**spoilers begin immediately**
Oh, Losties!! Do you feel like the season has finally started?! The last scene with all the castaways reuniting on the beach, their beach, OUR BEACH was just a sigh of relief. I have felt very displaced during the last few episodes as the Losties casually pass each other in the jungle as if it were a High School hallway. Seeing a huge group of people talk (and one look quietly on) was just so Lost and it felt nice. It felt very Season 1.
On the other hand, I felt….weird when this episode was done. I think it’s because this episode was all about Ben. If you’ve been following my recaps for awhile you know I have refused to like Ben. The man is a poisonous liar and quite possibly the creepiest man in the world. But in this episode, I wanted to ::whisper:: hug him.
Let’s get to the recap so we can talk more coherently, ok?
Present Day. Los Angeles. Ben.
Ah, Dr. Linus is a High School European History teacher. As a long time Ben-hater, this is lovely payback. Dr. Linus is finishing up a lecture about Napoleon. He talks about how Napoleon would have rather died than lose his power. (Hmm…wonder if our little man identifies with Napoleon?) The bell rings, the students leave and Mr. Nelson, the principal enters to demand that Ben cover detention instead of his beloved History Club.
Ben is obviously not a fan of Mr. Nelson and while he and fellow teacher, Dr. Leslie Artz (!!) discuss this at lunch, someone else pipes in: JOHN LOCKE. He is still substituting. And he thinks Ben should be Principal instead. This kickstarts something in Ben’s mind. Up until this point, we get the feeling that Ben is an underachiever and a wimp. But this encouragement from Locke may be calling up something from his Islandness. You can almost see a Henry Gale glint in his eye.
Next we see Ben at home cooking up frozen dinners for HIS DAD. His dad is on oxygen (how ironic is that?!) and Ben apparently takes care of him. Ben talks about the drudgery of his day and life with such wistfulness that Roger Work-man feels bad. He says, “That’s why I accepted that job with the Dharma Initiative. What would our lives have been like if we had stayed on The Island? Who knows what you would have become?” Indeed.
Suddenly the doorbell rings. And who is on the other side? ALEX. Ben’s daughter. Only in this reality–she’s not his daughter. Just a bright student in his History Club. She wonders where he was at History Club and then they discuss meeting in the library for tutoring the next morning. And oh, was I ever relieved that he (or she) did not bust a move on the other. *gag*
I have to admit, this was slightly heart-breaking. For all of Ben’s faults (and he has a lot), he did love Alex. And considered her his daughter. So, to see them totally separated was sad. (Yes, yes. I hear myself.)
During tutoring the next morning, Alex bemoans that she will never get into Yale without a good recommendation. The only Yale grad she knows is Principal Reynolds, “the pervert”. Ben’s round eyes flicker and widen at her words. She goes on to tell Ben that she saw the Principal and the school nurse…you know.
And here’s where the Ben we know kicks into high gear. He procures Artz’ help in hacking into the nurse’s emails. Then tries to blackmail the principal–demanding his job. Principal Reynolds must also have some Islandness in him because he turns the table on Ben. He says he will block Alex’s efforts to get into Yale if Ben tells anyone about his moral failings.
This is THE parallel scene to Ben watching Keamy hold a gun to Alex’s head on The Island. There is conflict–who is more important? Ben? Or Alex? Who does Ben choose? On The Island he chose himself and lost Alex. In LA he chooses Alex. But I THINK, he does not lose himself.
As he congratulates Alex on the recommendation letter, Principal Reynolds enters. And as Ben exits the conversation he says, “Mr. Reynolds said he has detention covered, right sir?” He may still be the History teacher, but he’s got something over the principal’s head. I wonder, if this will come back? Or is that the end of Sideways Ben?
The Island. Hurley and Jack.
As I said before, I’m so over our Losties being separated. Perhaps that is the point of this season, to see our Losties as individuals, not embraced by The Island or a common goal. The whole “live together, die alone” thing has been ringing through my head the last few weeks. They are absolutely living alone right now. Moreso than we’ve ever seen.
So, Jack and Hurley decide to leave the Lighthouse. Hurley doesn’t want to go to the Temple and makes every effort to stop Jack from doing so. But suddenly, a blast from the past—old Sexy Eyes appears out of the jungle! I’m having a hard time remembering when and where Jack and Hurley have seen Richard Alpert before, but apparently they know him. Or have seen him. Or something.
