I don't...I don't even know where to begin. It's a week later and I still haven't fully grasped the power of this episode (AND THAT IS WHY FULL-YEAR SEASONS ARE GOOD, AND RERUN/PRE-EMPTED WEEKS ARE NOT THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL). My head is still spinning. I...I...oh, let's just go by topics before my brain asplodes.
*wails and flings self into dark cave, rocking and sobbing*
First of all, I am just so sick of picking the wrong side in everything. I was sure that Ben had concocted the killing/capture of Karl & Rousseau/Alex. I even found a story that explained this scenario PERFECTLY (just ignore the weird undertone vibes of Alex/Richard in it). I've been sitting on this theory for a month, and so when we got back to her, I sat there with my fingers crossed, chanting "Others Others Others Others DAMN IT!" Ben was sending them to safety, and Keamy & Co. did get the jump on them to take Alex prisoner. I hate being wrong about Ben.
Second of all, NOOOO! I didn't believe they'd really do it! I never believed that after killing Karl, they'd actually kill Alex too! THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE. I love Alex. I think I possibly love her even more than Charlie, certainly at least as an individual if not her role within the show, and this is just SO FAR BEYOND COOL. This may be the worst, most gutting death the show has ever had. And it was so brutally harsh - Keamy's dead-eyed expression turned my blood to ice. You know, because it wasn't enough that Alex was terrified and sobbing and pleading for her life. I think I might even have gotten through that if she hadn't ended up at "Please, Daddy!" Then I was done for. I break every single time I watch it (for I have watched it a lot, as I have an apparently masochistic love of self-torture), knowing that a few seconds later will come the merciless gunshot.
For the sake of my sanity, I need to believe that Alex knew her father was pulling one of his patented mind games when he said she meant nothing to him. He was obviously lying through his teeth; I need to believe that Alex was playing along with the act, even though the harsh words must have cut like a knife. I need to know that she at least died with hope, trusting her father to save her. Because as much as I dislike Ben, and as many times Alex has rightfully glared at him with hatred over the past season and a half, it's always been evident that he does love her, and that she's the only thing he cares about as much as his precious island. And she does love him, however much she's vehemently disagreed with his actions. I can't hate that. So for once and perhaps the only time in my life, I could do nothing but completely sympathize with his numb look of horror as her body crumpled to the ground.
The worst part is that I somehow kind of still had hope that it was a fakeout, and I kept waiting to see that it was all some kind of hoax. A stun gun. Any sort of Mikhail type death. Something! Because Alex could not just be killed off like that, with no leadup and more importantly, no spoiler buzz about any sort of death beforehand! (I knew there'd be a body washing up on shore. I do not remember being warned about proper character death, and certainly not her death in particular, which is not how these things are supposed to work)
And then after a commercial break and a scene break...she was still there. Really, undeniably dead. More sympathy for Ben as he closed her eyes and kissed her forehead. *weeps* (insert 5-minute break to throw things, curse, and generally shriek about how unfair it is that the ONE time I want Ben's damnably manipulative honey tongue to work, it fails)
And, er, I guess this means Rousseau is really dead too, huh? That sucks. You cannot kill off 3 people I like in the space of 2 episodes! It just isn't done!! On the other hand, at least I can take a small sort of comfort in the fact that she and Karl are together again. That was the only thing that got me to deal with Remus & Tonks, and it nagged at me a little bit that Alex was suddenly so alone. Now I can let my silly ghost daydreams play.
*renews frenzied determination to find Alex/Karl fluff* I have some leads, but nothing that's bowled me over yet with oneshot canon-compliant wonderfulness. This one's cute, though. I Just Want to Watch You Shine.
Not a fan of having Ben feature in anything, but I have to admit that his flashes are kind of cool. So...can he, like, teleport or something? Because it looked like he just dropped out of the sky, and I can't figure out why else he'd be wearing an insulated parka in the middle of Tunisia. In fact, can he teleport through time, thus explaining why he had to verify the year? Come on, Ben, I don't want to be impressed by you! I hate how I kind of was. The whole time. In every scene. *headdesk*
And...so they're off the island by 2005? That's good. Less than a year spent on that hellhole before they got back to civilization. Or six of them did, anyway.
Also, since nobody else is going to say it, I will - I AM SUPER EXCITED FOR BEN TO KILL PENNY. Partly because I want retribution for Alex, even if I have to join Ben's side to do it, but mostly because I want Desmond to suffer. That's payback for killing Charlie! *rubs palms evilly* I look forward to this day. (Plus unlike everyone else, I am just not that fond of the Epic, Star-Crossed Love Odyssey of Desmond and Penny.)
