Digging Your Own Grave
So after I complained a bit about last week’s episode, I actually watched it a second time and really enjoyed it. So I think this is how this season is going to go – we expect answers, and we keep getting more questions but, in essence, that’s what Lost is…why should the last season be any different? But tonight I got to have a Ben centered episode, and as you know, I love Ben! So even with the twists and turns and slight slowness, I really enjoyed this one!
First things first: we have another storyline of redemption in the Alterna-world. This time, Ben saves Alex, from a potential disaster of his own creation. But where was Danielle? And how are Danielle and Alex living not only off the island, but also in LA?! Shouldn’t they be in France? And why would Danielle, who seemed to be fairly successful in her own pre-island life, be working two jobs just to make rent? And just how much of these back stories is the show going to fill in for us?
What I loved about Ben’s Alterna-world story (besides the return of Dr. Arzt) was the way it (somewhat heavy-handedly) gave us two insights about two of our characters. Ben’s description of Napoleon’s loss of power being even more significant than his experience of exile of course was describing his own island character – a fact affirmed for us in his amazing speech to Elena near the end of the episode. And in the teacher-lounge, when John notes to Ben that when the man in charge stops caring about those in his care, it’s time for a change, it seemed he was talking as much about the shift in power from Jacob to Smokie/Flocke as he was about the pervy principal.
In both narratives, Ben resists Locke’s temptation of him – he doesn’t usurp the power from either the principle or to rule the island. Elena’s acceptance of him was touching – both to us the viewers and, evidently to Ben as well. As he rejoined the group on the beach as one of them, and then the slow-mo started rolling with music overtop while some old friends appeared around the beach’s bend, we were whisked back to that motif used so many times to end episodes in the first season and give us a sense of hope that all would be ok.
Of course, all is not ok – we didn’t end on that vision of hope and community and reconciliation, but instead closed out with Widmore’s sub approaching the island. And thank God for it! It’s about time we resumed our old pre-Jaco/MIB narrative of good vs. evil…we’ve got some old, less-than-mystical questions to get answered with regards to those two.
And did it strike anyone else as slightly ominous that Miles sat twirling those diamonds in his fingers as the group united on the beach? Between that moment and Ben reminding us of his previous 3.2million dollar bribe, I was forced to recollect that the sweet, comedic-relief Miles we now know and love used to be able to be sold to the highest bidder. Just by hanging on the ghostly sidelines, Miles has proved immensely helpful at crucial moments in the last few weeks. As Widmore approaches, I have to wonder if he’ll purchase our friend Miles over to his (perhaps?) dark side?
Ok, Jack and Richard’s showdown was perhaps my favourite part of the episode – I love the Jack of faith so much more than the cynical, whiny baby Jack of control. As they sat in the Black Rock across from that dynamite stick, I returned to the love I had for Dr. Shepherd in the first season. But seeing as I’ve already gone on for so long, I’ll leave that scene to you to discuss. They certainly made it seem as if Richard came over on the Black Rock…but I’m not sure I fully buy it yet – thoughts?
I am right there with you – I really liked this week’s episode and I am even enjoying the somewhat predictable pattern that is developing: focus on one character and get to the bottom of what really drives them, both on the island and in the the Alterna-world. I especially loved that we got to see Ben and Horace reunited, itself already a real step toward redemption, since in the island world, Ben was responsible for his father’s and all the other Dharma deaths. It was also the first mention of the island in the Alterna-world, and I’ve got to think that is pretty significant. I read somewhere that eventually these parallel tracks would intersect and we would leave the flash side-ways behind. Perhaps Horace’s musings about what life would have been like if the Linus men hadn’t left the island was the start of this merger.
Though his basic musing – think how different our lives would have been! – had a poignancy that he and Alterna-Ben could not appreciate. In the parallel universe, Ben faces the same test of power that he faced on the island and he refuses it. When substitute teacher Locke makes the argument to Dr. Linus that when a leader stops caring for his people it is time for a change, yes, I heard echoes of island Locke’s own behavior. But it was also a temptation that island Ben faced himself. We don’t know the whole story of how he managed to banish Widmore, but we do know that he became disillusioned with Widmore’s leadership and led a coup that ended with him in power. A power that motivated and corrupted him, right down to his daughter’s death. His refusal of that power in Alterna-world, even though on a smaller scale, was beautiful to see, and mirrored Ben’s most honest confession to date and change of heart on the island. Like you, I loved the scene when Ilena accepted him and he rejoined the beach crew, willing, finally it seems, to surrender his power and regain his faith.
That was probably the theme I loved most in this episode, a perennial theme for Lost – how to have faith? When is it warranted, even when it flies against one’s sense of self-protection or self-interest? Ben clearly wrestled with this and when he accepts Ilena’s acceptance (something like forgiveness?), he is, in a sense, reaccepting his faith in Jacob, even though he betrayed and killed him. Richard, of course, was the other man tested by a dark night of the soul. I agree, all signs point to him having arrived on the Black Rock. It is hard to figure exactly why he would have been in chains on a slave ship, but that is my guess. His speech to Jack was not so different than the speech Ben made to Jacob just before he killed him: these are both men who have devoted their entire lives (and in Richard’s case, that is really saying something) to serving a man who promised them purpose, a plan, answers. And then he dies. As Emily commented on your post already, there is a definite parallel here with Jesus and his disciples. I’m not saying Jacob is going to mirror Jesus in any hard and fast way – the parallel, at least for now, is more around this topic of faith. What does it mean to have faith in something that appears to be a lie, to fall to pieces, to turn out horribly wrong? How does one keep believing in the stories of a man who died when you thought he never could?
It was absolutely wonderful to see Jack, the great skeptic of the series so far, stand in for this kind of believing, even though he has never met Jacob (as far as he remembers) and has no direct contact with him. Signs are definitely pointing to Jack as the successful candidate, but I’m not making any predictions now.
I do bet we’re going to get a Jin and Sun episode soon, especially since Ilena confessed the whole candidate scenario to Sun. Here’s hoping there is a reunion in there somewhere (especially since I have no idea where Jin is now!).
Speaking of candidates, when Jack asks Richard where he’s been and Richard says “you wouldn’t believe me” Jack answers “try me.” To which Richard replies “not yet.” Did you get that fun play on trying and testing – perhaps weighing the candidates?
And yes, yes, yes, bring on Widmore and some answers to that mystery. Why exactly can’t Ben and Widmore kill each other – that is the question for me. Or maybe all that has changed now that Jacob is dead?
Keep the comments coming, dear readers. As ABC likes to remind us every day – only nine episodes left!