Things can be rough for us†Lost faithful, patiently waiting for answers and shocking payoff moments. But this weekís episode, ĎDr. Linusí, was a reminder that no matter how tortured some viewers are getting with the lack of Ďsplaininí going on, things can always be a lot worse. Case in point: youíve probably never been in the position where you’ve wanted to blow yourself up with dynamite because youíve felt that your quasi-immortal, Highlander-esque life has been wasted following a plan that you never got the chance to understand.
As Lost continues to unwind, ĎDr. Linusí brought us up to speed on two characters that have always given the appearance of being in charge Ė as well as possessing valuable answers for viewers — but now find themselves severely broken and directionless.
THE CURIOUS LIVES OF BENJAMIN LINUS
The introduction of Ben Linus in Season 2 was a game-changer for Lost. As Michael Emerson portrayed the duplicitous character, he elevated the entire cast around him, as they tried to decipher who the Man Behind The Curtain really was. Benís always-evolving charade has been a series high point, as heís gone from hot-air ballooner Henry Gale, to All-Knowing, All-Seeing Leader of The Others, to a kid with owl-framed specs filled with his boozing fatherís guilt. But the single most defining moment of Benís life — as he confessed to Ilana in this weekís episode — was when he allowed Alex to be killed, signaling the moment where he sacrificed his daughterís life to maintain his power over The Island.
ĎDr. Linusí really gave us a look at how Alexís murder has twisted and unraveled The Islandís selfish ex-leader/master manipulator and the effect that it’s had in two different universes. And although Ben had some revealing dialogue, itís fitting that we get our deepest insight into the character not from his words, but from reading his face.
There seems to be disconnect for many with the LA X-verse, and how it feels inconsequential to the characters weíve been following. In previous episodes there have been been clues that the castaways remember their misadventures on The Island, including knowing glances exchanged between characters, and Jack questioning his appendectomy scar. But Emerson gave us our brightest glimmer of proof yet that that thereís some sort of link between the two worlds in the schoolroom scene where Arzt tells Ben that his sweater vest has everyone fooled, and thatís heís ďa real killer.Ē In a few blinks, Ben goes from a sly-ďyeah, you yeah know ití look to realizing the horror that he actually is a murdering sociopath in another life.
I donít have any presentable theories on how the two universes are connected (yet), but I really feel that Ben was drawing on some sort of recollection from The Island. But whatever he may have recalled in that moment might just have even been the deciding factor that pushed him towards helping Alex get into Yale, instead of claiming the principalís office for himself, marking the first time heís used his superhuman powers of manipulation for a non-selfish reasons.
My second favorite scene with Ben happened after his jungle showdown with Ilana, where she made a shocking decision to let Ben come back to the beach.†Iím usually a sucker for the showís slow-mo reunion montages, but this one didnít do much for me — until the very end, when the camera pulled in on a dejected, isolated Ben amidst the high-fiving, hugging castaways. It was a good reminder that no one The Island should like him, even if he is now wearing his nerdy, awkward Island adolescence on his sleeve.
(Actually, aside from Benís nonverbal communication, I also really liked Sunís shrug when Hurley was walking up the beach toward her, like she was saying, ďI totally give up on all this time-travel and smoke monster stuff, but, hey, good to see you again. Letís rock this group hug montage!Ē)
FIRE REPRESENTS LIFE
It might just be me, but from early on, Richard Alpert has reminded me vaguely of Jeff Probst, the seemingly ageless host of Survivor. Aside from looking vaguely similar, I think itís been the way the character has previously operated outside of the sphere of Island-drama, assuming a guide- or host-like role. †Itís fun now watching Alpert scramble around The Island with a death-wish, just like it’ll be hilarious when Probst snaps while delivering his ‘Fire Represents Life’ monologue for the bazillionth time, presumably followed by maniacally lighting a stick of dynamite with a contestant’s torch.
[Ok, Iím not alone: a Google search for “Jeff Probst + Richard Alpert” has wielded at least a handful of results from like-minded theorists. Iím totally onto something here. Although, itís no secret that Lost was created because the then-top brass at ABC wanted a drama version of Survivor, I think thereís a few fun Ė although extremely debatable Ė connections between the two shows, including the current ĎHeroes vs. Villainsí edition, which has taken a Lost-ian turn. Contestants on the “heroes” team are acting like bullies and schemers, and the evil Villains are doing a pretty good job of living together, instead of ‘dying’ alone. It’s definitely comparable to the slippery definition of ‘good’ and ‘evil’, relating to Team Jacob and Team Smokey.]
FULL SPEED AHEAD, MR. BARKLEY
For such a solid episode, it ended with a weak-ish cliffhanger. The appearance of a submarine seemingly hanging out 30 feet off the beach felt a little goofy. And was Widmoreís appearance ruined for anyone else that accidentally checked the episode description on their PVR? Regardless, it look like Widmore is likely candidate 108, and even if he didnít make the biggest splash with his submarine (nyuck!), itíll be interesting to see what side of the board he falls on in the Jacob-versus-Smokey backgammon game. And itíll be double-interesting to see if the sight of his nemesis can reignite some of New Benís scheming and manipulations.