Other Side of Flash Forwards
SAYID NADIA OMG *HEAD EXPLODES*
I have...so many different things to feel about this. The minute Sayid said "wife," I sat bolt upright, quivering like a dog eyeing a Beggin' Strip, hoping against hope it was Nadia. Not because I want Nadia to be dead, obviously - and even though I forgot it in the moment, spoilers had told me that this episode included her funeral - but because as much as I loved Shannon, with her dead, I always hoped that someday he would find Nadia if he ever got off the island. And he did, and he married her! And even though we didn't get to see it, they had a moment of happiness, however brief. Ask my default icon OTP. A brief marriage ending in tragedy is better than none at all. *delights in daydreams*
Of course, there's still the part where it ENDED IN TRAGEDY. Oh my God, Sayid completely broke me in this episode. I thought we'd reached heights with Shannon's death, but no, this was so much more painful. I don't think I ooh and ahh over Naveen Andrews enough, because even though I totally bought him as a transformed bad-ass (with still soft heart) assassin earlier this season...here, before he reaches that point, he's still the Sayid we know. And he's all wobbly-voiced and vulnerable, and *cries* Sayid/Nadiaaaaaa! WHY DOES EVERY COUPLE ON THIS SHOW HAVE TO DIE. This is not how to win friends and influence people!
Also, something about the staring intensity with which Ben insists that he doesn't know why they'd want to kill her, "But they did," makes me think that perhaps "they" actually did not. That he's taking advantage of Sayid's grief and and vulnerability to plant ideas as truth for his own agenda, and that you know who you can trust? Ben. In all his bug-eyed sincerity, he wants to get these people just as bad as you do. Honest.
That Jack Storyline
First words out of my mouth that night: "...the hell, my first shot of the series after a month-long hiatus is Kate peeling out of her tank top? Ew? Did not need?" I also did not need Jack to be conveniently strolling by at that moment and/or for them to have a little eyesex moment. Jate, my feelings of loathing towards you intensify every year. You know how I used to think that maybe someday in a future where Sawyer (later modified to include "and Juliet") had tragically died, I wouldn't mind if Jack and Kate ended up together? I don't think I think that any more. It's mostly due to how much I intensely dislike Kate when Sawyer's not around to care about her.
Also, here's how you know I'm dumb: I could not figure out that Jack's stomach pains were the beginning of anything serious until I read spoilers for the next episode. I was just wondering why they were wasting time on him having a stomachache. Now that I've read the spoilers, though, Ahoy S.S. Jacket!
Other Beach Stuff
Vincent! Yay Vincent! I do a little dance every time that dog makes an appearance, because in case you can't tell, I love him. Even though he doesn't get rescued, I'm going to willfully believe that is because Vincent is a tricky beast and just decides to live on the island his whole life, rather than getting tragically killed at some point. ...oh God, I can just see it - Darlton is going to sacrifice him for the greater good, like he'll be running ahead of the Losties and step on a mine or similar booby trap, thus saving the Losties' lives by warning them away with his death. *depresses self* No, no, Wild Wolfy Doggy forever!
Not gonna lie, I was really hoping Desmond would be the body washing up on shore. It was a little disappointing to find out it was just Ecklie, but on the bright side, maybe he can go back to harassing the CSIs now.
In an unrelated note, Jack, please feel free to beat the living snot out of Daniel any time you want.
Barricade At The Island Housing Development/Sawyer Pwns All
I have no idea how to play Risk; it's too complicated for my head to grasp, but I love the fact that Sawyer passes time by reading and playing board games. You know, just in case his smoldering hotness and general streak of Protective Caring and Loyalty weren't enough to cinch his spot as the most attractive man on the island.
Speaking of that streak, I love how he's all ready to go get "Frenchie and the kids." 1, nicknames FTW, and 2, I keep telling you how much I love(d) interplay between Sawyer & Alex & Karl. He seems to have a particular fondness for them, albeit tempered with periodic annoyance; for whatever reason they have a good rapport. I SHALL MISS THIS GREATLY.
