'Lost' off to a quick startle

Times Staff Writer

It's astounding how fast this season of "Lost" has taken off. Remember last year, when we spent episode after episode watching Jack, Sawyer and Kate sit around in cages? Not this year. It's a testament to the incredible amount of information the writers have been able to pack into each of the first three episodes that each one sparks a debate on which revelation was the most important of the episode.

In my house, my girlfriend seemed quite taken with the revelation at the end of Thursday's episode: Post-rescue Sayid (Naveen Andrews) remade as Sayid Bond (with unfortunate Fabio hair), flying around the world and killing people for Ben (Michael Emerson). Who are these people Ben is having him kill? I'd say a big clue was found on the wrist of Elsa, the woman Sayid had to kill in this episode. Her bracelet, no doubt given to her by her mysterious employer, looks to be an exact duplicate of the one worn by Naomi, the freighter rescuer killed by Locke. Naomi's bracelet was inscribed by R.G. So who is R.G.?

The possibilities are endless, though I doubt the writers have given us enough information yet to be able to come up with a credible theory. But with all due respect to my lovely girlfriend, I don't think the Ben-Sayid partnership -- or alliance, as it's called on "Survivor" -- was the most startling revelation in the episode. Much more exciting to the series' overall arc was the mini-experiment Daniel Faraday (Jeremy Davies) engaged in with Regina back on the boat. . . .

A rocket, fired from the freighter, did not arrive at its intended target on the island until a full 31 minutes later. (I thought the unsynchronized watches were a nice homage to Doc Brown from "Back to the Future.") It's important not to downplay the implications of that delay and its connection to the island's true nature. More than any other character, I think, Faraday and his box of scientific doohickeys will do more to quiet that faction of the audience that seems convinced the writers don't really know what the island is.

It's worth pointing out "Lost's" similarities to a Stephen King novella, "The Langoliers." It's a safe bet that the show runners, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, are familiar with the story -- they're both avowed King freaks, but with all the other books visually referenced on the show, it's strange that this one hasn't come up yet. Perhaps because to signal a connection to this story would have been too big a giveaway to a major secret of the series. But go ahead and read the summary on Wikipedia (or better yet, read the book for yourself) and consider again Faraday's comment in Episode 2 about the quality of light on the island being off somehow.

And what about his instructions to Frank to fly off the island and stay on the coordinates he was given? Are they trying to fly through a time rip?

Finally, what are we to make of the revelation that Ben has been traveling off the island for some time under assumed identities? Did he cross paths with any of the crash survivors at some point in the past? I have no doubt we haven't seen the last of the survivor flashbacks.

By the way, the name Ben used in the passport Sayid looked at was Dean Moriarty, one of the key characters in Jack Kerouac's novel "On the Road." Of course, Moriarty was also Sherlock Holmes' genius archnemesis. It seems as though Ben is a combination of both of these characters -- the evil genius with wanderlust. Now we just need to figure out who wants him dead.



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