LOST: The Shape of Things To Come – Episode Summary
April 28, 2008

Here is my latest summary on LOST.  If you have not seen the episode yet, then don’t read any further.  If you have and want to see what I had to say, please indulge! WARNING: SPOILERS!
                       

 

"The Shape of Things to Come"   A Ben Linus Episode

I honestly don’t know if there are sufficient adjectives in the English language to emphasize my reaction to this episode.  Frankly, I was a bit worried about the abbreviated schedule regarding the writing.  This was reinforced when Locke asked Ben about the Smoke Monster.  To my delight and relief, The Shape of Things to Come blew away my fears like a puff of smoke devouring mercenaries…

The five weeks of waiting for a new episode of Lost was pure hell.  I don’t know about you, but to me it felt like I was in solitary confinement.  Technically it wasn’t that long of a wait, but after the cliffhanger ending of "Meet Kevin Johnson," it certainly seemed like a lifetime went by before the episode hit the airways.  Then, adding terror to the scenario was a forecast for severe thunderstorms in Eastern Oklahoma. When that occurs and the storms are serious, regular programming is canceled for an evening of your favorite meteorologists showing you radar images and crazy storm chasers out and about.  I actually called the ABC affiliate in Tulsa and begged them that if the program was interrupted for them to rebroadcast at a later time so I could record it.   Man, but I’ve got to get a life!  Fortunately, the storms fizzled out and I got my LOST fix…

When we last left the castaways, Rousseau and Karl were shot by mystery men in the jungle, Locke was trying to plan his next move, and Jack’s followers on the beach were still awaiting rescue.  Tonight, all hell breaks out and we learn more about "The Shape of Things to Come."

The remainder of LOST’s fourth season begins on the beach.  Kate is providing some cheesecake as she sits on the beach sponging herself off.  Jack walks by and smiles.  He goes into one of the tents and pops some pills from the makeshift island pharmacy.  Kate follows and asks what he’s doing.  He claims it’s an antibiotic and that he has some sort of bug.  Kate chats about crackers, but their nice moment is soon interrupted by Bernard hollering and Vincent barking.  People run down to where a mysterious body has washed up on the beach.    Pulling the body from the water, Jack rolls him over and it our friend, Dr. Ray from the freighter.  He looks bad.  In fact, he looks dead.  His throat has been cut.  Both Charlotte Daniel look like they stepped in something Vincent deposited on the beach.  Jack asks if they know him and Faraday confirms that it’s the doctor from the freighter, but the real question is who slit his throat?Meanwhile in New Lockeville, Sawyer, Locke and Hurley play a game of Risk (very fitting, I’d say), the mystery men force Alex to turn off the island’s fence.  They better not cry to her when Smokey flies by and thrashes them.  Back in the barracks, Locke receives a phone call.  It’s a recording repeating "Code 14-J" over and over again.  The boys go over to Ben’s new cabin where Ben is playing Prelude in C# Minor by Sergei Rachmaninoff, but not the way one should play it… it’s supposed to be loud and bombastic.  It is also called ‘The Day of Judgment," which may become the new theme song for the program. Locke asks what Code 14J is and Ben’s eyes grow wide.  He asks where John heard that as he reaches into the piano bench and grabs a sawed-off shotgun.  Sawyer looks horrified until Ben tosses him the shotgun.  Obviously 14-J is the code for big trouble.

Ben Flash-Forwards to the Sahara Desert, where he wakes up shaking and nauseous.  He’s wearing a parka and steam is coming off of it as though it was very cold and is reacting to the heat of the desert.  Could that be because he just teleported there using the Orchid Station, or is that just my crazy idea?  He’s approached by two gun-wielding men on horseback, who he quickly dispatches with a kick-ass baton move.  He steals one of the horses, rides off, and Ben the action hero is born (It’s too bad McFarland has canceled the LOST action figures because this scene would have been cool).

By the way, Ben’s nice parka bears an interesting name on the front of it. For those of you who may have missed it, Halliwax was the name that Marvin Kandle used in the Orchid video that was released before season 4 begun.  He also had some trouble with rabbits with numbers on their sides, but I digress.  Ben gets up, and grimaces as he touches a bloody tear in the right arm of his parka.  He whirls around as two guys on the horses with Arabic scarves on their heads ride up pointing AK-47’s at him.  They seemed to be talking about the fact that there were no footprints around Ben. One was pointing to the ground around him. “Yes,” the man on the right horse asked Ben.  "Who are you? He looks over at his friend and asks, “Why he didn’t see him before.”  The other man answered, "Look yourself , there are no footprints!"  Then he asked Ben again,  "Were did he come from?  Falling from the sky?"

