I'm not sure if it's the abbreviated season, or the fact that the writers now know an end date for the series, but the action was upped and the revelations (and more questions, of course) came fast and furious. You all have seen the ep and read the recaps, so here's a summary of:
What we (think we) learned:
- Linus. Benjamin Linus. Our Machiavellian manipulator is also a secret badass with multiple identities and a way with an expanding billy club.
- Ben exerts some type of control over Smoky the monster. He went into his secret room (?), returned looking "sootier," and soon after that, Smoky opened up a can of whoop ass on the mercs.
- Sayid married Nadia. Who was killed, presumably by agents of Charles Widmore. Ben "proved" this by virtue of a traffic cam image of the purported assassin two blocks from where Nadia was killed. Yeah, I've acted on sketchier evidence. So that's how Jarrah, Sayid Jarrah, came to work as Ben's blunt instrument of tux-wearing Iraqi death.
- Ben has the means to manipulate time and space, apparently. When he leaves the island, he still experiences some type of sickness, but either medicine or an unknown "constant" keeps him from becoming "unstuck" in time.
- The parka Ben was wearing when he appeared in the desert had a Dharma logo, and the name "Halliwax" on it. Halliwax is presumably another alias for Dr. Marvin Candle, of the mysterious black and white Dharma videos.
- The house phones in Otherton don't have dials. Dharma drops supplies occasionally, but you can't order a pizza evidently.
- Ben is out and about in the world in October of 2005, a year and a month after the crash of Oceanic 815.
- If you're a redshirt carrying logs, you will probably get shot. (And one of the redshirts was actually wearing a red shirt. Funny).
- A white picket fence provides ample cover for machine gun fire. Of course, don't test this at home, kids.
- At first, I thought Ben's alias of "Moriarty" at the Tunisian hotel was a reference to Holmes' nemesis. However, the full name was "Dean Moriarty," the character from Kerouac's "On The Road."
- In addition to wielding a mean billy club, time traveling, teleportation and speaking multiple languages, Ben can play Rachmaninoff. With a shotgun hidden under the piano bench.
- Bernard knows Morse code. Ooops, for Faraday.
- "Australia's the key to the whole game!" Yes, it was Hurley talking about Risk, but I think there was more going on there than meets the eye.
- Faraday's loopy line readings never fail to amuse me. "When? When is kind of a relative term."
- Ben is now (or will be -- my head hurts) on a mission to kill Penny Widmore. Uh Oh.
- Ben was supremely confident that Keemy wouldn't kill his daughter, Alex. However, he (presumably Widmore) "changed the rules." Is this because there were set rules, like in the mafia, that family members were not to be harmed in the epic conflict? Or perhaps because Ben has "been there, done that" in a metaphysical sense? Does his supreme knowledge of events come from time-hopping and knowing the future in the present before it really happens?
So this question leads us into the questions from "The Shape of Things to Come:"
- Why was Ben wearing the Dharma/Halliwax parka?
- Why (and how) did he arrive in the desert?
- Why was he injured?
- Can Ben control "when" and "where" he goes? If so, then why did he ask the hotel clerk the date and year?
- What's with all the hieroglyphics on the door of Ben's secret room?
- Is Jack's illness naturally occurring, or is someone up to something?
- What exactly ARE the rules of the Linus/Widmore game of real life Risk?
- Why does Ben think Widmore's mercs won't hurt him? Is it because they "can't," or because they "won't?" And is this changed, now that the rules are broken?
- When the Morse code message says that the Doc is fine, is that the truth -- at that time on the freighter? Or are they lying?
- Is Charles actively hiding Penny? Does Penny know she should be hidden? And does this mean that Charles has moved or hidden her since she communicated with Des in "The Constant?"
- How connected is Penny to the search for the island? (Remember the parka wearing dudes in the tent with the radio? Part of Penny's search for Des? Part of dad's search for the island? Both?)
- So the island "was" Widmore's? When?
- What are Widmore's nightmares?
- Why hasn't Michael Emerson won an Emmy yet?
- If it's important to Ben that Locke stay alive, then why did he shoot him and leave him for dead previously? Because he knew that Locke's experience in the pit of bodies and with Taller Ghost Walt was necessary for future developments?
Wow, that was seriously jam packed. Can't wait until next week.