Season 4 Episode 9

The Shape of Things to Come

Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Apr 24, 2008 on ABC
out of 10
User Rating
1,462 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

Ben is forced to make a choice as Keamy and his team launch their attack on the Barracks, while a body washes ashore at the beach.

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  • Amazing..! LOST RULES...!!

    Ben is forced to make a struggling decision after Locke's camp comes under attack, and Jack tries to discover the identity of a body that has washed ashore. In flashforwards, Ben recruits Sayid as his assassin and confronts Charles Widmore. Oh my god, this episode was the best episode of "LOST" so far, if I could give it out of a 100 I would give it a 100. It was truely amazing! I loved every second of it. I love Ben's episodes, he must be pleased about this episode himself. Everything about this episode was awesome! I can't wait for the next episode, "Lost" is the best show ever! I don't care what other peaple think, "LOST" rules!!moreless
  • We don't know what the rules are, but they've just been changed

    About the only disappointing thing about this episode is that it's a flashforward involving Ben, not a flashback. But then again, since we saw in 'The Economist' that Ben was off the island, it does make a certain amount of the sense to figure out how and why.. Another disappointment; much like 'The Man Behind the Curtain' this episode raises almost as many questions as it answers. That doesn't change the fact that this is one of the best episodes that this series has ever produced. No question.

    In the teaser, in addition to the comic moment of seeing Locke, Hurley and Sawyer playing Risk, we saw Ben sitting at his piano in a rare moment of peace before everyone comes in to tell him about the phone ringing. This is significant (aside from the fact that Ben has stashed a weapon under the piano bench) because it is the last time we will see him looking relaxed for a very, very long time. And he has reason to be worried, because there's a small, heavily armed group of mercenaries coming for him, with the intention of taking him hostage and killing everyone in their path to get him.

    Because Ben is the focus of this episode, it's worth taking time to recognize the other characters who stand out. First, there's Sawyer, who now proves he really has come a long way. When he decides to save Claire, he goes on it with a force we haven't seen before, sweeping through a waves of bullets in order to rescue here, not even letting the fact that the house get blown up stop him. Then he decides to throw Ben to the vultures, even though the other options aren't that great either., and then when the hurlyburly's done, he decides he isn't sticking around and prepares to lead the survivors of this group (we see three background characters get kill; probably more die offscreen) back to the beach. And when Locke tells Sawyer Hurley's staying with him and Ben, the way he goes after Locke warning them not to harm a hair on his head, we see this isn't the same man who was hoarding medicine on day 1.

    Then there's poor Sayid. As Ben learns in the flashforward, Sayid finally managed to find his beloved Nadia and marry her, but less than a year after his rescue, he will lose her in what seems to be an automobile accident. Ben will tell Sayid that her murder was arranged by Charles Widmore, but as we know very well, Ben can't be trusted. We won't see the accident itself for another season, but it's hard to tell whether it was arranged to kill him or her. However, it really doesn't matter much as far as Sayid's concerned. He's spent years trying to find Nadia, and it's pretty clear that she represented his salvation. But now that he's lost her, he has nothing left. It's pretty clear that Ben is manipulating him from the moment they meet, but Sayid clearly feels he has no other reason to live save for revenge. This thirst for vengeance may ultimately destroy him.

    But it's Ben who's at the center of this episode, and he gets some tremendous moments. It starts with his waking up in Tunisia wearing a parka, and looking like he came out of nowhere. We won't learn how he got there til the end of the season.. But the way that he manages to adjust so quickly to his situation, leads me to believe he's done this before. But giving his actions, it's clear he's playing by a different set of rules.

    And we see why. The leader of the mercenaries, Keamy, tries to find a way to get Ben out of his barricaded house. He decides to use Alex as the hostage. Ben keeps his face hidden, but then he begins to respond by telling Kearny that she means nothing to him. It's clearly a calculated bluff, and Keamy makes him pay for it. Ben is clearly shattered by what has happened, and can not bring himself to move. The moment he leaves the building, he kneels by his daughter (with what I have come to call 'Ben's theme' playing on the soundtrack; kudos to Giacchino for perfectly matching it) he closes his daughters eyes, and weeps. His world has imploded, and the phrase "He changed the rules" means that Ben is going to start playing differently. (Not like he was using Marquis of Queensbury rules before, but still...)

