Key Points from "The Man from Tallahassee"
Season 3, Episode 13
Episode Air Date: 03/21/07
Oh ... my.
Prior to this episode, the phrase "Ben's Magic Box" was merely an immature euphemism that didn't hold much relevance (beyond being gross ... and kinda funny). But now, "Ben's Magic Box" might just be the most important thing in this entire show.
And the thing is, the Magic Box was only one of many jaw droppers in "The Man from Tallahassee."
So let's get to it!
The episode picks up where "Par Avion" left off -- Locke, Kate, Sayid and Rousseau watch incredulously as Jack cavorts/plays football with their mortal Other enemy, Tom. Juliet appears in the Other yard and saunters over to Jack all flirty and casual. Kate blinks -- she can't believe that 80 days of coy smiles and tight jeans and "whoopsie, I just came out of this steamy shower half-naked" maneuvers have been wiped from Jack's memory by that diabolical blond hussy.
The scene gets even more intriguing when Jack cheerfully accompanies Juliet back toward a nearby bungalow and Juliet rolls an on-the-mend Ben out in a wheelchair. Jack shakes Ben's hand and the two appear to share some sort of thought/comment -- and for once, that thought or comment doesn't involve Jack threatening to nick one of Ben's vital organs.
As all of this plays out, Rousseau silently walks off. She smells a supple young boar lounging unaware in the sun. Lunchtime!
Locke, who's watching the Jack-Ben proceedings through binoculars, lowers his peeping-tom specs and utters the understatement of the episode: "This is going to be more complicated than we thought."
Now, I'm no military genius, but I never did quite figure out how Locke, Kate, Sayid and Rousseau were going to pluck Jack from a fortified Other stronghold. I'm not sure they figured it out, either.
No matter. Jack's apparent assimilation into the Others' collective forces the Jack Rescue Group to rethink its plan. Locke says they should lie low, wait for dark, and then meet with Jack privately to see if he actually wants to be rescued.
Night falls and the trio watches as Jack and Juliet share a quiet moment outside Jack's "apartment." The pair bid each other goodnight and Jack quietly closes the door behind him ... alone. Locke, Kate and Sayid sprint across the dark lawn like ninjas -- really loud ninjas. Each is supposed to cover a specific area, or monitor a specific spot, or some such nonsense.
Kate successfully creeps into Jack's apartment and moves quietly down a hallway. Jack is playing piano in a nearby room. Kate appears in the doorway, but Jack doesn't notice her. He stops the tune and slowly turns.
"Hi," Kate says, not sure if she's supposed to smile or frown or lift her shirt (it works for Sawyer).
Jack isn't pleased. He's not pleased at all. His eyes dart toward a corner of the room and Kate sees a closed-circuit security camera. Jack pleads/orders her to leave immediately, but Kate holds her ground -- she came all this way to rescue Jack, and that's what she intends to do.
The front door to Jack's apartment busts open and a platoon of armed Others spills inside. Kate is pushed to the ground as additional Others drag Sayid into the room. An Other digs his pistol into Kate's neck and demands to know who else is with them. Kate looks at Sayid. Sayid looks at Kate.
"Nobody, it's just us," she lies.
And this little lie opens the door to an epic showdown between Locke and Ben.
With the Others temporarily convinced that Kate and Sayid are working alone, Locke is given time to break into Ben's bungalow.
Ben's recent surgery prevents him from sleeping upside down as he normally does. Instead, he's splayed in a Craftmatic and when he hears a noise in his living room, he mechanically whirs himself into a defensive position (Setting No. 108).
Locke appears, his gun trained on Ben's buggy eyes.
Ben wastes no time offering Locke exactly what he wants.
"I can show you where Jack is," Ben says.
And this is when Locke pulls the rug out.
"I'm not looking for Jack," Locke says. "I'm looking for the submarine."
Locke wants the sub?
Ben feigns ignorance. "Uh, submarine? What submarine?"
