Tuesday, January 26

The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham & LaFleur (S5, eps. 7 & 8)

The Rewatch Columns for "The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham" and "LaFleur" have been deputized for your reading pleasure on Chud.com.


  1. At one point it was speculated (though not confirmed, I believe) that the opening to "Bentham" was originally set to open the season. Glad they didn't go through with that. It was also rumored, and later confirmed, that "Bentham" was originally going to air as the sixth ep. of the season, with "316" following. Also glad they didn't do that. Plays better like this, i think.

    I think it's interesting that Ilana and Anti-Locke are both apparently unaware of the other's true nature during their initial meeting. Ilana was sent by Jacob (I'm guessing), but apparently he hadn't filled her in on all the details. Anti-Locke later tells Richard to "deal with" the 316 survivors, is that an acknowledgment of the dangers Ilana's group poses to him, or merely a desire to get rid of any spares?

    The Bentham episode is ultimately disappointing for me, besides Locke's death scene. So many plot holes. I hadn't thought about the fact that pretty much all of the O6 scenes were the same. They all reject him, but do add their own twists on it. Kate's attack on Locke could have easily been given to Jack, Sayid's suggestion to save the world in a real charitable fashion could have been given to Hurley. Hurley's scene had me yelling at the TV, mostly because of Abaddon's snide remark after Locke struck out. His encounter with Hurley was going reasonably well, and the Island ghosts have been constantly telling him to go back. It was an easy sell until he saw Abaddon, who should have known to stay in the car. He knew he freaked Hurley out, so why was he in plain sight? It's almost like he wanted Locke to fail.

    Some fans have guessed that if the Star Trek reboot brings back Khan, Nestor Carbonell would be on the shortlist. His work on Lost shows he might be up to the job.

    While we're on Richard, I'm still wondering about his "native" look from "Man Behind The Curtain" that is completely at odds with every other time we see him. I thought maybe that's what 70s Richard looked like, but this disproves it.

    Richard meets James twice in the 70s. I wonder why he didn't speak up when he crashed on the Island in 2004? Surely he was around either when Ben decided to kidnap the 815 Love Triangle, or after they were taken.

    There seems to be no reaction within Dharma to Juliet's sudden revelation of medical skills. She's been working in the motor pool for three years, and suddenly she's delivering babies and operating on gunshot children. If I were Horace, I might be a little suspicious around this point.

    It's amazing how fast you've been able to get through season 5, with the same level of detail. Looking forward to the second half of this season's analysis.

  2. Thanks again for all of these columns, just wanted to reiterate that. I've been mostly spoiler free in the past, but never entirely until this year, and quite a bit of that is because I can come read these instead.

    I like the idea of reading Life & Death as a commentary on Locke's lack of genuine leadership ability, I never quite thought of it like that before. I think another bit of it was that he had been told on at least two occasions by now that he had to die for any of this to work. I think Locke's giving into his penchant for fatalism a bit here, and at least subconsciously thinking that none of this is going to work while he's still alive.

    I'm with Resident101 in being a bit disappointed overall with this episode, especially when you look at it next to LaFleur as you have. Both episodes contain quite a lot of plot development in terms of actual events occurring. But they're told in pretty disparate ways. Life & Death is almost totally linear, which I think is a big reason why it feels rushed and repetitive at the same time. I feel like they could have told Locke's story in a similar fashion to the way they told James and Co's story, where every event doesn't need to be shown to make the point. Lost is usually very good at pulling this off, which is what makes Locke's story a little disappointing.

  3. Richard & James Sawyer: I always really liked the undertones that Sawyer and Richard's 70s interactions gave to the past seasons. In fact, the first time we see Locke meet Richard (which we now know is not the first time Richard met Locke), Richard gives Sawyer's file to Locke. He essentially set up Locke arranging for Sawyer to kill Anthony Cooper.

    How this jives with his past experience is unclear, but I'm willing to bet that Richard recognizes that the leader he met traveling through time is this same guy, yet the guy (Sawyer 2004) has many different traits than what RIchard saw in 1974 and 1977.

