LOST: “Dr. Linus””

An interesting and unexpected episode involving Ben Linus, a study in contrasts.

Spoilers from tonight’s episode and more after the break.

Links and miscellanea

  • If you haven’t seen this already, Michael Emerson is wonderfully creepy as a corrections bureaucrat in this prison training video from 1992:

  • Another Lost Slapdown video:
    http://www.hulu.com/embed/Jf4RnlSUtUPkaY9-LpaN2g
  • I was pleased to see Michael Giacchino win an Academy Award for his Up score. Throughout the series of Lost, Giacchino has made the show so much better; his music is integral to the experience.
  • There’s a new contest aimed at fans: create a promo for the series finale and it could be used by ABC.
  • io9 has a piece on Damon Lindelof’s Twitter-based responses to fans concerned about how the series will wrap itself up.
  • DK is publishing a Lost Encyclopedia, which can be preordered now. I’m doubtful. I can’t see it being any better than the one we already have, and will probably be a whole lot worse.
  • More from Cuse and Lindelof at TV Guide, including this key quote from Damon about the sideways flashes: “People are saying [they] don’t need these stories and all we can say is they’re absolutely 100 percent necessary to tell the story of Lost, and hopefully by the end of the season it will be more obvious as to why.”
  • And finally, this Flickr set contains some … um, interesting … Lost fan art, including renditions of the cast as Na’vi.

