“Dr. Linus” is a great example of what I love most about LOST. An excellent character driven story dominated this one: the redemption of Ben Linus. I felt all kinds of seasons one and three during this one, folks. I really, really loved it. I think it’s my favorite of the season thus far. Let’s dive into it, shall we?
We all know the history of Ben Linus. His father wished to Ben that they had stayed on The Island because Roger would’ve liked to see how Ben would’ve turned out there. Of course we know what Ben has done on The Island and for The Island. He sacrificed his daughter. He kidnapped pregnant women. He killed Locke because Locke threatened his power on the Island. He even killed Jacob, out of frustration, anger and sadness. He kidnapped Jack, Kate and Sawyer. He kidnapped Walt and eventually used Michael to kill for him so that he could be free. He did whatever it took to return to the Island. He manipulated (somewhat) Sayid into killing for him. More succinctly, Ben has a checkered past to say the least. When he returned to the Island, there was a noticable shift taking place in Ben Linus. When he awoke to an alive John Locke, he was terrified. He didn’t say it at the time. He told Sun, as they sat on a porch in New Otherton, that he was terrified that Locke was alive because dead is dead on the Island. When he did awake, after being knocked out by Sun, the thing wanted was punishment for killing his daughter. He traveled to the some area of the Temple and sought punishment from Smokey. Of course all that led to was Ben being manipulated into killing Jacob. This episode he had to deal with the consequences.
The episode opened with a frantic Ben running through the Jungle after Smokey went all The Book of Exodus on The Temple. What an opening! I think LOST has the greatest teasers ever and I’m a huge “Buffy” and “Angel” fan (their teasers were usually spectacular) but LOST just owns the teaser. Even the teaser of “What Kate Does” when Lennon’s walking quickly through the Temple is epic. Anyhow, Ben saw Ilana, Frank, Sun and Miles walking through the jungle. He immediately caught up with them. Ilana was amped up to get answers. She didn’t believe Smokey had killed Jacob. She knew Miles could communicate with the dead and find out how and who killed Jacob. Miles did his thing and ratted Ben out. As Miles said, “Uh-oh.” We also found out Jacob’s dying thought was that he was wrong about Ben and Ben wouldn’t kill him. Shouldn’t have responded with “What about you?”, Jacob.
Anywho, the fivesome went to the beach (oh how I’ve missed the beach) and Ben was gently trying to save his own ass. He offered to help Ilana with anything but no dice. The others were gathering supplies. Later on, Ilana marched over to Ben, forced him to Boone Hill and locked him to a makeshift rope tied to a tree. Ben had to dig a grave because Ilana was going to kill him for killing Jacob. So Ben began digging. As he dug, he tried to bargain with Miles to cut him loose but Miles had no interest in Ben possibly getting 3.2 million for him since Nikki and Paulo are buried with over 8 million in times (of course Eddie Kitsis and Adam Horowitz would throw that in). Ben did get his chance to escape though. Crazy ol’ evil NotLocke showed up and told Ben he went back to the statue to retrieve Ben but Ben wasn’t to be found there. NotLocke freed Ben and told him to flee, that a rifle was sitting at a tree 200 feet away and that he could meet up with him and his group on Alcatraz Island. Ben ran, reached the tree, grabbed the rifle, and pointed it at Ilana. Ilana dropped her gun and Ben told her that just wanted to explain himself. He wanted to explain why he had killed Jacob. He told her that he sacrificed everything including his Alex and that he killed Jacob out of anger and frustration. After he finished, he told Ilana he was going to find Locke. She asked why. He said because “he is the only one who will have me.” Ilana softly told Ben that she would have him and walked back towards the beach. Ben followed. It was a small act of kindness that reminds me of what Angel tells Kate in the ANGEL episode “Epiphany.” “The smallest act of kindness can be the greatestest thing in the world.” I really liked the image of Ben putting down the rifle and then asking Sun if she needed help with her tent. The redemption of Ben Linus is on.
