On the Island, Ilana (Zuleikha Robinson) took Ben (Michael Emerson) prisoner, and he explained how he sacrificed what he valued most — his daughter, Alex (Tania Raymonde) — for the sake of the Island. Or, more specifically, because Jacob (Mark Pellegrino) had led Ben to believe that he had a great responsibility as protector the Island. “I had a chance to save her, but I chose the Island over her,” he confessed. “All in the name of Jacob.” So he stabbed Jacob to death as revenge…but also out of fear of losing his power over the Island’s denizens.
In the sideways universe of 2004, Ben was a European history teacher (as seen in 6.4 “The Substitute”) who also thirsted for power: He wanted to become principal. In this reality, Alex was not Ben’s daughter, but rather his prize pupil. Roger was still his father, however. He brought Ben to the Island to participate in the DHARMA Initiative, but when it didn’t work out they left. After Alex mentioned that Principal Reynolds (played by William Atherton, the quintessential 1980s sleazeball from Die Hard and Ghostbusters) was having an affair with the school nurse, Ben embarked on a blackmail plan. See, Ben is utterly ruthless in any reality. Or is he? When Reynolds threatened to withhold a vital college recommendation from Alex, Ben actually put her welfare first and abandoned his quest to become principal. In other words, he sacrificed his power for her. So, while he may have innately desired power, this version of Ben demonstrated the influence of nurture in overcoming nature.
The week’s other gigantic revelation came when Richard (Nestor Carbonell) explained the secret of his longevity: “Jacob gave me a gift.” And he confirmed that yes, he came to Island as a slave aboard The Black Rock. Disillusioned to learn that Jacob was dead, Richard wanted to die at last. However, he noted, “I can’t kill myself.” So he convinced Jack (Matthew Fox) to light a stick of dynamite. However, instead of lighting it and running, Jack insisted that Richard explain Jacob’s plan. Richard said Jacob promised to reveal all when the time was right — but died before actually telling Richard. Jack was certain that Jacob would not allow the dynamite to explode. In other words, Jack took a leap of faith that he would not die without fulfilling his mysterious purpose. (And, sure enough, the fuse was snuffed.)
I know it’s not much in the overall scheme of LOST (especially in light of the Ben and Richard revelations), but this week’s episode finally made me like Miles (Ken Leung). I’ve always had a problem with him, and it wasn’t just his snarky personality; I like snark. There was just…something about him. His ability to communicate with the dead seemed too gimmicky to me, but now I’m wondering if Miles was put in place solely for this week’s reveal that Ben murdered Jacob? I kind of doubt it, but with this show, one never knows… Anyway, I love that Miles busted Ben. I guess Miles was more afraid of Ilana and her gun than her prisoner. Or, it could have been just Miles’ inner jerk at work I liked how he noted Jacob’s dying thoughts for Ben: “Jacob hoped he was wrong about you.”
The story ended with Charles Widmore’s submarine(!) locating the Island. I spent the episode waiting for Widmore to show up because I saw Alan Dale’s name in the opening credits. (So, in a way, LOST spoiled itself.) But is Widmore the person Jacob wanted Hurley (Jorge Garcia) to help find the Island?
A couple of other cool grace notes:
•Lapidus (Jeff Fahey) told Ben he was supposed to pilot Oceanic 815, but he overslept! Ben replied, “The Island still got you in the end, didn’t it?”
•Miles mentioned the fan-despised Nikki and Paulo!
•The preview of next week’s episode was set to a version of Leonard Cohen‘s “Bird on a Wire.”