Observations and speculations

  • As the episode opens, Ben is running from the Temple, where he has seen a murderous Sayid, and attempting to catch up to Ilana and Team Jacob. Ben’s position is precarious, as it has been since late last season. It’s not clear how he escaped the Temple, other than that Smokie apparently didn’t want him dead.
  • Ilana shares something typical of a Jacob disciple: she doesn’t really know much about what’s going on. When Sun says to Ilana, “You said it was safe at the Temple,” she replies, “That’s what I was told.”
  • Ilana and her crew head back to the Beach at Ben’s suggestion.
  • In the LA-X universe, Dr. Ben Linus, European History teacher extraordinaire is teaching a class about Napoleon and, more specifically, his exile on the island of Elba. This calls to mind the famous palindrome, “Able was I ere I saw Elba.” In Ben’s words, “It was on this island that everything changed. That everything finally became clear. … What was truly devastating to him was the loss of his power.” LA-X Ben is talking about Island Ben with insightful accuracy.
  • LA-X Ben is plagued by an uncaring bureaucrat of a principal. If Principal Reynolds looks familiar it could be because he’s played by William Atherton, who might be most remembered as the guy who shut off the power grid in Ghostbusters. More on-topic, there’s also a nice little inside joke buried in his IMDb profile. Atherton had a guest-starring role on “Nash Bridges” in an episode called “Key Witness” written by none other than Carlton Cuse. His character’s name? Yep, Dr. Linus.
  • In the scene where Principal Reynolds is telling Dr. Linus about needing to cover detention, there is a mural on the wall fo the high school courtyard that says, “United we Stand, Divided we Fall,” perhaps an allusion to the season 2 finale, “Live Together, Die Alone.”
  • LA-X Ben is the sort of person who eats grocery store sushi kept in the refrigerator with his name written on the package in Sharpie. He’s also the type of a person who might willingly socialize with Leslie Arzt. Recall that Arzt was always a science teacher, even in the Island universe. It won’t be long before Arzt has as much screen time in season 6 than he had in season 1, pre-blown-to-bits.
  • Real (LA-X) Locke to LA-X Ben: “Maybe you should be the principal. It sounds like you care about this place. And if the man in charge doesn’t, maybe you should make a change.” This parallels the conversation that Not-Locke and Island Ben have later in the episode, in which Not-Locke suggests that Ben ought to be the one left in charge of the island after he leaves.
  • On the island, hiking through the jungle by torchlight (a favorite pastime of Island inhabitants), Ben has totally lost his lying mojo. Ilana is onto him and he doesn’t do a very convincing job of convincing her that it was Smokie who killed Jacob. This leads to Ilana pulling out her satchel of Jacob remains and having Miles do his thing. Miles, always caustic, throws Ben’s line about Sayid back in his face, “Well he was standing over Jacob’s body with a bloody dagger so, yeah, I’m pretty sure.”
  • Ilana tells Ben, “Jacob was the closest thing I ever had to a father.” Apparently, Ilana’s father figure is distant, manipulative and cryptic. Her chances of having a healthy relationship seem dim. Throughout this scene, Ilana’s face is lit in half light/half dark, evoking the black/white theme that has carried the film and perhaps suggesting that Ilana is in a state of moral ambiguity at this point.
  • The beach, of course, is ruins. There are still pieces of the Oceanic fuselage visible, and even a few lean-tos.
  • Meanwhile, in LA-X, Ben is making a microwave dinner for his father, now an invalid. (There’s no way he could throw a football over that mountain in this state.) As Ben changes his father’s oxygen tank, we’re reminded that Island Ben was responsible for gassing all the DHARMA people and killing his father.
  • Roger Linus tells Ben that it was because he wanted something better for his son that he signed up for the DHARMA Initiative in the first place. “Imagine how different our lives would have been if we’d stayed.” Of course, we don’t have to imagine.
  • Alex Rousseau shows up at Ben’s door, except that in LA-X, she’s his star high school student. Like on the Island, he clearly has a lot of affection for her.
  • Back on the Island, Ilana reveals to Sun that she has been tasked with protecting Kwon, though no one bothered to tell her which one. One of them is a candidate to replace Jacob. She also tells Sun that there are “only six [candidates] left.” Presumably, the candidates at this point are Jack, Hurley, Sun or Jin, Sayid, Sawyer and one other—possibly Kate, though her status is in question. I suppose there’s still a chance that Vincent, too, is a candidate. At least, I hope so.
  • In the next scene, half-asleep Hurley is mumbling about cheese curds. Not sure what that’s about.