In the Sideways narrative, Ben felt like a loser. We found out he earned a doctorate in Modern European History but was stuck monitoring detention. He wasn’t the only one. Good ol’ Dr. Arzt was unhappy with the work conditions he had to deal with. Ben was frustrated because the principal was unconcerned with the kids, telling Ben that it was no big deal to cancel the History Club because only 5 people were in the club. Ben didn’t agree with that assessment. He cares about the kids. Recall the scene when he took Alex for Rousseau and the unhappiness of Widmore that the baby wasn’t killed. Ben was so earnest when defending why he didn’t kill baby Alex. The Sideways story dealt with Alex. Ben was able to make up for what he did to her in “The Shape of Things to Come.” But before I focus on that, I have to mention what leads to his Alex moment. In the teacher’s lounge, Locke has the idea that Ben be the principal. Ben asks Locke, “who will listen to me?” Locke raises his hand and says that he’s listening. Ilana later echoes such a sentiment. Now, what one would expect is a massive power-play for principal that involves the manipulation we’ve grown to love from Ben Linus. He finds out the principal and the nurse have been fornicating in the nurse’s office during school hours (shades of what got Widmore banished and put into the Island). He enlists Arzt to hack into e-mail for some dirt. He gets said dirt and approaches his boss with the information; however, the principal knows that Alex is a favorite student of Ben’s and she’s just e-mailed him for a recommendation. If Ben forces the resignation, the principal promises to ruin Alex’s academic future. Ben does not go through with it. He chooses to preserve Alex’s academic potential. It’s a lovely scene when Ben tells Alex that he had nothing to do with the recommendation letter when, in fact, he had everything to do with it. As she walked away and Ben walked the other way, it was such a great moment. She has the chance for a marvelous life. I thought the scenes between Ben and Alex were so moving. He treated her with such fondness. It was very fathlerly.
Speaking of fatherly, the relationship between Ben and Roger isn’t toxic. Ben is taking care of his sickly father. He prepared an organic meal for him to help keep him alive. Of course one must recall the scene in “The Man Behind The Curtain” when he kills his father. Such juxtaposition. The scene between them was rather nice. Roger had comforting words for his son because he saw his son was frustrated with the school and the limitations he felt. I do like this Sideways world quite a bit for all of these great stories we’re getting.
There’s one piece of information that I’ve yet to mention: Roger had joined the Dharma Initiative and brought Ben with him to the Island. I find it significant that they had been to the Island and left. We all know the Island exists underneath the sea (New Otherton, Ezra James Sharkington and all!) because we saw it in that epic ‘LA X’ teaser. The obvious questions regard why Ben and his father left the Island. I could speculate and speculate but I’m not going to. It’s funner to wait for the show to reveal that stuff.
And boy did it get a little dusty when Hurley and Jack returned to the beach (of course I’m going to write about that! hold your horses! I’m not finished with Benny Linus’ story!). I was reminded of season one. It was overwhelming how happy I was to see that. I was also reminded of season three. Specifically, “One Of Us.” The Juliet centric episode that began her intergration into the Losties camp. In the end of that episode, Jack, Kate and Sayid enjoy a nice reunion with the camp. It’s so great and then Sawyer notices Juliet standing there. She’s not accepted. At the end of “Dr. Linus,” as Sun hugs Jack and Sun and joy is felt, Ben stands in the distance watching, sheepishly and lonely. But Jack did look his way. I think Jack, like Ilana, will have him too. After all, it is Ben who helped bring Jack to the Island. And Jack now knows he’s back for a reason.
Gazing out at the ocean and thinking has helped Jack. I knew it would. Tonight, Jack became a true Man of Faith. He told Richard about the lighthouse, the image of his childhood home, and how Jacob had watched him for his entire life and that if he was so important then there’s no way he OR Richard would die in The Black Rock. I think Jack gave purpose back to Richard. Richard was suicidal. He desired death. He felt as if his entire life had been a waste. Since The Black Rock he had given his life to the Island. I imagine since Jacob got him out of those chains. Jacob had told Richard that everything happens for a reason and that he would one day reveal his plan to Richard but then Jacob died. Richard felt utterly hopeless. He reminded me of Leo Tolstoy. Tolstoy believed suicide was the only option if life was without meaning and purpose (another thing reminded me of Tolstoy but I’ll get to that). Richard knew he couldn’t kill himself because of Jacob’s touch but he wanted Jack to light the fuse for him. He really wanted to die. Hurley urged Jack to not do it but Jack said he couldn’t talk Richard out of it. Oh that sneaky man. Jack must have restored Richard’s life with purpose and meaning again in that slave ship. There was so much symbolism, allusion and meaning in this episode that I fear I won’t be able to address it at all. Jack then told Richard that it was time to go back to the beginning so he, Jack and Hurley returned to the beach. Their story was all about faith in an episode that dealt with forgiveness and renewal, rebirth.
