? Did I miss something? Asking tough questions is, obviously, a must -- going out of your way to embarrass an interview subject like that seems a tad unnecessary. But we move on.)

With "Lost" returning to the airwaves next week after nearly a month off, I've been wandering about in the wilderness, pondering the mysteries of the show, trying to see if I'm smart enough to figure out exactly where we're headed. So far, no luck ... and that's been incredibly frustrating to me -- for example, I had pretty much every plot twist of "24" figured out long before it actually happened. Perhaps the "Lost" writers are simply smarter than the ones on "24." Or perhaps I got dumber. You be the judge.

Anyway, pretty much every character on the show is complex and difficult to understand, right down to the confusion of whether it's Scott or Steve that's actually still alive (or if any of them actually are).
But the most vexing character, undoubtedly, is Benjamin Linus. Absolutely none of his actions seem consistent with his previous actions, and the only that's certain is that he absolutely cannot be trusted.

In the tradition of Peter King, then, here are some things I think I think, about Ben Linus.
  • I think the issue of whether Ben is a "ruthless killer" is very difficult to figure out. We know, for example, that he became the de facto leader of "The Good Guys" after he unleashed a massive gas attack on the DHARMA Initiative ("The Purge"). And, as far as we can tell, he's still pulling the strings after the events of the show, ordering Sayid around as a hired gun. At other times, however, he's somewhat less vicious -- he had multiple chances, for example, to order the killing/capturing of flight survivors while he was being held in the hatch during Season 2. And there was that bizarre moment at the end of Season 3, when he had his followers pretend to kill Sayid, Jin and Bernard (which ultimately resulted in the loss of his own people). It's worth noting, I suppose, that he's technically never killed anyone himself -- the gas attack, well, that was the result of the gas, right? Even when he shot Locke -- who clearly threatens him among his own people -- he didn't actually kill him, even saying, before he departed, "Well, I certainly hope (Jacob) helps you."
  • I think Ben's prescience borders on the supernatural, and may in fact be supernatural. He seems to know the complete history of every other character on the show, he's somehow communicating with the world outside the island (knowing, for example, the Sox won the Series to manipulate Jack), he's talking with some sort of supernatural being named "Jacob" that only he (and Locke and possibly Hurley, it seems) can see, he clearly terrifies the rest of The Others (except Juliet), he's able to get up and walk less than a month after some seriously invasive surgery (in which he nearly died) and he has enough savvy that he can see a plane in the process of crashing to earth, immediately process what's going on and quickly formulate a game plan involving sending out spies and accumulating lists. Which leads us to our next point ...
  • I think Ben's intentions, visa vis the survivors, are befuddling. He went out of his way to kidnap Walt (who's got his own stuff going on, as we detailed a few weeks ago) in what appeared to be part of a very intricate plot to eventually capture Jack, Sawyer, Kate and Hurley ... and he immediately let Hurley go. He obviously fears what happens if the survivors are discovered, though it's unclear if he staged the plane crash (as the Widmore boat guys say) or if the people on the boat did (as he said). But Ben's loyalties are obviously to The Island, and he's willing to do some rather extraordinary things to protect it. Which, naturally, leads us to our next point ...
  • I think Ben has clearly found a rival in John Locke, someone who also has a clear connection to The Island -- since, you know, it healed him and all. Locke also receives the adoration of The Others, pretty much from the first time he tours their camp. Locke can also see (and hear) the mysterious Jacob (even though he can't find the cabin when he's actually searching). And Locke, obviously, doesn't want to leave The Island either -- off The Island, he's a cripple who works for a box company. On The Island, he's a patriarchal tribe leader. Will one of them kill the other before this is over? Tough to say, but if that's the case ... I mean, it's Locke who loses, right? We know Ben's still running things with Sayid, after he leaves.
  • I think I've gone in a complete circle, and I'm thoroughly confused. Please come back, "Lost." I need you.

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