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Weekly Lost Chronicles: Dr. Linus

March 10, 2010

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The bad man has arrived at the island.

What a great character study on Ben Linus last night! A European history teacher in his flash sideways, Ben’s dealings with the zombie-ish Principle Reynolds left him with an inner conflict. John Locke, a substitute teacher in the flash sideways, innocently planted the idea that Ben should become school principal. Ben cared about his students, Reynolds cared about his bottom line. Ben was given golden information about Reynolds having a little go ’round with the school nurse, on school grounds, by one of his students (Alex Rousseau, of all kids!!!). When Ben went to blackmail Reynolds using emails hacked with the assistance from a lab teacher, Reynolds showed he could stoop one lower. He was more than willing to block Alex Rousseau’s admission to Yale to save his own job. Faced with the choice of a promotion or his student’s education, Ben chose Alex over his own gain. It was an amazing juxtaposition to the Ben Linus who sacrificed Alex, his daughter on the island, to Martin Keamy’s bullet. Ben has been put in the position to “kill” Alex twice during the course of the series. He allowed it to happen once, he didn’t allow it here.

Ben on the island was a slightly different story. He’s very much in a weakened state, no authority, no longer able to fast talk his way out of issues or  bend things his way. On the island Ben was forced to make a choice. Fake Locke freed Ben from digging his own grave (literally and metaphorically), and gave him a chance to get off the island. Ilana, who was planning to put Ben in that very grave for killing Jacob, gave him a second chance. Ben chose Ilana, essentially choosing Team Jacob. At least for now, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a character or two switching sides before long.

So far everyone on Team Jacob was a better person in their flash sideways. Everyone on Team Fake Locke, not so much.

Jack’s switch from a man of science to a man of faith continued last night as well. The “ageless” Richard Alpert took both Jack and Hurley to Black Rock, looking to die. Jacob had touched Richard, as he had with the Oceanic survivors, giving him a gift. Richard could not die on his own, he needed Jack to light the long dynamite fuse. Jack knew…definitely more than just believed…that Jacob would not let either of them die, lit the fuse, and sat talking to Richard. It was almost as if Jacob himself stopped the fuse from burning up to the stick. That was also the same unstable dynamite that killed the science teacher during the first season. He couldn’t even shake the sticks and they still blew up in his hand. Richard slammed one down on the barrel, yet nothing happened. Jacob isn’t letting Richard die, either.

Richard said a couple of interesting things last night. He told Jack that he devoted his life, “longer than you can possibly imagine,” in service of Jacob. I don’t think we’re talking tens of years, or even hundreds at this rate. I think it becomes more of “how far back in time does Richard Alpert really go?” He called the gift of Jacob touching someone a curse. Jacob had touched each of the Oceanic survivors, essentially giving them a gift as well.

We could theorize that each has been given a different gift. Was Jack’s gift was one of faith, Ben’s was one of decency (debatable, but given that character’s direction…)? Hurley is still up in the air, we haven’t seen his flash sideways yet to determine his path. Jacob’s role in the lives of these characters has been enormous, his death has truly put the island in state of total flux. Watching Richard break down over the fact that he’ll never know his true purpose on the island was intense to see. I’m looking forward to his flash sideways, or possibly back story.

The bad man being Charles Widmore isn’t that much of a surprise, although the final quick view from the submarine’s periscope was on Ben. I don’t think that’s a coincidence, as Widmore has Ben as a marked man. We could also theorize that Jacob’s death has allowed Widmore onto the island. And Widmore didn’t look like he was on some underwater day cruise, either.

Coming next week: Recon

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