“Dr. Linus” Recap and Analysis …
Previously, on Lost: Ben has a freakout and kills Jacob, who later sends Jack and Hurley to the Lighthouse where Jack has a freakout of his own. Ol’ Smokey freaks out in the Temple, killing a whole bunch of Island extras, while Ben is eyewitness to the aftermath of Sayid’s freakout at the Temple Spring wherein the now-evil Iraqi leaves Dogen and Lennon bobbing around in the dirty water like oversized rubber duckies.
This week, on Lost: It’s all about power – both real and imagined – and the power of redemption. AlterniBen – Dr. Linus – gets a second chance in LA X, while his Island Prime counterpart learns the power of forgiveness. But before either of them can do so, they both have to learn the power of weakness and of fear.
Speaking of fear, we open this week with Ben tear-assing through the jungle of mystery like the devil is on his heels. And just maybe he is. Regardless, it’s not long before he stumbles onto Team Common Sense lead by Ilana, fills them in on Sayid’s sudden sense of stabbiness, and suggests they hightail it to the beach for tactical protection. They agree and Sun must recognize stump #238 or the mark on viney tree #42A which points the way to the beach. Either that, or she has one hell of an interior Asian compass.
In LA X, AlterniBen – Dr. Linus, the history teacher – schools his class on the finer points of being exiled to an island by relating to them Napoleon’s final days on Elba. Nicely done, writing team. Walter Peck, who has apparently retired from the EPA and no longer chooses to give Venkman a hard time down at Ghostbusters HQ, is now the principal. He continues to be a class-A dick and strips Dr. Linus of his history club and places him in charge of detention.
In the lunchroom, Dr. Linus complains about his boss to Leslie Arzt who laments the fact that his shirt is ruined by formaldehyde. Could be worse, dude, you could have a piece of you on your shirt. Ben laments that nobody will listen to his concerns until the substitute – ol’ John Locke himself – raises his hand and says he’s listening, and that if Ben has a problem with the guy in charge, maybe it’s time for a change. Oh, the irony is thick with this one.
Locke, you don’t have to raise your hand … you are way too cool for school.
To make a long but powerful flash-sideways short, Locke’s sentiments plant a seed in Ben that will soon sprout. In the meantime, we learn that Alex is in LA X, as well, and is one of Ben’s students. She needs some tutoring help and, since he cares about her well-being and wants her to succeed, he agrees. During the tutoring session, Alex confides in Ben that the principal has been doing the horizontal mambo with the school nurse on school grounds.
Ben and Alex study the East India Trading Company. Again, I love the detail on this show. Black Rock, anyone?
Enlisting the help of Dr. Arzt as master hacker, Ben accesses the principal’s personal email and finds the sort of correspondence that would make Tiger Woods blush. He uses the emails in a power play to push the principal out of office and to write Ben a letter of recommendation so that Ben could assume control of the school. Well, since Walter Peck doesn’t go down without a fight, he tells Ben that he’d better back off or poor, young Alex will never get that recommendation to Yale that she so desperately needs. In fact, if Ben doesn’t back off, he’ll destroy her reputation completely. It’s his choice now – either he chooses to satisfy his personal need for power, or Ben can save Alex.
In the end, Ben makes the decision that his counterpart on Island Prime has lamented since season four – namely, he puts Alex’s future ahead of his own and backs down, allowing the principal to remain in charge. Alex gets her recommendation, and Ben gets his redemption. Oh, and the history club, of course. And we all get a big round of warm fuzzies at seeing one of the greatest, creepiest, most conflicted pseudo-villains ever find some peace and a little corner of happiness in the Land of Maybe.
Back on Island Prime, in the jungle of mystery, Ilana is suspicious of Ben’s involvement in the death of Jacob and so asks Miles to work a little seance mojo and talk to Jacob’s ashes. Miles does. Ben did it. Ilana is not happy, since Jacob was the closest thing to a father she ever had. Uh oh, says Miles. And how, says we.
Team Common Sense soon arrives at the beach, and Ilana puts them all to work while she fidgets with some cable and clamps and coconut shells and whatnot. Sun asks her how long they have to stay there because she has to find Jin, and Ilana tells her that if she knew, she’d certainly be there trying to get him. You see, all she knows is that his last name is Kwon, but so is Sun’s, so Ilana doesn’t know if she’s supposed to protect one or both of them because they’re candidates. Sun’s understandably confused. Ilana explains to her that they’re up for Jacob’s job. Of course she can’t tell Sun exactly what that means because that would spoil all the fun (but we’ll take a closer look at it later, naturally).
