Wednesday, March 10, 2010 815 (or fewer) words: "Dr. Linus"

Welcome, dear readers, to 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!


Magnolia said...

Awesome recap! I found myself nodding at each point. I love what you had to say about Jack -- after reading it, I felt like I understood that part of the episode better. My initial reaction was to shake my head and roll my eyes -- Jack is just so... Jack! But you changed my mind. And honestly, who of the other candidates has a chance against Jack? If you really think about, he is the natural choice and that would be a great end to his arc. I love that Ben found redemption, but it made me even sadder that Sayid didn't last week. :( And I can't wait to learn more about Richard!!!!

michael said...

I loved the diamond reference! I forgot about that episode, but now I remember just how hilarious it was.

This episode was pretty funny, also. Between Miles, Richard, and Jack, I was constantly alternating between laughs and "NO WAY!"

But seriously, folks. Big new question of the week: why would Nemesis be looking for someone to take care of the Island? Isn't he trying to destroy everything?

Also, I called it last night before the show that Whidmore wasn't out of it yet. I just wonder how he found the Island so freakin' fast. Was he still in touch with Eloise Hawking at the Lamppost?

I can't wait to see more about Richard. I had hoped that had more answers than death wishes, but I don't think we're going to get much out of him.

Parting thought: I have a feeling that Sun and Jin may not find each other until just before the end.

April said...

Brilliant is definitely the word for Michael Emerson. He seems to stir the greatest emotions in me, whether it's hate or sympathy, it's always strong.

Illana forgave him! That was so moving.

I've always thought Ben was a good guy despite his questionable actions and I'm glad to see him finally get the acceptance he has been longing for, without giving himself to the dark-side to gain it.

Loved the parallels between the timelines. This episode was brilliantly written.

I have to agree with you on Ben being the one to make a sacrifice in the end. We've already seen him make sacrifices in the past, though his motives were questionable, he was willing to make what he thought were necessary sacrifices so it would be fitting of his character to make the ultimate sacrifice in the end.

I liked Jack too! Finally! The scene with the dynamite was freakin' intense. Richard had definitely lost his faith and that was apparent by the fact that he didn't believe that the dynamite wouldn't kill Jack even though he had just got through stating that those touched by Jacob cannot kill themselves. Hello, Richard? Jack was touched. Which means since he lit that fuse, there's no way it's going to blow and kill him. Duh.

What excites me most about that scene is that it means we're probably going to get a Richard-centric very soon. Next week, maybe?

Some random disjointed thoughts on more religious parallels I am seeing:
Illana stated that Jacob was the closest she ever had to a father. Christians view God as their Father.
Richard felt a promise had been broken so his faith is broken because of that. So many of the most devoted followers struggle with this same problem all of the time.
Illana "turning the other cheek", giving Ben forgiveness and accepting him into her circle, without condition.

I don't know what it all means but I'm seeing these subtle parallels all over this show this season and it's a trip.

MarieC said...

You were right, this episode was epic. I loved that Sideways Ben was caught in many of the same basic dilemmas as Island Ben, but he chose differently. Never thought about him being Snape, but you are probably right.

My only complaint with this episode? (I'm sure you can guess...)

No Sawyer!


@ Magnolia: Thank you! Glad you enjoyed the recap and the episode! And I'm really happy to hear that I influenced your opinion of Jack a little bit (that's one big reason why I write--because I enjoy helping people sometimes see a different side of things!). :)


@ Michael: Yeah, there were quite a few funny lines in last night's episode. I giggled like a maniac at Hurley's "Cheese curls!"

I hadn't even thought about your question--but you're right! Why would Nemesis want someone to take care of the island? Is it maybe that he can't leave until he secures his replacement?

I'm guessing yeah, Widmore and Eloise still talk. Does that mean Eloise is a baddie, too? After all, she is the one who helped get everyone back to the Island, and she made it so that Locke would be a substitute--for Christian, but did she know that it was possible that Nemesis could inhabit Locke's body?

Actually, I think we're going to get plenty out of Richard--in 2 weeks there's a Richard flashback episode. I'm really excited for this. I've always felt that the easiest way for them to tell us a lot of the Island's backstory would be to do a Richard flashback--and it looks like that idea made sense to the producers, too!

