The revelation of a Dharma Station named the Tempest has me pondering the Shakespeare play of that name. There are some intriguing similarities to Lost, particularly in Prospero, who overprotects his daughter Miranda the way Ben does Alex. Ghostly Jacob is the rough equivalent of Ariel, an elemental spirit who grudgingly serves Prospero because he freed Ariel from imprisonment. The Cerberus smoke monster reminds me of Caliban, the deformed creation of Sycorax, a powerful witch who died long ago like the Fourtoes. The play begins with Prospero conjuring the titular tempest, which wrecks his brother's ship on the remote island where all of these characters live.
Beyond these specific parallels, I'm intrigued by the Tempest's resonance with other works of science fiction. For example, Shakespeare's play inspired the classic film Forbidden Planet. In this futuristic re-imagining, Dr. Morbius (Prospero) lives with his daughter Altaira (Miranda) and their faithful servant Robby the Robot (Ariel) on an isolated planet once inhabited by an extinct alien race called the Krell (Sycorax). A crew of astronauts lands against the warnings of Morbius, who welcomes them nonetheless. Shortly after touchdown, however, the ship is attacked by a monster (Caliban) that turns out to be a manifestation of subconscious fears using advanced Krell technology.
Many, myself included, have noted the connection between Cerberus and the Id Monster from Forbidden Planet. Another analogy is to Dan Simmons's literate sci-fi novels Ilium and Olympos. The basic premise is that far in the future powerful post-humans have recreated the Trojan War on Mars with themselves in the roles of Olympian gods. These "Posts" use advanced technology that's indistinguishable from magic to intervene in the conflict like the gods did in Homer's epic tale. The Posts are enhanced, for example, by nanotech that allows them to assume the form of "a twisting, cyclone of black plasma-energy, its static electricity discharging in random lightning bolts..."
Shakespeare generally, and the Tempest specifically, figure heavily in both books. One main character is an artificially intelligent scholar of Shakespeare who analyzes sonnets and dreams of meeting the Bard. It turns out that the Posts were transformed into gods by Prospero, a sentient avatar of the Earth's post-internet logosphere. Prospero is served by Ariel, a similarly sentient avatar of the Earth's evolved biosphere. Prospero is also served by Caliban, a monstrous cannibalistic mutant created by Sycorax, another mysterious meta-intelligence whose origin is never explained. And that barely scratches the surface of Shakespeare references -- not to mention Homer and Proust.
Truth be told, Forbidden Planet, Ilium, and Olympos may be even more relevant to Lost than the Tempest. Simmons's works, in particular, read like a handbook for the (pseudo) science of the show. When the Orchid Orientation mentioned "Casimir effect," I immediately thought of wormholes and time travel thanks to an explanation of the connection in Ilium. But I digress -- here are some other reactions and questions to the Other Woman:
* I love it when Lost revisits familiar scenes from a fresh perspective that casts dialogue and events in some new light. A perfect example was the way this episode revisited the opening moments of Season 3 when Ben sends Goodwin on his fatal mission. Now we know why Ben figured he was no longer welcome in Juliet's book club. The only time this technique doesn't work is when it's used to build suspense instead of dramatic irony -- e.g., in the first few episodes of Season 2 when we saw the same scenes inside the Hatch from several different perspectives.
* Speaking of Ben ordering Goodwin to his death, I felt more than ever in this episode that the former has knowledge of the future. Then again, you wonder why he'd waste his time on Juliet if that were the case...
* Jin speaks English! Unfortunately, his fake accent when doing so is even worse than his Korean. Don't get me wrong -- I love Jin's character, which represents one of the few complex portrayals of Korean males on television. As the son of a Korean mother, however, I can say with some authority that Daniel Dae Kim badly needs lessons from someone -- perhaps Margaret Cho -- on how properly to imitate Korean-accented English.
* When I first saw Harper in the jungle, I turned to my friend and said, "she's dead." I figured it was really Jacob using Smokey to assume her form. It appears, however, that Harper is still alive. That doesn't exclude Jacob's involvement, especially since Smokey seemed to scan Juliet in Left Behind. But you'd think he'd use Goodwin's ghost to communicate her. The more likely explanation, therefore, is that Ben sent Harper because he wants to initiate another Purge...
* On a related note, was that Harper's physical form or an astral projection? The whispers that preceded her sudden appearance reminded me of similar whispers heard right before Wet Walt appeared to Shannon and when Taller Ghost Walt ordered Locke out of the ditch. And she disappeared as abruptly as she appeared, into thin air. So, if it was astral projection, are we sure it was really Harper?
* How many rebel spies do you suppose died to get that video footage of Widmore?
* As for Ben's explanation, don't believe his lies. As I suggest in the Cancer Man's Con, his connections to Widmore are more substantial than we're being led to believe. How else to explain that Ben is a main target of the Freighter crew's mission? I believe he's been stringing Charles Widmore along either directly himself or through an agent sent to infiltrate Widmore's organization by posing as a disgruntled Other.
* Reference 108 to how Hurley makes his own luck -- he effortlessly trounced Sawyer at horse shoes.