LOST 6.7: Paging Dr. Linus…

Ben, Miles and Ilana

This week’s LOST gave us another set of long-sought answers amid another fine Ben-centric episode, one that teased out his central motivation (in both universes): lust for power.

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.”

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4 thoughts on “LOST 6.7: Paging Dr. Linus…

  1. When I think back to the fact that Ben Linus was never meant to be more than a story arc that got us from one point to another I am grateful for the immense talents of Michael Emerson. He took a character that could have been merely a one note villian and instead turned him into a player with such force and depth. In one look Michael could make you think that Ben was evil personified and in the next moment believing that he was the victim in someone else’s crazy game. Ben may not have ever thought that he belonged but Lost fans have known that he has belonged since the very beginning. The island and Lost would not be the same without him.

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  2. I am so so confused. In past season they did flashbacks and flashfowards. What the hell are they doing now? How is that supposedly all the people on the plane met each other at some point and never acknowledged it until now. Case in point the eppy with Kate and Claire.

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  3. Yes, Mendie, the character of Ben is a classic case of capturing lightning in a bottle. Ben is a perfect storm of casting and character. LOST without him is just as inconceivable as LOST without Jack. (Who, we all know, was originally slated to die in the pilot.)

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  4. Jessdan, the off-Island stories this season have been dubbed “flash-sideways” to denote that they reflect a parallel world. It breaks down like this: When Juliet detonated the bomb in 1977, the Losties were returned to 2007 where they were (more or less) at the end of season 4. Jack had theorized that setting off the bomb at the Swan station would “reset the clock” so that Flight 815 never crashed. This season, we are peeking at a parallel reality (some call it the “Sideways Universe” or the “2004 universe”) in which Flight 815 did NOT crash. It landed safely in 2004, and Jack, Kate, Locke, etc. went about their lives.

    That 2004 sideways universe was not identical to this one, merely very similar. There are definite differences. We learned last night that in the SidewaysU, Roger and Ben left the Island, so he didn’t grow up there. Shannon did not get on Flight 815. Desmond did. In addition, the people are different. Helen is alive, Locke was not crippled by Cooper, and Kate loves being a rogue on the run who is not tortured by guilt. Jack has a son.

    The 2004 SidewaysU does not affect the original timeline — or, rather, it has not affected it yet (if it ever will), so don’t worry about reconciling them. Just enjoy getting to know a new Locke, Jack, Kate, Ben, etc. in an alternate universe.

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Oh, yeah? Sez you!

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