    Which is follows his next action: when he apparently summons the monster. Based on what we now know about it, it's pretty clear that Ben summoned it, but that it also allowed itself to be used. But it runs headlong into this battle, and the bullets that are fired clearly bounce right off it. Furthermore, though it kills a lot of people, there are still a couple who manage to survive. Did the monster deliberately leave them alive? Still not sure yet.

    But of course the scene that had everybody talking was the encounter at the end when Ben walks right into the penthouse of Charles Widmore. Up until now, Ben said that he didn't know why Widmore was seeking the island. Now we have a much clearer idea.

    Ben asks Charles when he started keeping scotch by the bed (Charles still drinks MacCutcheon after all these years), and he tells him, since the nightmares started. Still not sure what that means. Widmore asks Ben if he's here to kill him. Ben replies: "We both know I can't do that." The clearest implication (at least by future events) is that the island has greater plans for both men, and just as in the case of Michael, won't let either of them die. Ben then says Widmore murdered his daughter, Widmore replies that he didn't kill that poor girl, as if to suggest that Alex meant nothing to Ben, which we now know for certain is not true. Ben then tells Charles he didn't kill Alex, but as we will find out, he believes this too. Widmore then tells Ben I know who you are boy. What you are. I know everything you have you took from me." We'll eventually find out that their history goes back over thirty years, so it makes sense Widmore does call him boy. He also thinks that he took the island from him. That, however, assumes that the island was his, and it's becoming less clear whether it ever did belong to him. Perhaps he spent so much time on it that he feels he owns it. Ben then says the words that made ice run down everyone's spine: he's going to kill Penny, so that Widmore will know how he feels. Widmore doesn't blink, but he then adds, "You'll never find her." Is it possible that the broach between father and daughter has become so deep that Widmore has now lost track of her, and therefore believes that if he can't find her, this boy can't either? I'm inclined to believe this, as evidence will show that to be true. Then there's one final exchange: Charles says that the island "is mine, it was once and it will be again." Ben tells him it isn't. Charles says that the hunt is on "for both of us", and that is definitely true. It's going to take both men awhile, but each of them will find their way there, and will step over the bodies of anyone in order to do it.

    It's still not clear which of these two men is the villain and which is the victim. The language alone would seem to imply that Ben is the one who has been wronged. But the lighting of the scene is arrange in such a way that Ben appears in black, and Widmore in white, and we know that light and dark have been key themes through this series. However, just because you have two sides in a war, doesn't mean that either of them is right. The survivors of 815 know this better than anybody.

    And even now, they're learning it the hard way. On the beach, a body was up, and it appears to be the ship's doctor, who when we last saw him was fine. Daniel manages to work up the radio so that it can transmit in Morse code. They send a message, and then Bernard reveals that Daniel and Charlotte are liars, and that by extension, there are no plans for rescue. This must be especially galling for Jack to learn that Locke was right after all. And speaking of Jack, no one's gotten sick on this island after over three months, so what does it mean that he's suddenly getting stomach pains. Is the island sending a message that he is not relevant, or is it trying to find a way to keep him here? I think we all know what the answer is.

    'The Shape of Things to Come' features awesome intrigue, memorable confrontations, death-defying action, and Michael Emerson's continued ability to demonstrate why he is one of the finest actors working today. In short, it's everything we've come to expect from Lost, and then some. We seem to be in the middle of a major chess game here, and it seems that everybody has a part to play in it. Question is, who are the players, and how will they get there?

    My score:10moreless
  • A phenomenal piece of storytelling that stands out as one of LOST's best. Ever.

    Lost has never been known as an action series, but the scenes here could rival anything seen on 24. The Shape of Things to Come is from top to bottom brilliant, with Michael Emerson giving his best performance to date. This episode unveiled alot, including the meaning of Ben's hidden room, his relationship with the monster, a small taste of the amount of resources he has, the fact that he can handle himself physically, the different languages he speaks, his involvement with Sayid, his ability to time travel, and finally his war with Charles Whidmore.

    Sadly, it also showed us the first time Ben's mind games don't work- and it costs him his daughter.

    Other nice moments include the use of Bernard and the Morse Code situation back at the beach, and just about everything with Sawyer playing "hero of the day."moreless
  • Locke's Camp Trys To Survive An Inpending Attack From The Freighter Folk.

