The last few episodes of Lost have been great, but significantly lacking in the presence of arguably the greatest character in the history of the show, Ben Linus. Tonight's episode was entitled 'Dr. Linus', so I'm sure you can figure out who the focal point was.
Let's start in the opening scene of the Flash-Sideways, with Ben teaching his history class about Napoleon. This was an incredibly well-written scene, as every line Ben was explaining about Napoleon, applied to Island Ben as well. "Without any power, he might as well have been dead", he told his class.
How great was it to see William Atherton as Principal Reynolds? If you want Ben Linus to seem sympathetic in any light, you pretty much have to hire the character actor who plays exclusively assholes on film and TV (remember Die Hard?).
John Locke of all people suggests to Ben that he should be the Principal..."It just sounds like you care about this place, and if the man in charge doesn't, then maybe it's time for a change." What a great line.
Back on the Island, we learn why Ilana took the ash from the pit where Jacob burned, to give to Miles so he could reveal what really happened. I'm disappointed I didn't figure that out. And when Miles told Ilana that it was Ben that killed Jacob, and Ben denied it, Miles called back to the earlier line, "He was standing over his dead body with a bloody dagger, so, yeah, I'm sure."
Another fantastic cold opening. This season has seen the best opening scenes of all 6 seasons.
Once the episode started after the first break, I continued my weekly tradition of holding something up to block the list of guest actors so I don't ruin any upcoming surprises. Last week's reveal of Keamy would have been blown for me, and a number of faces this episode would have been spoiled as well...including Jon Gries (Uncle Rico!) as Ben's dad.
Roger Linus was still alive, but frail and using an oxygen tank. He and Ben ate TV dinners as Roger thought back to what may have been if they had stayed in the Dharma Initiative. So there we have the first concrete proof that they actually were on the Island, but chose to leave. Roger opined, "Imagine how different our lives could have been if we'd stayed? Who knows what you would have become?" Chilling words considering we know that Ben killed his own father in that scenario.
Ben opens the door to find...Alex??? Whoa! What the hell? She's part of his history club??? This is all moving way too fast for me to take it all in. A very weird scene...made me wonder what Alex's backstory was. But later we heard her refer to her mom working two jobs, and saw that her last name was Rousseau, so everything pretty much seemed the same, except that she found some styling mousse in the Flash Sideways world.
When Ilana said that Jacob was like a father to him, it made me think that there was a parallel between Jacob/Ilana and Ben/Alex. That came to light later in the episode. (More further down)
Again, Sun is just another useless character who asks questions so that people can explain things to the viewers. She got the whole "candidates" story from Ilana, proving that the 6 people corresponding to the numbers is indeed true, and was know to Ilana via Jacob. And I just don't buy Sun's insistence that every thing needs to stop because "she needs to find her husband". I mean, she just saw the Smoke Monster kill everyone in the Temple, and was spared because she was hiding in a wall...but finding Jin is still priority #1 right now?
Ageless Richard shows up to Jack and Hurley, and the questions start:
Jack: "Where did you come from?"
Richard: "You wouldn't believe me if I told you."
Jack: "Try me."
(Sean is freaking out thinking we're about to finally get the answer!)
Richard: "Not yet."
Damn you Richard, you're such a tease!
When Alex was telling Ben about Principal Reynold being "a perv", Ben promised that he wouldn't tell, and when Alex asked again, Ben responded that "a promise is a promise." Last season, in The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham, remember this exchange between Locke and Ben
Locke: No, I promised Jin that I wouldn't bring her back.
Ben: Jin is alive?
Locke: Yeah, but he didn't want her to know, he wanted me to tell her that his body washed up on the beach. And, uh, he gave me his wedding ring to prove it.
Ben: Alright. A promise is a promise.
Say what you want about Ben, but he keeps his promises.
Miles: "Why would I need your money when there's a couple of jabronis named Nikki and Paolo who got buried alive over there with eight million dollars worth of diamonds on top of them?" Ah...the return of Nikki and Paolo and the diamonds!
While the reference was funny, the important thing coming out of this scene was Miles revealing to Ben what Jacob was thinking right before Ben killed him. "Right until the second the knife went through his heart, he was hoping he was wrong about you." The first seeds of redemptive awareness for Ben?
Hurley: "Is this like a Terminator thing? Are you a cyborg?"
Richard: "No, I'm not a cyborg."
Hurley: "A vampire?"
Richard: "Jacob gave me a gift."
Finally some answers from Richard, but still not everything. We can assume with all the talk of the Black Rock, Flocke's reference to Richard being in 'those chains", and his pensive examination of the shackles in this episode, as well as his assessment that this was his first time back to the ship, that Richard indeed did arrive on the Black Rock as we suspected. But he explained that Jacob gave him a gift by touching him, and that was why he didn't age...and couldn't die. Does this mean that the others that were touched by Jacob can't die? What about Locke?
I know I've been gushing a lot about this season and how great it has been, but I had a big problem with the scene between Jack and Richard. Jack, you have no levergae once you light the fuse! Tell him you want answers before you light it. It just made no sense to me that Jack would first light the fuse, then start to ask questions, and insist that the dynamite wouldn't blow up. Seemed like a pretty pissy way to prove you're right...and a lame scene that was out of place in an otherwise great episode.
Flocke sure knows how to make an entrance, huh? First last week with Sayid in the woods, and now with Ben as he's digging his own grave. I thought it was a great cross-reference to have Flocke tell Ben he was leaving him in charge of the Island...in essence, becoming The Principal.
Back in the Flash-Sideways world, as Ben was trying to indeed become the principal by blackmailing Reynolds, he was faced with the same choice he had on the Island. Sacrifice Alex...or gain power for himself. What would he choose? I was seriously DYING of anticipation in the commercial break after he was given that choice.
After that scene, we got the confirmation of what I suspected earlier, a comparitive relationship between Ben/Alex and Ilana/Jacob. As Ben tearfully explained his poor decision-making when it came to Alex and Keamy, was it the second stage of Ben's redemptive awareness? I was shocked when Ilana told Ben she would have him. Once again, Ben is faced with a choice, as he was with Alex, and with Jacob. Would he join Ilana...or Flocke? And was this all a test from Jacob through Ilana? I think it may have been.
We learn back at school that Ben didn't follow through in his blackmail plan, Alex got her recommendation to Yale, Arzt got Dr. Linus's parking spot (selfless Ben?), and all seemed right in the world. It will be interesting to see if that's really the case.
The beach reunion was long-coming, but remember that Sun was furious at Jack for leaving Jin behind...and now she's running up and hugging him like he's her long-lost brother? Have the writers forgotten what they built up with her over 5 seasons?
Mind-blowing reveal in the final scene...Widmore has found the Island and is back! Is this the one Jacob referred to when he said someone was coming? Or is this independent of that? Is someone else on the sub with Widmore...maybe Desmond?
Can't wait to find out...
Next week: Sawyer and Kate re-connect. And Sean pukes.