Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Lost: "Dr. Linus" Recap

Dr. Linus watches you masterbate

So, let me just go out on a limb and say that Michael Emerson deserves an Emmy for his work in the episode. This season has been really Ben-light, and it was refreshing to get several new looks at the character; there were ideas and perspectives that we really haven't been accustomed to in terms of what we thought we knew about him and his motivations.

Awhile ago, I posited a series of important questions about Ben. I added, in none-threatening green text, important info that was divulged this episode:

How much does Ben truly know about the island and its patron-deities?
- Clearly, Ben thought he had an intimate relationship with whichever entity occupied the cabin. Being that he has at one point been able to summon Smokey at will, my bet is that entity was probably the Man in Black who was trapped behind some of Jacob's ash. Was Ben an unwitting or knowing agent of said "evil incarnate?"

- One of the most integral lines spoken by Ben in terms of his true knowledge about Jacob: "Oh after all this time, you have decided to stop ignoring me." So either A) Ben was faking it in the cabin and no one was actually talking to him or B) he knew the person in the cabin wasn't Jacob, but was still following orders anyway. I am leaning toward (B) right now for the simple fact that he had knowledge of the entity in the cabin, like how it didn't like technology.

- It's funny, because for so long we have assumed that Ben was one of the masterminds pulling all the strings; but like he did with Sayid, what if he is just a pawn put in play by the Man in Black. I say the Man in Black because:
Not too much here, but his encounter with Smokey while digging his grave points more toward him being an unwitting aide to "evil incarnate" rather than knowing disciple.

This episode, personally, had me thinking that I had been giving Ben too much credit; like Richard and many other Others, he had been left out in the weeds and desperate for guidance from Jacob. However, I still think there is a legitimate logic question about that encounter in the cabin, but now I wouldn't put it past him with how much he has lied before on whether or not he was faking about seeing Jacob.

What gets Ben crossed off the list of "candidates?"
- Ok, so the "Linus" that was crossed out on the lighthouse wheel could have also been his father, but it's highly unlikely; only Ben eventually became an other after his resurrection in the temple. If the waters were clear, and Richard says "he will always be one of us," why has Ben been ignored by Jacob? Has he ever really met Jacob? He has methods of brainwashing people to believe in Jacob (see Alex's first/last boyfriend), though he goes to the cabin instead of the base of the statue to see his "master."

- What made Ben a "candidate?" Was his potential candidacy the reason why he was chosen to lead the others? Why then, did Richard never reveal the true location of Jacob's home?

Up until Jacob's demise at Ben's hand, he still held out hope that Ben would choose to do the "right" thing. This should serve as a warning to all those absentee parents: if you leave your kid in a car (island) to do what he wants, crack the window. They'll probably get all emotional and stabby later if you don't.

When Keamy killed Alex, Ben said he had "changed the rules." Are these rules similar to the ones the creepy boy told Darth Locke about: "You know the rules, you can't kill him."?
- This could be, more simply, rules of engagement that Widmore and Ben would not kill each others' family. Or, if we are to believe that Ben had knowledge of how events were supposed to play out, but they had been altered. This would be in reference to:

The most refreshingly "on the money" question in reference to this episode, as we finally found out what "rule" was changed: Ben chose the island, and Jacob let Alex die. For all you Jacob-haters, this episode must have been right up your alley, as Ben is the personification of everyone's gripe: why would a benevolent being, one who you gave up everything to protect, allow for all this terrible collateral damage and loss of life? Why would he not step in and use his "gift? " Why would an entity whose has been placed on this pedestal and the object of faith for so many, allow for these terrible crises of faith situations for his "chosen?"

Does Ben remember Sayid shooting him - or any of the castaways that had come back in 1977?
- If Ben knew how events were going to play out, and that the castaways had to end up in the past, has he had an edge this whole time?

Also not much here...

On to events on/off island:

Dr. Linus (Off-island):
• I feel like a broken record, so I should probably stop mentioning this "trend" after this week: Ben's off-island shenanigans once again fell into the theme of "cosmic second-chance." His alternate-reality "Dr. Linus" is a man who is dealing with those same personal struggles that mirror his on-island persona: the struggle for meaning, and the struggle for power.

• I really thought that off-island Locke would have a more rival-type role opposite Dr. Linus, but really he was pretty integral in pushing Ben down his mini-arc that climaxes in him becoming a not so bug-eyed creeper; he offered Ben support in his becoming principal when Ben voiced his disdain that he had to baby-sit the school's rejects while giving up his after school "history" club that serves to nurture the gifted students. Now think back to the end of season 2 and the beginning of 3 when Ben captured 4 of our 6 "listed" candidates handed down by Jacob himself; what exactly do you think his mirrored island self was thinking? Probably, "Why the heck do I have to babysit these damn rejects when I should be tending to my gifted flock of others?" Little did he know that the actual "gifted" ones were those four (well 3 after he let Hurley go), but he was probably crying buckets that Jacob wasn't talking to him. The point: Ben's grievances to his co-teachers were a very tongue-in-cheek way of pointing out why he started to become so frustrated with Jacob in the first place.

• Who knows if this is also why Ben got scratched off the list? Maybe Ben had been handed a list down from Jacob (or Richard from Jacob) to be a care-taker to these Oceanic castaway "rejects," but their importance was such an affront to Ben and the others who had given up all their lives to Jacob's cause. It probably wouldn't be that cool if you had to get shot, purge Dharma, instigate a coup of Widmore, and become the leader of Jacob's disciples just to then step aside and protect a few random people that drop out of the sky one day off an Oceanic plane. Great line, by the way, from Lupidus when he calls out Ben for being "nostalgic" for those days before the crash.