    Anyway, Richard clearly knew most of the Time Traveling Oceanics (having met Jack, Kate, Sayid, Sawyer and Locke in past, In addition, he also met Faraday and Charlotte) were when he first met them. However, it does appear that he never actually saw Juliet. If he had, it would have uniquely informed his recruitment of her in Miami.

  4. Morse, I also want to echo Katie's position about remaining spoiler free - even 8 days before the premiere. I also attribute it to this column (and not reading your theory during the constant recap which you stated was informed by spoilers). So i really owe a debt of gratitude for that.

    Regarding the LADOJB episode, I think it doesn't hold up well to close scrutiny, and there were a number of details which seemed incongruous with previously stated timeline events (though in fairness, LOST has always sort of played with these - I'll post a separate comment on this in a minute). However, I have to say that when it aired I was glued to my screen and felt that it was a mind-boggling series of reveals. It really struck me as a strong and powerful episode.

    the Walt scene was especially touching - in fact nobody said he had to bring Walt back. Just the 6 who left. I saw his visit to Walt being an example of his own desire to check up on Walt. Remember, other than Michael, not one other character who left the island ever did this. I think Locke considered asking him, but it was never really the point. I think the detail of Walt knowing the name Jeremy Bentham at the end of season 4 is an example of some of the sloppiness, though I can accept the theory put forward a couple of weeks ago (I believe it was Resident_O1, but forgive me if not) that Jeremy Bentham made repeated visits to these folks that we didn't see.

    Anyway, a lot hinged on the episode and it doesn't survive close scrutiny, but man, what a great hour of TV when it aired.

  5. LOST has played fast and loose with off island timelines, which I can accept to some degree given the different passages of time. But then they also use real world dates to ground some of these events which I think serves to weaken the blur this may cause. a couple of big examples.

    Michael Dawson: Ben gave Michael Walt and a boat on about Nov, 27th (I'm using the dates on the Lostpedia timeline, but it is within a couple of days of this date). Less than a month later, Desmond and Sayid are on the freighter on Christmas Eve. In the month between there, Michael had to travel to a nearby island on that boat, hop a cargo ferry, travel to NY. Tell Walt what he did. Have Walt shut him out. Leave Walt with his mom, try to kill himself several times, including a hospital stay, meet Tom (can't be more than 10 days after leaving the island), fly to Fiji, get on a freighter, try to blow it up and have Naomi land on the island by about Dec 15th. whew.

    Penny Widmore: Likewise Penny found the island due to the hatch explosion also on Nov. 27th. This one is more easily explained by money, but she presumably mobilized a boat over the next month. Charlie spoke to her, answering her repeated attempts to contact anyone near the island, on Tuesday Dec 21. She was at home to receive Desmond's call on Christmas Eve. Probably as a result of that call, she rushed to her boat, to be on it and near the island a week later on New Year's Eve. Again, money can explain that better than Michael.

  6. The Bentham episode broke my heart, both the first time around and on rewatch. You're right that the O6 scenes are repetitive but I do think that each one reveals a bit of new information. I think it's interesting that Sayid has tried to get as far away from his old life (or lives) as possible - and also telling that Widmore could find him even there. Hurley's scene underlines his line from last season that he regrets choosing Locke on the island. Kate's scene offers a good chance for Locke to reflect on how his life might have been different had he been able to be a little less obsessed (and the way Terry O'Quinn says that word is devastating)...there's a hint of character growth here that we haven't necessarily seen before. And Jack, of course, gives us the classic Man of Faith vs. Man of Reason debate that we must revisit every once in a while.

    But most of all, I think they're trying to drive the Christ figure metaphor home, and key to that is having Locke kicked when he's down, repeatedly and mercilessly. It wouldn't have the same impact if we just hear that Kate and Sayid said no, instead of seeing it.

    Not a perfect episode by any means, but I think the unrelenting misery is an important part of Locke's journey.

