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Great title for the "Lost" episode this week -- "This Place Is Death." Not quite as instantly poetic and apropos as the "Deadwood" classic "Tell Your God to Ready for Blood," but in that echelon. And a good title for an episode just packed with juicy death, from Jin's faked one to the very really ones of Locke, Charlotte, and the non-pregnant portion of Team French People.
I liked everything having to do with Jin's brief time-traveling detour through Rousseau's backstory. I liked the casting on the young, pregnant Danielle (she looked just like a half-and-half mixture of her older, crazier self and her beautiful doomed daughter), I liked how quickly the island made mincemeat of the the pathetic, disorganized French guys (less than a month, judging by Young Rousseau's pregnancy padding). I liked the additional insight into the always muddled Rousseau character, whose future craziness was much explained by the sudden introduction into her hormonal late pregnancy of death-dealing smoke monsters, jabbering Koreans, and severed limbs.
The other thing "This Place" delivered on was the parallel behavior of the island's present and past leaders, Locke and Ben. Locke's sense of humor, not much in evidence for the past season and change, seems to have returned with a renewed sense of singularity of purpose. He's a great guy when he knows what his place in the world is, Locke, but his faith is so weak. It only takes one flash of light and a busted arm and he's all confused and angry again. Ben, meanwhile, seems more exasperated than anything else back in the real world -- he knows it's useless to fight the will of the island/destiny, and it's just a matter of time before the Oceanic 6 all fall in line and do his bidding. As such it must be somewhat exhausting for him to constantly have his life threatened. Like Michael in "Meet Kevin Johnson," he probably can't die until his mission is completed. As such, who could blame him for almost yawning in the face of pistol-wielding Sun or threat-throwing Sayid?
It remains to be seen whether we've seen the last of Rebecca Mader's Charlotte, but if she's a done concern as far as the principal storyline goes, she's the biggest victim thus far of Season Four's strike-shortened status. We never got a clear idea of what her motivations were, and most if not all of her backstory was left for her deathbed speech. I'll have to go back and watch the classic Season 3 Ben's Origins episode to see whether Charlotte as a child made an appearance. I seem to have a half-clear memory of a British-accented little girl in there somewhere but I may be inventing it.
Other things: Loved Sawyer's tearful embrace of the presumed-dead Jin, somewhere in time on the island -- Sawyer's such a big softy. I was bummed when they didn't even wait a whole episode to "reveal" that Locke/Ben's contact in the real world is indeed Faraday's mother. I guess I wouldn't have looked all that smart guessing so since it was pretty obvious. I'm still not buying Sun as a ruthless businesswoman/pistol-packer -- too much earlier trenchwork was laid establishing her as the personification of gentle love, like the episode where she frets for an entire day about losing her wedding ring. It's weird seeing Jack as an essentially passive actor in most of the action thus far this season when he was quite the opposite up until now. Does the island hate musicians? Charlie and the French violinist sure took it on the chin.
So far the season has been much as I'd expected, with bits of (not unimportant) backstory being filled in as the main narrative moves efficiently toward the Six's return to the island. I think the big X-factor that could step in and make things less predictable at this point is Faraday. Already shown to be somewhat unstable before his girlfriend's passing (and before he even got to the island, see "The Constant"), he has an understanding of the island's mechanisms and a tendency to try and cheat the rules. He could make things very difficult, if he chose to do so. One of the best things about "Lost"'s comeback in the last two seasons is Jeremy Davies' big role in it. He's a terrific actor, rather underseen since Saving Private Ryan, and this is a signature role for him. His trademark filthy tie gives Faraday a Halloween-costume recognizability and Davies has seized the opportunity with some wild-eyed, inspired performing. He's not British, did you know? I could have sworn he was but he isn't.