They follow him to The Temple…which actually turns out to be The Black Rock. Richard has been on The Island since it crashed there (I don’t think we’ve ever explicitly been told that Richard was on The Black Rock, but after tonight, I think that’s a given). Richard begins looking through the boxes of dynamite and wants Jack to blow him up. Richard obviously can’t do it because, “Jacob touched me. He gave me a gift. It won’t work if I do it.” (More on that later…)
Suddenly, Jack steps into the full fledged Man of Faith. Jacob’s Lighthouse plan worked like a charm. Jack lights the dynamite and sits at Richard’s feet. He says, “I believe Jacob brought me here for a reason. If Jacob touched you, I think neither of us can die. We are both supposed to be here.” (<–that’s my version)
Jack’s face here was almost insane. We have never seen this part of Jack. He was almost giddy. All the crazy faith he mocked Locke for was front and center in Jack. There was so much more to the conversation but it all boils down to Richard is doubting Jacob, but Jack is suddenly a Jacob evangelist.
The Island. Ben.
Ilana and her new followers (Lapidus, Sun, Miles) are running through the jungle. Is this a weird crew to you? And why do they suddenly follow Ilana? I’d be running as far as I could from her! Anyway, Ben was a bit behind them after encountering mad Sayid in the Temple.
He tells them that Sayid killed Dogen and Lennon. And for some reason this gets Ilana all crazy and starts doubting how Jacob died. She asks Miles to “read” Jacob’s ashes. He does and says (very matter of fact), “Linus stabbed him.” Ilana says, “Jacob’s the closest thing I’ve had to a father.” She’s livid and turns away.
They reach the beach and begin to do their Lostie-island-campy stuff. Ben plays the fool by trying to talk Ilana out of believing Miles. Soon Ilana points her gun at Ben and makes him dig his own grave. She has him tethered to a tree and stands guarding him as he digs.
Suddenly, unLocke appears and stands hidden in the bushes near Ben. He tells Ben that he has been looking for him. unLocke is taking some people off The Island and he needs someone to stay and be in charge. Namely, Ben. (Wait, a minute. Didn’t unLocke tell Sawyer The Island is just an island? It doesn’t need protecting? Why would Ben need to be in charge?!) He magically uses the force to un lock (ha!) Ben’s shackles. He tells Ben there is a gun hidden in the jungle for him. He should meet them at the Hydra station. And then unLocke is gone.
Ben immediately takes off for the jungle and the gun. Ilana is right behind him. Ben finds the gun and there is a stand off. Ben is ready to pull the trigger but as usual wants to talk first. He says, “I want to tell you I know how you feel.” He explains that he followed Jacob’s orders almost his entire life. He followed Jacob’s orders to the detriment—the DEATH of his daughter. He explains how he was betrayed by Jacob. And now he is going to unLocke because “he’s the only one that will have me.” (Seriously, is Michael Emerson the greatest actor EVER? He and Terry O’Quinn should be in a show together or something…)
Ilana is moved by his speech. She says, “I’ll have you.” And turns to walk back to the beach.
Ben was as stunned as I was. And suddenly, REDEMPTION happens on The Island and Ben walks away from Power, from The Island and from evil. And he follows Ilana.
Is it possible? Is Ben one of the good guys now?
Our story ends with Jack, Hurley and Richard arriving on the beach to be warmly greeted by Sun, Lapidus, Ilana and Miles. While a sheepish Ben looks on.
Did I say end? Oh, wait. Here’s your ending:
A submarine’s periscope is fixed on our Lostie Beach Crew. Who’s manning the submarine? Why CHARLES WIDMORE, of course!
Black Screen O’Lost. The End.
Stuff To Talk About
1. Jacob’s touch. If Jacob’s touch makes you immortal, WHO was touched? Well, in Season 5′s finale, Sawyer was handed a pen by Jacob. Jack is given an Apollo bar by Jacob. Hurley got the guitar case. But Kate. Kate is touched on the nose. Jin and Sun were patted on the shoulder. And Locke. Locke was touched a la Pushing Daisies and brought back to life.
Now. If the touch makes you immortal why is Locke dead? Or was Jacob’s touch what made Locke the perfect vessel for Smokey? If all of these people are immortal and are forced to live on The Island a la Jacob/Smokey for the rest of their lives, wouldn’t that be an interesting ending? You see a new group of Losties wash ashore and our Oceanic 6 (more or less) rule The Island in Jacob/Smokey’s footsteps…
Also. Is THE touch what does it? Or is the pen and the Apollo bar enough? Does it mean anything that Sawyer and Jack (the arch-nemesis) are the only ones Jacob didn’t REALLY touch? Do I see a new Jacob and Smokey appearing?
2. Miles is hilarious.
3. Sawyer. Where in the blue blazes is he?!!
I loved this Ben-centric episode. After last week’s downfall of Sayid, I didn’t know what to expect. But seeing Ben basically redeem himself, I felt good about The Island AND the Los Angeles reality. There was so much in Ben’s whole story…but I wonder if it is in contrast to Sayid’s story from last week? What is going to be the final point? Is The Island showing everyone’s true selves? Will our Island Losties and LA Losties find themselves by the end of the season? Did this episode say something about LOST as a whole? What did you think?