This episode exasperated me to no end. Hardly anything happened at all until the last three minutes... Instead it seemed like they spent the majority of the show giving us (or at least me) a bunch of false indicators, and then going through proving us wrong on each. For example, my initial impression was that the episode would be Sayid's backstory, but no, moments later we were back on the island having a tender moment between Juliet and Sawyer. At this I rejoiced quite sincerely, since you all know what a fan I am of the two of them... but a bit later, Sawyer was off to visit Kate and it looked like they were on the verge of reconnecting. Suddenly, the balance of the love-triangle was precarious once again. Then, after the heart-wrenching scene with Ben and his horrible father, I *almost* thought that Sayid (of all people) was going to develop compassion for Ben. Riiiight, I should have known better, but hey I'm idealistic like that. Basically, this episode seemed to bounce around playing the "haha, you thought you were clever there but now you see you're not!" game. Laaame!
Had the writers not tacked on the last scene or two, this is the letter I would have written them:
We already know y'all specialize in the unpredictable. No need to create a whole episode to highlight the fact. There is plenty else you can address. In no particular order, these include: bringing back Claire in any capacity, acknowledging the absence of Rose and Bernard, explaining where the smoke monster came from, accounting for the whereabouts of Aaron, looping back to Locke and the other folks from the plane, providing more information about Richard, and filling in the blanks regarding Desmond and Penny's wellbeing. Particularly how it might relate to the bloodstained Ben the day of the flight. And where the heck is Faraday?? That was one of the best storylines... bring him back!
Choose any of the above -- I'm quite flexible.
Your most demanding fan.
Of course, they did tack on the last two scenes, and it changed everything... First the flaming van hurtling towards the village (Ben's doing?) and Sayid's subsequent break-out.... culminating with young Ben crumpling to the ground with a bullet in his chest. That hugely disturbing and mind-boggling (though not unexpected) twist was perhaps the reason for the lack of real development throughout the early part of the show; it was probably all the more shocking because things had been fairly quiet up until that point. The writers must have figured it would balance out nicely, but I wouldn't be quite so generous. The first part of the show just seemed needlessly convoluted to me, and I just kept thinking about all the other ways they could be taking things in those precious 45 minutes... I suppose they can't give us too much, with a whole season yet to come.
Needless to say, Sayid's attempt to murder young Ben opens up a whole can of worms -- just the time-travel aspect alone could send me into a pretty good tizzy. It seems clear that young Ben isn't going to die -- the show would be rudderless without him. It probably will turn out that he had survived an attack in his childhood all along, but it will be fascinating to see how the story goes from here! Lovin' the Lost.... hating this EPIC cliffhanger, agh!
Edit: For a differing opinion than mine from someone who loved the whole episode, check out Rocks in my Dryer for Shannon's take on it.
EDIT (again -- caps because I'm really excited :P): Check out this post by EverydayMom... she has some really insightful theories! I think she might be on to something that this could be the event that turned Ben into the monster we've known him as... but I like her second idea about Ben trying to stop the loop even better. More hopeful/redemptive, so naturally I gravitate towards it... Give it a look-see!
FINAL EDIT (I promise): You've got to check out Green Jello for her talk-show analysis of the Daddy Issues on Lost... She's *hysterical*
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