  • Richard Alpert appears in the jungle and pretends to lead Hurley and Jack to the Temple, but really guides him to the Black Rock. Jack: “Where did you come from?” Richard: “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.” Richard was probably answering that question obliquely by taking Jack to the Black Rock, where he came from. We now have almost positive proof that Richard arrived on the island aboard the Black Rock, probably as a prisoner, given the wistful way Richard looked at the shackles in the ships brig, and given Not-Locke’s comment earlier that, “It’s nice to see you without your chains.”
  • Back at the Beach, Ben is looking through Sawyer’s stash of reading materials, which includes both a magazine called “Booty Babes” (“with bouncing beautiful buns”&dmash;clearly alliteration is a priority to the editor), Benjamin Disraeli‘s Justice and Truth in Action (a book that is apparently rare, because Google doesn’t turn up much), and a copy of Chaim Potok’s The Chosen.
  • Lapidus to Ben: “Imagine how different my life would be if that alarm had gone off” and he had flown Oceanic 815. This is an echo of LA-X Roger Linus’s comment about how their lives would have been different if they had stayed on the island. Ben, “The island still got you in the end, didn’t it?”
  • Anyone remember where we saw that bamboo shovel before? Presumably, we saw the Oceanic survivors use it, possibly to dig other graves in the graveyard.
  • In LA-X, Dr. Linus quizzes Alex about her upcoming European History AP exam, and mentions the East India Trading Company, with a book open depicting a ship that looks an awful lot like the Black Rock. Incedentally, the answer to Dr. Linus’ question is that the Charter Act of 1813 extended the Company’s control of all parts of India except Punjab, Sindh and Nepal (according to Wiki).
  • Alex provides Dr. Linus with some salacious information about Principal Reynolds, presenting us with the question of whether LA-X Ben would use this information the same way Island Ben would use it—exploitation and manipulation. And he does, kind of, but not with the ruthlessness that we’ve come to expect from Ben.
  • Island Ben tries to get Miles to free him by promising Miles the $3.2 million that Miles asked for when he and Ben first met on the island. Miles lets Ben know that if he wanted to, he could just swipe the diamonds that were buried with Nikki and Paolo. Later, we see Miles holding one of the diamonds. We know that Miles is not above using his gift for monetary gain, as we learned from his flashbacks.
  • Miles tells Ben that “right up until the second the knife went through [Jacob’s] heart, he was hoping he was wrong about you.” Interesting.
  • On the way to the Black Rock Richard explains that he doesn’t age because “Jacob gave me a gift.” This was perhaps the biggest reveal of the episode (though it’s been hinted at for a while): once Jacob touches you, you can’t kill yourself, and perhaps can’t be killed either (except possibly by another candidate?). This may mean that Jack, Hurley, Kate, Sawyer, Sun and Jin cannot die. (Perhaps this explains how Jin miraculously survived the freighter explosion.) Richard cannot even kill himself.
  • Jacob is a cruel guy. He made Richard wait hundreds of years until the “time was right” for Jacob to tell him about his plan, and that time never came.
  • The bit with the dynamite on the barrel was a nice bit of storytelling. Nothing moves the incident along like a burning fuse.
  • Jack tells Richard, “We go back to where we started,” which apparently means the Beach, the arrival point on the island.
  • Not-Locke shows up and frees Ben from Ilana’s make-shift shackles, using some sort of Smoke Monster Fu. He tells Ben that he doesn’t want Ben to die, but instead wants him to be in charge of the Island after he leaves. Not-Locke tells Ben where to go to find a gun and tells him to not resist shooting Ilana, because she wouldn’t hesitate to kill him.
  • LA-X Ben tries to blackmail Principal Reynolds, but is faced with the choice of sacrificing Alex to get what he wants. This is a direct contrast to Island Ben’s actions which contributed to Alex’s death, which is specifically referred to in the next scene in case anyone doesn’t remember. (If LA-X Ben was more ruthless, he would have asked for the job and the letter of recommendation for Alex, but apparently, LA-X Ben just isn’t there yet.)
  • I didn’t quite buy it when Ilana forgave Ben. I kept expecting her to shoot kill Ben as soon as she got a chance. But Emerson did a hell of an acting job in that scene. And good acting by Zuleikha Robinson as well.
  • There’s a fairly lengthy scene at the end of the episode heavy on music and featuring shots of quiet moments, followed by a reunion of friends. It seems like we used to get scenes like this a lot in the first few seasons, but haven’t had one in a while. A bit boring, really. But we do get something else we used to get often at the end of these scenes: a surprise development. Here, it’s the arrival of Charles Widmore in a sub. Nice. It will be interesting to see which side he’s playing on, which team he is aligned with. Probalby not Team Jacob, though that’s not at all a given, I don’t think.

