Welcome, dear readers, to LOST...in 815 (or fewer) words. This is a variation on last season's series of Lost posts on Red Pen, Inc.--the main difference being that these posts are less rambly. However, I'm still counting on the rest of you to talk to me in the comments about your thoughts/theories about last night's season premiere--so ramble on, you guys, OK? ;)
Yes, I know, I haven't written for a couple days. No, I have not jumped on the back of Muse's tour bus and decided to be their own personal Miss Penny Lane for the duration of their US tour (tempting though that thought may be). A couple hours after the Muse show--which, by the way, was fabulous--I came down with what must have been, no joke, the plague. I was wiped the hell out--and in fact, I am still recovering, and I feel more drowsy than usual. But never fear--I'm feeling well enough to be here with a Lost post!
Let me preface this by saying that in last night's episode, Michael Emerson was freakin' BRILLIANT. This man deserves an award--preferably many awards. I've always felt that Ben's character was one of the richest characters on the show, and this episode proves my point. Here's a character who we've seen commit a ton of evil deeds (killing, lying, manipulating, and capturing, among others), and tonight he made us root for him. We wanted to see Ben Linus be a good man, do the right thing, and have a shot at redemption. Remember, this guy killed John Locke. He killed Jacob. He didn't save his own daughter from being killed by Keamy. These aren't good actions. And yet as monstrous as we've seen Ben be, we've also known there's something in him that's worth redeeming--and we were rooting for that part of him. We remember that geeky-looking kid from the episodes that took place in 1977. We remember seeing his father repeatedly berate him. We remember him wanting to belong, to be kind to an imprisoned Sayid. We remember Sayid shooting young Ben in hopes of preventing Ben from turning into the monster that we've seen him be--which, seeing as how Ben was "saved" in the Temple, actually may have been a major contributor to why Ben got that monster streak in him in the first place. It's safe to say Ben didn't have the most pleasant childhood or the most pleasant life--in Sideways World or Island World.
In Ben's Sideways story, he got to have something that Island Ben missed; Alex. Only this time Alex wasn't his daughter--she was his student, and he was Dr. Linus. They seemed way more affectionate toward each other as teacher and student as they ever did as father and daughter. It was clear from the somewhat wistful way Ben looked at her that he cared about her well-being. This was a far cry from the man who stood in his house on the Island, having every opportunity to surrender to Keamy, thus saving Alex's life--and refusing to do so. This Ben also took care of his father at home, palled around with science teacher Arzt at school, and was given a dose of faith and support from none other than the "substitute," John Locke. Ben may not have had the happiest Sideways life, but the people around him clearly cared about, looked up to, and believed in him. And perhaps that made all the difference. Given the opportunity to choose between (rather cleverly and underhandedly) furthering his career and helping Alex get a much-needed recommendation for college, he chose to help her instead of chasing his own desires to be the leader. He sacrificed the opportunity to have a new position to do the right thing for someone he cared about, someone to whom his help and support mattered. That's a drastic difference from Island Ben, who, until tonight, would throw pretty much anybody under the bus if it was personally advantageous for him to do so.
Ben's Sideways story mirrored his Island story tonight. he found himself in quite the bind (literally--at the ankle) once Miles spilled the beans that it was in fact Ben who'd killed Jacob. Ben's attempts to lie his way out of it were futile, and he found himself digging his own grave. That was the point where I felt sorry for Ben--really, really sorry for him. Yes, he'd killed Jacob, but he'd been manipulated into doing so. He'd been manipulated by Jacob--by dedicating the bulk of his life to serving Jacob and trying to protect the Island, all seemingly for naught--as well as Flocke, who capitalized on these feelings and used them to convince Ben to kill Jacob. Ben, the master manipulator, had become a victim of manipulations himself. I had to wonder what he was thinking about as he slowly dug his own grave. And I had to admit, once Flocke showed up and released that ankle restraint, I thought Ben was gonna hightail it to the dark side. But no--after one of the most moving conversations I've ever seen on Lost (that almost brought me to tears, and I'm the Anti-Cry), Ben joined forces with Ilana. Ben, who admitted he would join Flocke because Flocke was the only one who would have him, changed his mind and joined up with Ilana once she, in the spirit of forgiveness, said she, too, would have him. Who woulda thunk it--Ben Linus on the light side? Seems that way. And I'm damn glad he is.
A paragraph or two ago I mentioned the word "sacrifice." Since season 4 or so, I've always had a theory about Ben: He's going to be the Severus Snape of the bunch. He's going to be the one the writers portray as "bad," the one whose intentions you're never quite sure of, but who, in the end, comes through, redeems himself, and sacrifices himself in some way for the greater good. I called it with Snape as I was reading the Harry Potter books, and I'm calling it with Ben. Ben may have done some bad things, yes, but he is not a baddie. (I suspect the baddie--or one of them, at least--was the one rollin' up in the submarine at the end of the episode.) Like Snape, Ben felt like an outcast--he wanted to belong, to be respected and to be known for doing good things (even if some of the things he'd done were bad or at least were portrayed as being bad). My prediction? Ben's gonna die, but probably not 'til the end, and probably for some sort of meaningful cause; his death will be a selfless act to save someone else, and through his selflessness, he'll find redemption. (And if his story ends any other way, I will probably be greatly disappointed--so I hope I'm right.)
Some other thoughts: Sit down for this one, kids, 'cause you're never gonna believe it. Wait for it...
I really liked Jack in this episode.
No, you didn't eat a Dharma shroom by mistake. You're not tripping; you're reading that correctly. I thought Jack was fantastic this time around. He was gusty, ballsy, and light years away from being a young surgeon, nervously trying to repair an injury he'd inflicted on a patient during surgery, under the watchful and judgmental eyes of his father. Clearly, Jack believes he and the other candidates are on the island for a purpose. He believed it so much he was willing to put his and Richard's lives at risk to find out if he was right or not. Now the man of science is trying to convince a disillusioned Richard Alpert to have faith that his life wasn't wasted, that it did have a purpose, that he didn't sacrifice his whole life to a man who's now dead and can't keep his promises. Jacob's little trick, showing Jack what was in the mirrors in the lighthouse, obviously had the desired effect: Jack's now a believer. And Jack, shepherd (ha!) that he is, is now in the process of getting others to follow his lead.
For those of you who have been wanting answers, we got a few in this episode. We got confirmation that there are 6 candidates, and that these people are candidates to replace Jacob. We got confirmation that Ilana's trying to protect these candidates. We got some peeks into Richard's life--although there are more to come, as I'm hearing there will be a Richard flashback episode in the next few weeks--and we know that he came from the Black Rock a very long time ago.
If I were a betting girl and had to choose which of the candidates gets to replace Jacob, I'd say...Vincent! (Just kidding. Sorta. I have heard that Vincent will be alive at the end of the show...) No, my money's on Jack. My reasoning is threefold (yet kinda quirky). First, and most obvious: He's a natural leader. Second, the meaning behind his tattoo: "He walks among us, but he is not one of us." And finally: The mirror factor. As Season 6 mirrors Season 1, as choices in Sideways World mirror actions in Island World, I see one great big palindrome where the end is the beginning, the beginning is the end. How did Season 1 start? With us seeing Jack, only Jack. How might Season 6 end? Perhaps with us seeing Jack, only Jack--but in a new role this time.
Thoughts? Theories? What'd you think of Dr. Linus? Who else giggled at the Nikki & Paulo reference? Anyone else relieved that we saw Arzt and dynamite in the same episode, but this time there were no Arzt chunks to speak of? ;) Talk to me in the Comments section!
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