Re: Sun and Jin, it wouldn't surprise me if you're right (although there is a Sun/Jin episode coming up soonish, from what I hear...perhaps episode 10?). But I really wish they'd do more with Sun...she's a great character, and I feel like she's been doing a lot of standing around this season, not doing much of anything.


@ April: I agree--I was astounded when Ilana forgave Ben. That made me like her a whole lot more; I'd only been kind of indifferent to and curious about her before that point.

I've always thought that deep down, Ben was a good guy too, even though he's engaged in some pretty wicked actions. I'm glad to see him choose the side of the light.

I think this was the episode I've seen the Sideways timeline work best. In some other episodes it seemed contrived, and yet here it seemed like a perfect balance and a believable story.

Yes, I realized that, too--that since Jack, also touched by Jacob, lit the fuse, that the two of them were in absolutely no danger. You're right, though--it was still an intense scene! (Does Richard not know that Jack and others have also been touched by Jacob?)

I think the Richard-centric episode is the one after next week, and I'm hearing next week may be a Sawyer-centric one! YAY! We've been so Sawyer-deprived lately!

I love the religious parallels you're finding! I have little to no knowledge of religion, so these are never things I'd notice on my own, and I'm finding them really interesting when you point them out!

Magnolia said...

Big new question of the week: why would Nemesis be looking for someone to take care of the Island? Isn't he trying to destroy everything?

Good question! Here's my take -- Nemesis doesn't really care about someone protecting the Island. In his recruiting, he's just telling people what they want to hear. He told Sawyer that he could get him off the Island, he told Sayid that he could see his lost love again. Ben's weakness has always been that he wants to be "special" and important to the future of the Island. Nemesis knew exactly how to appeal to him.


@ MarieC: I feel your pain, too--I miss Sawyer! They need to give us a LOT of shirtless sawyer time to make up for a couple Sawyerless episodes in a row. ;)

Magnolia said...

And yes, I LOVED the shout-out to Nikki and Paulo! When I saw Miles with the diamond, I was like "Good for you!"


@ Magnolia: I like your theory on what Nemesis is up to. I agree with you...Nemesis seems to be quite a player, playing on the weaknesses/emotions of the people he makes promises to.


@ Magnolia: I hope Miles got more than just that one diamond...there were plenty more there for him! (I wonder if it's 3.2 million dollars' worth, haha!)

Ranielle said...

From the first moments of Dr. Linus talking about how Napoleon felt like nothing without his power to the final moments of Ben's heartbreaking confession to Ilana, I felt like this was one of the best-written episodes of the show, ever. Every word seemed to matter.

Speaking of words, I want to believe we got a huge clue from Ben when he was speaking to Lapidus:

"How different would it have been? The island got you here in the end, didn't it?"

Even in the Sideways World, all of these characters end up connected to one another. What if they all end up at the Island somehow anyway?

I feel like Jack made a HUGE leap into new territory last night, pulling way ahead of the competition in the "who can be more like Jacob" category. Maybe all of that sitting on a rock looking out at the ocean worked, because he certainly seems like the most viable candidate at this point.


@ Ranielle: I agree--every word seemed to matter in this episode! (To the point where I was overanalyzing like crazy, like when Ben was tutoring Alex..."India! What's India got to do with any of this???" Haha.)

Yes--I LOVED that exchange between Ben and Lapidus! I always felt like the Island's this magnet for these particular people, and Ben's line to Lapidus pretty much confirmed that idea. If the Island wants you there, it will have you there one way or another. (Also re: Lapidus, I think he's been getting some excellent lines lately. Not many lines, but the ones he's had, I've really liked.)

I liked Jack's leap into new territory and his leap of faith. Viable candidate, indeed!

Dave said...

While last nights episode didn't contain the action we enjoyed last week, I have to say it was probably the best episode yet (I say that every week now it seems). Michael Emerson's performance was amazing. His heart to heart confession to Illana was absurdly touching. I'll have to admit I thought about light and dark and sides for a long time....but Ben was always the one I was very unsure of. Now I think we have an answer to that. Also - Jack has balls of steel. My favorite line from the show last night, after the first stick of dynamite fizzles out and confirms Jack's suspicion - 'Want to try another one?' Concentrated win. I also have to agree with Jack being the most likely candidate at the moment. Another thing I noticed....Richard Alpert seemed to have a past acquaintance with the shackles in the Black Rock....I'm guessing maybe he was initially a prisoner of some sort? At least one question was answered last night - We know why everyone wound up on the island now...


