Hello my dear friends -
My husband returned home from a Bulls game late Tuesday night, took one look at me and said, "What's the matter?" I'm one of those people whose face betrays a good, hard crying session looong after the tears have stopped. "Oh, it's Lost," I replied, feeling kind of silly. "Did something bad happen?" he asked. "No... it was just really, really good," I sniffed, getting all choked up again.
I don't know about you guys, but for me, the best Lost episodes are the ones that feel like a blow to the gut and leave me reaching for the Kleenex. I was doing so very early on this past Tuesday night -- from the moment AlternaLocke waved his hand at Ben and said, "I'm listenin'," to be exact.
So yes, I loved "Dr. Linus." It's either my favorite installment of Season Six so far, or tied with "LAX Part 1," I haven't made up my mind yet. But before we get into this Ben-centric hour, allow me to revisit a Ben-centric question I raised in my last write-up, which many of you were kind enough to answer. I had been wondering what the deal was with the weird case he took from the vent in the hotel room last season, and it seems the consensus is that the case concealed the gun he later used to shoot Desmond at the pier. Ben wouldn't have wanted Jack to come across it, hence its position in the vent. Thanks, everyone! I always love it when I can cross a mystery off of my list.
OK, now onto this week's show. We'll start with the flashes.
DARE TO DREAM
Wink-wink shout-outs to the Island and Napoleon kicked things off as Dr. Linus wrapped up a history class. Moments later, he faced the indignity of being assigned to watch over detention sessions for a week by a budget-slashing Principal Reynolds. I was hoping we'd see some sort of John Hughes-inspired Breakfast Club-ish scenes, but thankfully what we got was so much better. Ben sulked back to the teacher's lounge, started a bitch session with Leslie Arzt, and then was surprised to hear the new guy, Locke, chime in with a very logical solution: "Just sounds like you care about this place. And if the man in charge doesn't, then maybe it's time for a change."
Now, I could write for a long time about all of the parallels between the flashes and what we've seen go down on the Island, but since I think they were pretty darn obvious, all I'll say instead is that the main reason I enjoyed this episode so much is because I found it absolutely brilliant that the writers were able to replicate Ben's political struggles on the Island in a high school setting. And I especially loved that it was Locke who planted the seed in Ben's head about making a power play.
AND ALL THAT COULD HAVE BEEN
Locke's "I'm listenin'" was Kleenex grab moment #1, and realizing that I was staring at Really Old Roger and his son who cared dearly for him was Kleenex grab moment #2. I'm sure you all caught the irony of Ben helping to keep his father comfortable/alive by changing out his oxygen tank, whereas on the Island he killed him with poisonous gas. Even though I was all quivery-lipped during this segment, I didn't miss the huge piece of info that Roger doled out: namely, that they DID go to the Island and had been in Dharma for a bit before leaving.
Since we're 39% done with the season at this point, I'm taking things at face value and interpreting Roger's words to mean that the flash sideways are what many of us thought they were all along -- a depiction of what would've happened had the plan Faraday put in motion WORKED. Now, I still don't think this means that Jughead had to have blown up the Island, especially since we saw the statue and the Barracks pretty much in one piece at the bottom of the ocean in "LAX Part 1." But I do think it means that something the Losties did back then set off a chain of events that ended with everyone having to leave the Island because it sank, and I would guess that that point in time was not much later than 1977. So everything that happened until 1977 was the same as it had always been, and then the timelines split.
I have read all of the reasons why that would mean that the Losties could have never time-traveled in the alternate timeline and whatnot, but I'm siding with all of the countering reasons that prove that Losties did still make their time jumps -- like the fact that in the enhanced version of "What Kate Does" it states that Ethan (as in, Dr. Goodspeed who was taking care of Claire in LA) was born on the Island in 1977. If Sawyer hadn't been on the Island in 1974 to save Shifty Amy (Ethan's mom) from being killed by the Others, there would've been no Ethan. No need to try to convince me otherwise because -- not to sound glib like Matt Lauer -- but I really don't care too much about these arguments. I'm going with what's easiest for millions of Lost fans who do NOT read message boards to be able to swallow, and to me that's a simple branch of events in 1977, caused by Faraday's plan. I'm sticking with this theory until something on the show proves otherwise, in which case I will gladly believe something else!
YOU KNOW IT'S TRUE
EVERYTHING I DO
I DO IT FOR YOU
Then Ben gets a knock on the door and we're all like, "Oh crap, who's THAT?" I was not expecting Alex to be standing there, and for a moment I was confused that she was somehow his daughter in this timeline. But no, she was one of his History Club nerds trying to figure out why he didn't show up for their meeting. Once Ben learned that she was freaking out about her upcoming AP test, he offered to help her study the next morning.