Before the season began, I had wanted to write an epic essay on LOST and Finnegan’s Wake but I felt overwhelmed by the massiveness of Finnegan’s Wake. But I was tempted to write the essay because of the themes of circularity, resurrection and rebirth in Finnegan’s Wake. Jack’s line about going back to the beginning spoke to those ideas. Jacob and Man in Black can be seen as Shem and Shaun figures. Shem and Shaun are twins, often opposed against the other. Jack sort of personifies Tom Finnegan. He falls from Ajira to the Island when he returns. In Wake, Finnegan falls from a ladder and there’s the famous sentence “hohohoho you’re going to be Mister Finnagain!” I hope you get the gist. As dark as it got last week (and oh it got dark) there was mostly light in this episode after the darkness had lifted. Even Hurley was seen awaking from a night’s slumber.
The final image of the episode is of Widmore in a sub making his way to the Island and he’s indeed very close. I wonder if he’s going to Hydra Island or going to the Pala Ferry docks and heading to the beach.
Time for even more thoughts:
–Michael Emerson probably won himself another emmy for his performance in this episode. He was tremendous. The scene with Ilana alone should be enough to win the emmy.
–We saw Ben teaching his class about Napoleon’s exile. Napoleon nearly took over Russia if it wasn’t for that pesky deadly winter of Russia. Napoleon’s exile clearly paralleled the Ben Linus we’ve known for nearly 5 seasons on the Island. Once upon a time Ben was banished from the Island, put into exile. Also, whenever I hear about Napoleon I always think of Tolstoy’s War and Peace. What a book.
–No one seemed too concerned that Ben was about to be murdered by Ilana but Ben has done some shady deeds over the years. Sun once wanted to kill him because she thought he had something to do with Jin’s death. Frank and Miles were on a freighter whose sole mission was to extract Ben from the Island. So it’s understandable.
–I wonder if NotLocke really thought Ben would kill Ilana without hesitation. I think Ben’s learned his lesson though. He was genuinely repentant to Ilana when explaining why he killed Jacob. It was the same repentance he had when he said his last words about John Locke. Will Smokey be pissed? Most likely. Smokey doesn’t handle things not going his way too well. Ben is safe with Ilana but I imagine Smokey is not done with Ben. His offer to Ben appeared to be the same offer he has made to Sayid and Claire. There’s just no way he can deliver on those promises. I do think he can deliver on getting them off the Island but is that really his endgame? Conceivably he can reunite Claire with her son but that lying so and so promised her she was in the Temple. But she’s very confused so I don’t blame her for going back with Smokey after Smokey went all biblical on the Temple. The same thing goes for Sayid. Nadia died. I just think Smokey’s a manipulative so and so. I think Jacob’s fairly manipulative as well but Jacob seems to have better intentions. Of course he left most of The Temple, minus Hurley and Jack, to die. I digress. Back to The Smokeness: Do these promises and the Sideways world reconcile in some way? Who indeed knows. We shall find out, at some point, in the final 11 hours of the show.
–NotLocke is pretty clever hiding away on Hydra Island but at least he’s far away from the beach camp. But Jack’s definitely going to go to Hydra Island to get Kate, Sayid, Jin and Claire. I think he’ll be calm about it though and let Ilana do her thing. Ilana’s also great. So much better than Ana-Lucia.
–Dare I hope Desmond is somewhere on the submarine? Dare I? Henry Ian Cusick’s name has been in the credits ALL season. The last time this happened with Harold Perrineau in season four. He didn’t show up until the end of episode 7 and then he got episode 8 all to himself. We saw no signs Desmond’s with him. I don’t even know why he’s be with Widmore because he HATES Widmore. But, Darlton, we’ve got 11 episodes left. We’ve had one scene with Desmond. Desmond’s one of the greatest characters ever. He’s gotta show up.
