Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Lost Episode 6.7: "Dr. Linus"

This was a great Ben episode. I've heard on podcasts that the writers have said that this season can be thought of as three distinct acts, each lasting about six episodes. Act one ended last episode. Tonight's episode kicked off act two. I can see that, it definitely felt like things were gearing up and new settings were chosen for each group of characters. Locke's people are on the Hydra island, Jacob's team is on the beach. Pretty familiar set-up, kind of like when the Losties were on the beach and the Ben-led Others were on Hydra. Now, let's get into the details. But first, yet another disclaimer: I didn't have time to proof this at all (beware of run-ons and tangents) or add as many pictures as I would like, because I'm super swamped at work right now. And I basically kept to the major events to save time.

Let's start with the off-island stuff. And the first major event is:

DR. ARZT SHOPS AT MARSHALLS: So we get to see Dr. Linus the teacher, and he turns out to be a pretty good teacher. And, we quickly learn that Leslie Arzt works at the same school as Locke and Ben. Arzt is complaining about formaldehyde on his shirt (ironically, later Hurley will complain about once having Arzt on his shirt) and Arzt says he's going to have to go back to Marshalls. I wonder if this was a paid endorsement or just a joke? I happen to work at the agency that does their advertising so I'll have to ask around and find out. Anyway, after hearing Ben complain, Locke plants a seed of temptation in Ben's mind that he deserves to be principal. I don't think Locke was meaning to be anything but encouraging here, but it gets Ben's mind working in Machiavellian ways and it mirror's Locke's temptation of Ben later on the island. Nice writing in this one. I'm really a fan of the Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz written episodes. (You can follow Horowitz on Twitter.) As a side note, the same writing team wrote the upcoming Tron Legacy film, so I bet it's good.

ROGER LINUS IS STILL THRIVING: Good old Uncle Rico/Roger Linus is still kickin' it, but this time he doesn't seem to be as resentful of his son, who faithfully changes his oxygen tanks. I thought the oxygen tank was a brilliant counterpoint to the deadly gas canister Ben used to kill Roger back on the island. In this scene we learn that Ben and his dad left the island at some point, obviously BEFORE it sank to the bottom of the ocean. Why did they leave? We're not told, but we are told the reason they went there in the first place, which was never a question I had, but now that you mention it, it was a weird career move for Roger to make. Roger apparently wanted to get Ben in with the Dharma geniuses so he could reach his full potential. A nice thought, but even on the island Ben was still a "workman" and living with his dad until his mid-30's so maybe Ben needs a little more support than that to reach his dreams.

ALEX GETS SCHOOLED: I don't have much to say about the return of Alex, but it was nice to know that Ben had a more healthy and less kidnapp-y relationship with Alex this go around. And that somewhere, not too far off, Danielle Rousseau is alive and well, sitting on a couch eating cheese puffs and watching Man vs. Wild. During Alex's first scene, Lost's credits were still rolling, and a really shocking one (to me) came up: Directed by Mario Van Peebles. Really? Crazy.

THE GHOSTBUSTERS GUY IS A PERV: Anybody else recognize Principal Reynolds as the whiny lawyer guy from Ghostbusters? About whom Bill Murray's character proclaimed, "Yes, It's true. This man has no (male genitalia slang term)?" That line always confused me as a child, because I missed that it was a joke and mistook it for a literal statement, my entire perception of his character changing in the process. I felt sorry for him instead of angry at him, which was not how I was meant to feel at all – but I couldn't help thinking that it must be hard to go through life mocked by your peers for being flat like a Ken doll in the lower regions. Well, as Prinicipal Reynolds, he has quite the opposite problem and apparently is having relations with nurse Kim Kondraki, who I looked up on Lostpedia and is not anyone we've heard of before. However, the principal's last name Reynolds IS on the wall of Jacob's cave. Is he a candidate? Or was Jacob referring to the more logical choice, Burt Reynolds?

BEN THE BLACKMAILER: So, Ben tries his hand at conniving his way to Principal, but fails because he chooses Alex over his quest for power, unlike he did on the island. As he's dealing his way to the top, Arzt calls him a killer, and Ben seems to pause for a moment. Is he remembering other timelines? Or just liking the sound of it? I'm going to vote on remembering. Because, as I've said before, I think all this is happening after the events on the island, and is the epilogue to the show. And whatever side people choose on the island is reflected in this off island life. OR, and here's a mind blower – is there NO off-island life? Does the island make you have flashes, but they're not real? Is what we've seen in flashbacks all along what the island does to you? Have the Losties always been on the island, and their entire past is fabricated by the island itself? I just exploded my own brain. I have no idea.

Now, let's go back to the on-island events, starting with the teaming up of Jack, Hurley and Richard, which I loved.