“Zzzzz … cheese curds …” Actually, that does sound pretty good, big guy.
Out on the other side of the Island, Jack wants to go to the Temple, but Hurley’s stalling because he knows what Jacob told him. They stand there arguing for a bit about which way to go until Richard pops out of the brush like he’s got tracking beacons up all the candidates’ butts. Jack wants to know where the heck Richard came from, but Richard says not yet, kemosabe, and heads out toward the Temple. Hurley asks Jack if he trusts that guy and Jack gets his pompous smirk on and says that at least Richard isn’t stalling. Uh, Jack – did you miss the part where Richard stalled about telling you his secrets? It only happened, like, four seconds ago.
Ahh, Sawyer … ever the complex man.
On the beach, Ben digs through Sawyer’s old stash, finding a booty mag and an Oceanic water bottle. He waxes nostalgic about the good ol’ days when it was just him and his rag-tag band of capri-loving ex-hippies were playing hide and go seek with the Survivors. Lapidus mentions that he was supposed to be flying Oceanic 815, but that he overslept, and he wonders how different his life would have been had he flown that day. Ben asks him how different it really would have been – the Island got Lapidus in the end. Booyah, Captain.
This is about the time that Ilana puts a gun to Ben’s head, ties his leg to a tree with a long length of the cable she was futzing about with, and forces him to dig his own grave up on Boone’s Hill. Harsh.
“If you let me go, I’ll share the Emmy with you.”
Ben stalls for awhile, until Miles saunters over with some green beans. Ben doesn’t have much of an appetite since he’s going to be worm food pretty soon. He tries to bargain with Miles, mentioning the $3.2 million that Miles wanted to extort from Ben. Miles says he doesn’t much need that money anymore considering Nikki and Paulo are buried about ten feet away with $8 mil in diamonds. Ben remarks that Miles is going to stand by and watch him die when Ben killed a man that didn’t even care about dying. Sorry, bub, Miles says, but Jacob cared – right up until the second the knife went through his heart he was hoping he was wrong about Ben; I guess he wasn’t, remarks Miles. Aw crap, thinks Ben.
Out in the jungle of mystery, Hurley asks Richard if he’s a time-travelling, cybernetic vampire because he doesn’t seem to age, to which Richard clearly explains that it’s too complicated to explain. Basically, Jacob touched him – hopefully not inappropriately – and gave him the same gift Dick Clark had for so many years.
Pretty soon, Richard has taken them to the Black Rock because he lied and everyone at the Temple is dead. This gets Jack’s blood pressure a-pumping, as usual, because he’s worried about Kate and the others. Richard tells him that they weren’t among the dead. A light goes off inside Jack’s thick skull and he realizes that Hurley was stalling because he knew about all of it. Jacob might have mentioned it, says Hurley. Richard gets all wild-eyed and questioning and Hurley affirms that he’s communed with the dead. Then Richard pretty much calls Jacob a con artist and stomps off toward the Black Rock to die.
Other than the Hatch interior, this is probably still my favorite set piece of all time, especially since it’s a ship in the middle of the jungle.
Inside the old ship, Richard explores and reminisces, telling Jack that he’d been there before – but only once in the entire time he’d been on the Island. Richard regards some chains hanging from the walls of the ship – perhaps remembering his time as a slave? Pretty soon, Richard has found the dynamite that blew Arzt to kingdom come, and Hurley is none too happy. Jack wants some answers, so Richard starts spilling. Basically, Richard was touched by Jacob, which is supposed to be a gift, but is really a curse. It’s a curse because Richard can’t kill himself, even if he wanted to – and he really, really wants to now that the man who told Richard that his life would have purpose is gone. Richard then tells Jack that he could help him ride a stick of dynamite to the promised land, if only he’ll light the fuse for Richard. So, being a Man of Action, Jack lights it. And then sits down in front of Richard and waits while the fuse works its way toward the bitter end.
To cut to the chase, Jack tells Richard that neither of them are going to die because Jacob led him to a Lighthouse that had a big wheel with names on it and mirrors that could see places – places like Jack’s childhood home, which meant that Jacob had been watching him his whole life and Jacob wanted Jack to know that he knew about knowing all this time, and that pretty much means that Jacob went through a whole lotta trouble and Jack is worth a lot of time and effort and must be meant to do something. I’m not quite sure if Jack thought this through all the way, since Jacob could have been one helluva practical joker.