While all this is going on, Ben has raised his arms and asks them if they speak English then Arabic or Turkish.  They don’t reply and one gets off his horse to frisk Ben. He finds a personal baton in Ben’s pants pocket.  Ben smiles and then wacks the guy upside his head, whipping him around and using his AK-47 to shoot the other guy!  The guy he knocked on the head says “Surrender.”  Ben say, “Oh, you do speak English.” As he smashes his head with the butt of the assault rifle. 

Back to New Lockeville.  Code 14-J is a signal that one of the Others, Ben’s people,  have been captured and forced to deactivate the fence.  Sawyer goes off to get Clair who is taking a nap.  Did I mention that Hurley has Aaron?  I apologize for that oversight.  Anyway, as John start off to join Sawyer, Ben tells Locke to stick by his side.  The freighter folk won’t risk hurting Ben, so staying near him is the best idea.  The group barricades themselves in Ben’s place while Sawyer is outside looking for Claire when gun fire breaks out.  Random red shirts are shot while Sawyer avoids ridiculous hails of bullets.  Before the "Directed by Jack Bender" title can come on the screen, Claire’s house has exploded thanks to a rocket fired from a LAW or some such device..

Back in the Flash- Forward, we’re told the place is Tunisia.  A scruffy looking Ben is booking a hotel room with one of his many aliases.  This one happens to be Moriarty, which is a total Sherlock Holmes shout out.  He mentions that he’s a preferred guest.  The clerk at the desk in Tunisia was, I believe,  one of the "Dharma" crew from Ben’s gang. I guess it’s like a secret organization. Her look completely changed when she saw the name in the book under the preferred guest list.  She instantly recognized it and told Ben she would get him whatever he wanted/needed.

He double checks with the wide-eyed clerk what year it is – 2005, before catching a glimpse of Sayid  on the television.  The press is harassing him about his recently deceased wife, but Sayid says that he just wants to be left alone to bury her.  Interesting. Sayid has found Nadia only to loose her.

Suddenly we’re back in New Lockeville.  Ben tells John that they need to find Jacob if they’re ever going to evade the freighter f

olk.  Locke can’t find the cabin, but Ben claims that Hurley can.  I guess this means that Ben can’t find it anymore either.   Meanwhile, Sawyer finds Claire buried under some rubble and surprisingly still very much alive.  He takes her to Ben’s place, where Miles also arrives a moment later.  He claims that his shipmates want to talk to Ben.

Back to the Flash-Forward.  Globe trotting Ben is now in Iraq, and it looks like it’s Nadia’s funeral that’s being held there.  Ben goes up on a roof of a bombed out building, pulls out a camera, and starts taking photos of a strange man on the street.  He also snaps one of Sayid carrying the casket, but the ex-soldier sees him.  Ben squats down, disassembles his camera and hustles down to the street.  He appears to be trying to get away when Sayid tackles him.  Ben claims that he’s there to find the man that murdered Sayid’s wife.  He also says that he got off the island using Desmond’s boat, but we all know he must have teleported.  Ben tells Sayid that one of Widmore’s men murdered Nadia.  He doesn’t know why it happened, but Sayid immediately believes him anyway.  Ben walks away and smirks to himself where Sayid can’t see.  What is the little bastard up to now?

Before we can get an answer, we’re back to New Lockeville!  Miles thinks there may be about six of the freighter folk coming for Ben, and he also informs everyone that Alex is being held hostage.  Ben picks up the walkie-talkie that Miles has brought with him and contacts Keamy.  The man tells him to surrender and that no one else will be harmed, but Ben knows better.  He rattles off Keamy’s entire background story and refuses to cooperate.  He almost changes his mind once they drag Alex out and Keamy puts a gun to her head, but instead he tells them that they should get off the island.  He also tries to say that she means nothing to him since she’s not really his daughter.  It doesn’t work, and Keamy shoots Alex in the head.  Whoa! 

Ben can’t believe that Alex is dead, and frankly, neither can I!  Ben has now lost his mind.  He stands at the window, just staring at Alex’s body.  Then, while Sawyer and John argue about tossing him out to Keamy and his mercenaries, he says “He changed the rules.”  Ben abruptly turns and goes  into his hidden room, the Ben Cave, shutting a large and heavy door behind him as Sawyer tries to grab him.  Inside, he moves his suits aside and opens another hidden doorway that reveals a rock wall and apparently  a secret passage.

