Hello, Dr. Nick!: Deep "Lost" Analysis – Redemption better late than never

By NICK GORINI
 
I am a sucker for a good redemption story. Of all the journeys protagonists routinely take, the redemption railroad is almost always emotionally satisfying. Even when the tale is a little forced or half-baked (as this episode was at times), I invest in the outcome because gosh darn it, I want to believe that we’re all capable of redemption.
 
Who would’ve thought that Benjamin Linus could pull it off? Who would’ve thought that he could deliver such a powerful, overwhelming speech about sacrifice, anger and shame?
 
What happened to Ben’s better half:

We start with Ben teaching his class about an exiled, island-bound Napoleon. Powerless and miserable. Obviously in reference to himself AND Smokey. Forced to monitor detention hall by the calloused jerk principal (wonderfully played by William Atherton, who has made a career playing calloused jerks. I’m going to bet he’s a nice guy in real life), Ben is frustrated, over-educated and lacking in backbone.
 
FUN FACT: William Atherton AND Jon Gries, who plays Ben’s father and also appears in this episode, co-starred in one of the best teen comedies from the 80’s, “Real Genius.”
 
Venting to Doc Arzt in the teacher’s lounge, Locke, who really seems more like Smokey in this scene (I believe this is intentional) butts in and encourages rebellion, appealing to Ben’s sense of justice, and his destructive ego. A great scene – we know that Ben has a soft spot for kids, and does want what’s right, but we also know that Ben desperately wants to be important, and it clouds his judgment. With Locke seeming so Smokey-like, I am even more convinced than before that we’re watching a single, split-soul with the characters who appear in both timelines. Smokey inside of Locke on the island is indirectly influencing kinder wheelchair-bound Locke.
 
Another character gazing at his reflection, this time with Ben and the reflective surface of a microwave. He’s making dinner for his ill father. Hey, this Papa Linus doesn’t seem to be half-as-messed up as the old one. It was an amusing reference when Ben switched his father’s oxygen tank – he’s still gassing his dad, only not to death this time.
 
This week’s Stupid Award goes to the writers for taking a good scene and forcing too much “State Out Loud What We’re Thinking Dialogue!” Papa Linus telling Ben that they never should’ve left the island, their lives would’ve been so different, who knows what we would be like, etc. Writers, we know this already. Isn’t worth mentioning at all, really. The old writer’s adage, “Show, don’t Tell” applies here.

For way, way more insight, plus also a bunch of really funny one-liners by our man Nick, hit the jump…
Guess what? Ben’s favorite student to tutor is Alex, his adopted/kidnapped daughter on the island! And guess what? They have a very tender father-daughter type of bond, which is nice. Hopefully, this Ben doesn’t try to kidnap Alex again. He’s tutoring Alex on the history of the East India Trading Company, or as we can all call it, a reference to Alpert and his ship.
 
Alex spills a little gossip about our nasty principal, getting extra-nasty with a school nurse during school hours – that’s nasty! What will dear Ben do with this information? Well, he may not be island Ben, but he can still hatch a dirty plan! Enlisting Doc Arzt’s computer skills to blackmail the principal?! That is also nasty business, but Ben (pac butts in – with a shove from Locke) has momentum, and he wants to be principal of this island! I mean, he wants to be principal of this school. He’s not above bribing Doc Arzt to help out, either. It’s may be a thin line between love and hate, but it can also be a thin line between right and wrong. For a moment, we see this Ben flash the wicked smile we’ve seen on island Ben’s face countless times.
 
His big blackmail moment arrives, but is trumped by the principal’s counter threat of not writing a nice recommendation letter for Alex to get into Yale. Much like Jacob, Ben is offered a choice: Power to be Principal, or the power of his principles. Which is it?
 
The unexpected happens. This Ben, not as clouded in murky moral waters, passes on the power to help someone he cares deeply about. And yes, he does manage to get out of monitoring detention, which as a metaphor may be what he’s been having to on the island for the past five years. He’s had to keep an eye on all those unruly kids like Jack, Kate, Sayid, etc. And he’s done. No more detention, Ben!
 
What happened to Ben’s less-than-savory half:

When we last left Ben, he saw Sayid excelling at his chosen profession poolside. He quickly catches up with Ilana, Lapidus, Sun and Miles outside of the temple as they all head to the beach.
 
Ilana, who is finally starting to get somewhat interesting as a character, has Miles do his voodoo dead guy talking thing with Jacob’s ashes. At one point in the show, Miles told us he couldn’t converse with someone’s ashes, which we now know was a lie. Makes you wonder what else Miles might be lying about…
 
Anyhow, cat’s out of the bag, and everybody knows Ben killed Jacob (whom Ilana referred to as “the closest thing I ever had to a father.”). Given the fact Ben told everyone that he killed Locke, he should consider just keeping his mouth shut from now on.
 
Briefly, Sun learns that either she or Jin are candidates for Jacob’s old job. Six are left. Let’s see: Jack, Hurley, Sayid, Sawyer, Locke must still be the others, right?
 