• The power-play, which I guess would mirror his coup of Widmore, was trying to blackmail the current douche-in-office, Walter Peck. Alright I know that's not his name but that actor always plays jerks, and he will always be the uber-douche "Walter Peck" (is a pecker) of Ghostbusters fame (You know, that city agent who opens the containment unit. Great type-cast btw). Ben enlists the aide of Artz (man I am loving these multiple shout-outs in both timelines - when Hurly mentions getting Artz on his shirt in the Black Rock) to get the dirt on the principal that would prove his illicit affair with the nurse. Ben is caught in a catch-22 of sorts, as Peck counters with the threat of trashing Ben's prized student, Alex, and her chances at getting into Yale. So, like on the island with Keamy (although with less brain-splattering), Ben is given the choice to "save" Alex or choose power.

• We get it, everybody gets a happy ending. Sheesh. Ben chooses Alex and giving up his car spot to non-exploded Artz rather than power. He probably also just condemned himself to more T.V. dinners and adjusting his father's iron lung. Speaking of which, we got some small but important info about when the island sinks: it has to be after Ben and his father already had joined Dharma and then get the opportunity to leave. If they both leave together - does that mean Ben is never shot and thus never tied to the island and the Others before the island is sunk?

Dr. Linus (On-island)
• Ilana and her bag o' knowledge. What didn't Jacob tell her? Apparently they were so close, she thinks of him as a "father." Aw, if only Jacob had touched Ben like that, Ben probably wouldn't have touched him with a knife. Seriously though, she grabbed Jacob's ash because she knew Miles could commune with the dead; more specifically, he could tell her exactly how Jacob died. One of the best line reads ever from Miles to Ben, "Uh oh."

• Ilana played surrogate leader to team Jacob, while team Jacob's once and future king, Jack, ran into the man that must have been losing mascara running around for three episodes: Richard. Like Ben (and frankly, like more than 50% of you in that poll), Richard is having a little crises of faith in Jacob. Hundred(s) of years - all for what? So that Jacob could die? That's when Richard drops the episode's biggest lore-bomb perhaps explaining his immortality and none-cyborg nature (go Hurley): If Jacob touches you, you cannot die. Now there needs to be some debate as to whether Jacob's touch just saves you from killing yourself, or whether it also means natural causes (such as aging = Richard). Jacob touched Sawyer and Kate as children, though they aged and Richard seemingly does not. Is there an extra special "fountain of youth" special massage touch you can buy? There might be more to it than that, but right now the only thing that was confirmed was that once you are touched, you cannot commit suicide - you can only die by another's hand. Suicide watch recount-time:

1. Jack tries to throw himself off a bridge, and fails.
2. Michael tries to shoot himself, and least until "Christian" said he "could go now."
3. Locke tries to hang himself and...well fails for about 5 minutes until Ben lends a helping tug.

• So wait, under those rules, why couldn't Smokey kill Jacob? Could it be, that it would be SUICIDE (dramatic sounds)?!? Hey, if Smokey and Jacob are just two sides of one coin, it might not be so far fetched.

• Awesome new-Jackness that followed: Russian roulette with dynamite! Jack pulled out his Lighthouse-gifted knowledge that Jacob had been watching him since he was a child, so if it was all true about himself being meant for something on the island (and not a lie as Richard had suggested), he couldn't kill himself. What does Jack get for his Jedi tricks? A new recruit! The teams stand:

Darth Locke
1. Sawyer
2. Sayid
3. Claire
4. Random Others
5. Kate?
6. Smoke monster (should definitely be counted more than once. It gets on point for every retarded dinosaur scream it makes)

1. Hurley
2. Sun
3. Jin (I don't think this is a stretch)
4. Ilana
5. Lupidus
6. Miles
7. Richard
8. Ben?!?

• Wait...Ben? Smokey visits Ben digging his own grave and gives him a way out. Curiously, he doesn't offer Ben a seat on his ship out of town, but offers Ben more power in what is presumably Jacob's vacant caretaker position of the island. I say presumably because it is only implied, and yet could also very well mean Smokey's job if he succeeds in leaving the island. Why can't Ben leave? This would fit in nicely to the whole "Locke's resurrection in Jacob's role and Ben's ascension to MIB status" for the series finale idea I had been thinking about.

• After "getting the jump" on Ilana, Ben does something his on-island persona has never done before: he doesn't shoot first, but instead shoots bullets of truth (that was corny, my apologies). He bears his tortured soul, and you know, it kind of makes sense. He let his own daughter die for the island - but for what? He hated Jacob for not caring or helping, but also realizes that he was sad and confused when he stabbed him. Ilana does a very Jacob thing and lets him, I mean forgives him. Ben meanders back to the beach to start the process of mending fences and shelters, and just in the nick of time to see his new leader and former number 2 return. Can't wait for that conversation (awkward).

• What's long, hard, and full of seaman? Charles Widmore's sub!!! Does he have some unfinished business from his first time around, or is on a new mission?

If you made it through this wall-o-text, I salute you. It was a dense and fulfilling episode. Now, I am off to shag a nurse on my lunch break. Toodles!

Now with "Jack beat me again" bruises

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