A knock sounds at Ben's bedroom door. It's Alex. Ben's mouth quivers and he starts to ask Locke to leave her out of their little conversation ... but Locke flings open the door and drags Alex inside.
At that exact moment, Tom pounds on the front door of Ben's bungalow. Locke pulls Alex into Ben's closet (bumping into an assortment of gimp paraphernalia) as Tom and another Other enter Ben's bedroom.
Tom doesn't realize that an Oceanic Interloper is hiding in the room, and Ben doesn't offer any hints because his daughter is being held captive (to Locke's credit, he doesn't point the gun at Alex -- he just shoves her in the corner and tells her to keep her pie-hole shut). Tom tells Ben that Sayid and Kate have been captured and Ben offers some sort of directive ("tie 'em up" or "lock 'em up" or "make them watch the '04 World Series tape"). Tom leaves and Ben's attention turns to the second Other. His name is Richard, and judging by his height, weight and the faint smell of eyeliner wafting from his orbital sockets, it appears to be Richard Alpert, the guy who recruited/dragged Juliet to the island in "Not in Portland."
"I want you to bring me the man from Tallahassee," Ben instructs Richard.
Uh ... what? Is that code?
Richard leaves and Locke drags Alex out of the closet. He has a plan: He wants Alex to find Sayid and retrieve his backpack (this is the same backpack containing the C4 Locke plucked from the Flame station). Alex shows a momentary glimpse of concern for Ben -- the first we've seen from her -- then scampers off to find the pack.
This leaves Locke and Ben alone for a few minutes ... and oh what an interesting time we're about to have.
Ben asks Locke to help him into his wheelchair so he can roll around while doling out island mysteries and lies. Locke at first resists, but Ben plays to Locke's past. "I just want some dignity," Ben says. "You of all people should understand what it means to want some dignity."
If Ben had a handlebar mustache, he'd be twirling it.
As Locke moves to help, Ben continues his devious deconstruction of Locke's psyche. He asks Locke how he intends to pilot the Others' submarine (thereby confirming the sub's existence). Locke puffs his chest and says that for all Ben knows, he's a former submarine captain ... a decorated captain with lots of medals and lovely ladies in every port.
Ben stifles a smile ... he's really going to enjoy this next bit.
Ben takes a breath and loads up for a classic Henry Gale monologue. In the span of the next 30 seconds, he tells Locke exactly what he knows about him:
Locke blinks. That was unexpected.
"Tell me, John. Did it hurt?" Ben asks, evil dripping from his chin.
"I felt my back break," Locke says. "What do you think?"
Sidenote 1: Remember this dialogue. It's going to be very important later on.
Sidenote 2: Ben's comment about Locke's employment at the box company seems a little off to me. Judging from what we've seen of Locke's backstory, I always figured that Locke went to work at the box company after he was in the wheelchair. If we're to believe Ben's timeline -- i.e. Locke was in the wheelchair for four years -- then it seems Locke couldn't have worked at the box company for more than four years, which is a significant period but not the ungodly amount of time Ben seems to imply it is. Or am I missing something here?
Moving on ...
The power balance in the Locke-Ben conversation soon shifts to Locke because Ben can't contain his curiosity. He asks -- in a giddy and uncharacteristic way -- if Locke regained use of his legs immediately after the plane crash. Locke confirms he did, but then he arches an eyebrow and gazes at Ben. He knows why he's so curious. "You're wondering why it's not the same for you," Locke says, a grin carving across his face. "How'd you get sick in the first place, anyway?"
Touche, Mr. Locke.
Ben's temper rises and his defenses come down. He says he knows Locke isn't going to pilot the sub -- he's going to use the C4 he stole from the Flame station to blow it up. He knows that Locke doesn't want to leave the island because the island has given him life, and if the sub is gone, there's no escape.
