Oh Lost. How we do love thee, and how desperately shalt we miss thee when thy season ends...
At long last, some answers about the smoke monster! Though "answers" is a little strong of a word... what I really mean is that we got a more tangible encounter, and some sideways explanations... The face-off between Ben and the monster was great! Do you think Eko saw a similar series of flashbacks when he stared down the monster way back when? I also was glad to have Ben slightly humanized throughout the episode... At least he draws the line at killing children! Is that why Ethan survived the Dharma massacre? Ben made provisions to save the children?
Also, I have an in on the Egyptian hieroglyphics!! My boyfriend had begrudgingly joined me on the couch to watch the last few minutes of the show (he isn't one of the Devout, sadly) and instantly recognized a few of the hieroglyphic symbols above the smoke monster's lair. In the three seconds that I was like, "oh, Egyptian writing, weird" he was recognizing and deciphering most of the symbols. The three foremost figures in the center of the carving were the Egyptian god Anubis, gazing at a creature very like the smoke monster, and overshadowed by the symbol of an eye. And as Andrew kindly elaborated to me, Anubis is the god of the afterlife, deciding the fate of the souls of the dead and shuttling them off to the beyond, so to speak. In Egyptian mythology the eye was often a kind of sign or seal of Ra and other high-ranking gods, so the arrangement of the symbols suggested that the smoke monster is a servant of Anubis, operating with authority and/or great power. Which would totally explain why the bodies of dead people keep getting commandeered for purposes beyond them... Alex being one of the most wiggy so far in my opinion. I don't think I agree that all the dead characters will make a reappearance at some point though, which is the theory held by Shannon at Rocks in my Dryer, mostly because I think the bodies/images of the dead are being manipulated for the purposes of the island/smoke monster. As in, I don't think most of them aren't actually alive again, or cognizant as the people they were; they're being manipulated as a conduit of the island. I think that Alex was the manifestation the smoke monster took on in that moment because it would be the most disturbing to Ben, and Eko saw his brother for the same reason. Of course though, that doesn't explain why Christian seems to be the island's manifestation of choice, or why Claire was pulled away from the other Losties for seemingly no reason... Or why Locke is apparently actually alive, as opposed to not-dead like the others we've seen. But I doubt we'll have any real reason to see Shannon or Eko again, for example, unless the writers just stick on a reappearance of everybody for the shock value / to humor us.
EDIT: I happened to mention in passing to my boyfriend just now that I'm assuming the statue Ilana referenced to the pilot is the huge-ass one we saw briefly in one of the flashes... and I said that now I'm assuming it's of Anubis (though feasibly it could be any of a number of Egyption gods, given the Ankh it was holding) and he kind of flipped out on me... Apparently that would be kind of a big deal, traditionally speaking. Here's his explanation as he told it to me: In basic temple design some things are always followed: multiple levels, secret hiding places, lotsa hieroglyphs, and always a primary god/goddess but most of the time a secondary one too. Typically huge statues on one level were the support pillars for lower levels -- think of it as functional and aesthetic. Suffice to say, anything at the bottom of those statues was essentially bound to them for some reason; a great honor, an amazing warrior/king, or as a means of suppression. Kinda like telling Anubis to "keep an eye on this one," as he is in the afterlife now. Summary: anything buried at the based of Anubis is really important. Also, most of the time the hieroglyphs told stories about the things in the temple: who it's dedicated to or is buried there. So somewhere in the temple would be answers about why it is there, the functions of the person or god it was built for, maybe even who built it. Things like that. I thought all this was hugely interesting so I wanted to pass it on... it also casts a lot of doubt on my earlier supposition that Ilena's question was just meant to verify the pilot's identity. I guess we'll wait and see!
Is Ben lying when he says he wasn't aware the Losties were part of the Dharma initiative? My gut says yes... but if he isn't then that stirs up all kinds of time-travel questions that I had sort of thought were satisfied during the Hurley/Miles conversation during the last episode...
Did Lost just take a huge jump of incorporating ancient mysticism into the plot-line? Or will the hieroglyphic implications just be another fake-out that falls by the wayside later?
Why did the island leave Ben alive? Up until now he's been more or less a rudder for the plot direction... what role will he serve now that Locke seems to be the Big Man in Charge?
Answers to previously existing questions:
As we suspected, Ilana *totally* has an agenda. I feel like there is a good chance that she is indeed working for Widmore too. The "What lies in the shadow of the statue" thing sounded to me like a call-and-response recognition code... and when the pilot didn't know the right answer, she knew he wasn't one of them.
So... Ben is the one who "banished" Charles? That whole thing seemed a little anticlimactic -- I really thought Widmore must have turned the wheel also, to be as irrevocably separated from the island as he seems to be...
Penny isn't dead! Hallelujah! You can ask the boyfriend, I was verbally lamenting her early demise for about the first twenty minutes (poor Penny, I can't believe she's dead, I can't believe he killed her, poor Desmond, I hope she isn't dead... and so on and so on) and so I was incredibly relieved to find her still breathing (actually probably hyperventilating after the run-in with Ben, but hey that's fine) at the end of the show.
My favorite quote:
Ben, referring to the smoke monster: "It isn't a train John, it doesn't run on a schedule..."
Until next week!! :)
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