'Lost' - 'Dr. Linus' Recap
by Jason Hughes, posted Mar 10th 2010 4:07AM
(S06E07) Benjamin Linus is one of the most fascinating characters ever put to screen, played with devilish brilliance by Michael Emerson. He positively dominates every scene he's in with those intense, thoughtful and incredibly dangerous big eyes of his. This week, we got to see quite literally two sides of Ben Linus.
Considering that virtually Ben's entire life happened on the island in the alpha-verse, I had been intrigued as to what beta-Ben would be like ever since his first appearance in 'The Substitute' three weeks ago. As I anticipated, our flash-sideways picks up events somewhat shortly after Locke's story.
It also features Locke, as well as a few other familiar faces in new and intriguing roles. At this point, I think I could watch an entire series set in the beta-verse just to see all these people's lives interconnect. It's truly fascinating stuff.
The crossover appearance that packed the most emotional impact was Alex Rousseau on Dr. Linus' doorstep. In this reality, she's one of his most promising students. Given a life outside the island she's turned out well and happy. We also learn through her that Danielle Rousseau, her mother, is a hard-working provider, though there is no mention of her father.
An interesting conversation came about regarding the island when Ben was at home taking care of his father, played under impressive makeup by the same actor (Jon Gries) who'd played him in prior flashbacks. We know the Dharma Initiative existed in the beta-verse, as we've seen the remnants of their settlement underwater. We now also know that Ben and his father still went there when Ben was a boy to try and get a fresh start.
There is no indication, though this is many years later, that their relationship was as terrible as what we've seen in the alpha-verse. I'd go so far as to say that Papa Linus doesn't appear to be a drunk, but considering the state of his health, he very well could have been for many years. We do know that the Linuses left the island of their own accord, though we don't know why.
The question that came up at this point was just how different Ben might have been had he stayed on the island. That's been the exploration of all of these flash-sideways so far, and as we've seen in most of them, the beta-verse characters are making better choices in their lives.
Beta-Ben still has that ruthless instinct that led him to such nefarious success on the island, as seen in his plot to overthrow the principal. However, in the end he didn't have the killer impulse needed to drive it home. He couldn't put everything beneath his own ambitions and greed for power. And it was Alex who proved to be his downfall. While alpha-Ben watched her die due to pride and ambition, beta-Ben threw it all away to help her, proving himself a better man than he ever was.
It makes it even more enticing to consider the theory that's been bouncing around the comments the past few weeks: that all of these flash-sideways are an extended coda to the series. That these are the events that will play out not after the bomb that Juliet set off, but after whatever happens in the final episode. The only thing that concerns me about it is that Juliet told Sawyer that "it worked," referencing the bomb. If these stories aren't the results of her action, than what was she talking about?
Still, it would be nice to think of this as the ultimate fate of our characters, as it seems to be at least a somewhat improved state for most of them. Really only Sayid, so far, has gotten a completely raw deal from what I can tell. Sure, they're not all sunshine and roses, but the characters at least aren't making the same mistakes over again.
Which segues nicely into my thoughts on Jack this week. I know this was a Ben episode, but it was really about the anti-Locke factions coming together back on the beach where everything started. It creates another nice circle, especially if the final confrontation takes place where the plane went down. But back to Jack for a minute.
Wanting to go back to the temple, Jack and Hurley are interrupted by Richard -- I guess he's still just running around the island all alone at this point. He tricks them into following him to the Black Rock, a slave ship I'm theorizing he came to the island on. At this point, I'm not sure if he was in the shackles he was handling, or if he was one of the slave traders. Either way, the place brought out a lot of memories, if not as much information as we'd like.
It also set the stage for Jack to finally embrace his role on the island, even if he has no idea what it is. He now knows of his importance to Jacob, and he had enough faith that Jacob still held tremendous influence over the island that he was willing to let a stick of dynamite burn down to prove to Richard that maybe it wasn't all for nothing. Suddenly, after all this time, Jack seems to have found a little faith, and it's about damned time.
I've grown a little tired of the bull-headed, stubborn, bullying Jack we've had for a while now. It's about time he stepped back up to become the true leader he was always meant to be. Though I have a sneaking suspicion that Hurley will somehow end up the new protector of the island. No idea why ... it just feels right.
The episode was also about Ben perhaps finally starting to make some better choices of his own. Faced with his impending death at the hands of Ilana, he is given a choice. Break for freedom and join Locke at the Hydra station on the small island, or die. And yet somehow, Ben finds a third choice. By simply being 100% genuine and honest with Ilana about what was going through his head when he killed Jacob, and expressing the remorse he feels for the act, he found redemption and an invitation to stay with the group, which he accepts.
Ben being accepted is not something he's used to. He's used to taking things by force, as he did with Charles Widmore when he took over the Others all those years ago. Of course, now the Others, along with the other survivors of Oceanic Flight 815, are scattered to the winds, with many of them dead. And Widmore has returned to the island in a submarine.
Definitely one of the best installments of the new season, 'Dr. Linus' managed to turn Ben into a character to root for rather than be wary of -- though I'm not so foolish as to trust him completely -- and even more importantly, it seems to have snapped Jack out of his long asshole streak and set him up again as someone to look to. I'm still anxiously awaiting the confrontation between the two camps, as well as what Widmore's appearance will throw into the mix.
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