    An Unexpected Tear Jerking Jaw Dropping Episode.

    That's what comes to mind when I think about this episode. I remember seeing a video of the scene where the three people where shot in front of Sawyer and I thought it was funny. (Still do actually.) But when Keamy pulled the trigger of the gun that was against Alex's head, I was speachless. I had no Idea that they were that desperate to get their hands on Ben. The first thing I said on the commercial after Alex was shot was "She's not dead." I believed that untill Ben said goodbuy to her body.

    I think the moral of this episode is:

    BEN IS PISSED!moreless
  • There is a mistake in this episode Sawyer says to Hugo, dont worry chicken little the sky is not falling. Chicken little film was released 30th of october 2005,Losts set in 2004 When ben is in the future booking in to the hotel the date is 24-10-20moreless

    There is a mistake in this episode Sawyer says to Hugo, dont worry chicken little the sky is not falling.

    The chicken little film was released on 30th of october 2005, Lost occurs in 2004 and the bit where ben is in the future happens on booking in to the hotel the date is october 24th 2005 Hmm the film was more than 1 year from release then so i think that the scriptwriters got it wrong or they are now traveling to the future and watching films than coming back lol i maybe watch to much lost i am becoming a nerdmoreless
Sean Douglas Hoban

Sean Douglas Hoban


Guest Star

Kaveh Kardan

Kaveh Kardan


Guest Star

Yetide Badaki

Yetide Badaki

Desk Clerk

Guest Star

Tania Raymonde

Tania Raymonde

Alex Rousseau

Recurring Role

Marc Vann

Marc Vann

Doc Ray

Recurring Role

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson

Bernard Nadler

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (17)

    • Goof: The desk clerk in Tunisia was wearing Hijab (cover of the head that Muslim women wear). However, the Hijab is illegal in Tunisia.

    • Goof: When Ben appears in the desert for the first time, he appears laid on his back on hard cracked ground. In the next shot, however, he is shown raising himself up off a completely sandy surface.

    • Goof: In the opening scene on the beach, Jack opens a suitcase and looks inside. On his left forearm, a red and blue tattoo is clearly visible going down beyond his elbow. One cut later the tattoo is not there anymore.

    • After translation, one of the Bedouin points out how Ben does not have a trail. The other replies, "Where did this [guy] come from? Down from the sky?".

    • Ben appears in a desert of Tunisia, the same country where Charlotte went to an excavation site in the middle of the desert and found the bones of a polar bear with a DHARMA Hydra collar in "Confirmed Dead".

    • Numbers:
      -While playing "Risk", Sawyer rolls a 15.
      -The warning code for the fence was 1623.
      -When Keamy is counting down from 10, he stops at 8.
      -Ben says he is going to see Mr. and Mrs. Kendrick in 4E.
      -When Locke picks up the phone in Ben's house,the code that he listen that warns them of Keamy's arrival at the barracks is 14J. J is the 9th letter of the alphabet so 14+9=23.

    • Dean Moriarty and Kevin Johnson (Ben and Michael's aliases) share the same passport number: HNS012153.

    • Island events take place on December 27, 2004. It's day 97 for the survivors.

    • As Ben enters Widmore's building, he leaves a door open. However, when he enters the lift, we can see at the back that both doors are shut.

    • When Ben is watching the TV in the hotel and Sayid's name shows up in Arabic at the bottom of the screen, it's clear that the Arabic is written wrong and that his last name is misspelled.

      Arabic letters are supposed to be connected together, while on the screen each letter is on it's own. The first 3 characters (starting from the right not left) is Sayid's first name they should all be connected as one, the last 4 characters are his last name and they should say Jarrah but instead say Jara. The 5th and 6th characters should be swapped around and the last character is the wrong form of the Arabic letter "H".

      Also the second line under his name makes no sense at all.

    • Ben appears in the Tunisian desert wearing a DHARMA parka with the name Halliwax on it. This was the name used by orientation film host Marvin Candle/Mark Wickmund in the Orchid Station orientation film, originally shown at Comic-con 2007. The film features Halliwax referring to the station's secret and dangerous nature, as he holds one bunny labeled 15; another appears behind him, causing him to panic. Something else drops from above, as the Dr. warns not to let the two touch.

