"Hey, I'm just a driver."
When you're Lance Reddick, you're never just an anything. You are the creepiest, spookiest, strangely compelling and "Wire"-y driver who ever prowled the streets of L.A., or Tunisia, or Santo Domingo, or Santa Monica. Gawd, he's a fantastic actor, and there wasa great pic and feature story on our man Matthew Abaddon in today's L.A. Times.
Abaddon's return to "Lost"in episode seven, "The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham," was the maraschino cherry and jim-jims on top of a six-scoop (one for each of tonight's extra minutes) hot fudge sundae. What did we do in our past time travels to deserve such a wonder on Wednesday night. (Sadly, ABC has no art from last night's seg; apparently none of its photogs covered this episode.)
There's much to sort through in this seg -- delivered to us by the power trio of Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof and helmer Jack "Badass Lenser" Bender -- but let's start with some big-picture questions.
** So, who exactly is Richard Alpert aligned with? Ben? Widmore? Jacob? Captain Jack Sparrow? Someone/thing else entirely? Interesting that both Ben and Widmore sort of dismiss him to Locke.
** How did Widmore know to track Locke pre-815 crash? How'd he know to send Abaddon to work as the orderly in the hospital where he told Locke to go on the Oz walkabout, etc. Who told him about Locke? Alpert? Or did Widmore know from their 1954 meeting? I loved it when Widmore in Tunisia asked Locke "how long has it been for you" since Locke first encountered Widmore at 17. Everything we think we know is wrong.
** Caesar (c'mon, there's nothing coincidental about that name) who we first met briefly last week, is no innocent victim here. He seemed to be very deliberately and purposefully looking for something in that office space on the island in the opening shot. I don't remember a Dharma station that looked quite like that however. And Ilana, the woman who seemed to be a cop escorting Sayid on the plane in last week's seg, seemed to know Caesar as more than just a fellow castaway.
** "The island isn't done with you yet." I kept hearing that line in my head after we see Locke's resurrection on the island in the beginning (first thing he does is lose the Christian Shephard shoes) and during the very nerve-wracking hanging scene at the end (so well done by Bender). We know Locke is special -- goodness knows we've been told it enough -- and so if anyone's going to be endowed with the island's death-defying protective shield, it's gonna be him.
** Noticed that when Jack and Locke first confront each other in Locke's hospital room after the car crash, Jack sounds very druggy and he's got the beard going but it's not nearly as thick and scraggy as it is by the time that he bumps into Ben in the funeral home and finds Locke in the casket. So how much time passes between Locke's death and Jack's capitulation to Ben. You know he was lying when Ben told Locke that Jack had booked a flight to Sydney that night.
Obviously, the money quote in this seg came from Widmore, who first scoffs at Alpert's instruction to Locke that he's going to have to die, but then tells Locke he'll help him follow Alpert's orders to bring back everyone who left. Why? "Because there's a war coming, John, and if you're not back on the island when that happens, the wrong side is going to win."
Whoa, no pressure, right?
It was also of course eye-opening to hear Widmore tell Locke that Widmore had been a "leader" of people on the island, people who were "not Others to me," but that he was ultimately forced to leave ("exiled") by "him." By "him" I presumed he meant Ben but you can't presume anything on this show.
Widmore said he'd "protected" the island and kept the peace for more than three decades. That raises an interesting question of time frame, which is of course a dangerous subject on this show. But let's try to suss it out.
We've seen that Widmore was on the island in 1954, but we don't really know how long he'd been there up until then. If the Dharmas got there in the '70s, and if Widmore was counting the arrival of Dharma as the end to the peaceful period, then he'd have been there since the 1940s -- say right after WWII -- to log those three decades of mango-eating, time-traveling bliss.
But if we do assume that 1954 was around the time that Widmore et al got to the island, then more than three decades would be around the mid-1980s, which is when I'm guessing (see last week's seg review) that Ben unleashed (or unleashed on orders from above) his gas attack on the Dharmas. But I gotta believe that the Widmore/Alpert camp werethe "Hostiles" that the Dharmas referred to in Ben's younger days.
"The island needs you, it has for a long time," Widmore tells Locke during their wonderfully frank conversation in Tunisia, when Widmore also tells Locke that he's "deeply invested in the fate of the island." But we've heard that before, and so has Locke.
Finally, Locke asks the question that we all want to know. Why me? Suddenly, Widmore clams up. "Because you are." At least Locke calls him out on his mercenary tactics of sending killer goons and a freighter full of explosives to kill everyone on the island: "That doesn't exactly scream trust," Locke informs him.
