"Corrupted from memory, no longer the power.
It's creeping up slowly, the last fatal hour.
I don't know what made me, what gave me the right
To mess with your values, and change wrong to right.
Please keep your distance - the trail leads to here.
There's blood on your fingers, brought on by fear.
I campaigned for nothing, I worked hard for this;
I tried to get to you...you treat me like this.
It's just second nature, it's what we've been shown,
We're living by your RULES, that's all that we know."
- Candidate, Joy Division
Without a doubt, Dr. Linus is my favorite episode of Season 6 thus far. Some of my top Lost episodes of all time are from the latter half of Season 3, primarily because of Ben, his backstory and how it relates to the overall island mythology.
It is rather amazing to me how we are now rooting for and sympathizing with Benjamin Linus. This is the same man who killed his own father and an entire village of people, was responsible for his daughter's murder, strangled John Locke and stabbed Jacob to death...among others. Simply brilliant and outstanding - I tip my hat in the direction of that writer's room in Building 23.
In the interest of time, because I need to get a few hours of sleep, I am not including many photos or screen grabs from this episode.
Before we begin, I wanted to let you know that I posted my interview with Michael Emerson (from the red carpet at the S6 premiere in Hawaii) yesterday, to coincide with this Ben-centric episode; click here to read the transcript and here to listen to the audio!
Season 3 Parallels!
- Nikki and Paulo fight over diamonds they stole and ultimately die on the island after being paralyzed by spiders (perhaps Smokey manifestations) and being buried alive. In this episode, Miles refers to them and winds up digging up the diamonds.
- Jack, Kate and Sayid return to and reunite with their friends on the beach, and are greeted with happy hugs. But an outsider is with them - Juliet. In this episode, Jack and Hurley return to and reunite with their friends on the beach, and are greeted with happy hugs. But an outsider is with them - Alpert. [sidenote: both scenes are tremendously enhanced by the beautiful Michael Giacchino score - and congratulations to him for winning the Oscar on Sunday for Up!]
- Roger and Ben Linus arrive on the island, as Roger has been recruited to work for the Dharma Initiative. In this episode, Roger refers to their time on the island.
- Ben puts on a gas mask and gases his own father to death. In this episode, Ben helps his father breathe with a new oxygen tank.
- Mikhail warns Ben that Naomi has parachuted onto the island and that her ship is not far. In this episode, Widmore is approaching the island on the sub.
- Locke goes to Jacob's cabin for the first time. In this episode, Alpert returns to the Black Rock for the first time since he arrived on it (presumably.)
- Ben shoots Locke and leaves him for dead in a mass grave. In this episode, notLocke appears as Ben is digging his own grave.
I could not be more excited to see Richard Alpert return to the very ship he arrived on, in chains (presumably), in the same episode where Widmore returns. In S4, Widmore paid a large sum to purchase the original journal of the first mate from the Black Rock, and he probably knows that it is now marooned in the middle of the jungle on his beloved island. Would anyone really be surprised to find out that Alpert was said first mate?
It certainly seemed as if they wanted us to think that Alex was looking at the Black Rock in her history book with Dr. Linus, but they were discussing the 1813 Charter Act and East India Trading Company. The Black Rock departed England for Thailand, and the journal was found in the 1850's after the ship was "lost at sea" several years earlier. So I'm not sure if there is an actual connection other than a visual one.
The appearance of Dr. Arzt and the Black Rock in the same episode brought back memories of the S1 finale when Arzt blew up outside of the ship while handling the dynamite, which Hurley himself referenced tonight.
Ilana noted that there are 6 candidates left. We saw notLocke cross Locke's name off of the cave wall, and Ilana herself was at Locke's burial. We also now know that only one Kwon is indeed a candidate - Jin or Sun. So there are 5 remaining: Ford, Jarrah, Kwon, Reyes, Shephard.
In the s5 finale, Ilana referred to Frank Lapidus as a potential candidate, and his name does not appear either on the cave wall or lighthouse dial. Although Kate's name is on the lighthouse dial (not crossed out), I am thrown off by the fact that she was not assigned one of THE numbers. So I have a strange feeling that she is the last candidate and underestimated wild card in the pending battle between good and evil...
