Great episode. Nice to find out just what in the hell happened to Michael, and how it is he got to be on the boat. Now, let’s look at some specifics, shall we?
1. Vonnegut. In the scene where Michael is going to commit suicide in his apartment, he’s watching some sort of trivia game show, which is interrupted by breaking news that Oceanic 815 has been found at the bottom of the ocean. Well, before the breaking news, the host of the game show asks the contestants to name the author of Slaughterhouse Five. The contestant answers “Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.” The follow-up question, for triple points, I believe, is to name the protagonist of the novel. That’s when the news breaks in. For those of you playing at home, that would be Billy Pilgrim, the same Billy Pilgrim who became “unstuck in time,” a la Desmond in “The Constant.” Well done, writers.
2. Libby. Sure, Michael was simply having visions of Libby due to his guilt, or at least that would appear to be what happened when he was in the hospital. But what about when she appears to him on the ship, right before he intends to blow up the freighter? If I’m remembering correctly, Michael hears music and/or voices that force him to look around, and then sees Libby telling him not to do it. Now, we could again assume that she appeared to him out of a guilty conscience; but, seeing as how we’ve seen “ghosts” on the island and hear voices quite regularly, was that his guilt manifesting Libby, or was it Libby? And speaking of the bomb…
3. The Timer. Okay, it makes sense (sort of) that the bomb doesn’t go off upon Michael hitting the execute button, seeing as how Ben explains to Michael that he (Ben) is not a cold-blooded killer who murders people blindly. (That phone conversation between Michael and Ben “Walt” Linus, incidentally, was dynamite. Michael Emerson may very well be the greatest character to ever grace the television, and I mean that sincerely.) Having the “Not Yet” flag pop up was a sort of indication to Ben that, yes, Michael intends to follow through on his mission. However, why have the timer? You know, the little clock on the bomb? If you recall, after Michael hits the execute button a timer begins, indicating that the bomb will explode in 15 seconds. Um, seeing as how it was a “dummy run” the first time through and the flag was going to pop up, why do we need a timer? I mean, shouldn’t the flag have come up as soon as he hit the execute button? Bad job by the writers of simply trying to create some suspense.
4. Carl and Rousseau. Now here I am issuing kudos to the writers once more. When Carl was shot and killed, I think we collectively groaned, “Great, that’s who dies?! Ugh.” However, to have Rousseau killed immediately thereafter was a nice touch. After all, who cares if Carl dies, right? He was always a marginal character who was poorly acted and never fully developed anyway. More importantly, though, and I guarantee this was somewhat overlooked by most of you, seeing as how this happened at the end of the episode and we’re left with Alex screaming that she’s Ben’s daughter: who shot them?
5. The Assassins. Initially I was struggling with this, trying to figure out just who in the hell it could possibly be? Someone from Jack’s camp? Someone from Locke’s? Someone from the temple? And then it dawned on me: it’s obviously the people on the freighter. First, we know their intention is to go to the island, get Ben Linus, and kill everyone else. Second, where’s Frank? Remember, last episode his helicopter was gone, as he went on “an errand.” Well, I think it’s safe to say that he brought some more freighter folks to the island, and the extermination process has begun.
6. Sayid. What was he thinking? I mean, I know he’s super fucking pissed at Michael, seeing as how Michael betrayed the folks on the island, shot and killed Libby and Ana Lucia, and is now working for Ben. (Ironic, no, that Sayid’s pissed at Michael for working for Ben, when we know from “The Economist” that Sayid will eventually be working for Ben?) Still, I couldn’t quite get my head around his decision to turn Michael in to the captain. Everything has pointed to the idea that the captain is not to be trusted, yes? Still, last episode told us that Sayid appreciated the captain for being forthcoming about the black box and Widmore. Again, though, Michael told Sayid and Desmond (via Michael’s backstory) that the captain and the folks on the ship intend to kill everyone on the island. Whether or not Sayid believes Michael, shouldn’t he have considered his options more carefully before ratting Michael out? Just seemed a bit inconsistent with Sayid’s character.
7. Tom. Absolutely fantastic. How fucking cool was it to see Tom appear to Michael off the island, especially considering the relationship the two of them have (he, after all, is the one who originally took Walt). Two things about Tom: A) I loved the confirmation/callback that he is, in fact, gay (“Don’t worry, Kate. You’re not my type.”); and B) He tells Michael that the island won’t let him kill himself. Unbelievable, if you consider the ramifications of this. First, doesn’t this more or less tell us that Jack not jumping from the bridge in the season 3 finale wouldn’t have worked anyway? That is, even if Jack decided to go through with jumping from the bridge, he wouldn’t have died. Does this point to some sort of eternal life (hence people like Richard not aging), or is this merely, once again, course correction? Since the future can’t be changed, Michael clearly has a purpose/mission still, so he cannot kill himself. Second, where does this leave us with who’s in the coffin? I’ve been saying for quite some time that it was Michael in the coffin in the season 3 finale. Would the fact that he did, in fact, manage to die be enough to trigger Jack to realize that he, himself, is now capable of death, and that Michael was, in fact, his last link to getting back to the island?
8. Walt? Um, did anyone else find it a little odd that Walt wasn’t in the episode? I mean, we know where he supposedly is (living with Michael’s mom in New York), but I feel like the writers intentionally removed him from the backstory, thereby not having to show us that Walt’s gone through puberty in real life and now likely looks like he’s 16. Granted, they showed “Walt” in his bedroom window looking at Michael as Michael walked slowly away from the house. However, if you watch the episode again, are we sure that was Walt? I mean, for the sake of the episode, yes, it was Walt. I’m just saying that it actually looked like a different actor. Take a look when you get a chance.
9. “A week ago you had a gun to his head and now he’s in your living room eating pound cake.” Yeah, that had to be my favorite line of the night, courtesy of Miles Straum. That whole exchange was great, the fact that Miles pointed out that Ben “is a man who gets what he wants.” Sorry, but if you’re in the Locke camp at this point, you’re sort of an idiot. That is, I think you’re right not to trust the people on the boat, but Locke’s leadership skills have been questionable at best. I don’t think I’d be following him at this point. Back to Miles for a moment: I loved that he was in Michael’s backstory, eating an orange on the dock, telling Michael he knew that Kevin Johnson wasn’t really his name. Again, more hints of Miles’ psychic ability. Also, even though I’m not a Naomi fan, good to see her, as well. Especially nice was the fact that you could sort of see her asscrack when she’s on the boat going below deck. And speaking of the backstory…
10. The Timeline Itself. Awesome. We know that Michael’s backstory is initially taking place two months after his return from the island, as his mother points out that they’ve been back for two months and haven’t explained where they were and why they’re using fake names. Now, because Tom is alive, we also know this flashback takes place before the season 3 finale, where Tom was shot dead by Sawyer. Even cooler, though, was Michael’s phone conversation with Ben. If you looked closely, you’d have noticed that Ben was wearing a robe and such. I think we can guess that this was taking place shortly before Ben’s surgery or shortly after Ben’s surgery. Just a stellar job by the writers to keep this consistent with the storyline.
Okay, I’m sure I’ve missed stuff, but I’m spent.
Until next time, have at it, you vultures!