LOST, “Namaste” Review

You know you’re a good con man when exposing your lies might threaten the space-time continuum. And for that reason, everything in this episode was imbued with a sort of surreal tension as all of the 1977 characters were confronted with mind-boggling new circumstances that throw into question their existing plans. I’m more convinced than ever that this year’s season finale will explain how the Timewarp Gang caused The Incident that led to the Button in the Swan station, but more about that in a few paragraphs.

A buddy of mine who left the hour feeling underwhelmed thought too much time was spent on the Love Square, and in my review of “LaFleur” I railed against Kate for bringing nothing to the table except drama and baggage, but I have to say I really didn’t mind it in this episode.  Mostly this was because nobody made an issue of it, even though everybody obviously felt the opening of old wounds. The players were too busy catching up and keeping up to indulge in years-old relationship drama, but via eye contact and stilted body language, the awkwardness was apparent.

Aside from the fact that this uncomfortable reunion took place in a mad scientist’s hippie utopia on a time-travelling Island, I thought it was a very realistic display of social dynamics.  Juliet behaved maturely but clearly worries that her happiness is threatened; Sawyer also stays focused on what matters, but can’t help himself from being sheepish around Kate and venting his frustrations by laying the smackdown on Jack. Jack and Kate, meanwhile, are mostly soaking in the fact that whatever goals and objectives they had seem utterly out-of-sync with their new reality. Jack seems to be making small strides towards being less of a raging prick, but he really has nothing else to do with his time except work himself up into a hissyfit about how fucked up the situation is, so of course he urges Sawyer for more action.

Meanwhile, in the present day, we mostly got fill-in-the-blanks beats covering the 316 crash from the not-Locke, not-Timewarping perspective, culminating in a visit to a Smokey-haunted, Ghost Town version of the DHARMA barracks.  The characters in the present day have hazy objectives and virtually no known tactics for achieving the one objective that is clear (reunite with Jin), so there isn’t a whole lot to say, although I will note that Christian seems tight with the smoke monster (or he IS the smoke monster), which also raises the question: what is Smokey’s relationship with Jacob?

But as far as mythology bits go, I was most psyched by the introduction of Radzinsky, who as we know from the Season 2 finale, will eventually occupy the hatch, draw the invisible blast door map, and blow his brains out in the Swan station kitchen.  It seems he was designing the Swan to be built in a top-secret location that might endanger the truce with the Hostiles, which suggests to me that DHARMA was intentionally building the Swan over Jughead.  Maybe before the Incident, DHARMA really did intend the Swan as a psych experiment, and maybe the Hostiles were meant as lab rats, but it somehow winds up as a stop-gap solution to the Incident, a vent for the electro-magnetic energy created by some seriously crazy timewarpery.  Radzinsky ends up trapped in the hatch he built, pushing the button to save the world from a space-time paradox, documenting everything he knew about the Island on the blast door to maintain his sanity, until one day he gives up and leaves the job to Kelvin (and eventually Desmond).

And finally, the return of L’il Ben!  At the beginning of the season, when discussing the Lost rules of time travel, the producers kept posing the standard time travel paradox question, “What would happen if you went back in time and tried to kill Hitler?”  Apparently by Hitler, they meant Ben, because Sayid is definitely gonna try and kill the shit out of that kid next week (thanks, unnecessarily spoilerish ABC promos!). This nascent plotline has already got me looking for evidence that would support my theory of Ben as a “usurper” whose destiny did not include becoming Island leader, in which case the Lostaways altering the past to prevent Ben from coming to power would be an acceptable change in the timeline because it would be a course correction.

Also, Sayid’s captivity as a potential Hostile echoes Ben’s same predicament in Season 2, just like Desmond turning the failsafe key and detonating the Swan station in the Season 2 finale will no doubt echo the Incident and the creation of the Swan station in the Season 5 finale.  This is part of a theory I have similar to EW’s Jeff Jensen, where Season 4 answers questions posed in Season 3 (who is on the freighter? Who gets off the Island, what happens to them, why do they have to go back?), Season 5 answers questions posed in Season 2 (DHARMA Initiative, Swan Station, Ben), and Season 6 will answer the series-long Season 1 questions (smoke monster, Adam & Eve skeletons, the history/nature of the Island).

To echo The House Next Door review, Lost Season 5 may not have produced an episode on par with “The Constant” or “Walkabout” yet, but it has been of a consistently high quality, more consistent than previous seasons, and FUN, lots of fun.  It’s a high compliment to say that a Zen attitude is again necessary to avoid getting impatient between episodes.  Namaste.

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