“Shhhh. Do you hear that sizzling sound? That’s the sound of crazy.”
So they don’t blow up, real shocker there. But the real shocker is that Jack just did something really pretty cool for the first time in a very, very long time, and I’m beginning to wonder how he gets around the jungle lugging those great big brass balls. Time to head back to where it all started, says Jack. And so they do.
Hey, speaking of the beach, Ben is still digging his own grave, and he’s done a pretty good job so far. Suddenly, the sound of angry crickets starts up and we know Ol’ Smokey is in town. MIB, in the form of Locke, appears behind Ben and asks him what he’s doing. Digging my own grave, says Ben rather bitterly. And it’s all MIB’s fault, too, since he talked Ben into killing Jacob and now Ben is gonna die. MIB tells Ben that he doesn’t want him to die and that he actually wants Ben to run things on the Island once MIB gets him and his peeps out of there. This gives Ben great glee, but he laments that he’s shackled and can’t get loose, so MIB points at his leg restraint and off it pops. Nice trick, David Copperfield.
“You know you wanna come … we have cooookiiees.”
MIB tells Ben that about 200 yards away is a gun leaning up against a tree and if Ben makes a run for it, he can get the drop on Ilana and smoke her. MIB tells Ben not to hesitate because Ilana won’t. Ben doesn’t waste any time tossing his bamboo shovel and darts off into the jungle of mystery with Ilana quick on his heels.
The chase is frantic, but quick, and Ben finds the gun, getting the drop on Ilana. He forces her to drop her gun, and the two adversaries have a staring contest, until Ilana asks Ben what he’s waiting for. Ben says that he wants to explain, that he knows how Ilana feels because he had to watch his daughter die in front of him because he chose the Island over her. All of this he did in the name of Jacob … and he didn’t even care. Ben stabbed him out of anger and confusion, fearing that he would lose the only thing that mattered to him – his power. The rub here is that what really only mattered to Ben was already gone – Alex. Ben doesn’t want forgiveness, because he can’t forgive himself; instead, he just wants to leave.
“I’d just like to take this moment to thank the Academy …” He sure has come a long way from this.
“Where will you go?” Ilana asks.
“To Locke,” says Ben, half-heartedly.
“Why?” asks Ilana.
Lip quivering, eyes wide with despair, Ben simply replies, “Because he’s the only one that’ll have me.”
Ilana pauses, tears welling up despite her rage. “I’ll have you.”
Then she bends over and picks up her rifle, along with the Emmy that Michael Emerson just won for this speech, and heads back toward the beach. Ben pauses for a moment – stunned, contemplating, redeemed – then stumbles after Ilana, following her toward redemption.
Back on the beach, Ben approaches everyone silently, still stunned at what has just happened. He walks slowly toward Sun who is repairing one of the old shelters. Ben sets the rifle down slowly and asks if she needs any help. She does, with the tarp. And so the two former adversaries work together, with Sun smiling just a little bit at the new man now on her side.
Cue the old-school, season one slow-motion music montage as Jack, Hurley and Richard appear from behind some bushes up the beach. Sun sees them, and turns with a smile, running towards Hurley with outstretched arms. They hug it out. Jack gets some action, too, and everyone stands around smiling, shaking hands, happy to be reunited. At the back of the pack stands Ben, and Jack regards him closely.
Island hottie in sight. Engage tractor beam.
Unbeknownst to Ben, another old adversary regards him closely, from just off shore. In classic Bond villain style, a lone periscope raises above the water, and a submarine lurks beneath the surface, holding what could very well be Jacob’s special guest – ol’ Chuck Widmore, himself.
Cue the THONK!
So we didn’t have Ol’ Smokey zooming around, chewing up Others and spitting them out this week, but we did have the pleasure of watching Michael Emerson chew the hell out of some scenery. Seriously, if this episode isn’t nominated for an Emmy, there’s just no justice. Every week, it’s a pleasure to watch him and Terry O’Quinn school everybody in how to bust ass in acting.
At any rate, this week’s episode was more of a character study and a deep dive into choices and redemption, which means there’s not a metric ton to analyze like a few of the episodes earlier this season. Still, we have a lot we can take a look at, so let’s get to it.
BUT FIRST, A PLUG
Since this week’s analysis may be a little skimpier than usual, feel free to beef up your weekly Lost fix by checking out Joel Murphy’s recent interview with François Chau – everyone’s favorite orientation film host, Pierre Chang. Did you all know that Chau was not only the voice of Quick Kick in the GI: Joe cartoon, but also played Shredder in TMNT 2? In other words, this guy is pure awesome.