While they were going over materials, Alex let it slip that the school's principal was a pervy perv who did pervy things with the pervy nurse who was not his wife. From that very second I saw the wheels turning in Ben's head, as I'm sure you did, too. But Alex made him promise not to say or do anything, because she needed a letter of recommendation from Reynolds in order to get into Yale. She explained that she had no chance of being accepted otherwise, and mentioned how her mom had to work two jobs to pay their rent and whatnot. Let's just pause for a moment and consider our favorite Crazy French Chick working at, say, an office. Or maybe being a greeter at The Olive Garden. What kind of job could she hold down, really? I want a flash dedicated to that!
But back to Ben. He called upon Arzt to help him out with his blackmail scheme -- who knew Arzt was an expert hacker? I love it. Except that Ben's plan didn't go exactly the way he'd imagined it would. Principal Reynolds one-upped him by threatening to "torch Ms. Rousseau and her future." What was Dr. Linus gonna do?
I'll tell you what I thought he was going to do. I thought he was going to still go through with his threats, usurp the principal's spot and then get his old pal Widmore to ensure Alex was accepted to Yale. All I could think was that if an ultra-snob, high society goddess like Blair Waldorf on Gossip Girl couldn't finagle her way into Yale, a rec letter from some random high school principal wasn't gonna cut it for Alex, and so Ben would have to call upon his successful businessman friend from the Island to get the job done. Remember that Ben and Widmore did meet in 1977 after Young Ben had been shot by Sayid and was recuperating after his visit to the Temple, and at that point Widmore had promised Ben that even though he'd have to return to Dharmaville, he could still consider himself an Other. If everyone was forced off of the Island shortly after that point (and survived), I figured Ben and Widmore might have kept in touch. And maybe that still could be the case, but alas, it didn't come into play in this episode.
DO THE RIGHT THING
Things didn't pan out the way I figured they would at all. Ben did the noble thing and put aside his desire for power in order to help secure a brighter future for his favorite student. Arzt wasn't happy about not getting his coveted parking spot next to the maple tree, but was slightly mollified when Ben offered up his spot instead. The final scene of the flash segments showed Ben watching a super-excited Alex leaving the principal's office, giddy about his over-the-top letter for her. And all was well. So in this version of events, I think it's safe to assume that Ben did save Alex. Sniff.
But the sob-fest's not over! On to the Island...
IT'S HARD TO BELIEVE THAT
I'M ALL ALONE
The subset of "good guys" were hauling butt through the jungle, and Ben was able to quickly rejoin Ilana & Co after escaping the Temple. But Ilana smelled a rat and put Miles to work with Jacob's ash, demanding to know how "the closest thing she had to a father" died. (I love how everyone's finally taking advantage of Miles' abilities so late in the game, by the way.) For a second there I thought that Miles was going to protect Ben and then use his newfound knowledge as leverage over him later, but instead he chose to tell the truth. Ben was now in deep doo-doo.
He really had no choice but to continue on with the group, though, and back at the beach camp he made a halfhearted attempt to discredit Miles, but Ilana was having none of it. Good ol' Lapidus was still willing to make small talk with Ben, however, and I really dug their conversation about how the Island "still got Lapidus in the end." I think it's fair to say that in the original timeline, if the Island wants you, it's gonna get you... and -- as we saw later with the Jack/Richard scene -- it's not going to let you go until its business with you is finished. However, in the split-off timeline, characters are making different decisions when the power of the Island (and Jacob... and the Man in Black) isn't there to nudge them one way or the other. Interesting.
But before Ben could become any more nostalgic about the good ol' days of the Oceanic 815 crash, he was chained to a tree and ordered to dig his own grave. To make matters worse, Miles informed him that the last thing Jacob thought before he died was that he hoped he was wrong about Ben. Somebody get this guy some ice cream! He's had a bad, bad day.
I GOT YOUR BACK
On cue, Sun tells Ilana that she needs to find her husband. For once the response Sun received wasn't "WE KNOW ALREADY -- GOOD GOD, WOMAN!!!", but rather, "I need to find him even more than you do, honey." Ilana explained that she had to protect both of the Kwons because she didn't know which of them was meant to be a candidate. Then she went on to tell Sun what a candidate was, and stated that there were six of them left.
So in my mind we've got Jack, Hurley, Sawyer (because Ilana doesn't know he's with Fake Locke) and one of the Kwons. Who are the fifth and sixth? She's probably no longer counting Sayid since she knows he murdered Dogen and Lennon (speaking of those guys, I forgot to mention in my last post that I wouldn't be surprised if they showed up again thanks to whatever it was Jacob was shown pouring into the spring at the beginning of "Lighthouse"). Is she considering Lapidus a candidate since she mentioned as much to Bram last season? Who knows. Hell, I think Vincent's the best candidate at this point. (Speaking of... what happened to HIM and Rose and Bernard after the Jughead incident? Are they still at their Retirement Hut By the Sea?)
