Please don't read if you haven't watched and wish to remain unspoiled.
It seems when it comes to the character of Benjamin Linus, the writers on LOST are truly inspired. This was definitely one of the better more cohesive episodes of the season, excelling as only LOST can with a forward narrative push, searing character examination, and so much heart.
The story of sideways Ben opens with Ben teaching his class about Napoleon's exile. He explained that the true loss for Napoleon was the loss of his power, even if he retained his power. I found this little speech interesting as it foreshadows Ben's confessional later in the episode but might it also give us insight into the Man in Black?
Dr. Benjamin Linus is clearly miserable with his life. Due to school budget cuts, the principal has put Ben in charge of detention, cancelling his poorly attended history club. "The club isn't for them, it's for you," scoffs Principal Reynolds, "it makes you feel needed."
Later on in the teacher lounge, the teachers commiserate over the lack of funds and teacher support. Ben seems to feel strongly about caring for the kids, stating he refuses to give up on the kids. "Maybe you should be the principal," Locke suggests.
His home life also feels very sad. Ben is taking care of his sick father. He expresses his dissatisfaction with his life and we learn that they did go to the island when Ben was a kid but they left. His father regrets this, wondering if Ben wouldn't have had a better life if they stayed. The doorbell rings and Ben opens the door to Alex!! She is apparently one of the five students in history club and she needs tutoring. Ben agrees to tutor her in the morning instead of the afternoon.
At this tutoring session, Alex expresses her desire to get into Yale and how scared she feels she'll fail. Her only hope, she says, is a letter of recommendation from someone who went there and the only person she knows is "that pervert Principal Reynolds." Ben, of course, clues in immediately to the pervert language and Alex quickly assures him nothing happened to her but that she overheard the principal and the nurse having sex at school.
This fires up those manipulative little thought processes in Ben's brain and he quickly devises a plan to force the principle out of his job. He drags Dr. Arzt into his plan in exchange for favors. "You had me fooled with that sweater vest," Arzt laughs, "Linus, you're a real killer."
When Ben brings his plan to Reynolds, however, it doesn't go as smoothly as he might hope. Reynolds knows Ben's weak spot and threatens to destroy Alex's chance to get into Yale unless Ben drops it. As he was in the past, Ben is forced to choose between his own ambition and the future of Alex.
In a heartbreaking reversal from Ben's island choice, the stellar letter Alex receives (which I suspect Ben negotiated to write) and the fact that Ben remains in his role as a history teacher is confirmation that he chose Alex's future over his own ambition. As he watches Alex walk away, who could help but be a little teary? Off island Ben, though miserable and unhappy, chooses others over himself.
Ben catches up to the group and explains that Sayid killed Dogen and the interpretor. When asked if he's sure, Ben says he was standing over their dead bodies with a bloody dagger. Due to a slip of a tongue, Ilana asks Miles to read Jacob's death and Miles announces that Ben killed Jacob. "Are you sure?" Ilana asks. Throwing Ben's words back in his face, Miles answers that he saw him standing over his body with a bloody dagger.
Ben tries to talk his way out of it but no one is really listening. The group is at the beach and thank God for Miles who points out how a fire isn't really going to help. (making me laugh) Ilana tells Sun that either she or Jin is a candidate to replace Jacob. Unfortunately, we don't really learn more of what that means. Nor do I know who the 6 candidates left are...guesses?
Ilana shackles Ben and instructs him to dig his own grave. When Ben tries to make a deal with Miles to get him 3.2 million dollars, Miles wonders why he'd need it when Nikki and Paulo are buried alive with their diamonds. (I love how Ben doesn't even blink over the fact that they were buried alive) Miles does tell Ben that Jacob had cared about Ben right "up until the knife went through his heart."
Smokey shows up and with some sort of super smoke mind power unshackles Ben. He tells him he's looking for someone to stay on the island in his place and gives him instructions on how to outrun Ilana. When Ben dashes off to the rifle Smokey left for him, Ilana runs after him. He doesn't shoot her immediately, though, he wants to explain his life. And he confesses that Alex's death was his fault, that he screwed up. He doesn't want to shoot her, though, and he doesn't want her forgiveness, he says, he just wants to go to Locke. When Ilana asks why, he says, "he's the only one who will have me." Voice thick with emotion, Ilana says, "I'll have you." And immediately turns away from a stunned Ben.
Ben heads back and offers to help Sun.
*Richard came from the Black Rock as many suspected
*Jack looked totally psychotic when talking about the dynamite.
*Richard can't kill himself.
*Neither can Jack.
*Jacob "touched" Richard which is meant to be a gift, but feels like a curse to him since Richard now feels as if he spent his entire life in service to a man who is now dead. He feels his life is stripped of meaning.
*Who didn't love the scene when Jack and Hurley showed up on the beach and everyone hugged? It was like the old days!
*Ah the end. It appears we are not rid of Widmore who is showing up via a submarine.
I'd love to hear your thoughts! Anything of importance I forgot to discuss? Did you love this episode as much as me?
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
LOST Recap and Discussion: 6.7 Dr. Linus