Flash-Forward back to Iraq.  Ben is  tailing Nadia’s killer through the streets.  But while he seems to be good at teleporting, he isn’t such a good tail and he looses the guy.  Ben heads down an alley and he’s caught by the guy he was trying to follow.  Mr. Happy wants to know why Ben was after him and he  tells him that he needs him to take a message to his boss, Charles Widmore.  The guy looks like he has also stepped in a present from Vincent in the alley when Ben mentions Widmore.  But, before Ben can relay the message, Sayid pumps the guy full of bullets.  This is where we learn why Sayid teamed up with Ben.  He wants to bring war against the people who killed Nadia.  Before doing that, he really should make sure Ben is actually telling the truth.  Oh, and watch out for whatever that guy stepped in before you shot him, Sayid.

New Lockeville again.  Ben comes out of his secret passage and tells everyone that it’s time to make a run for it.  That’s when Smokey decides to make a very pissed off appearance in the barracks.  Old Smokey goes around killing the mercenaries in a huge boiling cloud of smoke and lightning and thunder.  The Survivors are shocked that Ben has the ability to summon the monster to do his bidding.  But did he?    While everyone is busy getting torn limb from limb or running the opposite direction into the jungle, Ben says goodbye to Alex.

So, we are lead to believe that  Ben has the ability to summon the great Smoke monster from a cave connected to his secret hideout room.  Or does he?   As smokey comes rumbling in like a freight train, we see several "flashes" on its "body". I can’t discern anything definite in these flashes – unlike those we saw with Eko’s encounter. There are also several flashes in the forest during Smokey’s attack, but too little detail to be revealing.  And despite John’s questions, Ben never says a word about how the monster arrived.

Back on the beach, Daniel Faraday is playing MacGyver and attempting to get a signal to the freighter.  He sends out a signal in Morse code asking what happened to the doctor.  He claims that the response reads that the helicopter is on its way, but Bernard says he’s a liar and a crummy dresser.  Bernard says that the response actually said that the doctor is just fine.  Jack, grabs Daniel and appears to lift him off the ground, demanding to know if rescue was ever part of the plan, and just as Faraday admits it wasn’t, Jack doubles over in pain.  This is no time for a case of appendicitis!

Out in the jungle, Locke is still peeved that Ben lied to him about his knowledge of Smokey, but Ben claims he can chat with Jacob about it.  Sawyer, tired of the nut cases around him, decides to take everyone back to the beach.  He wants Hurley to tag along, but Locke won’t allow it.  Hurley reluctantly agrees to go with Locke to stop the guys from killing each other.

Flash-Forward, again. Globe trotting Ben is now in London and looking strangely suave while wielding his baton.  He heads to the penthouse suite of Mr. Widmore.    Ben enters Widmore’s bedroom and asks Charles when he started sleeping with a bottle of scotch on his night table.  I though that was curious as I thought everyone did that.  Charles replies that he has since the nightmares started and goes on by asking if Ben has come to kill him, but Ben claims that he, Widmore, knows he, Ben, can’t do that.  Of course neither of them bother to tell us why they can’t kill each other. 

Ben says he’s there to confront Widmore about the murder of Alex, but old Charles doesn’t want to hear it.  To get revenge, Ben says that he’s going to kill Widmore’s daughter, meaning that Penny is now in grave danger.  Widmore claims that the island is his and he intends to get it back, but Ben says that he has no chance of finding it.  That’s when the episode comes to an end.

This hour was so jam packed that I need to give my brain time to rest.  I’d say that was worth waiting five weeks for. 

You might need to pinch me, because I’m having trouble believing that the return of Lost is finally here.  Five weeks can feel like a very long time when you’re left with the type of life or death cliffhanger that "Meet Kevin Johnson" signed off with.  When we last left the castaways, Rousseau and Karl were shot by mystery men in the jungle, Locke was planning his next move, and the Losties on the beach were still awaiting rescue.  On tonight’s episode, there were some big explosions and even bigger surprises.

If there’s one thing we can all agree on after this amazing episode of Lost, it’s that Ben definitely has to be teleporting from the island.  He woke up in the middle of the Sahara Desert shaking and feeling nauseous, then had to double check to figure out what year it was.  Maybe he actually time traveled from the Orchid Station into his own flash-forward.  Whatever it was he did, he definitely didn’t take a boat and a plane like he explained to Sayid.