WHAT’S UP WITH THIS JACOB FELLA?
Ben’s tale of redemption is the true heart of this episode, but most of our analysis can be gleaned from one source: Richard. His conversation with Hurley and Jack certainly sheds some light on a few things, and opens up new avenues of questioning. Let’s take a look at how five seconds of screen time can illuminate and throw into question everything we know up to this point.
Richard mentions to Hurley that whatever Jacob told him, he shouldn’t believe him. This throws into question every action that Jacob has executed up until this point, and further muddies his motives. Are we to believe now that Jacob might really be on the side of dark and MIB on the side of light? It’s always been clear that we’re not dealing in absolutes here, and instead have two men who simply think they’re in the right, when either could very easily be in the wrong.
That’s right, we’re going to take a peek inside the Cabin for a bit …
Another consideration for Richard’s comments are that Richard has never been privy to anything that Jacob really wanted from him, Ben or the Others. In fact, since Ben “communed” with Jacob at the Cabin, it may not have been Jacob coordinating things, after all. If the cabin was somehow designed to keep someone or something in with its circle of protective ash, rather than out, then it would make sense that MIB would be imprisoned in the cabin and had to take long-term actions in coordinating an escape. Looking back on some of the big moves, “Jacob” tells Locke – through Christian Shephard – that Locke has to move the Island, an action which has huge repercussions in how things will play out. However, Ben is the one to move the Island, which produces even more ripples. Eventually, Locke is convinced to turn the Great Wheel to stop the Island from time-hopping, is sent back to the mainland, and is finally killed by Ben so that MIB could take Locke’s form. There are a lot of moving parts to all those actions, but it starts to become rather clear that MIB may have been steering Ben and Locke all along, rather than Jacob. To go back to where we started, this could be one reason why Richard thinks that Jacob is a liar.
Unlike most of my episode-inspired drink recipes, this week’s selection is one I happened upon online and thought it was too good not to pass along. In honor of Michael Emerson’s acting masterclass, I thought it would be great to have an excellent drink that we can all raise a toast when it’s time for the Emmy Awards to come around. This one was developed by Grey Goose Vodka specifically for the Emmy Awards ceremony.
- 1-1/4 part Grey Goose La Poire (that’s a fancy name for pear-flavored)
- 3/4 part Licor 43 (a really delicious Spanish liquor)
- 1 part red grape juice
- 1/2 part lemon juice
- Orange twist for garnish
Grasp your cocktail shaker firmly, rolling it in your hands and gazing at its cold, still form. Add the ingredients deliberately, with vigor bordering on rage and disgust. Whip some ice in there, cold like the bitter night. Shake vigorously. Don’t forget to grimace and bend about. Slowly strain the drink into a tall martini glass, watching forlornly as the last bits of liquid drop from the shaker. Delicately balance the orange twist on the rim. Take a moment to savor this fleeting moment, then drink to your success.
THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE
So Richard can’t kill himself, but has he ever really tried? I’m sure since Richard was probably a slave aboard the Black Rock, Highlander was a bit after his time, but I’m just curious if he’s ever tried to cut his own head off and what would happen if he did. Would the sword break? Would he grow a new head? These are things that I think about.
On a more practical – at least in terms of Lost, so practicality is relative – note, we can think about what that means given what we’ve seen so far from Jacob’s “gift.” Richard says that since he was “touched” by Jacob, he can’t kill himself. We’ve seen several others touched by Jacob – namely our candidates – so we can assume that if they have received the gift, they can’t off themselves, either. As a result of Jacob’s gift, Richard also never seems to age. All of these facts lead us down a slippery slope – if those touched by Jacob can’t kill themselves and never age, then surely that must mean they’re akin to immortals and can’t die by normal means. Sayid’s situation, however, throws a monkey wrench into that reasoning because he was touched and he died. Dogen said so, and everyone witnessed it. Sayid was pining for the fjords for a good two hours before he was suddenly undead. Since we only know what Richard has told us – that those with the gift can’t kill themselves – we can’t automatically extend our reasoning toward a longer life span and being harder to kill than Steven Seagal simply because of what happened to Sayid.
Of course, Sayid’s zombification conjures up other questions. Was it the Spring that brought Sayid back, or was it the power behind Jacob’s gift? Does MIB have a similar gift he can bestow – such as the power to bring people back from the dead? If so, that means he could very easily have brought Christian Shephard back, and who we’ve been seeing wandering around the Island could very well by Christian and not a manifestation of Ol’ Smokey, himself. I don’t really believe that at this point, but that’s the beauty of speculation.