It's quite a conclusion -- especially that bit about the C4 (Ben masterfully connects the dots: Locke was in the Flame station, which means he found the C4, which means he can use the C4, which means Locke now has legitimate power ... if Ben wasn't so damn evil I'd admire the little bugger's detective skills).
Locke tosses off Ben's conclusion and the moment passes. The pair moves to the kitchen so Locke can munch chicken wings and scarf Dharma juice.
Ben realizes his psychoanalytic tactics aren't working, so he opts for the direct route. Rolling up to Locke (whose face is covered in chicken bits), Ben puts on his Honest Eyes.
"If you blow the sub up, I have a big problem with my people," Ben says.
Locke stops munching.
Ben tells Locke that he's one of the few Others who was born on the island. Most of his comrades were recruited and brought in, and despite their loyalty to the Others' way of life, these folks need to know they can leave anytime they want. If Locke blows up the sub, Ben can no longer dangle the "leave anytime" carrot, and that's going to call Ben's leadership into question.
Ben continues: Since Locke already has a clear affinity for the island, Ben is willing to share the island's secrets if Locke does him just one wee favor: don't blow up the sub.
"I can show you things, things I know you want to see very badly," Ben says. "Let me put it so you'll understand. Picture a box. What if I told you that somewhere on this island there's a very large box and whatever you imagined, whatever you wanted to be in it, when you opened that box there it would be. What would you say about that, John?"
Locke pauses, mulling over Ben's Magic Box.
"I'd say I hope that box is big enough to imagine yourself up a new submarine," Locke spits sarcastically.
Now, Locke's comment is funny and fitting, but you know the 8-year-old boy trapped inside Locke is screaming "Show me the box! I wanna see the box!"
Ben's frustration swells. He asks Locke why he's so angry and Locke, in a twist, admits that his anger stems from the Others' hypocrisy. He's mad because, in Locke's mind, the Others are "cheating." They're living on this mystical and wonderful island, but they're doing it with electricity, and submarines and refrigerators full of delicious chicken. To Locke, this is anathema.
Sidenote: This "hypocrisy" bit taps into a part of Locke's personality that's been dormant for a while. At the beginning of season one, Locke's desire to be an explorer and to commune with nature was one of his essential motivations, but all the business with the hatch and the Others and Eko's death put Locke's nature-boy side on the back burner ... or so I believed. Apparently, it's still a key part of his personality.
Ben snaps at Locke's "hypocrisy" comment. "How do you know this island better than I do?" Ben sneers.
"Because you're in a wheelchair and I'm not," Locke snorts.
Locke appears poised to push Ben down a flight of stairs, but fortunately for Ben all the Other bungalows have single-floor designs. More fortunate still, Alex arrives with Sayid's backpack and Locke's attention is diverted.
Locke orders Alex to guide him to the submarine. He moves to leave, but Ben wants to make one last-ditch attempt to stop Operation Boom. Ben tells Locke that Jack made a deal with him, and in less than an hour Jack is going to leave the island in the submarine. The problem is, the Purple Sky incident -- Ben calls it "the anomaly" -- knocked out the Others' communication systems, so the sub cannot return. "Whether you destroy it or let it go, the end result is the same," Ben says. "No one will find this island."
Locke remains unconvinced. He points Alex toward the door and the pair exit Ben's bungalow. Ben huffs then rolls toward the TV to catch the last half of a "Golden Girls" marathon.
So Alex guides Locke to the shoreline and points out the submarine. Locke apologizes to Alex for involving her in his plan and with that Alex is free to go. She zips back through the trees and disappears from sight.
But in an interesting twist, someone is watching from the bushes ...
It's Rousseau! A single tear drips through the deep cracks in Rousseau's cheek as she realizes that her daughter is alive.
But enough of this Rousseau family drama, we've got a sub to blow up!
Locke goes into the sub and roots around, looking for the best place to attack its weak point for massive damage. The sub itself isn't Red October, but it's much larger than you'd expect. It's lined with beds and contains at least three compartments -- maybe more.
