Lost: Die Hard on an Island


The Shape of Things to Come
Season 4 Episode 9

Heads up!Courtesy of ABC

Whoa! Seems like the Lost writers’ room got awfully itchy during the strike, and when they got back all they wanted to do was blow some shit up. Perhaps that’s why this week’s episode didn’t exactly feel like the usual moderately paced, secret-revealing drama it usually is; it felt like an action movie, with our heroes holed up, besieged by armed forces out for blood. Machine guns, executions, explosions: It was like watching Die Hard on an island! Plus, Smokey came back, and boy was he pissed.

Regular recapper Emily Nussbaum was out this week, so the Vulture staff put our heads together and recapped it ourselves. We can’t match Nussbaum in thoughtfulness, but we can surpass her in stupid jokes.

The Present: Stomach Pains and Head Shots
Jack’s got a pain in his gut that just won’t go away, and it isn’t made any better when a body washes up on the beach, identified by Twitchy Jeremy Davies as the ship’s doctor. An improvised Morse-code conversation with the freighter reinforces the notion of the island as a place out of time; though Davies tries to pass off the freighter’s reply as reassurance, Bernard knows Morse code and reveals that the ship has actually responded that the doctor is still on the ship and is fine. Jack demands to know if the ship ever intended to rescue the castaways at all. “No,” Davies admits.

Meanwhile, Team Locke hunkers down for an attack. Sawyer, dodging gunfire, runs to grab Claire, only to see several unimportant Others redshirts shot down and Claire’s house blown up in a, we’ll admit, fairly terrific explosion. The kind of explosion that no one could survive! Except Claire, who is woozy (and still sad — “Charlie?” she dazedly asks) but okay. A team of mercenaries appears with Alex, demanding that Ben come out; a tortured Ben calls their bluff and watches in horror as the lead mercenary shoots Alex in the head. This scene made us realize that Ben is at his most interesting when he’s wrong, which is only 1 percent of the time, instead of the other 99 percent of the time when he knows everything. We guess that’s why this episode will be his Emmy clip.

Resolute Ben is back soon, though, as he heads into a secret chamber and — it seems — unleashes Smokey the Island Security System on the team of mercenaries. In some truly fantastic moments, Smokey comes barreling through the jungle like a train, and we get the usual tree-crunching, screaming, ineffectual gunplay, etc. One mercenary almost makes it away, but a tendril of smoke grabs him and pulls him back into the fray. Nice!

Team Locke runs into the jungle. Locke, Hurley, and a haunted Ben head off to Jacob’s; Claire, Sawyer, Aaron, and Miles head for the beach.

The Future: Death at a Funeral
A parka-clad Ben lands on his back in the middle of the Tunisian Sahara. After a little action-movie skullduggery to overcome horsemen with machine guns, Ben makes his way to Tikrit, where he finds a grief-stricken Sayid in the funeral procession for his wife. Ben tells him he knows who killed Nadia and shows him a photo of a man speeding in a car in Los Angeles just three blocks away from where Nadia was killed. Charles Widmore is responsible for her death, Ben tells Sayid, and they hatch a plan. After Sayid pumps Widmore’s assassin full of bullets, he asks Ben, “Who’s next?”

London. (“London, England,” as the subtitle hilariously insists on specifying.) Ben sneaks into Charles Widmore’s penthouse apartment for a visit. We have to admit we were thrown by this scene, which was so talky and ridiculous, but eventually we liked it — it was like every absurd scene you’ve ever seen where the hero and the villain encounter each other in a public place, and the hero can’t do anything, but they banter and sparks fly and whatnot. Like that scene where Marky Mark and Martin Sheen chat with Jack Nicholson in The Departed. Except this one was a canny and confusing inversion of the cliché, with us still not really knowing who’s the hero and who’s the villain, and Ben unable to act for reasons we don’t understand — “We both know I can’t do that,” Ben says when Widmore asks if he’s there to kill him. Ben can, however, make a threat: “I’m going to kill your daughter.” Then he turns around and leaves.

What We Know Now:
• It’s confirmed: The Freighter Folk never intended to rescue anyone. Also, Jack is hurting bad. (The coming attractions for next week’s episode suggest he has appendicitis.)
• Sawyer has turned into quite a little den mother, between rescuing Claire and fighting on Hurley’s behalf. It’s adorable!
• Sayid and Ben are in this fight against Widmore for basically the same reason. “Once you let your grief become anger, it’ll never go away,” Ben tells him. “I speak from experience.” Too late!
• More than ever before, Ben is part James Bond, part Beaker.

The Wha? Factor:
• Where was Ben before he landed in the Sahara? He was wearing a sweet parka and his arm was hurt. A meat locker? A refrigerated hovercraft? The Frozen Donkey Wheel?
• Why doesn’t Jack or someone just punch Twitchy Jeremy Davies until he explains some stuff? He wouldn’t last long! It would be like the old Tootsie Pop commercial: “One … two … three … (Crack!) Three.”
• Are all the remaining episodes this jam-packed now that they’re stuffing eight hours of action into five hours of TV? We hope so!
• Why is it that some people can die and some can’t? Also, how old is Charles Widmore? Is he basically Satan?
• We would still like to know how Smokey works, and when we can buy him for our house — like the Slomin’s shield, but dramatically more effective.

Lost: Die Hard on an Island