Speaking of Sayid, it looks like we got our explanation as to why he’s working with Ben in the future, but was it satisfactory?  I have a hard time believing t

hat, even in the throes of grief, Sayid would simply believe Ben’s claim that Widmore’s men killed Nadia.  I get the feeling that there must be something we haven’t seen yet. There’s several blanks that still needs to be filled in regarding why Sayid would even think about trusting Ben.

Though I enjoyed Ben’s globe trotting flash-forward, the island was where the real action was.  The freighter folk showed up to chew bubblegum and kick ass, then found that they were all out of bubblegum.  Sawyer dodged a ridiculous amount of bullets, Claire’s house exploded, and Alex got shot in the head.

Alex’s death was quite possibly the most shocking moment in the episode for me.  I can’t believe that the writers have wiped out Alex, Karl, and Rousseau (though she could still be alive) in the span of two episodes.  It really does leave me with the feeling that nobody is safe, which is both exciting and worrisome.

The other big event on the island was the revelation that Ben can possibly control the smoke monster.  This is the kind of reveal that immediately made me flash back to every other appearance of Smokey.  Did Ben let him out every single time?  If so, it’d be interesting to look back at past episodes and try to figure out Ben’s motivations.  Can he also instruct Smokey who to kill, or does it take care of that part all on its own?  Or, as with most of the things going on in Lost, is there more to this than meets the eye?  Was the statement to John by Ben to ask Jacob about it a clue?

Aside from Jack’s sudden ulcer or appendicitis or whatever, the beach brigade didn’t have a lot to do this week.  However, they did get saddled with one big question: who killed the doctor?  We were left with the strange impression that the doctor on the freighter is still alive, at least in Freighter Time, yet has already washed up dead on the island.  This is yet another event tied in to the weird time discrepancy between the island and the rest of the world, which is something I hope Faraday explains to us soon.

The final scene of the episode also offered up some intriguing clues about the shape of things to come. Charles Widmore claims that the island has always been his, that Ben stole it and he also plans to get it back.  However, Ben has somehow managed to keep it hidden from him.  I wonder what it is about the island that makes Widmore so obsessed with it.  What does he really want from it?

This episode proved that Lost knows how to make one hell of a comeback.  It was exciting, action packed, and may have offered up almost as many answers as questions for a change.  However, there are still some things that we need to ponder such as:

Hurley, playing Risk, says Australia is the key to the whole game. Is that a comment on the plot? Australia IS where the plane took off, after all.

Why was Sayid so quick to believe Ben’s story?

Nadia’s assassin is named Ishmael Bakir. Ishmael is the name of the main character in Moby Dick, who begins as an important character involved in the action, and eventually just becomes a narrator who’s not really part of it. Ishmael is also the name of one of Abraham’s sons, and is the dividing point between Islam and Judeo-Christian religions: Muslims believe that Ishmael was Abraham’s eldest son and therefore the true heir, while the Jewish religion believes Isaac to be the true heir.

I’ve mentioned a couple of times before that no one on the island ever seems to get sick – no colds, no flus, nothing like that – so what is the significance of Jack’s “stomach bug”? What medicine was he REALLY taking? (You don’t take antibiotics for a stomach bug.) What’s wrong with him?

We FINALLY get a calendar date on one of the Flash-Forward: October 24, 2005. That’s ten months after the events we’re watching now.

Is the doctor dead, alive, or both at the same time?

Did Ben teleport and/or time travel to the Sahara?

Ben’s identity on his passport, Dean Moriarty, is the name of the main character of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. Moriarty is also the name of Sherlock Holmes’ arch-nemesis, which is probably a more likely connection here.

The desk clerk at the Tunisian hotel takes pause when she sees Ben’s name in the register… why? What are Ben’s ties to Tunisia? He travels to Iraq to find Sayid, so the stopover in Tunisia didn’t seem to have any immediate significance… but we know nothing is by accident on this show, so there must be a reason they had him appear there in the first place.  And he told the desk clerk he had been to Tunisia before.

Why can’t Ben kill Widmore?  Are they connected in some strange way? Are they one another’s constant?

Can Ben instruct Smokey who to kill?  How much control, if any, does he have over it?

What does Ben mean when he says Widmore changed the rules?

What did Widmore mean when he said the island has always been his, Ben stole it and how is Ben hiding it from him?

Daniel Faraday saying he could construct a telegraph with strips of metal, a 9-volt battery clip and some wiring makes him come off like the Professor on Gilligan’s Island. I suppose next he’ll be constructing nuclear bombs out of coconuts and mangoes.