HURLEY WAKES: Saying "Cheese Curds", which is kind of a cheap shot, but I laughed. One weird thing: Hurley asks for breakfast and Jack says they should be able to get to the temple by nightfall. So, the Lighthouse was a day's walk from the Temple? Huh? I need a Tolkien map of the island, pronto.

RICHARD HAS A CRISIS OF FAITH: Much like Jesus' disciples doubted and disowned Jesus during the three days that Jesus was dead, Richard is having trouble dealing with the thought that his long, long life has been meaningless. I loved the direct questions that Hurley threw at Richard about his anti-aging properties ("Are you a cyborg?"), but Hurley never saw Richard in the 70s, so that was a little weird. Richard admits that he received a gift from Jacob, and says that Jacob touched him. Does that mean that Kate, Sawyer, Jack, Hurley, Sayid, Locke, Sun & JIn are all immortal now that Jacob touched them? I would assume NOT, since Locke and Sayid both kinda died after the fact. And also, youngsters Kate and Sawyer still aged after Jacob's touch. Guess he super-touched Richard.

JACK HAS A RENEWAL OF FAITH: At first I REALLY, REALLY hated Jack in this scene for going all Kevorkian on Richard without a second thought, but thankfully I was just falling for the writers' clever tricks. Jack's long, deep stare at the ocean apparently worked and now he's fully grasped what Jacob was trying to show him: He's there for a reason. Oddly, he tests that in front of Richard by seeing if a stick of dynamite will explode in their faces, but to each his own. Perhaps under other circumstances, Jack would have become a snake-handler. Anyway, he convinces Richard they have purpose, and man am I glad, because Richard's only cool when he's cool. Otherwise, he's kind of a Captain Bringdown. Oh, also, we totally got confirmation that Richard came in on the slave ship in chains. I suspect we'll see more of that story in flashbacks in the next couple of episodes. And, as far as Jack goes: I've put him down pretty badly recently, but it looks like his whiny days are over and he's ready to finally start kicking some butt and being a leader again, like he was in season one.

Now let's go to the Ben, Ilana, Frank, Sun & Miles storyline:

ILANA'S ASHES: Looks like Ilana didn't gather the ashes for a spiritual reason, but a practical one. She didn't trust Ben when he said he didn't kill Jacob earlier this season, so she hands the bag to Miles and he sorts things out. Ilana gets angry and says that Jacob was the closest thing she had to a father (warning: future daddy issues Ilana flashback possibly looming ahead) and then turns her back on Ben, angrily leading the crew back to the beach.

ONLY SIX LEFT: They start to clean up the beach to be livable again, and Sun and Ilana chat about going to find Jin. Ilana wants to find him as well, to protect him because he's possibly the Kwan that's a candidate to replace Jacob. Sun asks, "To replace him? Doing what?" And Ilana answers, "If you're the one selected, then I imagine you'll find out." Mysterious talk. I feel sorry for the actress that plays Sun, because all she ever gets to do lately is ask where Jin is or try to find him. Ilana also mentions that there are only six candidates left. Who is she referring to? I'm guessing she's written off Sayid after hearing he killed Dogen. But I don't think she knows about Sawyer joining Locke. So maybe her six are: Jin, Sun, Jack, Hurley, Sawyer and... Ben? Or Miles? Miles' last name Straume was on the wall of the cave, but it was crossed out. Oddly, now that more time has passed and more screenshots examined, the wall has been shown to contain both the last name Austen and the last name Linus, but both of their names were crossed out as well. Why? I guess Frank could possibly be the sixth candidate, though I don't think his name has shown up anywhere yet. Check the updated candidates' list here.

WHERE ARE ROSE AND BERNARD?: And Vincent the dog? Just wanted to ask. Did they jump back to this time with everyone else?

FRANK OVERSLEPT: I liked the short exchange between Frank and Ben, where Ben asks why Frank wasn't the pilot of the original Oceanic flight like he was supposed to be. Turns out he slept through it. Kinda funny. I like Frank, but I'm wondering at this point why the writers had him return to the island. So far, he hasn't played much of a role besides awesomely landing the second plane safely and a throwing out a few nice quips here and there. Ilana interrupts their conversation to tell Ben to dig a grave. His own.

BEN THE GRAVEDIGGER: I have to say, Ben is a pretty good gravedigger. That grave was perfectly square by the time he got it done. I guess if it's your own grave you're digging, your quality control standards are pretty high. Miles stops by to throw out some great zingers and Ben tries to make a money offer to him. Miles points out that the graves of Nikki and Paulo next to them have 8 million dollars worth of diamonds in them he could have if he wanted, and at first I wondered how he could possibly know that but my wife quickly reminded me that Miles speaks to dead bodies. I also enjoyed the shot later in the episode where Miles had already dug up the diamonds (probably while Ilana was chasing Ben.) Oh yeah – Miles also gives out another huge piece of information: As he died, Jacob was hoping he was wrong about Ben. This was a great moment, and helped built up to the life-changing decision Ben was about to make later. I really love what they did with Ben's character this episode.