Exile Island: Elba
As soon as Dr. Linus mentioned the world "exile," I knew we would see Widmore again.
There are a few parallels between the island of Elba and Lost, the most interesting of which is that there is a village called Marciana that is known for healing waters and natural Springs. Ring a bell? Oh, and the island is known for its wild boar population.
(I Will Be Your) Father Figure
In a few of the flash sideways stories thus far, it is very interesting to note that relationships between main characters and their fathers are vastly different than the ones presented in flashbacks. Roger Linus and Anthony Cooper (Locke and Ben's fathers, respectively) both died on the island, and their sons were responsible. In the flash sideways, Ben is taking care of his father and Locke is inviting his dad to his wedding.
Although Jack's father Christian is still deceased in the flash sideways (albeit missing), Jack is making an effort to be a better father - to his own son David.
I have to give credit to Jay and Jack, as I originally heard this theory on their podcast a few episodes back. Of course I laughed about the possibility at first, but after tonight's episode...it seems plausible.
When Alpert told Hurley not to believe what Ghost Jacob had been telling him, it planted the seed that Jacob may not be Captain Good Guy representing the white piece on the backgammon board after all. I've been questioning whether or not the cave belonged to the Man in Black and the Lighthouse belonged to Jacob, but I suppose that the answer may be both.
If Jacob and the Man in Black are the same person, they may simply represent the Good and Evil scale in every man (and woman). And depending upon which side the remaining characters choose to follow, as well as which side wins the 'war'...I have a strong suspicion that the flash sideways will be the only reality for the winning side, and life as they've lived it after the crash and on the island will be the only choice for the losing side.
I am not at all convinced that Sawyer will actually side with notLocke, nor will Kate. But given how Sayid has remained the same man in all three dimensions (killing in flashbacks, flash forwards and flash sideways, as well as on the island) and seems infected with the darkness for good...I would be surprised if he did get that second/third/fourth chance with Nadia (as notLocke promised).
Aside from the S5 finale beach conversation between the two, we have not seen Jacob and the Man in Black in the same place. And now I am thinking that the young blonde boy who appeared in the jungle to the Man in Black must have been young Jacob...the angel on one shoulder reminding the devil on the other about the rules.
If they are the same person, it would seem that the island is a giant game board with two cruel players representing black and white/good and evil. Jacob touches and brings people to the island, and the Man in Black disposes of those who do not wind up showing true Candidate colors once they arrive; thus, he crosses off their names and kills them. Some lives are taken via Smokey, others at the hands of and in ways that seal the fates of others being tested. The two biggest pawns in this game seem to have been Richard Alpert and Ben Linus, but I look forward to finding out just where Charles Widmore fits in...
I'm a Loser, Baby - So Why Don't You Kill Me?
Ben referring to himself as a "loser" was a million shades of the old John Locke.
Seeing Richard Alpert equally as defeated and wanting to die on the island was just as surprising.
I am no history major, but I am utterly intrigued by the possibilities for Charles Widmore's role in the end game if he is indeed a parallel figure. After all, Napoleon was exiled and returned to rule, only to be defeated in the end...
The (Principal) Reynolds Principle
Of course this is a stretch, but so many characters have been specifically named on this show that I can't help but theorize. Perhaps Principal Reynolds is meant as a nod to the Reynolds Transport Theorem. In a nutshell, that concept is as follows:
what was already there +
what goes in -
what comes out =
what is (actually) there
Not only does this make me think about Jacob's discussion with the Man in Black on the beach about Progress, it refers to three separate dimensions. On Lost, we have witnessed Flashbacks, Flash Forwards and Flash Sideways...
Under the Sea
I was shocked to hear Roger Linus verify that he actually worked for the Dharma Initiative and that he and Ben lived on the island for a time. A subtle difference is that he signed up for it rather than being recruited...
Roger: "That's why I signed up for that Dharma Initiative and took us to the island. They were decent people, smarter than I'll ever be. Imagine how different our lives would be if we'd stayed."
Ben: "We'd have both lived happily ever after."
In current, flash sideways time - the island is submerged under water and the decay on the statue foot seems to indicate that it has been down there for quite a long time.
So...in the flash sideways world, I have a million questions. Among them:
- Did Emily Linus die after giving birth to Ben?
