Good morning LOST fans. It’s that time again. So get yourself a fresh cup of joe and let’s take a look at last night’s episode.
Michael Emerson has got to be one of the most engaging actors to grace the small screen in quite some time. Did you know that he was the orderly Zep Hindle that worked in the hospital where Jigsaw was being treated for cancer in the first installment of the SAW franchise? Of course you did. I wonder if he drew any inspiration from that role…nah probably not.
So, we are treated to a peak inside what Ben’s life would have been like had he not gone off the deep end and mass murdered the entire Dharma initiative in his sideways story. In this version, Ben is a History teacher, who cares deeply for the few students that share his passion for it. I find it interesting that the powers that the Men Behind the Curtain (Lindeloff and Cuse) put Ben in this occupation. All throughout history we’ve been told that we must learn from the past or else we are doomed to repeat it. Does the same hold true for Dr. Linus?
Throughout Ben’s sideways story we feel the pain of his chronic rejection and resentment at always being the low man on the totem pole.
We see a resentful Ben taking care of his aging and debilitated father, who no longer appears as though he’s a drunk, though his current condition suggests that life may not have always been so peachy. He and Ben have what could be construed as a tender exchange about how life turned out, with Ben’s father defending his decision to take them to the Island to join Dharma, though no reference as to how they made it off was ever made. I guess we are to assume that they left on their own accord.
The principle of the school where he teaches forces him to give up the one thing he truly loves, hosting the history club, in favor of babysitting the kids in detention, albeit only for a week. Ben becomes angry and begins a to formulate a plan to replace the principle in his high ranking position thanks to the intel he learns from Alex Rousseau (yes, the same Alex that he claims as his daughter on the Island) in an early morning tutoring session. The catch is: A) he promises dearest Alex that he would keep the information to himself and B) Alex needs the recommendation of the principle in order to attend Yale. Ben quickly finds himself stuck between a rock and a hard place: wanting to gain power and doing the right thing for his student.
The old Ben would have tossed Alex to the wolves, just as he had during the standoff with the mercs from the freighter, but the new and improved Ben seems to have a conscious. He actually struggles with the thought before ultimately backing down and accepting concessions. Alex gets her recommendation, Ben gets his club and everyone is golden…
On the Island, things get a little hairy for Ben. Ilana gives Miles Jacob’s ashes and asks him to commune with Jacob’s spirit to determine just how he actually died. Instead of resisting, Miles seems happy to oblige and rats Ben out in an instant. Weak protests spew forth from Ben, but it’s obvious that they are falling on deaf ears.
Ilana has her mind made up to kill Ben, after he takes care of the hard part…digging his own grave. He gets lots of time to reflect on his past choices and comes to terms with some of the decisions he’s made. The Man in Black makes a brief appearance, offering Ben the opportunity of a lifetime, the opportunity to see his daughter again, alive and well. And for a moment, it looks like good ole Ben caves, taking off into the jungle and snatching up the rifle that Un-Locke left for him to use against Ilana. But instead of killing her, Ben simply offers a heart-wrenching explanation for his actions against Jacob and expresses his remorse for his actions. Even Ilana loses her grip on her own anger and resentment when she realizes that standing before her is nothing more than an angry, yet broken little man. When asked which side Ben was going to choose, he says Locke because they are the only ones that will have him. Ilana, in an emotional twist of fate, grants Ben the forgiveness he had been unable to grant himself for his role in his own daughter’s death and invites him to join her back at the beach. Astonished, Ben accepts.
Before I forget, there is an intense scene involving our fearless newly appointed leader Jack and Richard Alpert. It seems that the death of Jacob has rocked Richard’s faith to the point that he intends to commit suicide with Jack’s help. Richard leads the wayward Hurley and Jack toward the Black Rock (many have theorized that this is how Richard got to the Island in the first place), pulls out some dynamite and asks Jack to light it. In a sudden of what is to come, Jack does light the dynamite, however instead of running away, he embraces his Chosen status and decides to show Richard that their lives do have a purpose and that Richard’s purpose has not been fulfilled just yet. As the fuse burns down, we see the dawning of realization in both Jack and in Richard that Jack has a higher purpose on this Island. I guess staring out into the ocean for untold hours did help him figure it out.
We part with the warm reunion of Jack, Hurley, Sun, and Lapidus with Ilana, and Ben hanging on the outskirts, back on Home Beach. And then the appearance of a periscope emerging from the depths of the ocean reminds us all that nothing is as it seems. It appears that once again, Mr. Widmore has found the Island and has an agenda all his own.
I have to say that the flash sideways episodes, while as confusing to watch initially as the flash forwards and flashbacks were in the beginning, have been pretty revealing so far. If the idea that the two story lines are happening at the same time, it seems that our survivors are being given the opportunities to learn from their past mistakes and make better decisions. It’s almost as if the sideways story might actually end up being a continuation of what happens after Islandmaggeddon. The castaways get a chance to unfurl their wings and become who they truly are in a sense, though for poor Sayid, it might not be the path he had wanted for himself. Like Dogen said in last week’s episiode, every man has a scale, weighing good and evil. The Island has given them a series of tests to see which way their scale tipped. At least for Ben, it seems that his tipped the right way after all.