    • Charles Widmore has a bottle of MacCutcheon by the bed. This is the same scotch Widmore had told Desmond was too good for him to drink and the same that Charlie and Hurley use to get Desmond drunk in "Flashes Before Your Eyes".

    • In the desert when Ben killed the 2 men, the AK-47 he used was clearly in the "safe" position. He would've needed to move it up into the "fire" position to actually use the weapon.

    • While playing Risk, Hurley says "Australia's the key to the whole game." Flight Oceanic 815 departed from Sydney, Australia.

    • In Charles Widmore's room, next to his bed, we can see the painting of the "Black Rock", which he bought on episode 4.05 - The Constant.

    • The piece Ben is playing on the piano right before the phone call is Sergei Rachmaninoff's "Prelude in C# minor". Op. 3 No. 2

    • This episode flashes forward to October 24th, 2005. 13 months after Oceanic 815 crashed on the island.

  • QUOTES (22)

    • Sawyer: I think your chopper buddies ran that way, if you wanna catch up
      Miles: I think I'm gonna stay with you guys for now.

    • Jack: (angry) Were you ever gonna take us off this island?
      Faraday: No. No.

    • Widmore: (talking to Ben) Don't stand there looking at me with those horrible eyes of yours.

    • Ben: (in shock after Alex is murdered) He changed the rules.

    • Widmore: (talking to Ben) I know who you are...what you are. I know that everything you have you took from me.

    • Widmore: I wondered when you were going to show up. I see you've been getting more sun.
      Ben: Iraq is lovely this time of year. When did you start sleeping with a bottle of scotch by the bed?
      Widmore: When the nightmares started. (sits up and pours drink) Have you come here to kill me Benjamin?
      Ben: We both know I can't do that. ...
      Widmore: (to Ben) You creep into my bedroom in the dead of night like a rat, and have the audacity to pretend that you're the victim. I know who you are boy... what you are. I know everything you have you took from me. So once again I ask you; why are you here?

    • Ben: It's very important that you survive what's about to happen here John, so I need you to stay close to me.
      Locke: And why would I do that?
      Ben: Because the people that are coming won't risk hurting me. You want to live? I'm your best chance.

    • Bernard: He's lying. What the message said was, "What are you talking about? The doctor is fine."
      Faraday: (Discomfited) You know Morse code.

    • Sawyer: Hold up. If we're hunkerin' down, I gotta grab Frenchie and the kids.

    • Ben: How long did you guys debate amongst yourselves whether or not to ask me why the phone rang?
      Locke: Five minutes.
      Ben: Well, so much for our head start.

    • Hurley: We're all gonna die.
      Sawyer: Calm down, Chicken Little. The sky ain't falling just yet.
      Hurley: This is exactly what he wants-to fight amongst ourselves. You're making a big mistake, dude.
      Locke: It's his to make, Hugo. Let's get on with it.
      Sawyer: Right. ...I'm attackin' Siberia.
      (A loaded board game of Risk sits on the table)

    • Hurley: Can't believe you're just giving him Australia. Australia's the key to the whole game.

    • Jack: I just got a... a stomach bug.
      Kate: You should eat some crackers. Crackers always make me feel better.

    • Kate: You got a prescription for that?
      Jack: Yeah. I wrote it myself.

    • Ben: I'd like to present a counter proposal.
      Keamy: I'm listening...
      Ben: You and your friends turn around, walk back to your helicopter, you fly away and forget you ever heard of this island.
      Keamy: (talking to Alex) Tell your daddy good-bye.
      Alex: (whimpering) Dad, they're serious. They killed Karl and my mother.
      Ben: Alex I have this under control everything's going to be okay
      Alex: Please daddy, please, please.
      Keamy: You have ten seconds, Ben.
      Ben: Okay listen-
      Keamy: Nine...
      Ben: She's not my daughter...
      Keamy: Eight...
      Ben: I stole her as a baby from an insane woman. She's a pawn, nothing more. She means nothing to me. I'm not coming out of this house. So if you want to kill her, go ahead and do it-

    • Charles Widmore: Why are you here?
      Ben Linus: I'm here, Charles, to tell you that I'm going to kill your daughter. (Charles Widmore stares at him) Penelope, is it? And when she's gone, when she is dead, then you'll understand how I feel, and you'd wished you hadn't changed the rules.

