At exactly the 30-minute mark in tonight’s episode, the strike-shortened fourth season of Lost will reach its halfway mark. At the 31-minute mark, we’ll have seen more Lost this year than we will see for the rest of the year. And by the 60-minute mark, we’ll have just six more episodes of Lost left until the show waddles into its cave for another nine-month nap. This kind of thinking makes me kinda sad. Didn’t this season just start, like, yesterday? As Kool and the Gang taught us long ago, we should cherish the time we have. So I invite you to savor this, our sixth-to-last tease of the year, an enticing tidbit about ”Ji Yeon,” tonight’s Jin/Sun-angled installment of Lost, brought to you by executive producer Damon Lindelof:
”Yes, we know you have all figured out who Ben’s man on the boat is. But once we’ve confirmed that for you, there’s still TEN MINUTES OF SHOW LEFT.”
Damon is undoubtedly responding to the fact that for several weeks now, all of us (or enough of us to create the impression of an ”all”) have assumed that our old friend Michael — the raft-building, desperate dad who killed Ana Lucia and Libby in order to get his abducted son back — is Ben’s spy on the freighter. It’s not like we’re a bunch of great detectives. As reader Lenny Picker points out, Lost has been running the risk of ruining this reveal since announcing Harold Perrineau’s return last summer. In fact, he’s been listed in the credits for several episodes now! ”Speculation that he’s Ben’s man on the boat would have been less if everyone didn’t know that Michael would return this season,” writes Picker. ”Had he not been listed in the credits, his eventual appearance would have the dramatic impact the Lost creators intended.” Picker says that a key revelation in last week’s episode was similarly spoiled for him: ”The inclusion of Alan Dale [the actor who plays Charles Widmore, Penelope’s father and Desmond’s nemesis] in the credits in the last episode made it obvious that he was going to be the person behind the freighter.”
I know many of you feel the same way as Lenny. I share your small disappointment, to the degree that I find myself hoping against hope that we’re being set up for a shocker. Like, wouldn’t it be awesome if the spy actually turned out to be Sayid’s lost love, Nadia? Or Charlie’s ex-junkie rocker brother, Liam? Or even — my crazy conjecture of the week — a returned-from-the-dead Libby, resurrected via the magic of course correction?
Still, I don’t want to get your hopes up. All signs point to Michael. But spoiled surprise or no, there is some mystery surrounding his return to Lost, a riddle that can be summed up in one word: How? Think this through, my fellow Lost theorists: Michael’s return to the Island defies storytelling logic. According to the well-researched timeline housed at lostpedia.org, Michael and Walt left the Island 67 days after the crash of Oceanic 815 — in other words, late November 2004. But the freighter has been offshore since mid-December. Surely it took longer than just a couple weeks for Ben to get Michael in position.
So: How? How can Michael really be on that boat?
NEXT PAGE: Here are two theories…