As they rummage through the abandoned beach camp, Ben enters Sawyer’s old digs and finds a porno mag and and two books: The Chosen (heh, heh) by Chaim Potok and something with former British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli on the cover. What does it mean? Folks, I don’t know. We also get some lame dialogue between Ben and Lapidus about imagine how different things would be if hadn’t slept in and piloted the oceanic plane that crashed and blah, blah, blah…
 
Thankfully, Ilana saves the writers further embarrassment and drags Ben to the cemetery to dig his own grave! I don’t know about you, but movies and television always have people digging their own graves. Reallly? Would you really be willing to dig your own grave? Why? If you know if someone’s going to kill you, wouldn’t your final act of rebellion be to NOT dig your own grave? Wouldn’t you WANT to piss your murderer off? Hey villains, if you are going to kill me, I’m not going to help with any pre-cleaning of the crime scene. You will have to work for villainy, okay?
 
While digging, Miles refuses Ben’s 3.2 million dollar bribe to help him get away. You gotta love Miles, because he refused not on moral grounds, but because he knows 2 bodies buried at this beach have 8 million dollars worth of diamonds on hand (which Miles ends up later retrieving). Miles also tells Ben that Jacob wanted to believe in the good inside of Ben, didn’t want to die, and refused to believe in Ben’s bad side, you know, right up until Ben plunged a knife into his heart. Ouch!
 
Next thing we know, Smokey shows up to pay Ben a visit. He offers Ben reclamation of his Island management duties. All Ben has to do is grab a rifle Smokey set down near a tree, shoot Ilana and meet Smokey and his crew on the other island. Piece of cake, right?
 
Ben goes for it, sprinting into the woods with Ilana hot on his heels. He gets the drop on her, and instead of doing the usual Ben thing he…. Explains. Explains? Yes, explains. In a wonderful scene (I’ll admit to choking up a bit), Ben explains to Ilana that he’s SO FRICKING
ANGRY at Jacob – he gave up his life and watched his daughter die when he could’ve prevented it, and Jacob didn’t even care. Ben acknowledged his guilt, shame and sorrow, but begged to go meet Smokey, because “He is the only one who will have me.” Ilana says she’ll have Ben, and we depart this scene with Ben’s jaw nearly dropping to the ground.
 
Ben wanders back to beach camp and asks Sun if he can help with anything. We also see Ilana fight back tears – forgiveness certainly isn’t easy, but it is right. We also get yet another slo-mo shot of hugging on the beach (I think I’ve seen this on Lost at least 80 times) when Jack, Alpert and Hurley show up. Hey man, about half of the old band is back together, man.
 
But before we can close out, we see a periscope pop up from (dah Dah DAH!!!!!) Widmore’s submarine.
 
Meanwhile, Jack, Hurley and Alpert do some cool stuff, too:

We now know that Hurley dreams of cheese curds (he should try them fried. So delicious, so wrong). Hurley tries to keep Jack from heading back to the slaughterhouse, er, Temple. Before they can argue too much, Richard Alpert pops up (man, sometimes this island seems way too small), and off we go to the Black Rock (I believe the last time we visited, we watched Sawyer engaged in some serious strangling… With slave chains. Now that’s nice symbolism, huh.).
 
Once again, Hurley asks OUR questions to solve some mysteries (Alpert was touched by Jacob, he doesn’t time travel, and yes, he hasn’t aged in a few hundred years. No word on what brand of mascara he uses, but maybe it’s Maybelline).
 
Alpert’s mission? To die! The “curse” of Jacob’s touch is that he can’t kill himself, something he’s wanted to do for awhile. This explains why drunk Jack couldn’t jump off the bridge a few years back. Alpert wants Jack to light some dynamite and turn a willing Alpert into an M-80, because he’s lost his faith! Guess who ironically restores it? Our previously faithless Jack, that’s who!
 
Jack’s power-play of sitting with a lit dynamite stick, hoping/believing that it wouldn’t go off because Jacob needs him? Awesome. I’m happy to have the awesome Jack moments back.
 
To be fair to Alpert, however, I understand his temptation to become little itty-bitty Alpert bits. I wonder if he hears Ben bitching about thirty years of his life down the drain working for Jacob, Alpert can counter with “Thirty!? Try THREE HUNDRED! AWWW, SNAP!”
 
“Want to try another stick?” Great line, Jack.
 
So, what can I tell you about the next few weeks?

Doc Jensen is back ‘On’ this week after his wildly erratic gobbledy-gook from the week prior. He has an intriguing theory about Jack. He doesn’t see Jack as a believer – he thinks Jack is maniacally playing Jacob’s game with the intent of messing it all up at a key moment, one giant act of revenge. Like I said, intriguing, but I’m not buying it, especially with so few episodes left. I’m convinced the Jack we’re seeing is the real deal. Now Sawyer, on the hand…

Where is Sawyer, anyway? We got some good stuff from him earlier this season. Is he still boozing it up with Iggy Pop? How did he get out of that damn cave? I am still convinced he’s pulling a long con on Smokey. Especially when he sees Kate again. In any event, Sawyer will get plenty of screen time next week, in an episode titled ‘Recon’. Get it? Re-Con? Man, they really ought to put a little more thought into some of these things…

Charlie will be back (again) and he’ll be doing something more meaningful than choking on a bag of heroin. Even Charlie’s brother Liam is putting in an appearance. I guess the question now is, is there anybody NOT coming back for an episode?

Penny and Desmond will be back real soon, as will Rousseau! Walt, too. And Charlotte will be back this upcoming episode.
So Widmore is (almost) back. Is he on a “side”, or is he going to meddle with the confrontation the island seems determined to have?
 
Sorry for the delay on getting this out, guys. Thanks for reading and watching

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