–I was so excited to see The Black Rock again. I mentioned this earlier but this felt so much like season one and season three. I adore both seasons. I think season one is as close to perfection television will get. Season three had so many excellent episodes. The scenes in The Black Rock felt like “Exodus” all over again with the dynamite. During that episode, Locke and Jack argued about why they were here. Jack was then the staunch man of science but in this he became the man of faith. We also saw Dr. Arzt in the Sideways. Hurley even mentioned Arzt when cautioning Richard about the dynamite. Hurley told him he was cleaning Artz out of his shirt for two days. You know, I’ve always liked Arzt. I enjoyed his appearances in season one and I get a kick out of the webisodes he’s in. Miles referenced “Expose” and Nikki and Paulo. Fittingly enough, some fans expressed frustration about the lack of answers provided in the episode (though I’d argue answers were given. Plenty actually.). “Expose” suffered from criticism even though it provided some fun answers as well. We even got the great scene when Charle confessed to Sun that he had been behind the fake kidnapping of Sun in “The Long Con.” I digress. As I noted already, the end mirrored the end of “One Of Us.” I hope it was intentional. I believe it was. The beach camp goes without saying. It was so prominent in season three (the construction of the beach camp as we saw it was in progress during season two). How I wished adorable, not homocidal Claire was there too in her cute designer clothing. But Feral Claire is pretty cool and Emilie de Ravin gets something to do other than hold a baby. I’m digressing.
–We found out a number of things: Jacob’s touch prevents people from dying. Richard did in fact arrive on The Black Rock. Why he was brought here is another story. We found out Ilana’s role on the Island. She’s also done her homework on everybody.
–Imagine if instead of Widmore being revealed on the sub it was AARON AND WALT. I joke about that scenario with STEVE and STEVE’s comment: “I’d kill myself.” STEVE’s prediction for Widmore’s gameplan? Sinking the Island.
–I got a kick out of Sawyer’s stash. I noticed a few things but I’d have to go back and pause to catch everything. I imagine Lostpedia’s all over it anyway so head over that way for all that Ben found.
–Great exchanges between Hurley and Richard in the jungle as Hurley asked Richard about not aging. Hurley wondered if he was a cyborg or a terminator. What a great scene.
–There was a nice little scene between Ben and Frank. Ben said it felt like yesterday Oceanic 815 broke apart above New Otheron. Frank told him he was supposed to pilot the plane but he overslept. Ben commented on Frank winding up on the Island still.
–As Ben tutored Alex, he spoke of the 19th century East India Trading company. Not the first time it’s been mentioned (see Season Four’s The Constant when Widmore wins the bid for The Black Rock materials written by the first mate. The same ship Richard was on).
–I keep thinking of what Ben says to Michael in “Live Together, Die Alone” about being the good guys. Is that a long a set-up or what by Lindelof and Cuse? Goodness!
–Three weeks of no Sawyer. Very surprising indeed. I’m leaning towards getting a Sawyer episode next week. I feel fairly sure that we’ll be joining His Smokeness and his recruits next week on Hydra Island which means CLAIRE! will be there. Listen, I love her australian accent so much. Emilie’s delivery and inflections this season have been different from the previous four seasons she’s been in the show. I’m even more attached to the accent because of those inflections and her delivery. The way she speaks in “Lighthouse” is great. I’m digressing again. The point: things will get more intense next week.
–Once again, I have to mention how much I loved the montage at the end. The hugs, the happiness. Giacchinno’s score (The Oscar winner for the score he wrote for “Up”) was beautiful. I nearly fell off the couch with excitement when I realized we were getting a reunion/montage. I LOVE THIS SHOW!
–Overall, I think this is the episode of the season to date. I loved everything about it. Eddy Kitsis and Adam Horowitz wrote it. Mario Van Peebles directed. Season Six has been a blast so far.
TO THE RANKINGS!
THE OFFICIAL LOST RANKINGS
Per the rule, Dogen and Lennon are no longer being ranked. Jack is now no. 2 on STEVE’s ranking. STEVE likes it when Jack is intense. Jack remains in the top spot for me. Miles dropped out of the top 5 for me. He’s number six. Hurley’s the one who bumped him because, you know, it’s time for Hurley to be in the top 5. He’s always hovering around the top 5. Man in Black keeps rising on STEVE’s list. Will he one day claim the top spot? Desmond remains number one for STEVE and number two for me. Desmond rocks. But enough talking. Here’s the rankings in all of their glory:
AFTER EPISODE 7
17. Man in Black
7. Man in Black