@ Dave: I agree--last night's episode was the best we've seen so far this season! :) Ben never fails to astound me, and Michael Emerson is truly fantastic. I hope the rumors I've heard of him just wanting to be his wife's personal assistant after Lost is over are just rumors, not facts!

Jack was absolutely ballsy, and he commanded respect like a true leader should. I usually want to smack Jack, but he won me over big-time this time around!

Remember a few episodes ago, when Richard ran into FLocke and FLocke said something to him like "It's good to see you out of your chains?" That's when I knew Richard must have been a prisoner on the Black Rock.

Sarah said...

Michael. Emerson. Rocks.
Thats about all I can say. Pulling off making us root for him after HATING him for so long? Touch of brillance. They need to give him an emmy, again. And again. And again.
Ben is my absolute favorite character because he pulls out such strong emotions from the audience.
I agree with you on the snape thing- Ive been thinking that too.
And can I just say- when I was reading your theory on Jack being the perfect candiate and how you think the show will end with him- total goosebumps on my arm. Loved it.
I cant wait for the Richard flashback, I cant even wait for next week!
After not liking jack for awhile, i felt he was being a little too weak and "lost", it is refreshing to see him act with determination again.
And once again let me say- WHERE IS SAWYER?

michael said...

So if Nemesis hadn't seen Richard since he was in chains, and the only time we saw Jacob and Nemesis together was (presumably) when the Blackrock was headed towards the island...did Richard have something to do with trapping Nemesis in the cabin? He certainly didn't seem to like Richard very much.

Jamy said...

Great post! I agree completely about your assessment of Ben except that I don't think he'll die. I think he'll become one of the guardians. I also didn't think he actually abandoned Alex to die...I don't think he though that they would really shoot her....he was bluffing (or trying to). His shock, disbelief, and grief when they shot her told me that he didn't honestly think that they would do it.

I've always seen Ben as this sad, weasly, pathetic little man with a major inferiority complex, not a s a bad person. The one I never trusted right from the gitgo was Locke. Something about him bugged me.

What I'm still trying to figure out is what it is that Jacob actually did. I mean...the candidates are replacing him for what position? Is her really the keeper of the island? Does the island even need a keeper? And why on earth are have all the candidates been people who were lost causes in the "real world"?

Flocke (great name for him BTW) hinted that the island didn't need a keeper, but maybe this was just part of his evil plan to convince the 6 that they didn't need to stay. And if the island needs a keeper, what exactly does the keeper need to do? Landscaping? Governance for the inhabitants? Tweak the time travel wheel?

My favorite character from the start has been Hurley. I miss the light-hearted moments he used to inject, earlier in the episodes. I think that it kept the show from being too full of itself. Same with Sawyer.


@ Sarah: I second your "Where is Sawyer?" I hope there's a decent explanation as to what he's been up to, since we haven't seen him for a while. I think we'll find out next week... :)

It was great to see Jack revert back to his Season 1 style of leadership--taking charge and having confidence. I hope we see more of that!


@ Michael: Great theory! That would absolutely explain why Nemesis doesn't like him--and why Richard looked so scared of him a couple episodes ago!


@ Jamy: Thanks! :) I like your theories. It would make sense if Ben became a guardian--after all, he had already given up a lot for the Island, and perhaps he has earned a leadership role.

I can't take the credit for "FLocke"; I think I've seen that elsewhere (Doc Jensen's awesome recaps, perhaps?). ;)

Yeah, I can see why you found Locke to be untrustworthy (I'm thinking back to how he more or less sacrificed Boone, for instance...).

Yeah, I'm still a little stumped on what Jacob actually did and why it is that this particular motley crew of people was selected to be candidates. Hopefully we'll get some answers about this...

I love Hurley, too! On a related note--do you read Jorge Garcia's blog? It's quite entertaining, and he has the cutest dog EVER! (It's called Dispatches from the Island; I link to it on one of my sidebars on Red Pen, Inc.)

sarah said...

speaking of LOST blogs- my husband stumbled onto one that is hilarious. it is written by a guy who is watching the last season, but hasnt seen any of the others. his reactions to things and what he picks out as the points of interest have had us rolling. if you are interested you can check it out at


@ Saah: I've seen that blog before--it's quite amusing! Thanks for reminding me to check it out again--over the past two weeks or so, I haven't remembered to check back there! :)