Moments later, Locke emerges from the sub (oddly, his pants are drenched -- did he put the C4 on the outside of the sub?). He casually walks back down the dock, but his exit is blocked by the arrival of Jack, Juliet and a group of armed Others.
It just so happens that Jack and Juliet were about to leave the island ...
Yeah, about that.
The armed Others force Locke to his knees. He looks up.
"I'm sorry Jack," Locke says with faux sincerity.
"Sorry for what?"
Locke doesn't answer. He waits ... three ... two ... one ...
A massive fireball blows into the sky as the C4 detonates.
Jack, Juliet and the Others dive for cover, but Locke stays put -- he doesn't even turn to admire his handiwork.
That sub is toast.
Jack glares at Locke. The problems these two had in the past don't even compare to the issues they've got now (Man of Rage, Man of Boom).
Locke is brought back to the Others' compound and chained in a boiler room (apparently, "Lost" and "24" are sharing sets now). Ben is rolled into the room by Richard Alpert, but Locke isn't in the mood for Ben's nonsense. See, Locke knows Ben could have lifted the C4 from his bag, but he didn't, and that means that Ben wanted Locke to blow up the submarine.
But Ben has a little twist on this argument. He rolls closer to Locke.
See, Ben is a man consumed by power -- actually, check that, he's consumed by maintaining power -- and up until recently he was in a bit of a power pickle because his deal with Jack showed weakness, and weakness cuts leaders off at the knees (so to speak). On the flip side, Ben couldn't kill Jack because he gave his word and if he went back on his word that, too, would cast aspersions on his leadership.
But then Locke opted to blow up the submarine and Ben's problems were eradicated in that glorious fireball. Now, Ben can keep Jack on the island without reneging on his deal.
He tells Locke all this and Locke seems momentarily dazed; Locke isn't sure if he just helped or hindered his cause.
Ben instructs Alpert to uncuff Locke. Since Locke has been so very helpful in keeping Ben perched on his Other throne, Ben wants to reward Locke with a little glimpse into the island's Magic Box.
Alpert and Ben move out of the boiler room and guide Locke down a short, dirty hallway (it looks subterranean). Alpert unlocks a heavy metal door and cracks it open.
Ben looks up at Locke.
We need to pause a moment because this next bit's massive revelation is infinitely more jaw-dropping when Locke's backstory is added to the mix. So this seems like a good time to ...
CUE BACKSTORY SWOOSH
This episode's backstory is the most revelatory in series history because we discover -- undeniably -- the answer to one of the show's very first questions:
We see how Locke ended up in the wheelchair.
Here's how it plays out:
But Locke is in no mood to dredge up the past, so he tells Peter that the kidney donation was anonymous and he doesn't know Seward/Cooper at all. Peter departs and Locke continues shuffling through his pathetic little life.
Returning to the island ...
Ben, Locke and Alpert are clustered outside the metal door. In the adjacent room, a Magic Box surprise awaits.
"When I asked you earlier if it hurt when you suffered your injury, I think you misunderstood me," Ben says, rubbing his hands in anticipation. "I really wasn't asking about the physical pain ..."
Locke looks down.
"I wanted to know what it felt like when your own father tried to kill you."
Locke's eyebrows pop. How does Ben know this stuff?
Ben keeps pounding. He concludes that Locke is afraid of his father ... and this island is the one place in the world where Cooper can never find him. That's why he doesn't want to leave. That's why he destroyed the sub.
Locke tries to shake off Ben's psycho babble. It stings.
Ben is entranced by the web he's weaving; he can't stop pushing. He narrows his eyes. "I don't know how it happened, but you seem to have some communion with this island, John, and that makes you very, very important ... I want to help you."
"Why?" Locke asks.
"Because I'm in a wheelchair, and you're not," Ben says, his eyes bulging to bug-like proportions.
Ben looks toward the metal door. Locke slowly pushes it open.
The door swings ... Locke looks inside ...
