Dear 'Lost' Smoke Monster: It's War. What Else Is New?

By Chris Good
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ABC


Dear Smoke Monster:

I hope this letter finds you well.

As a viewer of Lost, I have known for several years now that you are a more-or-less nefarious presence on the Island, something I should run from when I see you, or perhaps stare you in the face as Locke did once. Nonetheless, I am writing so early this morning to ask you simply, straight up, in what might be considered man-to-man (if you're actually a man--then again something has to wear those black clothes, right?) this question. Why did you tell Charles Widmore that war had come to the Island?

This was the major development of last night's episode, and it's likely a major plot point for the series as a whole. You've come face to face with Widmore, Smoke Monster, standing on opposite sides of those pylons on the beach at Hydra Island, and you told him that "a wise man said war was coming to this island. I think it just got here." Now the opposing forces are, at last, set to do battle in the final six episodes. The prime rule of drama and storytelling has been fulfilled: more-or-less evenly matched enemies are about to fight.

But this was also a cop out. War has always been present on the Island, since the very beginning of the first season, when the Others--the original Others, led by Ben--started snatching people from the beach. Admit it, Smoke Monster: you were just being dramatic.

Viewers now must choose allegiance between you, Smoke Monster, who likes to kill and trick people, but who seems at times like an honest broker (you were up-front with Jacob about your plans to kill him, and you told Richard he could change his mind, "and I do mean ever"); Widmore, who sent boats full of mercenaries to terrorize the cast, and who has seemed a creepy villain from the start; and Jacob, who dresses in white all right but brings people to the Island and lets them die to prove a point, and who lives in the foot of an Egyptian god, which isn't normal.

Several other things of note happened last night: the Jin/Sun flash-sideways was filled with themes of forbidden love, Sun's loss of English has brought language barriers into the show for the second straight episode, Desmond is back (for purposes unclear), and Sayid has turned into your soulless agent, Smoke Monster.

Lost is seeming more like a Judeo-Christian morality drama than a sci-fi extravaganza, but when you stared down Widmore, Smoke Monster, you were kind of staring down the last agent of science fiction in the show. Widmore isn't supernatural; he's just a rich guy with a submarine.

And viewers face a question in this whole morality setup: what's more important to you: Getting off the Island and putting these six years behind you, or preventing Hell from seeping into Earth?

Regardless, it's time you came out with it, Smoke Monster: are you the lesser of three evils, or aren't you?

Cordially,

Chris Good

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2010/03/dear-lost-smoke-monster-its-war-what-else-is-new/38232/