For a Ben episode, this was awfully, I don’t know, introspective and sweet. We got a few key revelations that were not earth-shattering, but were interesting none the less. I was glad that Ben didn’t get killed (before the episode began, I was putting the odds of a Linus death at about 50/50), because he remains one of my favorite characters, even if he’s much less interesting than he’s been in the past.

Thoughts and impressions? Did you like it? Did I miss anything significant?

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55 thoughts on “LOST: “Dr. Linus””

  1. good call on Michael Giacchino. The guy has done fantastic music over the past decade (Alias, The Incredibles, Lost, I think Ratatouille, Star Trek, and Up, among many others). A deserving Oscar.

    I liked this episode, though I also think Ilyana gave in too quickly at the end with Ben. As much as I like Michael Emerson’s acting, Ben’s character just needs to be put out of his misery already. He’s a murdering psychopathic liar.

    I like the bit with Charles at the end. I’m glad we’re getting him back in it. I don’t think he is on either Jacob’s or MIB’s side. I think he is on his own side. This means we might get Desmond back in the story soon too. 🙂

  2. You’re wrong about Locke’s comment about the chains. He said, “Nice to see you without the chains”, not “your chains”. I believe that Locke (the man in black) was the one in chains, not Richard. The look on Richard’s face as he realizes who Locke really is shows fear, as if he’s thinking “Oh my God! He’s Free!”

  3. You’re wrong about Locke’s comment about the chains. He said, “Nice to see you without the chains”, not “your chains”. I believe that Locke (the man in black) was the one in chains, not Richard. The look on Richard’s face as he realizes who Locke really is shows fear, as if he’s thinking “Oh my God! He’s Free!”

    Your correct that I missed the quote. But I still think that Richard arriving on the Black Rock in chains is still the most likely scenario.

  4. I bought Ilana’s softening toward Ben. She’s been so hardass committed to Jacob, almost stubbornly so, that I thought Ben’s honesty with her struck a cord – the doubt she’s had all along, the heartbreak of being devoted to someone who gives little in return that she’s been suppressing all this time.

    I think she realized, just as Ben did in the statue, Jack did in the lighthouse and Richard did just now, that everything they believed in is now in question. The big reunion at the beach said a lot – they’re all in this together – Lost once again (and “back where we started”), and bounded by a common experience/perspective.

    Love the reappearance of Widmore, although I really need to stop looking at the opening credits 🙂

    I’m also starting to wonder, having been previously convinced that the LAX scenes represented the epilogue of the show, after good and evil do battle and Jack/Kate do something heroic in the finale, that it’s something different.

    I wonder now if LAX is the life you get if you make a deal with Jacob and/or Smokey. We’re seeing several fantasies come true – Alex safe and thriving like a normal teenager, Claire with Aaron, Nadia living a normal suburban life, Jack being a good father and at peace with his own father, Locke having the love of Helen and accepting his disability, Hurley being not cursed, Rose being at peace with her cancer.

    The theme of dealmaking is running rampant through this show, and we are being reminded how often it has come up in the past, particularly with Ben and Miles this ep.

    Speaking of, loved Miles this ep and was happy to see him an active part of the plot rather than filler. Loved that he spotted the diamonds, and that he has no interest in helping out Ben (as it should be given their history, on the assumption that Miles’ father died in Ben’s purge and left he and his mother on their own).

  5. Another thing I just realized that bothered me from last season, but now makes some sense. When Ben goes to visit Locke off-island, Locke is just about to commit suicide by hanging. Ben arrives, talks him out of killing himself, then strangles him. The conventional wisdom has been that either Ben needed that final piece of intel (IIRC, that Locke had received instructions from Ms. Hawking) or that something about this information had sent Ben into a murderous rage. Now we have a more rational explanation: Ben couldn’t just let Locke kill himself because he knew Locke would have been unsuccessful. Only Ben could have killed Locke.

  6. I wonder now if LAX is the life you get if you make a deal with Jacob and/or Smokey. We’re seeing several fantasies come true – Alex safe and thriving like a normal teenager, Claire with Aaron, Nadia living a normal suburban life, Jack being a good father and at peace with his own father, Locke having the love of Helen and accepting his disability, Hurley being not cursed, Rose being at peace with her cancer.

    I like this theory a lot. It’s much more satisfying than the epilogue theory. I guess, technically, it’s not incompatible with the epilogue theory.

  7. I found this episode more satisfying than last week, but yes, a bit sweet for Lost. When Jack and Richard were talking and the dynamite fuse was burning up I wondered if Jack willed the fuse to burn out. He closed his eyes–was he sincerely tempting fate/the island or did he feel her has some special powers now that he thinks Jacob has been watching him?

  8. I think that perhaps some characters cannot be killed — or kill themselves — not because they are candidates, but because the Island deities still need them for their own purposes. Richard is not a candidate, but he was not allowed to die. And remember that Michael tried multiple times to kill himself when he was in New York. He died in the frieghter explosion only after Christian appeared to him and said, in effect: “thanks for your service, but we don’t need you anymore.”