  7. I'd forgotten about it until Jenny mentioned it, but it's interesting that Widmore knows where Sayid is. Widmore (presumably) knows that he's killed several of his people, but hasn't taken any action against him. Why?

  8. Oh, LaFleur. You sexy beast. I love this episode. I love watching a version of Sawyer - excuse me, James - so fully actualized and at peace with himself. He's very much in his element in the Dharma past. I feel like it's unlikely that he will get a happy ending in the series, particularly if Juliet is really gone - but it'd be nice to see. He is possibly the character with the most significant evolution in the series.

    Once again, Kate ruins things for a man in her life. Not for the last time.

  9. Hi, I just wanted to say thanks for this rewatch,these posts are by far the best ones out there - intelligent, insightful, and best of all funny. I'm almost as addicted to them as I am to the show, I check this blog every day in the hope of a new post... I'm just that cool.

    Anyhoo, enough sucking up. Interesting thoughts on Locke and the mango - although in one of the deleted scenes 'ghost' Christian makes a point of asking to borrow Frank's torch. If this is canon and he can interact with real, solid things, it makes Christian's refusal to help Locke in the Frozen Donkey Wheel chamber all the more intriguing. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on that.

  10. interesting point Dave, to my recollection, Christian's appearance to Locke in the Donkey Wheel cave is the only time Ghost-Christian appears outside of the "present" island or off-island timeline. However, he clearly has the same chronological knowledge that Locke has, with this meeting in the cave happening within several days after telling Locke to move the island in the cabin. Perhaps he is not physically manifested there like he is at other times because he is projecting his consciousness back? I'm reaching here.

    I still like Morse's suggestion that physically enabling Locke to turn the wheel will somehow nullify his plans.

  11. Miles, I really like the idea that the Christian in the chamber might have been a specteral apparition of some kind, almost like a memory set back through time. After all that scene can't take place any later than the 1800s - unless the statue is set to get rebuilt in a future episode, which is even more of a reach.

  12. "Jeremy Bentham":

    We have seen a ghost receive an object from a person before, in "The Cost of Living", when Eko gives Ghost Yemi his cross.

    I like that Hurley's so used to seeing dead people at this point that he doesn't even question the details implying Locke isn't a ghost (His cast and name-tag reading "Jeremy Bentham").

    There are two characters that improve every scene: Locke and Hurley. When they're around, the writers really up their game, and when they're interacting with one other character, we often get to see aspects to those other people that we don't normally see. The Kate-Locke scene in "Bentham", for example. I wish we had more Kate-Locke moments. Or Kate-Hurley moments.

    Why did Abaddon offer to take Locke to a loved one if he was just going to avoid the issue when he finally mentions someone? Did he want to spare him the pain of knowing Helen was dead?

    Why doesn't Locke call Widmore after Abaddon dies and he's hospitalized?

    I like to imagine Jack sitting in Locke's room for hours, staring at him until he wakes up, popping pills like candy to pass the time. It's not entirely unlikely.

    There's a ton of things Locke could have said to Jack in their argument to convince him he and the Island are special. Doesn't matter, I suppose, the Ghost Christian thing worked. He should've represented his side a bit better is all.

    If the real John Locke, "our" John Locke comes back from the dead, I'd say the first item on his itinerary is some good old-fashioned vengeance.


    Why is James inexplicably freaked out when he takes the bag off of Amy's head? He gives Juliet an unsettling look.

    Those graves they dug for the Others must've been really shallow, given that they didn't have any shovels.

    Was Amy just going to let all of Jim's group die if they hadn't noticed that fence?

    It's great that Dharma set up Jim's group with milk and cookies to recover from the fence.

    Is Phil annoyed at all that James, this guy who crashed on the Island, ends up getting promoted to chief of security over him?

    Maybe all the 70s Islanders need is a big cookout. Dharma and Others eating cheeseburgers and drinking beers together. It's harder to kill somebody after you've shared a great meal together.

    There's a split-second shot of a chess piece being moved right after the last "Three Years Later" title card. Right after the scene where James convinces Juliet to stay. Intentional?