I TRUST YOU TO KILL ME
Let's break from the beach camp for a moment to check in with Hurley and Jack. They slept by the lighthouse and now Jack's all hyper about getting to the Temple. Since Hurley knows that bad things were headed that-a-way thanks to his chat with Jacob, he's doing everything he can to stall. Eventually they run into Ageless Richard, who tells them he'll help them out -- but he lied! Instead he took them to the Black Rock and we finally got confirmation that this is indeed how he came to the Island, and the "chains" Fake Locke was referring to back at the statue were the ones that held Richard captive on the ship. We also learned (though Richard had alluded to this point before) that it was Jacob's touch that made him immortal. I was really hoping we'd get a Richard-centric episode of some sort in the future, but now I feel like we probably won't because we pretty much know his background. Boo.
Anyway, Richard had had it UP TO HERE with Jacob and his promises, and now that the Island's protector is dead, Richard wants to check out, too. But he explains that he is unable to kill himself, so if Jack could oblige him by lighting a stick of dynamite and sending him the way of Arzt, he'd very much appreciate it.
Hurley wants to check both of these guys into Santa Rosa and decides to get while the gettin's good. Jack, on the other hand, has grown quite cocky since finding out about Jacob's mirror apparatus and is like, "Sure, I'll blow you up!" and lights the fuse. Richard starts panicking when Jack refuses to scram, and that's when the Mad Doctor breaks it down for the Ageless One: Neither of them is going to die because Jacob wouldn't have gone to all of the trouble of making Richard immortal and watching Jack since he was a kid if they were simply meant to go ka-boom. And sure enough, the fuse fizzles out. (There's a sick part of me that thinks it would've been hilarious if the dynamite DID explode, though. Cut to Hurley shaking his head a mile away, staring up at the flames from the Black Rock. "I told you, dudes.")
ANYTHING YOU WANT
YOU GOT IT
Back at the beach, Ben was pretty darn close to finishing his grave when he heard the sounds of Smokey and turned to find Fake Locke standing there. Once again, Fake Locke makes a character a selfish deal. "Come with me and you can be the king of the Island." He promised Sawyer a chance to leave, he promised Sayid a reunion with what he loves most, and he promised Claire she'd get Aaron back. The clamp on Ben's ankle magically falls open, and Fake Locke instructs Ben that he best make a run for it and grab the rifle that's a ways out in the clearing.. and when he gets there, to not hesitate in shooting Ilana. He also tells Ben that his plan is to go to the Hydra, which means that we'll soon get to see who it was that the time-traveling Losties shot while they were caught in the huge rainstorm in the outriggers last season. Remember that?
Fake Locke leaves, Ben thinks everything over for a minute and then makes a mad dash for the clearing. Did anyone else laugh when he chucked that didgeridoo-looking bamboo shovel into the air and busted out? I did.
He runs, runs, runs... finds the gun and turns it on Ilana. Now, since we'd been reminded by Richard that Jacob's touch is magical, and since we know that Jacob had on gloves when he visited Ilana in the hospital back in the day, I was pretty sure she was a goner. Instead, Ben told her that he wanted to explain himself, and went on to deliver the mother of all moving speeches. Cue the water works once again. And color me surprised when Ilana's response to Ben's insistence that Fake Locke was the only one who'd have him was, "I'll have you." Superb, superb scene.
SO, WHAT DO WE DO NOW?
WHAT DO WE DO NOW?
I wasn't sure what Ben was going to do, but was relieved when he chose to follow Ilana back to the beach. Moments later, after we see that Miles has indeed dug up some of Nikki and Paulo's diamonds, Jack, Hurley and Richard come 'round the bend in yet another slo-mo sequence that had me in pieces. I don't know what was going on with me Tuesday night, but I was a freakin' mess. Seeing Hurley and Sun, and then Jack and Sun reunite was almost more than I could handle. Lord help me when we get to the BIG Jin/Sun reunion.
I felt badly for both Ben and Richard because they were each standing there with no one to give them a hug. They certainly weren't going to hug each other after what Ben pulled at the statue. It's going to be interesting to see how this random group gets along. Who'd have ever thought the remaining band of Good Guys would consist of Ben, Richard, Miles, Lapidus, Ilana, Hurley, Sun and Jack? Craziness.
Then all of a sudden the camera perspective changed and dammit if the sub's periscope didn't emerge from the ocean. Yep, someone was on his way to the Island, just like Jacob predicted, and the man in question was Widmore. Unless Jacob was talking about somebody else, which is of course entirely possible. Either way, Widmore's almost there, and the fact that our Losties were all shown in tinted red cross-hairs might lead you to believe that the sub crew was planning to blow them all to smithereens or something. I doubt a firefight is going to start, but I also don't think Widmore's up to any good. Let's discuss, shall we?