Speaking of Christian Shephard, there’s one Oceanic survivor that this all relates to that got his final marching orders from Jack’s dad – Michael. Somewhere along the line Michael received Jacob’s gift as well, since we see Michael try to kill himself several times in “Meet Kevin Johnson.” Every attempt failed. Michael was only able to finally let go and join the great white beyond when Christian appeared to him aboard the Kahana and said that Michael could “go now.” Was Michael’s mere presence in the hold the reason that the bomb could not explode? We can only speculate because when Michael’s purpose was fulfilled, Jacob seemed to reclaim his gift from him and the bomb finally went off.
Good googamooga that’s a lot of C-4.
And finally, on a semi-related note, if we think for a second back to a point I made about Christian Shephard earlier, if Jacob wasn’t in the cabin and MIB was, then who really told Michael that he could “go now?” Just something to think about.
THERE CAN BE ONLY SIX
Ilana said that there are only six candidates left – Assuming that the name Kwon only refers to either Sun or Jin and not both, there are really only five that were confirmed on the cave wall – Kwon, Jarrah, Ford, Reyes and Shephard. We can’t count Locke because he’s dead and Ilana knows that. So, as ambiguous as it is with the counting of the Kwons, we can assume that Kate could be the sixth candidate as we speculated when seeing her name on the Lighthouse wheel. However, there is another possibility – Ilana mentioned in last season that Lapidus could be a candidate, as well. So, who is the sixth candidate? Is it really going to matter in the end? What does everyone think?
THE RANDOM BITS
Hey, look, it’s Charles Widmore. Is our delightfully dark Brit the special visitor that Jacob mentioned to Hurley? If he wants Ben so badly, why does he tell his crew to just stay on target when Ben is ripe for the picking right there on the beach? Clearly, the capture of Ben from season four is no longer a priority, and may have been a preemptive strike to keep Ben from doing nasty things off-island. As I mentioned before, I believe that Chuck was wrongfully exiled form the Island because it stood in the way of either Jacob or MIB’s plans – whichever has the most nefarious machinations in the works. To take a closer look at why Widmore’s actions could be altruistic, check out He’s Not Heavy, He’s My Brother from my analysis of last week’s episode, “Sundown.”
It may be time to explore some more temporal shenanigans. In LA X, we see Ben is now taking care of Roger Linus and Roger laments that maybe he and Ben should have stayed on the Island. For the sake of our alternative timeline, we now know that Ben was, indeed, on the Island and was probably evacuated shortly before the Incident. The Island is now underwater, probably because of the events that occurred during the Incident. At this point, we can assume that the moment of the Incident is the prime branching point for these two realities and its outcome changes lives drastically. However, it’s much more complex than that, and will likely require us to take a look at how two separate and distinct Incidents took place, and how Sayid’s shooting of little Ben may have actually lead Roger to take Ben off the Island for good, thereby forever changing him, just as Richard said it would. I want to delve deeper into this, but it’s going to require some unfettered thought, and definitely a graphic, so we’ll probably revisit this in next week’s column.
Why the hell is Alex in America? This was a question that Joel Murphy really wanted to talk about, and I don’t have a solid reason, other than it makes literary sense. Of course, we can also revisit our idea of quantum entanglement and individuals’ strings being intimately entwined across multiple realities. If that holds true, then Ben and Alex would be inexorably drawn toward each other because of their connections across the multiverse. Make sense?
Speaking of Alex and alternate realities, apparently it’s totally cool to wear Confederate flags on your backpacks at a public school in LA X.
And, finally …
Looks like Miles made the big score. It’s refreshing to know that Nikki and Paulo served some kind of purpose on the Island.
And that about wraps it up for this week. There’s probably tons more I’m missing, but I’m sure most of you will make sure to point it out in comments. In the meantime, keep thinking those thoughts and if you have an epiphany, tell me something good.
Chris Kirkman is a graphic designer/photographer/journalist/geek extraordinaire with way too many Bruce Campbell movies in his library. Michael Emerson, Lost’s Benjamin Linus, called Kirkman’s recaps “one of the smartest articles I’ve ever read about what goes on on our show.” Kirkman is still hoping that Lost will end when Bob Newhart wakes up next to Suzanne Pleshette, complaining of a strange, strange dream. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.