LOCKE THE TEMPTER: Smokey shows up and starts to pretend like he's a helpful, nice guy again. I think this episode showed that throughout his time on the island, Ben was trying to follow Jacob, but was tempted with power and was corrupted by it. I think just like Locke suggested that Ben should be in charge of the school in the alternate timeline, Smokey's been saying the same thing to Ben during his time on the island. I think Ben was a candidate brought to the island by Jacob for good, but like the horned-one himself Smokey started whispering self-aggrandizing thoughts to Ben and caused Ben to make selfish decisions that hurt those around him. Locke tells Ben to make a run for it to a gun he hid in the woods a few hundred yards away. Couldn't he have just handed him the gun?

BEN'S CONFESSION: Ben runs through the woods like a schoolgirl and nervously grabs the gun and shakily points it at Ilana just in time. I keep wondering what happened to the matrix-like tough Ben that chopped up dudes in the desert with karate and a crazy knife-stick. Why doesn't he have that confidence all the time? He then explains his actions to Ilana in a really great speech. I liked how at first he was saying that he let Alex die to serve Jacob, and was mad at him for it, but as he kept talking he admitted that it was power that he wanted, and that his desire for power was more important that Alex, and he regrets that. He also says he regrets killing Jacob. He thinks his only choice is to basically go to the devil, and at that moment I think Ilana realizes that Jacob wants her to forgive Ben. "I'll have you" was a great moment, and a VERY Christian moment. Not to get too deep here, but the only reason I became a Christian – the only reason anyone else I know who's serious about it became a Christian – is because I got to a point in my life where I felt just as worthless and guilty as Ben did in this scene, and admitted it to God, and he said that he would still have me. He forgives even the Bens of the world. And asks his followers to forgive them as well. A really great scene, and I loved how it wasn't an easy decision for Ilana. She broke down into tears on the beach afterward, apparently angry, doubtful and unsure she made the right decision following Jacob. Unsure of what would happen next and how she would get through it. I can't think of another time I've seen a better example on televison of how messy walking in faith can be (and is for all the Christians I know) but at the same time showing how obviously right it is to do so. I was really afraid she would let Ben go, and was relieved she gave him a second chance. Great stuff. Ilana's tears are interrupted by the arrival of help in the form of Richard and two of her candidates, so that had to make her feel a little better that she was on the right track. When suddenly...

SUBMARINE MUSIC! That periscope really surpised me. Especially when it was joined by what sounded at first like the Mission: Impossible theme. I really thought the periscope was going to be the entire cliffhanger, but was suprised to see them cut inside to reveal: Widmore! Crazy. His first mate (or whatever) asked if they should stop, and Widmore said, "Proceed as planned." Is this who Jacob said was coming? It's very possible, but I'm not 100% sure. I don't think Widmore is a good guy. I was starting to feel that way after meeting his younger self and after his talks with Locke off-island, but I can't get past the fact that he hired Keamy to shoot Alex in the head. Seems like a mean thing to do. Unless that was just Keamy's idea. My guess is that Widmore is a free agent, like Ben used to be, and is acting in his own best interests. Or, does "Proceed as planned" mean head to the hydra station, to meet up with Smokey? Time will tell.

That's it for now. They haven't released the name of next week's episode yet, but if I had to guess I would say we're due for a Sawyer-centric episode.

Here's what I saw in the preview for next week: First, it featured a song, which is unusual. I think it was Leonard Cohen's "Bird on a Wire". First it showed Locke walking through the jungle with his people. Then it showed Kate crying. Next, Jack was sitting near a fire on the beach. Kate & Sawyer looked at each other lovingly. Sawyer's voice: "Whaddya say you and me get off this island?" Then a wide shot of the beach Losties around the campfire: Jack, Hurley, Miles, Sun, Frank, Ilana and Ben but no sign of Richard. I wonder how Ben and Richard will get along now? My guess is Ilana will stand up for Ben.

What did I miss? Anybody have a good poll suggestion for the sidebar?


Anonymous said...

How about, "Do you think it's possible that both a "good" (Jacob)and a "bad" (MIB) Smoky exist?

(How else was Ben able to summon Smoky when MIB was supposedly still trapped in the cabin?)

Angela said...

