Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Season 4 Episode 8
“Meet Kevin Johnson”
Written by Elizabeth Sarnoff & Brian K. Vaughan
Directed by Stephen Williams

So aside from a few Island and Boat bits, this episode (as indicated by the title) is pretty much a protracted flashback precipitated by Sayid’s questioning of Michael, which relates to us (and Sayid and Des, of course), how Michael went from escaping the Island with Walt, to swabbing the freighter’s deck as Ben’s spy…

Apparently, after their escape, Michael was so burdened by his guilt over killing both Libby and Ana-Lucia, that he confessed to Walt what he’d done to purchase their freedom.
Justifiably horrified by what was done to get him back, Walt turns on Michael, and ends up living with Michael’s mother, not wanting to have anything to do with his murdering father.
Thus, Michael is despondent and suicidal, and tries to off himself by crashing his car, but he makes it out of the wreck alive. At the hospital, he has a nightmare where Libby, with some blankets, is the nurse checking up on him.
Michael tries to see Walt, but the kid won’t even come down from his room, looking down from his window at his murdering father.
So Michael hocks the watch that Jin gave him as a gift, and gets a gun and some bullets. He’s about to shoot himself in an alley when who should show up but Mr. Friendly! (And for just a moment, I think, Oh, wonderful. Michael’s seeing dead people too. Then it occurs to me that this flashback is probably occurring before MF is shot by Sawyer back on the Island.)
There’s some fisticuffs before MF reveals to Michael that he can’t die, that the Island won’t let him! MF then leaves Michael, telling him where he can be found (the penthouse of some hotel or other).

In his ratty apartment, Michael tries to shoot himself, but the gun just doesn’t want to fire, despite being fully loaded… (He also sees the news item about the “discovery” of Oceanic 815.)
So Michael heads to MF’s penthouse, where we see the confirmation that MF is indeed not straight, thus his declaration that Kate wasn’t “his type” way back at the start of Season 3.
We also discover the more vital information that—according to Ben—Da Widmore is responsible for the fake Oceanic 815 wreckage. This is so that people would stop looking for the plane, since Da W. wants to keep the whereabouts of the Island to himself.
Michael is also told that there’s a freighter that’s about to head for the Island, which, when it gets there, will be responsible for the deaths of everyone on the Island, including the other 815ers.
So the carrot dangling on the stick here is, this is Michael’s last chance to redeem himself; to save his fellow 815ers, by killing yet more people…

So Michael gets on board the freighter, meeting Minkowski, Naomi, and Miles (who tells Michael, I know “Kevin Johnson” isn’t your real name, but it’s okay, 80% of the people on this boat have secrets of their own). Michael also finds a crate for him, which contains what appears to be a bomb.
When Michael tries to activate it though, two things happen: one, Michael again sees Libby, who tells Michael not to do it; and two, when Michael does set it off, and the countdown reaches 0, a little Joker note springs out, which reads, NOT YET.
Later still, Michael gets a call from the mainland, from “Walt,” who turns out to be Ben, of course.
Ben instructs Michael to draw up a list of everyone on board, and then, after Ben calls him again, that he relay that list to Ben, then smash the comm equipment, then sabotage the engines (which of course we know he did).

Getting back to the freighter in this episode’s “present,” Michael’s story just serves to piss Sayid off. Accusingly (and ironically, since we’ve already seen his Crying Freeman flashforward), Sayid says, So you’re working for Ben.
And when Michael agrees, Sayid rats Michael out to Capt. Gault.

Back at the Barracks, Locke calls a town meeting, and explains to everyone exactly what Miles and the Boat people are here for: capture Benjamin Linus, then kill everyone else on the Island. (Miles doesn’t dispute this allegation, which thus makes me wonder, were Daniel and the others actually aware of this “kill everyone else” plan, ‘cause I honestly don’t see Daniel signing up for something like that. Or was Miles secretly privy to this bit because of his whole angry ghost whisperer thing?)

After the meeting, Ben sees Karl and Alex have a little PDA. He then speaks to Alex, giving her a map, telling her to go to “the Temple,” where the other Others are, apparently. Ben says, Go there, because if these people know you’re my daughter, they’ll use you to get to me.
Ben says, Go there, where you’ll be safe. He then adds, Your mother will protect you.
Alex asks, Are these people more dangerous than you?
And when Ben admits to that, Alex, Rousseau, and Karl, take the map and head for the Temple.
On the trek there though, first Karl, and then Rousseau, are shot by unseen snipers. Alex then surrenders, calling out, I’m Ben’s daughter!

Okay, first off, in the wake of the strike, the initial plan had been that the break would take place after episode 7 (“Ji Yeon”), and this episode—which had been completed pre-stirke—would kick off the batch of post-strike-produced episodes leading up to the season finale. If that plan had gone into effect, the cliffhanger would have been that kick-a$$ closer on “Ji Yeon,” which, honestly, feels like a more effective cliffhanger than this one.
But somewhere along the way, someone decided to show all the pre-strike episodes as a block, then take the six-week break, before airing the post-strike episodes, thus leaving us with this episode…
And yes, I am honest enough to cop to the possibility that I think “Ji Yeon” was a better episode than “Meet Kevin Johnson” because I’ve never really liked Michael’s character. At all. Since Day One.
If I could have Walt (kid with creepy, unnerving powers) without Michael (just a plain annoying yutz), that would be totally sweet. Unfortunately, right now we’re being given Michael without Walt. Sigh.

Somehow though, even if I put aside my dislike for Michael, I do still think “Ji Yeon” was a far better installment.
For one thing, there just seemed to be less artistry displayed in this one, with its straight-forward flashback. Within the context of the narrative, I can understand the reason for that choice—since Michael is apparently relating the story to Sayid and Des, it wouldn’t do to jump back and forth in time.
However, the “flashback-all-in-one-go” method seemed to make more sense in “Flashes Before Your Eyes.” Here, it just plays out as lazy and uninspired.

As for the cliffhanger we’re left with for the next six weeks though, I honestly can’t say for certain that those snipers were Boat People.
I mean, I wouldn’t put it past Ben to orchestrate this whole ambush so he could eliminate the other important people in Alex’s life, so he could again have his adoptive daughter all to himself. (And if it does turn out to be a legitimate ambush, I apologize in advance to Ben. Don’t blame me, dude, but trusting shifty li’l you is a pretty tall order.)
Oh, and I did say I missed Libby, but I sincerely hope we’ll see more of her than as just Michael’s guilt-inducing phantasm. The character deserves better than that…
Ah, and the whole “you can’t die, the Island won’t let you” bit…. Is that why Jack’s suicide attempt at the bridge was interrupted by a fortuitous accident?


(Image courtesy of ABC and variety.com.)

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