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Lostwatch: Prospero's Books

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Ben plays let’s make a deal with Locke. / ABC: MARIO PEREZ

SPOILER ALERT: Before you read this, go to the safe behind the picture in your living room, enter the combination 36 – 15 – 28, get the videotape inside, and watch Lost. I taped over the Red Sox game.

The Tempest is the name of our brand-spanking newest Dharma station, a power generator that conveniently doubles as a source of enough poison gas to kill everyone on the island.

The Tempest is also the name of Shakespeare’s last play. It is about the adventures of a group of people who are shipwrecked on a magical island, which is home to a spirit and a monster.

I’m just sayin’.

Having gotten rid of the deadweight flashbacks, the sixth episode of season 4 manages to give us one that actually fills us in on a story we want to know more about: what happened to Juliet with the Others. In retrospect, the flashback didn’t really reveal much stunning about Juliet and Ben—we knew that he manipulated her, and from the first scene they shared screen time it was evident they had some kind of history.

But what kind we didn’t know, and his unrequited crush on Juliet–and willingness to send poor Goodwin to his death over it–painted a few more coats of creepy on old Ben. And from mean therapist Harper, there was the tiniest hint of the reason for his fixation: “He’s been really good to me.” “Of course he has. You look just like her.” Her? Who?

More important was how the flashback spun forward into the island-present story, in which we find Ben to be very much in control even from captivity: continuing to push Locke’s buttons (suggesting a revolt will come when his people find out he has no plan, a situation Ben’s been in himself); getting a message to Juliet via Harper and her magic disappearing power; trading Locke the name of his man on the boat in exchange for getting sprung from solitary; revealing Charles Widmore as the man looking for the island; and, oh yeah, apparently conspiring to gas everyone on the island before Widmore’s people can get to it.

By the way, I hope and trust there’s more to the Ben-Widmore dynamic, and to Widmore’s quest, than Ben is letting on. It’s believeable enough what Ben says–that an island that can make the paralyzed walk would be a bigger draw than the Virgin Mary appearing in a mold growth–but it would be awfully disappointing if all Widmore is after is some Michael Crichton-style plot to open a big Island theme park. (Discover LostWorld! Ride the Smoke Monster! Play our 18-hole golf course! &c.)

In the meantime, Ben’s machinations are interesting enough. One more thing about The Tempest: the central character is Prospero, a sorcerer who gets the spirit Ariel to serve as his slave, manipulates events befalling those around him, meddles in his daughter’s love life and is endowed with great powers that he draws from his vast library of knowledge.

I’m just sayin’. Now on to the hail of bulllets:

* Very nice misdirection on the beginning of the flashback, making it look like a flash-forward. They had me up until Tom stuck his head through the door–and actually for a few seconds aftter that. (“How did he survive? Is it his twin brother?”)

* Locke’s systematic shutting down of the Other farm continues, as rabbit replaces chicken on the menu. And this bunny is served with a side of Easter egg: “This didn’t have a number on it, did it?”

* Now that we’ve ascertained that Daniel and Charlotte were not trying to exterminate everyone on the Island, but to prevent Ben from doing so, can we actually assume that they’re good guys? Or is this an enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend situation?

* Zack and Emma! Oh, yeah, them! I’d been meaning to make a Lost Discussion topic of the Tailie kids for a while and never did. Just what became of them, and why do you think they were on Jacob’s List?

* “You people had therapists?” “It’s very stressful being an Other, Jack.”

* If Ben’s courtship of Juliet weren’t so sinister and homicidal, it’d be adorable. “Sorry, I’ve got to get this ham out of the oven or it’ll dry out!”

* Goodwin stops by to bring Juliet an egg salad sandwich? What is it with the eggs already?

* Jack kisses Juliet–while Kate is just inside the Tempest station and holding a gun. Brave man.

* “See you guys at dinner!” Best. Villain. Ever.