IT MUST BE TRUE
If Widmore wasn't the person Jacob said was coming to the Island, then my money's on Desmond. But if Widmore was who Jacob had in mind, does that mean Widmore is "good"? All of the evidence points to Widmore NOT being good. Here are some important things to consider:
- First and foremost, Widmore sent the freighter to the Island, was the one who gave Keamy and crew their orders, and therefore is responsible for Alex's death. Throw whatever other evidence you have at me, but I'm going to have a hard time believing that the guy who killed an innocent sixteen-year-old girl simply because she was the daughter of his nemesis could be anything but evil.
- Widmore tried to get Sun to kill Ben.
- Widmore encouraged Alive Locke to get everyone to go back to the Island. Now that we know what we know, we could infer that Widmore was working for the Man in Black and therefore knew the plan to take over Locke's body... or at least knew that all of Jacob's candidates were needed back on the Island in order for the Man in Black to be able to 1) kill Jacob, 2) kill all of his possible replacements, and then 3) do whatever it is he intends to do -- leave, blow up the place, etc.
- We also know that the Man in Black promises people what they want most. Widmore has always wanted to control the Island, and in fact believes he is the rightful leader of the Others. The Man in Black most likely promised him this if he could find a way back to the Island to help him win "the war."
- Widmore hates Desmond. Anyone who hates Desmond is bad. Duh!
OK, so I think Widmore's bad. I didn't always feel this way... I used to believe Ben and Widmore were on the same side (the Island's side) but just went about protecting it in different ways. However, after seeing how angry Widmore was throughout his life courtesy of the time traveling of last season, and because of all the points listed above, I now think he is bad. Maybe he's in the sub in order to help the Man in Black and all of his new followers leave? I mean, how else are they all going to get out of there? (I say this even though I still think the Man in Black's ultimate end game is to destroy the Island and kill everyone on it, including himself.)
GOTTA HAVE FAITH
I'd like to end by revisiting a concept we talked about in the last post. About how Fake Locke could represent the devil and Jacob might be representing some sort of angel or higher power or maybe even God. Let me repeat that I am positive that the show will never come right out and say this -- it would turn off way too many people. But I think so far they've been able to frame religious and/or spiritual themes in a subtle way that gets people thinking along the lines of "good versus evil"... often represented by "light versus dark."
So we've already discussed reasons why Fake Locke could be a devil-like figure. He's sweet-talking everyone, claiming to be looking out for their best interests... and if they could just help him out with this one little thing, he'll give them what they desire most. We saw it again with his promise to Ben in this episode.
But what else happened in "Dr. Linus?" We had at least four characters talk about their faith. Richard said he wanted to end his life because he'd spent countless decades, maybe even centuries, believing in a man who told him he had an important part to play in a master plan that he was never made privy to. But then that man, Jacob, died and Richard felt like his entire existence was a joke. Jack spoke of the kind of faith that comes with finding out that someone he'd never met had been tracking him his whole life, had brought him -- twice -- to a crazy Island, and that there simply must have been a reason for it. This was a faith that made Jack confident the stick of dynamite he lit would not blow up. Ilana did not speak directly of her faith, but showed it when she continued to be dedicated to protecting the remaining candidates even after she learned Jacob had been killed and all of the odds seemed against her. Further, she is carrying on what she believes would be Jacob's wishes by forgiving Ben --- the very man who murdered her leader -- because she knows he has truly come to see the error of his ways. And finally there's Ben, who admitted that he let his quest for power go to his head and lost sight of what really mattered, and had lost all faith in Jacob and what he represented by the time he came face to face with him in the statue.
Something to chew on.
BEST LINES OF THE EPISODE
HURLEY: Cheese curds...
BEN: Miles... do you remember once you asked me for 3.2 million dollars? Do you still want it?
MILES: What are you gonna do? You gonna write me a check on this banana leaf?
HURLEY: But... you look the same as you did thirty years ago. How's that possible?
RICHARD: It's not easy to explain.
HURLEY: Is this, like, a Terminator thing? Are you a cyborg?
RICHARD: No, I'm not a cyborg.
HURLEY: Dude you're gonna blow up! (This was my favorite line of the episode... not so much for the line itself, but the way Hurley said it -- it killed me.)
[The fuse almost burns to the end, then goes out]
JACK: Wanna try another stick ?
I dare say The War for the Island is upon us... can't wait to see what happens next!
PS - Actually, I'll be posting the March contest at some point this weekend, so... until THEN.
*** AND A FRIENDLY REMINDER: Please don't post comments about future episodes. Some of us would rather not know. Thanks!