I can't tell if Widmore's intentions were what he said they were toward Locke, and if Abaddon was there to protect him as Widmore claimed and "help people get to where they need to get to," as Abaddon explained. Or was Abaddon was really going to kill Locke eventually, as Ben claimed.
I do know that Abaddon's shot-from-afar death at the cemetery was one of the most jarring murder scenes I've seen in a while. It was unexpected and it was gory without actually being gory. Like seeing the blood go down the shower drain in "Psycho" rather than seeing the knife hack into Janet Leigh, seeing Abaddon's blood splatter on the windshield was a jolt. I'm thinking the island is definitely done with Abaddon (he's busy on "Fringe" anyway).
And if that weren't enough, the car crash scene that followed Abaddon's death was nails-on-a-chalkboard for those of us who deal with Westside L.A. traffic.
In the context of Locke and his vaunted "specialness," which Jack obviously can't handle, it's interesting to consider one of Jack's lines from their hospital room confrontation. After calling Locke's gut sense of destiny "delusions," Jack twists the knife in further by telling him he's only "a loney old man that crashed on an island."
Locke then drops the bomb of Christian Shephard's shout-out to Jack, which really upsets the good doctor. "He didn't look dead to me," Locke fairly taunts. Jack gets emotional and tellingly tells Locke "We were never important" re the other castaways -- (kind of like the game pieces that Desmond will soon refer to?) And then Jack instructs: "You leave me alone, and you leave the rest of them alone." Yeh, right.
I'm thinking Jack headed straight to the controlled substances locker and a fifth of whiskey after this particular patient conference.
By the time Locke's ready to hang himself in the sleazy Westerfield Hotel (is there anagram doctor in the house?), he seems to be giving up on Widmore's instructions, throwing away his special hotline cell phone to the mystery mogul. Ben charges in and sweet talks Locke out of his noose: "You can't die, you've got too much work to do. We've got to get you back to that island so you can do it."
The big question: Would Ben have strangled Locke no matter what or did he have some sort of visceral homicidal reaction to Locke's mention of the name Eloise Hawking. I'm thinking the answer is yes to both -- Ben seemed convinced he needed a corpse to replicate as much of the Flight 815 scenario as possible -- but what is it about Eloise that bugs him so? Sure seems like they must've crossed paths before, no? Great work, as usual, by Michael Emerson.
Also, so interesting to see Ben's wheels turning when Locke tells him Jin's alive. I don't think that was put on -- I think Zen master Ben master really didn't know, and that Jin's presence screws up some kind of crazy island equilibrium. "A promise is a promise," he tells Locke re not informing Sun. Liar!
"I'll miss you John -- I really will," Ben says as he gives Locke a last look after setting him up to look like a suicide.
I hope this episode puts to rest the debate about Ben's intentions. He's pure evil, through and through. And boy does he wear it well.
A few more disparate thoughts:
** Walt! Never get tired of seeing him. And at a fancy prep school no less? Locke can't bring himself to mess with the kid's head. He's already having prophetic dreams, fer chrissakes. "The boy's been through enough," Locke tells Abaddon, who looks a little disgusted at Locke's gesture. Hurley's right. Every sinewy fiber of Abaddon is pure evil.
** Speaking of Hurley, the scene on the mental hospital lawn was fabulous, and well placed in the seg to give us some comic relief. "La la la..." Can somebody please tell me why they set Hurley's hospital in Santa Rosa, Calif.? Unless a plausible explanation comes along I'm going remain convinced it's a little homage to Hitchcock's "Shadow of a Doubt" ("Uncle Charlie...")
** So the pilot of Ajira Airways 316, who we know is Frank Lapidus, and "a woman" -- who has to be Sun, right? -- make off with one of the wooden boats on the shore where the fresh group of castaways gather. Hmmmm, wonder why. Is it their common Widmore connection?
** The love of Locke's life, Helen Norwood, is dead. Kinda sad. Heard she was hanging with biker dudes at the end.
** Working for a Habitat for Humanity-type org is just such a Sayid thing to do.
Thursday morning afterthought: I thought while I was watching last night that Sun had said in a previous episode that she too was visited by Bentham. But then I figured I had to be wrong because Locke was so steadfast about keeping his promise to Jin. But Variety's Justin Kroll thought the same, so either we're both wrong, or Sun is lying, or...well there' s any number of possibilities, of course. Also, I suppose I jumped to conclusions about Sun being the one who went off with Lapidus in one of the wooden boats. Could've been someone else, I suppose.
Thursday afternoon update: I'll be kicking myself into next week for not giving Terry O'Quinn his due for a tour de force perf. Much as he drives me crazy, he might be the most 3-D character on the show.