No friggin way. There's just no way.
"Dad?" Locke sputters.
Cooper is in the room, bound and gagged and beaten! The Magic Box produced COOPER! Wha wha wha?!
And that's when it ends!
About half-way through this episode, Jack and Kate share a quiet moment that's supposed to be revelatory, but I really don't get it at all -- I simply don't understand the motivations of these characters.
Anyway, here's how it goes down.
After being discovered in Jack's apartment, Kate is shackled and tossed into the Others' pool hall (yes, they have one). Kate's biggest fan -- Tom -- stops by to visit and he brings Jack with him. Oddly, Tom seems to be helping Jack -- he points toward the ceiling of the pool hall and tells Jack to be careful about what he says because someone is undoubtedly watching and listening.
So, Tom departs and Jack and Kate are left to talk. The pair do their customary talking without saying anything nonsense. There's lots of "are you hurt?" "no" "are you hurt?" "no," but what they're really saying is "can we disable that camera and go at it like bunnies on this pool table?"
Or something like that.
Anyway, Kate asks a few questions, such as:
See what I mean? The entire scene plays out like this.
Kate moves toward Jack and touches his hand and the two get all close and intimate. Jack tells Kate he made a deal and he's going home first thing in the morning (this all happens before Locke stages his submarine demolition). Kate is clearly hurt -- she had dreams of raising a family of wee doctors and fugitives in a bright oceanside bungalow. Jack claims this is their best chance for rescue; he'll bring back help.
And this is when Kate asks Jack why he trusts the Others. Why does he believe they'll let him go?
"I trust them because you told me to, Kate," Jack spurts. "When you asked me to save Sawyer's life."
"What did they tell you?" Kate asks.
The question remains unanswered because Juliet appears at the door and tells Jack they need to go. "And don't get too close to that con man's chick ... we're running low on penicillin"
Jack nuzzles next to Kate and whispers in her ear. "I will come back for you," he says.
And with that, he leaves ... and I grow more confused by the second.
So let me see if I've got this straight:
Jack developed "trust" for the Others when Kate asked him to save Sawyer? I assume he's referring to the brief exchange they had in "I Do." In that scene, Kate told Jack that if he successfully operated on Ben, Juliet promised to let them all go.
So, are we to assume that this conversation cast the die? Was this the motivation for Jack's operating room double-cross?
But here's the thing: It seems that Jack's real motivation came when he saw Sawyer and Kate in flagrante delicto over the security camera. Kate doesn't realize that Jack knows about her dirty deed, but Jack appears to be using that as a deal-breaker. Since Kate is now with Sawyer (so he believes), he's willing to leave the island. Is that right?
I dunno. I still don't get it. If anyone can connect the dots, please do so in the comments area.
Poor Sayid. He has one minute of total screen time in this episode, and much of it happens while he's tied to a swingset.
Anyway, the big Sayid moment comes when Alex appears to retrieve the backpack with Locke's stolen C4. Sayid immediately realizes that Alex is Rousseau's daughter and, in a refreshing twist, a "Lost" character finally does more than look incredulously at another character.
"You're Alex, aren't you?" Sayid asks.
Alex turns and asks how he knows her name.
"Because you look like your mother," he says (FINALLY).
"My mother is dead," Alex says flatly.
"I'm sure that's what they told you," Sayid says quietly. "And after you meet her, you'll wish you were dead because, good lord, that woman is ripe."
Alex walks off and Sayid receives a swift punch in the gut from his Other security guard.
And that's that.
A few closing questions and observations:
That's all I've got!
Be sure to drop by our "Lost" Forum for stimulating conversation and conjecture.
|"Expose" -- The truth behind Sun's season two abduction comes out. Elsewhere, Paulikki get their own backstory. Airs Wednesday, Mar. 28, 2007 at 10 p.m. on ABC.|
Review by Mac Slocum. All photos and episode descriptions © ABC Inc.