''Lost'': Mr. Eko confronts his violent past
The season 3 pattern continues: This episode, titled ''The Cost of Living,'' answered a few questions (whose tumor?), raised a few questions (who's the eye-patch guy?), and ignored many long-standing questions (how did Yemi and Eko crash on the same island?). When Juliet asked Jack to guess what she had brought him for lunch and he said, ''I'm not big on mysteries,'' I wasn't the only one who chuckled. We've digested a steady diet of them since the pilot aired.
The big mystery that this episode confirmed was whose tumor was on the X-ray: Ben's. I don't get how that jibes with the physical prowess Ben demonstrated in the previous episode, but I'm hoping the answer is coming soon. Once the cancer was out of the bag, Ben played the straightforward card and appealed to Jack's mercy: ''I want you to want to save my life....All I ask is that you consider it.'' And he added: ''Two days after I found out I had a fatal tumor on my spine, a spinal surgeon fell out of the sky.'' If we take that line at face value (dare we?), it indicates that Ben and the Others played no role in the Oceanic crash, as some viewers have speculated.
On to the tantalizing mystery of Eye-Patch Man, who skulked into view on a Pearl station monitor. Is he an Other? Does the glass eye the Tailies found in the Arrow station (in season 2) belong to him? Nikki the newbie had the idea to fire up the additional monitors. Although she still hasn't won me over (I kept wishing Sawyer would drop in and drawl, ''Pipe down, Daisy Duke'') and Paulo's pearl of wisdom about the Pearl's john (''The toilet still works'') sounded random, the episode set them up to become more pivotal characters. Their couplehood definitely seems clearer now; my bet is they were on their honeymoon before 815 crashed.
Here's a Pearl-related question I've had ever since the scene when we first peeked inside. (Cue it up, those of you who own season 2 on DVD.) Entering the Pearl station for the first time, Eko glanced at a ceiling panel that had been torn away to reveal a camera aimed into the hatch. Why was the Pearl, which was designed to monitor other stations, being monitored? (Is Ben's voyeur studio inside Hydra the real spy hub?) There was visible debris is that from when staffers abandoned the Pearl? Some theorize that the Others are a ''breakaway'' group of Dharma folks if so, did the breakaway begin when the observers realized they were the observed? Locke's loss of faith inside the Pearl may have merely echoed theirs. Imagine two Dharma minions finding that camera and bailing from the project. (The Pearl T-shirt worn by a skeleton in the polar-bear cave means they might not have gotten far.)
Meanwhile, inside Hydra, Jack after a field trip to Colleen's funeral learned that Juliet's feminine wiles had been part of Ben's plan to ''break'' him. (I disagree with Ben that Juliet resembles Jack's ex Sarah is more physically angular and emotionally one-dimensional.) The episode's best scene was when Juliet stood behind Jack's glass wall and played a movie (To Kill a Mockingbird, she said) that was actually a videotape of silent messages for him. As she earnestly spoke of saving Ben's life (''He's a great man''), Jack glanced at Juliet on the tape, holding up ten handwritten placards instructing him to ignore her speech, informing him that Ben is a dangerous liar, and asking him to let Ben die on the operating table and make it look like an accident. The most provocative of her cards read, ''Some of us want a change.'' (I hadn't seriously considered that Ben was a cult leader with disgruntled disciples, but I will now.) Stunned, Jack played along. Could it be the birth of an alliance that unites castaways and some of the Others for the greater good? It better not be a trick, if only because Jack is overdue for some momentum. Let's get him out of that aquarium!
Time to don your mourning garb. (White pajamas are all the rage comfy, if not practical.)
Dearly beloved, we are gathered here to remember Mr. Eko, a Nigerian who spent his final days on earth marooned on a tropical island where he was fatally thrashed by a menacing, muscular entity made of black smoke. Eko was a passionate man. He will be remembered (okay, by me, anyway) for his perfect belly button and pretty eyelashes. His stature, and frequent silences, made him the most intimidating of Flight 815's survivors. A formative milestone occurred when, as a young boy, he was kidnapped by gangsters who essentially baptized him into a life of crime (an event that spared his little brother, Yemi, that fate). On the island, Eko displayed a devout religious faith, but in the end, he was unrepentant for his so-called sins. Eko's conscience haunted his final hours. Time and again, his primary survival tactic had been violence; he struggled to reconcile that with his (and others') definition of goodness.
We already knew Eko was mistaken for a priest when soldiers tried stopping his small plane from taking off with smuggled heroin (and Yemi) on board. In new flashbacks, we learned that Eko continued acting on criminal urges trying to sell the vaccines Yemi had procured and committing murder in Yemi's church. Thanks to a preachy villager telling Eko, ''You owe Yemi one church,'' we now understand why Eko tried building one on the island. I was moved when he knelt before the Yemi apparition and said, ''I did my best.'' Whether we believe that or not, Eko believed it.
I'm ready for my own confession (it's been over two decades since my last confession, yadda yadda): I have theories on just about everything on the island except the smoke monster. None of the explanations I've heard (psychic energy, a ''security'' system) sit right with me. Locke hinted that the monster might be a devious shape shifter; he described ''a very bright light...beautiful'' (to which Eko replied, ''That is not what I saw''). Are certain castaways' visions Jack seeing his father, Hurley seeing Dave, Eko seeing Yemi caused by a monster with shape-shifting and mind-reading powers? Are there good and bad monster twins (to fit my twin theme, introduced last week)? Any way you look at Smokey, the monster got Eko but good.
A final lament before I let Eko and his Jesus stick go: I'll miss Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje his acting was up there with Terry O'Quinn's, Elizabeth Mitchell's, and Michael Emerson's. I guess he was the sacrifice the island demanded.
What do you think? Will Jack let Ben die on the operating table? Is Juliet trustworthy? Will the people in the Pearl play a role in rescuing Kate, Sawyer, and Jack? And who's the Eye-Patch Man?