- Were Roger and Ben sent home on a sub because of the threat of an Incident at the Swan? Was the Incident responsible for sinking the island? If young Ben's relationship with his father was fine, did he not run away and meet Richard Alpert or get shot by Sayid & dipped in the Spring to heal and forget?
I will admit that I teared up when Alex appeared at Dr. Linus' door.
I don't know about you, but I would LOVE to see Danielle Rousseau in the flash sideways - working two jobs to make ends meet as a single mom. I seriously doubt that we will, but it is fun to imagine just what she would be doing. Repairing music boxes? Working at an army surplus store?
Given how horribly she died on the island, it was nice to see her interact with Ben in the flash sideways and that her presence provided him with the proper moral compass this time around.
When Principal Reynolds made a reference about a 'side effect' to Ben's blackmail attempt, I was reminded of S4 (The Shape of Things to Come) when Widmore broke the 'rules' by allowing Alex to get killed by his mercenary Keamy.
Well, at least we know he's not a Cyborg or vampire. I did wonder, however, how it was possible that Alpert even knew what a Cyborg was. His last off island visit was in the early 2000's, to recruit Juliet - but I doubt that he rented a film and kicked back with some popcorn. And it wasn't as if he lived in the barracks and watched video cassettes like the Others.
When Alpert told Jack that "I can't kill myself, even if I wanted to," I wondered if that was one of the infamous 'rules.' Earlier this season (The Substitute), the unknown blonde boy in the jungle reminded notLocke that "you know the rules; you can't kill him." I have to assume that this is related.
Alpert's amazing speech to Jack could have easily been delivered by Ben and Locke at many points throughout their lives:
"I devoted my life, longer than you can possibly imagine, in service of a man who told me that everything was happening for a reason; that he had a plan, a plan that I was a part of. And when the time was right, he would share it with me. And now that man is gone. My entire life had no purpose."
Oh Leslie, you wacky scientist. It was subtle and quick, but I did see a bunny in a cage in Arzt's classroom. And we all know how Benjamin feels about bunnies. I was also looking for a rat, perhaps one named Eloise...
I love that both Ben and Leslie are in fact overqualified high school teachers with post graduate degrees in the flash sideways. Dr. Arzt and Dr. Linus, at your service.
Ben: "I want to explain that I know what you're feeling. I watched my daughter die in front of me, and it was my fault. I had a chance to save her, but I chose the island over her...all in the name of Jacob. I sacrificed everything for him, and he didn't even care. I was so angry, confused, terrified. I was about to lose the only thing that ever mattered to me - my power. But the thing that really mattered was already gone. I'm sorry that I killed Jacob. I do not expect you to forgive me because I can never forgive myself."
Ilana: "What do you want?"
Ben: "Let me leave."
Ilana: "Where will you go?"
Ben: "To Locke, because he's the only one that will have me."
Ilana: "I'll have you."
I was riveted by Ben's speech to Ilana, and surprised by her reaction. I was transported back to young Ben's encounter with the ghost of his mother Emily in the jungle near the sonic fence (The Man Behind the Curtain), when he could not follow her because "it's not time yet, Benjamin." In addition to his obvious daddy issues, Ben has always had unresolved mother issues and when Ilana told him that "I'll have you" - it was as if the sonic fence had been turned off and he finally had one avenue reopened.
Miles reveals that Jacob "was hoping he was wrong" about Ben. I have to ponder at what point in time Jacob actually crossed Linus off of his list, because most of Ben's egregious actions on and off the island were in (blind) service to Jacob.
When I first heard that the title of this episode was Dr. Linus, I was hoping we would find out that Ben also has a medical degree. Not only did we see him stitch up Sayid after he was shot in a flash forward, of course I was thinking that perhaps Dr. Juliet Burke would cross paths with Dr. Linus.
Best line of the episode: "Linus, you're a real killer."
Among the many previous events and seasons recalled in this episode, I laughed at Ben's second failed attempt to bribe Miles with $3.2 million (S4, Eggtown).
Of the many flash sideways lives we've seen thus far, I love Ben's the most - primarily because he makes a choice that is completely opposite of Island Ben. Reynolds asked him if his job (principal) and power were important enough to Ben to make Reynolds lose his job and cause Alex to lose her college recommendation...and the surprising answer was no.