I don’t know if this has been mentioned before or not but, Tunisia is located pretty much directly on the opposite side of the Earth from where the island is most likely located. You can use this tool to see what’s directly on the opposite side of the Earth:

http://www.zefrank.com/sandwich/tool.html

Notice that if you target Tunisia, the opposite side of the Earth is located basically smack in the middle between New Zealand, Fiji, and Tahiti. Desmond thought he was about a week east of Fiji at 9 knots. Rousseau said she was 3 days out of Tahiti. The plane was traveling from Sydney to LA and was 1000 miles off course. This is all basically consistent with this location.

This should clear up why Tunisia has come into play now at least twice. The polar bear was found in Tunisia & Ben was in Tunisia in this episode maybe because whatever device that allows them to time travel will always drop them off on the exact opposite side of the globe?

Interesting too, is the exact opposite of Los Angeles – which happens to be just off the coast of Madagascar. Madagascar has been mentioned in many occasions regarding the Black Rock.

Also, in one of the pod-casts with the producers a few months back, they said that the location in Tunisia and Ayers Rock in Australia were pertinent to the story. Ayers Rock was close to where the healer was that Bernard took Rose to see.

Hurley’s Numbers:  The code on the sonic fence is 1623. Sayid says he searched for Nadia for 8 years. Ben tells the concierge that he’s here to see Mr. And Mrs. Kendrick in 4E. The date in Ben’s flashforward is October 24 (reverse 42).

Widmore says he’s been drinking scotch from his night table since the nightmares started. Nightmares about what?
   
Did You Notice?  The title of this episode is from a novel by H.G. Wells. From Wikipedia (and therefore true):

The Shape of Things to Come is a work of science fiction by H. G. Wells, published in 1933, which speculates on future events from 1933 until the year 2106. It is not a novel, but rather a fictional history book or chronicle, similar in style to Star Maker and Last and First Men, both by Olaf Stapledon. Wells’ book also shared with Stapledon’s an understanding of the change wrought in the nature of war by the development of air powe

r; both writers included harrowing depictions of cities destroyed in aerial bombardments, which proved an all too accurate prediction of what was to happen in the actual second World War.
   
Wells creates a framing device by claiming that the book is his edited version of notes written by an eminent diplomat, Dr Philip Raven, who had been having dream visions of a history textbook published in 2106, and wrote down what he could remember of it.

The book is dominated by Wells’s belief in a world state as the solution to mankind’s problems. Wells successfully predicted the Second World War, although he envisaged it dragging on into the 1960s, being finally ended only by a devastating plague that almost destroys civilization. Wells then envisages a benevolent dictatorship – ‘The Dictatorship of the Air’ (a term obviously modeled on ‘The Dictatorship of the proletariat’) – arising from the controllers of the world’s surviving transportation systems (the only people with global power). This dictatorship promotes science, enforces Basic English as a global lingua franca, and eradicates all religion, setting the world on the route to a peaceful utopia. When the dictatorship finds it necessary to kill political opponents, the condemned persons are given a chance to emulate the ancient philosophers Socrates and Seneca and take a poison tablet in a congenial environment of their choice.
   
Eventually, after a century of re-shaping humanity, the dictatorship is overthrown in a completely bloodless coup, the former rulers are sent into a very honorable retirement, and the world state "withers away" as was predicted by Marx. The last part of the book is a detailed description of the Utopian world which emerges, in some way reminiscent of Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward.

Halliwax was Marvin Kandle/ Wickman’s 3rd alias in the Orchid Orientation video teaser. Seeing Ben in a Halliwax jacket was definitely an easter egg thrown at us to implicate the usage of the Orchid station Spoiler: Where it is presumed that time-travel experiments are taking place.

The whole "matter of relativity" thing has to stop.  Strange anachronistic thing happens, Daniel says something coy about perception… enough already.  Just say what it is.

What was Keamy doing as a mercenary in Uganda?

Mental note: When playing with Ben, don’t change the rules.   

 

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Glenn Moss
Born in 1952 (you do the math), making me one of the proverbial "old farts" involved in toys, comic books, and other juvenile activities that everyone said I should have outgrown decades ago. Fortunately, my wife of 36 years is an understanding soul. A firm believer in the philosophy of Groucho Marx, George Carlin, Robin Williams and Chris Rock. Am now indoctrinating my grandchildren to carry on so that when I finally fade away there will be another generation of odd neighbors who seemed nice and kept to themselves.
Read other articles by Glenn Moss.

 

 

 

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