    • Ben: (to Sayid after Sayid killed the man Ben was following) Once you let your grief become anger it will never go away.

    • Keamy: Alright, Mr. Linus, these are my terms. You're gonna step out the front door, put your hands above your head, and you're gonna walk straight to me. Once I have you in my custody then I promise you that no one else in that house will be harmed.
      Ben: You and I both know that once you have me there's nothing to stop you from killing everbody else on this island.
      Keamy: What kind of guy do you think I am?
      Ben: Martin Christopher Keamy, former first seargent, United States Marine Corps. Served with distinction from 1996 to 2001, but since then, you've worked with a number of mercenary organizations, specifically in Uganda. So I know exactly what kind of man you are, Mr. Keamy, and we can dispense with the formalities.
      Keamy: Okay, Ben. You got it. (whistles)
      (alex is brought out)

      Keamy: Get down. (alex gets down on her knees) Get your ass out here right now or i'm gonna kill your daughter.

    • Ben: Türkçe biliyor musunuz?

    • Sawyer: (Talking about Hurley) You harm so much as one hair on his curly head, I'll KILL you.
      Locke: Fair enough.

    • Sawyer: Let me guess..14J isn't the code for the pizza boy?

    • Sawyer: You alright sweetheart?
      Claire: Yeah. A little wobbly, but I'll live.
      Miles: Well, I wouldn't be too sure about that.

  • NOTES (8)

    • This episode was nominated for a 2008 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Sound Editing For A Series.

    • If you watch ABC's second promo for this episode, in the very beginning there is a scene where Ben loads a rifle and says "Welcome to the war". In the actual episode, if you follow carefuly, at 14:00, when Locke says "I don't even know where the cabin is.", Ben picks up a rifle and responds "I know, but Hurley does." and then loads the rifle in exactly the same way. It would seem that the "Welcome to the war" line was cut from the final production.

    • International Air Dates:
      Belgium: September 29, 2008 on VT4
      Norway: April 30, 2008 on TVNorge
      Denmark: May 2, 2008 on Kanal 5
      Finland: May 8, 2008 on Nelonen
      Australia: May 8, 2008 on the Seven Network
      The Netherlands: May 11, 2008 on Net 5
      Latin America: June 2, 2008 on AXN
      Spain: June 23, 2008 on FOX TV
      Italy: August 25, 2008 on Rai 2
      Czech Republic: September 7, 2008 on AXN
      Hungary: September 7, 2008 on AXN
      Germany: March 9, 2009 on Pro7

    • The final scene between Ben and Charles Widmore was actually shot in London, England. Normally, they dress up Hawaii or use special effects to make it look like another country, but in this case Alan Dale (Widmore) couldn't fly out to Hawaii because of a London show he was doing.

    • This is the first time Lost has returned from a break without a recap episode.

    • This was the first episode written after the 100 day writers strike.

    • Although credited, Henry Ian Cusick (Desmond) and Harold Perrineau (Michael) didn't appear. Daniel Dae Kim (Jin), Yunjin Kim (Sun), Rebecca Mader (Charlotte), Elizabeth Mitchell (Juliet) and Marc Vann (Dr. Ray) appeared, but had no lines.

    • A Ben-centric episode


    • Sawyer: (While Sawyer, Hurley and Locke play RISK) Hold on Chicken Little the sky isn't falling yet!

      He is referring to classic fable "The Sky is Falling" which is better known as "Chicken Little" that tells the story of a little chicken that believes the sky is falling when an acorn falls on his head.

    • Benjamin is talking Turkish while trying to make a communication with the men with camels in Sahara Desert.

    • The name of the man Ben says killed Nadia was Ishmael, a reference to Moby Dick.

    • Dean Moriarty: When Ben checks into the Tunisian hotel he uses this alias.

      Dean Moriarty is the name of the free-wheeling, free spirited friend of Jack Kerouac's narrator, Sal Paradise, in Kerouac's classic novel On the Road. The character is a based on the author's real-life friend Neal Cassady.

    • Ben (talking to desk clerk): I'm actually a preferred guest, it should be under Dean Moriarty.

      Dean Moriarty is one of the protagonists in Jack Kerouac's novel On the Road. Dean Moriarty is based on the Beat generation writer Neal Cassady.

    • The Shape of Things to Come is a book written by H.G. Wells.