Ben's story was compelling, especially for those of us who want to see him redeemed. And he was, in the sideways world, when doctor of modern European history Ben Linus chooses student Alexandra Rousseau's happiness over his quest for power (of the principal's office). This is in stark contrast to his actions on the island: Ben Linus chose his quest for power over Alex, the "daughter" he stole from crazy Rousseau, and she is killed as a result. The story of teacher Ben in the sideways world was sweet, and played nicely with the island scenes to a certain point. Island Ben becomes more and more pathetic as the episode progresses, making his redemption in the Sideways world all the more poignant and satisfying.
[image-1]Not to mention Michael Emerson's expert performance. He was great, and the early scene between him and Terry O' Quinn as substitute teacher Locke was one of my favorites. A close second was Ben's encounter with the Principal whose job he is trying to take. The audience already knows the depths to which Ben's character can sink when he wants something, but Dr. Linus doesn't know just yet, and it's evident in Emerson's performance. He's timid and nervous as he tries to blackmail his superior, but there are traces in his face and voice of the cunning, conniving Island Ben we all know and love. His emotional scene with Ilana at the end of the episode was also powerful, especially his desperate "No one will have me" cry.
The best plot-advancing scene in Sideways world was the one between Dr. Linus and his father, a very old and sick Roger. We learn that he still took Ben to "the island" in this world, still joined the Dharma initiative, and then left for reasons we don't know. This confirms the notion many people had that, if the Island is in fact underwater, it happened after the Dharma initiative had set up camp there. The whole scene was dripping with irony: "Think of what you could have been, Ben!"
But while I felt emotionally charged and into Emerson's character(s) as I was watched the episode, the power of both worlds took away a bit from each other. We didn't really get to spend enough time on the island to be fully invested in what was happening there. The best example is Jack and Hurley's trip with Richard to the dynamite ship (the Black Rock). The scenes were powerful, and I love Nestor Carbonell as Richard Alpert, but I wanted more.
Jack's stint with the stick of dynamite was great; it showed just how far he's come in accepting the idea of "faith" and, even more so, how far he'll go to prove (mainly to himself) that everything he's done has been for a reason. Richard and Jack were interestingly connected in this way, and we learn that Richard can't kill himself because Jacob has "touched" him. So, does that mean all of our candidates are unable to kill themselves? (We've seen Jacob touch Sun, Jin, Hurley, Jack, Sayid, John, Sawyer and Kate in flashbacks.) Jack didn't jump off that bridge in L.A. in season 3, John never followed through with his plan to kill himself in the hotel room. Maybe that's not the "rule." But the idea that these people are being kept around presumably by Jacob to do what he wants them to? is interesting. (This segment also confirms that Richard was indeed brought over on the Black Rock, something we had only assumed before.)
[image-2]It gets increasingly difficult each week to watch these Flash-Sideways and not know what their purpose is. They take up so much of the hour, even the best scenes at times just feel like distractions from action on the island. For every riveting moment of Dr. Linus' Sideways life, we got scene after scene of Island Ben digging his own grave a story which played out rather anticlimactically when he wound up coming back to the beach with Ilana anyway. I do have faith that both worlds will resolve with each other, but it sometimes makes jumping back and forth frustrating.
On the island, Miles tells Ilana that Ben is the one who killed Jacob, and she makes him dig his own grave. Melodramatic. I still find Ilana incredibly annoying, especially now that it seems like she has no direction. What is her next move? Was it really that important for her to have Ben spend all that time digging she doesn't have anything more important to do? And we learned that even she doesn't know which Kwon, Sun or Jin, the name on the cave/lighthouse refers to.
In the end, Ben is approached by Smokey and actually turns down the chance to go with him, winding up joining the Jacob team on the beach. That final scene back at the beach our castaways spent so much time on was a dramatic (the slow motion was a little much) conclusion to Ben's episode storylines: He seems to be redeeming himself by choosing the "good" side, but as he looks around on the beach, he still seems out of place. The reunion between Jack and Hurley and Sun reminded us once again how long it's been since some of these characters have interacted with each other, and hearkened back to season one. But where the heck is Jin?! Poor Sun, she only gets lines about where her husband is, as if they don't know what to do with the character. I'd like to see something advance in that plot line.
The Jacob/Smokey teams are beginning to take form, and it seems the show is setting us up for some kind of fight between them. Next week's episode should feature Smokey's team, and hopefully the whereabouts of Sawyer and Jin. It's entitled "Recon." See you then!
Mythology/Allusions/Fun Facts: The first thing we see of Dr. Linus is a classroom scene, in which he is talking about an island "where everything became clear": Elba, where Napoleon lost his power and his life became meaningless. This seems to be a direct parallel to Island Ben, who strives for nothing but power and ends up losing virtually all of it. Also, Sideways Ben's efforts to keep his father alive with oxygen are ironic given that Island Ben killed his father with poisonous gas.
Favorite line: You had me fooled with that sweater vest; Linus you're a real killer! -Sideways world teacher (and blown up by dynamite on the Island) Leslie Artz, to Dr. Ben Linus
Questions: (Comment with your thoughts!)
-Why did Ilana tell Sun there were 6 candidates left? 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42 is six people, but one (Locke) is dead. Shouldn't it be 5?
-Was it just me or did Lapedus give Ben a strange, sort of knowing look when Ben told him "the Island still got (him) in the end"?
-Why did Richard say to Hurley: "Whatever (Jacob) says, don't believe him"?
-Was Widmore the one Jacob said was coming to the island?
-How did Widmore find the island, and what is he planning on doing?
Funny video featuring Michael Emerson on Jimmy Kimmel Live:
[Editor's Note: After you're done with Michelle's analysis, check out this week's CL Lost podcast.]
I was expecting a lot from an episode titled "Dr. Linus," who is undoubtedly one of my favorite TV characters. I wasn't completely let down, but the episode felt more like the slow-paced "What Kate Does" than the action-packed "Sundown." Tuesday night's episode featured little action on the island, and a whole lot of Ben Linus-centric scenes in both the sideways world and the island one. The result: an emotionally charged hour that revealed some conversations about tidbits of information we've all been longing for.