The Shape of Things to Come
Let’s start right off with the title of the episode: The Shape of Things to Come, which is also the title of a sci-fi book by H.G. Wells. Wiki describes it as “speculating on future events from 1933 until the year 2106. It is not a novel, but rather a fictional history book or chronicle”. This has helped shape my belief that Ben can/has/is time travel/ed/ing, and his actions in the “present” are shaped by his knowledge of future events, or at least his ability to accurately predict how the future will play out.
What a great opening to the episode! Ben is in some sort of desert, wearing a Dharma parka with a Dharma logo we haven’t seen before. We’re able to see him exhaling… has he just come from a very cold place? Is it smoke? Some sort of time travel side effect?
The name on the parka is Halliwax, a name that only the true crazies of LOST have seen before. This was a video that was broadcast on ABC during the hiatus:
The guy, aka Marvin Candle has been seen in other orientation videos. In this one he introduces himself as Halliwax. Hmm. The station he’s in is the Orchid station, which we haven’t before seen on LOST. . . not yet.
Ben quickly dispatches two men on horseback, with a very mysterious baton of some sort. As he travels through the desert, finally making it to a city we learn that he’s in Tunisia, where we’ve been before on LOST. In “Confirmed Dead”, the second episode this season, we learn tidbits about our four new island members. Charlotte (the red head) learns of the discovery of the wreckage of flight 815, and also finds remains of a polar bear complete with Dharma logo. Time travel experiments with polar bears perhaps?
Ben checks in to a hotel as a ‘preferred guest’, and learns that the date is October 24, 2005. Flash Forward, check. From there, Ben makes it to Iraq, where we have a guest star in Ben’s flash forward. Sayid is more than willing to murder the man responsible (who is under the employ of Charles Widmore) in retaliation for his wife’s death, Nadia. This, we realize is just another one of Ben’s master manipulator ploys to get Sayid in his employ. A question answered! (Sort of.) And another check in “Ben is one of the bad guys” column.
Back in the present, in one of the most shocking scenes, Alex; Ben’s ‘daughter’ is murdered by one of Widmore’s cronies. Ben tries to bluff his way out of it, telling the man that Alex means nothing to him. Bluff called, and we realize Ben might deserve a check in the good guys column. Until…
He says, “He changed the rules” (meaning Widmore, I believe), goes behind his secret hieroglyphics door where it seems he is summoning the smoke monster. But could this be part of the time travel mystery? Is this when he goes to the future to employ Sayid and threaten Widmore? Is Smokey a time travel side effect?
Speaking of his visit to Widmore: “We both know very well that I didn’t murder her at all, Benjamin….You have the audacity to pretend you’re the victim….I know who you are, boy! What you are. I know everything you have you took from me….That island’s mine, Benjamin. It always was. It will be again.” What did he mean by ‘What you are’?? Ben isn’t intimidated, and threatens to reciprocate with the murder of Widmore’s daughter, Penelope. Will Sayid be tasked with this odious job?
Going back to what I said at the beginning, Ben’s actions and manipulations in the present were masterful because he knew about future events, or at least the shape of things to come. Widmore, with the assignation of Alex, completely threw Ben. He did not expect this to happen, and believed it wasn’t supposed to happen. Ben, while not always seeming to be in control, I think he is. Take the shotgun in the piano bench. The warning phone call from the electric fence that only he knows what it means. His knowledge of Jacob that keeps his control over Locke. Not to mention that cryptic door, and possible control over Smokey. It seems that the Island really is his, even though Widmore is doing his best to (re)claim it.
I didn’t even cover the base camp events, but the Ben / Widmore evil genius plot was enough for me!