DOGEN and LENNON
When Miles read Jacob's ashes to determine how he died, he described Ben holding a bloody dagger in the same way that Ben described Sayid after killing Dogen and Lennon. It has to be significant that both men were killed in the healing Spring, and I would not be surprised to see Dogen (and possibly Lennon) resurrected much like Sayid. If that happens, they might be infected and then work for the dark side/notLocke. However, I tend to think that at least Dogen will appear like Jacob in the afterlife; a spiritual advisor to those working to save the island and remaining inhabitants.
The conversation between Jacob and Ilana while she was in the hospital is starting to become crystal clear. He obviously told her that the Temple was safe, instructed her how to find the safe hiding space within it, gave her intel about everyone currently on the island and that she needed to protect the Candidates.
When Ilana said that Jacob was "the closest thing that I ever had to a father," I became even more curious about her past and previous time on the island. Last year I attempted to connect Ilana and Alpert as daughter and father, but there are obvious holes in that theory.
And for what it's worth, I think they've done an excellent job introducing and integrating this character. Although I'd always wanted to believe that Ilana was one of the good guys, I am very happy that it now seems she actually is.
We've seen Jack slowly transform into a man of faith, but I really and finally appreciate that change tonight:
"I don't think either of us is going to die. I just came from the lighthouse, where my name was etched in wood on a dial that turned a mirror...that somehow reflected an image of the house I grew up in. He wanted me to know that he'd been watching me ever since I was a kid."
I did get goosebumps when Jack told Alpert that they now "go back to where we started" because depending on the outcome of that war between good and evil...that could mean daddy Jack in the flash sideways, or tortured Jack stuck on the island still looking for his father.
Alpert asserts that "when Jacob touches you, it is considered a gift" but in reality "it's not a gift at all; it's a curse." I suppose this fuels the theory that Jacob is also the Man in Black.
When Lapidus said that the reason he did not pilot Flight 815 was that he overslept, my first thought is that he was hungover. Remember that when Naomi was recruited by Matthew Abaddon (via Widmore) on the freighter mission to the island, they referred to Frank as a drunk.
I was always under the assumption that someone had a hand in the Oceanic pilot switch; perhaps Jacob was the one who turned off Lapidus' alarm clock that morning...
In addition, my conspiracy theory is that Seth Norris was killed by Smokey because he WASN'T Lapidus. So I laughed when Ben told Lapidus that "the island still got you in the end."
I loved the many role reversal moments in this episode, particularly between Ben and Locke (and notLocke). The double meaning and irony of substitute teacher Locke's statement encouraging Dr. Linus to make a power play was a highlight:
"It just sounds like you care about this place. If the man in charge doesn't, maybe it's time for a change."
I am relieved to see Miles and his skill set put to more use, and was hoping to see him attempt to communicate with Locke's body in the beach grave. Given that Locke's body is in two places yet his soul is currently housed in the dark shell, I am fascinated to see if Miles would be able to read anything at all from the original body.
"I don't want you to die, Ben. I went back to the statue to get you, but you were already gone."
I love that Ben was the one who killed Locke, and now notLocke is recruiting him to the dark side. I was convinced that regardless of Ilana's offer, Ben would in fact join notLocke.
And in yet another stellar role reversal, notLocke attempting to manipulate and recruit Ben by dangling a carrot of power was fantastic:
"I'm gathering a group to leave this place for good. Once we're gone, someone needs to be in charge of the island. I can't think of a better man for the job."
I suppose it is safe to assume that Daniel Faraday has something to do with how and why Widmore is able to find the island again, given he's Widmore's son and mommy dearest Eloise Hawking is monitoring 'windows of opportunity' via the Lamp Post station in Los Angeles.
And I love pondering the possibility that Desmond may be with him on that sub...or somehow follow his coordinates and arrive in time to fight against whatever side he's really on in the big battle. Then again, I'd also love to see Penny again.
I was able to save my work every few seconds this week and backed it up as well. So no technical difficulties! Thank you for taking the time to read and recommend. As always, I encourage and appreciate constructive comments!
I do not anticipate having time to post a follow-up piece about this episode before next week, even though I have barely touched the surface with these initial thoughts. But stay tuned for that possibility plus more contests and interviews!