Anyway, then it turns into "Claire's still sleeping, I'll grab her." Except then suddenly there is Wild West gunfire! Blood flying, bodies dropping, UTTER PANDEMONIUM, and I'm freaking the hell out waiting for Sawyer to rescue Claire, because I was suddenly thinking about how Kate ends up with Aaron and something has to happen to Claire to leave him separated and raised by another - this seemed like a prime explanation. "Oh no, please don't kill - OH MY GOD YOU JUST BLEW CLAIRE UP!" (insert 5-minute fit of rage, during which I cussed Desmond to hell and back, threatening to blow his head off if the Freighties didn't kill him first. "Did your vision involve Claire getting on the helicopter in charred pieces in a body bag?! Is that it?!")
I have no idea how Claire survived her house exploding in a ball of flames, but somehow she did with barely a scratch, and I think I fainted in relief. Also? There are few things hotter than Sawyer storming into smoking wreckage, throwing aside pieces of debris to find her, and scooping her up to run to safety. Oh, don't forget the part where my heart simultaneously soared and broke as a disoriented Claire murmured "Charlie?" (insert 5-minute nostalgic whimpering fit)
ConMama is my secret little wayward ship, the one that would probably be quite creepy in canon, but which I like to play with nevertheless. And as it stands, in a perfectly innocent context, I adore the increasingly friendly rapport between them, so you can imagine how I squeed off the hook with all the scenes tonight. The above would have been plenty to chew on, but then "You all right, sweetheart?" *DIES* That is exactly why I love this; how at the sound of her voice he instantly transforms from snarling and swearing at Ben to warily concerned about her.
[Sidebar - I like to think that they're all rallying around Claire more than usual; they always did because she was young and a young mother to boot, but now without Charlie as the first defense all the time, it's like everybody's stepping it up (well, everybody except Locke, who was perfectly happy to follow Ben's lead and leave her out in the open along with Sawyer). I like to think that everyone sees her as I do, innocence and light and a beacon of hope. MY FANTASY CANON WORLD IS RICH AND FULFILLING, THANK YOU.]
And the ending! Where Sawyer finally comes to his senses and tells Ben to shove it, he's going back to the beach, and then (hotly) decrees that Claire and the kid are going with him. I think it's hilarious that he tacks on a "That OK with you?" without really making it a question, which is fine because obviously Claire's just like "Yep." Notttttt really a hard choice to make there.
Sawyer: You harm so much as one hair on his curly head? I'll kill you.
...well, this is kinda killing the squee from Kate's rescue, when he said exactly the same thing and the phrasing flipped me permanently onto the Skate train, but I still love the fact that he's behaving like a herd stallion right now as default leader of his little band.
Digression: I love equating human behavior to that of animals, particularly dogs and horses, and even setting aside the whole epic battle for dominance between him and Jack, he's like a newly independent bachelor stud. Have you seen the PBS documentary on Cloud the mustang? (if not, please watch it IMMEDIATELY) The way he starts building up his first herd is a lot like what's happening here. Kate's the lead mare, albeit currently absent. He just rounded up Claire and her little one to fill out the ranks, he had the two frolicking yearlings under his command before they got killed off; I'm going to go ahead and put Rousseau, as the elderly (in horse terms) mother of one of said yearlings, in there too. And now he's got Miles in his little party, who's either a colt not quite ready to be run out or an escaped gelding just along for the safety in numbers. I think Juliet fits into the equation as a mare he's trying to collect, except that she's stubbornly partnering up with Jack. ...and this is getting beyond my control, so I'm going to stop there. I have way too much fun thinking about this. (but I do have to point out the excellent detail that, as the little group melts away into the forest, he's even at the back, driving them along, exactly as a good stallion should)
Awesome Smokey is Awesome. I'm not even kidding. That was the most amazing use of chilling special effects they've ever employed with this phenomenon. WIN.
I don't know if I can call it the best episode of the season, what with the heartbreaking and the general excellence of Juliet's episode, but I can definitely say that this is the the most mind-blowing episode in the history of the show. I have never been so completely gripped by every second, even the flash-whatever sections. That is some good writing. Wow.
P.S. *SOBS* I MISS ALEX.
I have to go...hate certain parts of 4x10 now. It's getting increasingly hard to concentrate on the squeeful bits. Maybe this gets better by the end of the hour? I hope?
Edit: No, it does not. In fact, it just keeps getting worse. And I have to say three things about it right now that sum up my feelings/priorities/etc (yes, I'll probably repeat these thoughts in the full review) :
3/4 Mark: DAMN IT, LOST, YOU CAN'T SHOOT ALL MY SHIPS AND THEN SMASH THE TWO I HAVE LEFT ON THE ROCKS. Oh, to hell with this. SAWYER/CLAIRE OTP.