Man, what can I say? This was my favorite episode BY FAR! Any episode that starts with Ben running through the jungle, you know it's gonna be good. Ben is such a phenomenal character. Even in this episode, I found myself remembering why I've hated him in the past for his despicable deeds and conniving ways, only to turn around in the next minute to pity him and believe that there's still good left in him. My favorite line of his was when he told Illana that Smokey was "the only one that would have [him]." And then Illana's response was so great--just like God's, "I'll have you." BRILLIANT. I also loved the look on Ben's face as he followed her back to the beach. One of disbelief, hope, fear, and awe. That someone good would still have him. LOVE IT! I also loved seeing Ben redeem himself by choosing Alex's fate over his own. Which I'm not quite sure I understand yet, since on the island he already chose his own fate and sacrificed Alex. So if the flash sideways are reflections of events that have already HAPPENED on the island...then I'm thoroughly confused. Regardless, I loved seeing the redemption of Benjamin Linus, which is what I've been hoping for throughout the entire syndication. Thank you, Lost writers, for gratifying me! Now please REDEEM SAYID!!!! :)

Yeah, I did NOT enjoy seeing Richard get all whimpy on us. That seemed so out of character for him. He's always been so cool and collected. I too thought Jack was going all Kevorkian on us. I loved seeing him man up and finally start acting like the badass that we know he can be. Another redemption of a character IMO. The dynamite scene was excellent. And I vote that there be a spinoff of adventures of trekking through the jungle of just Hurley, Richard, and Jack. That would be awesome.

Davis said...

I absolutely loved this episode. On the parts dealing with Roger Linus, I kept wondering when it was they would have left the island? Because if we're to believe, as the executive producers have suggested in the Official Lost podcast, that the off-island stuff is a result of the bomb going off in the Season 5 finale, including that the island is now submerged, the only possible time they could have left was when Miles's dad was having all the Dharma folks evacuate. So, a) that would mean they left the island under threat of dying in a nuclear explosion, so the line from Roger about wondering what would have happened if they'd stayed seems odd, and b) I thought that while this was going on, Ben was off being healed in Jacob's temple waters after Sayid shot him. But maybe he was back by then. My brain is aching. I'll be happy when the show is over and I can't get sucked into thinking about the minutiae of fictional events. At least not these fictional events.

Andrea said...

I too loved this episode. I said to my husband, wow who knew Lost would get all Christian-y. And it's so true. That scene with Ben/Ilana in the jungle was gold. So moving. Also LOVED that they are giving light to all these layers of Ben. Such a great character.

As a whole, I felt this was the first episode that I could really trust. I feel like it's the beginning again. It was SO like season 1 with all the slow-mo shots at the end on the beach. I was truly nostalgic. I hadn't heard of the 3 acts thing but it makes total sense with the feel of last night's episode.

I'm excited!

Jeremy said...

Curious about your thoughts on the shot on the beach with everyone welcoming Hurley, Richard, and Jack back...looked like Ben was an outcast standing outside the circling welcoming them back. Anything to say about that? I thought that shot showed that although they'll "have" Ben, he's still not with them...

Wes W. said...

Angela, I don't think the Flash-Sideways are just reflections of things that happened on the island. I think it's the opposite – whatever decisions are made on-island by the characters in this final battle between good and evil impact how things turn out for them in the flash-sideways. I think they are the "happy-ending" for each character, we're just seeing them early. Sometime later this season, they will match up and we'll realize the characters all get to go to this side reality. Therefore, Jacob returns Dogen to his son, and gives Locke peace with Helen. Sayid gets to be near Nadia as promised by the man in black, but because he sided with Smokey he gets a pale imitation of what he wanted. She's his sister-in-law, not his wife. Because Ben sides with Jacob, he's able to make better decisions in his after-island-life.

Jeremy – I think that last shot was just to show that Ben's got an uphill battle to climb. He's back in the group but still has to deal with the emotional consequences of his actions, and may feel like an outsider. Also, he might have just been keeping his distance from Richard and Jack, who aren't his biggest fans right now.

Amy said...

Man, oh man. I want to watch this episode again and again. That scene with Ben and Ilana was so great. I started to cry when Ben said, "because no one else will have me," and then when Ilana answered, "I'll have you," I, literally, caught my breath. That was the most satisfying and convincing character redemption I have ever seen on TV. Or maybe ever. Michael Emerson is an amazing actor.
Woo! That last theory, Wes, that you threw out there in the comments section is totally plausible. So, we don't, as yet, know what is going on with Claire in the flash sideways or most of the others. This will be fascinating!!! Davis, I am with you -- my mind reals for a couple of days after each episode and I am ready to be done with the obsessing about pretend people and a pretend island :) (Well, not THAT ready) ...

Andrea said...

OK so I talked to my sister today about the episode and she made a really good point. I noticed it too but completely forgot until she brought it up. IN the flash sideways, the principal's laptop was ANCIENT. Now I guess you could argue that it was due to budget cuts...OR it could be an indicator of the mid-90s? WHAT THEN??