TV Recap

Raiders of the 'Lost' Story Arc

In a flash-forward, Ben goes all Indiana Jones while setting up Sayid's employment as his hired killer and swearing vengeance for the death of Alex

Lost, Lost (Season 4 -- Episode 9: The Shape of Things to Come) | WHERE THERE'S SMOKEY Ben unleashed the monster on the freighter mercenaries
WHERE THERE'S SMOKEY Ben unleashed the monster on the freighter mercenaries

''Lost'' recap: Ben unleashed

Exactly two years from now, when ''Lost'' is in the home stretch of its final season, I have no doubt that the editors here will suggest the nifty idea of setting the stage for the show's climactic arc with (what else?) a list. In fact, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to sneak into my secret room (sorry: can't let you in) and confirm this inevitable assignment by popping into the future using my own wormhole-powered Quantum Leapster. Just let me set the controls and follow the directions on my ancient hieroglyphic tablet here and...BZZZZZZ-BLINK. Bingo! There I am, sitting at my desk on April 25, 2010, typing up the list, just as I expected (except for the part where I'm actually employed by Wood Cabinetry Weekly; what the hell happened to me?), and there it is, sitting very high on this ranking of all-time pivotal Lost moments, the scene that we all witnessed in last night's episode: Ben's shell-shocked reaction to the assassination of his adopted daughter, Alex: ''He changed the rules.'' As for No. 1 on the list, that would be season 5's revelation that Jack is actually...BZZZZZZZ-BLINK. Damn! My frakking Quantum Leapster ran out of juice! Stupid alien technology! Maybe next week....

Of course, the irony of my fantastical scenario lies in the profound significance of Alex's death. The future has become unknowable and unreliable — at least as far as the once great and powerful Oz of the Others, is concerned. ''He changed the rules,'' muttered Ben, his battered and bloodied face dawning with horrifying awareness. ''He'' is Charles Widmore, the man on the other side of the cosmic chessboard to which fate-whipped Ben is shackled. And in ''The Shape of Things to Come'' — the ninth episode of Lost's fourth season — the whiskey-soused, nightmare-plagued billionaire Brit made a desperate, most unexpected move against Ben in his mad bid to gain (or is that regain?) that which was once his in the past, or (buckle up for this one, kids) that which was supposed to be his in the future.

P
L
O
O
O
O
OOOOOOOOOOOOOP.

(That was your brain sliding out your head and onto the floor, wasn't it? Don't worry. It gets slightly less ridiculous from here.) (Maybe.)

Benjamin...Benjamin of Araaaaaaabia!

''The Shape of Things to Come'' was one of those deliciously dense episodes in which the nourishment of revelation is mixed with huge chunks of sugary intrigue. Case in point: Ben's flash-forward, a kind of Indiana Jones tale — that is, if said tale focused exclusively on that evil idol-swiping rogue Rene Belloq. It began in the Sahara, where King Other suddenly (but perhaps not unexpectedly) found himself lying in the broiling North African sand, suffering from a bloody wound on his arm (also unexplained) and wearing a borrowed Dharma Initiative-issued winter parka. Was that a gust of frigid air we saw escape his mouth? I thought so. If Ben can bend space and time like our friend Hiro Nakamura — and this episode was studded with clues suggesting he has the means to do so — perhaps moments before doing the old squishy-blinky he was hanging with Penelope's geologists in the Arctic Circle. Or building a snowman with Henry Gale in Minnesota! Time to brush off my Heroes/Lost theory....

Seriously, I think we are looking at some kind of time-warping teleportation hoo-ha here. The name on Ben's Dharma jacket merits investigation: ''Halliwax.'' If you've seen the Internet-distributed orientation video for the Orchid, a Dharma station not yet seen in the show (but it will be — soon), you know it was narrated by the latest incarnation of Marvin Candle/Mark Wickmund, one Edgar Halliwax. You are probably also aware that the popular speculation is that the Orchid was conducting teleportation and/or time-travel experiments, perhaps using polar bears as guinea pigs. Did Ben launch himself into the Sahara from Dharma's own Quantum Leapster? And when? Is that where Ben disappeared to when he ducked behind his glyph door? Or is his time traveling yet to come?

NEXT: Ben the desert avenger

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