“He’s changed the rules.”

I’m a regular watcher of “Lost” and I have to commend the show for every so often throwing a completely unexpected wrench into the series, and this past week they did it.

WARNING! SPOILERS!

If you haven’t seen this past week’s Lost, don’t read this next little bit. You have been fairly warned. Anyways, moving on, in the episode, Ben has his daughter killed, and as he sits in the middle of the house in shock, he mutters to himself, “He’s changed the rules,” then goes off and does something that seems inexplicable and downright confusing. I also sat in stunned silence, digesting what had just been uttered. “Who, who changed the rules?” “There are rules here?” “What are the rules?” “Is it a game between Charles Widmore?” “Is this entire island merely a grand chess board between these two titans?”

As the episode progressed, I got more and more excited to find out more and more about these rules. Then the man-eating mysterious gray cloud finally came back, and I realized that Lost had hit its solid stride the first time since the second episode. No more of this sit-around pretentious “what the hell do we do” crap. Now something is actually happening. It’s back to its truly supernatural and near-mythological roots, and what a grand return it is.

This episode throws so many questions into the mix and yet answers so many as well. And I finally figured out for the first time why Jack was pressing Kate to go back to the island at the end of Season 3. Perhaps I’m a little late on the ball with this, but they need to go back TO GET WHO WAS LEFT BEHIND. There are still people on the island. Said asks Ben in this episode, in a flash-forward, “How did you get off the island?” Which means that Ben did not leave with the Oceanic Six – he came by after, and tricked Said into working as an assassin for him. So if Ben is on the island, he can’t be on the island all by himself, there must be other people there.

This episode was absolutely packed with everything that has made Lost great, and everything that Lost has been glaringly lacking for the past several weeks. Broken loyalties, questionable ties, answers to long-sought-after-questions, tantalizingly brief hints of new questions, new people being thrown into the mix, a competent execution of a flash-forward/back. And more than this, Ben has finally changed from a frustratingly inscrutable figure who’s always being told he can’t be trusted and then of course people trust him, to someone with a real past, a daughter, a true pain at his center, and this entirely new secret that it’s all just some kind of game with “rules” and all that. I’m not longer constantly frustrated that the show’s writers seem to be unable to use Ben for anything but a cheap ploy to divide loyalties between the islanders. More often than not, this season he has seemed like the typical “master-villain” who knows absolutely everything but doesn’t tell a soul and only enjoys telling people small bits so they’ll get pissed more. For this season, Ben was no kind of serious character until this episode, and that more than anything marks this episode as a success. We finally know for near-sure that Ben can control the smoke monster, we’re getting more and more indications of the future-time difference between the island and the outside world, and Jack is finally breaking down and showing more than “I’m a tough guy who gets pissed at Ben” side.

The islanders are finally making the outsiders tell them the answers to their questions, people are getting up and moving, and it’s not stagnant anymore. There’s events happening, real events, not just simplistic vignettes into the lives of the people that often have nothing to do with the story (I appreciated the Jin/Sun episode but it didn’t have much relevance to the story at large), there’s no more wasting time by going to a power station to shut it down (woop-dee-doo), and we finally may find out more about Jacob.

I don’t love this show as much as I love The Office or Heroes, but damn, they really do hit the big time now and then. If only every episode could be like this.

On a side note, y’all should check out this video. It’s a youtube video that’s a four minute recap of the first three seasons, and it’s actually pretty funny to hear some of the simple summaries of all the characters. That’s about all for now, later, everybody.

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