    If this is true, there is still a purpose left for Richard and Ben, who both faced death in this episode.

    I enjoyed this episode a lot. The twin themes of Faith and Redemption really came to the fore last night. I thought it interesting that key members of The Others and Team Jacob are facing a crisis of faith: Richard, Ilana, the members of the Temple who chose to go with FLocke, etc. At the same time, we’re seeing signs of growing faith from Jack, who seemed certain he would not die if he lit the fuse on the Black Rock.

    Ben’s moment of redemption came after his standoff with Ilana. He had the choice to accept FLocke’s invitation to join him at the Hydra Station (with the added temptation of assuming power over the Island once again), or remaining with Ilana on the beach in a more humbled role. He chose the latter, and we see him in the next scene lending a hand to Sun in fixing up their new home.

    I suspect over the last nine, we will see many of the main characters — Sawyer, Jack, Ben, Kate, perhaps even Sayid and Claire — perform a heroic act of redemption for their past sins that will somehow resolve the war between the deities and restore balance to the Island.

  9. I also bought Ilana’s not killing Ben–she can always do that later if she wants to, but she can’t unkill him. Makes more sense to wait as long as she does not feel that he is a danger to her (or doesn’t care).

  10. One question about the deal-making theory as it applies to the sideways flashes: when would Locke have made a deal with Jacob and/or Smokie?

  11. I noticed the symmetry between the principal saying he was going to “torch” Alex’s recommendation and Keamy and Co. repeatedly saying that they were there to “torch” the island. As before in LAX timeline, a wrong is put right – LAX Ben chooses safety for Alex at his own expense.

    I did sort of take issue with Ben’s monologue with Illana in that he says something to the effect that he was more concerned with power on the island than he was with his own daughter. My impression from watching that scene (the one where Alec is killed) was that Ben was duped. He thought that Widmore or whoever couldn’t kill Alex because it was against the rules. I don’t know that the scene was so much about control as it was revealing that Ben had not been playing with a full hand.

  12. Good point Greg – and hard to pick something out as Locke is one of the first to have a relationship of sorts with Smokey. He saw him first, and decided it was a beautiful thing as I recall.

    Very early on, given the gift (?) of his legs back, he started devoting himself to the island, and sacrificing others in the process. Boone died because he didn’t want anyone to know about the drug plane; he blew up the sub so no one could leave; he got someone else to kill his father so he could assume leadership and displace Ben.

    Maybe there was never a handshake deal in the traditional sense, but his actions would seem to suggest a deal with the devil, or the island gods if you will. In some ways, is that not what Ben did when he killed off Dharma? Bit of a “thanks for bringing me back to life, now I’ll do this nasty thing for you, and then I get to be leader?”

    Or, it’s something entirely different!

  13. Amy, I wondered about that slight rewriting of history too. At the time I felt Ben was gambling on the assumption that Widmore would not kill Alex (spy game rules – you don’t go after your opponents’ family – and subsequently Ben went after Penny). Later, as we learned more about who can kill who on the island, and heard the blond boy say it recently too, I thought it was something tied up in those “rules.”

    I think now it might be both – he now blames himself for adhering to the rules of the island, following them, relying on them, and in the process being blind to the fact that Keamy was not playing by the rules and Alex was in real danger.

    I also think Keamy was acting alone after a point – I have a hard time believing that Widmore would have ordered or approved of killing Alex. I would think he would be as interested in Alex as he was in Charlotte, Miles and Daniel, as children of the island.

  14. Oh, perhaps the most important line of the night, and one that I didn’t mention in my blog post and hasn’t been brought up yet in the comments: when Hurley says he’s been talking to Jacob and Richard says (paraphrasing), “Don’t trust anything he says.” VERY interesting.

  15. Yes Greg – that could be big. It could of course be as simple as “I trusted him and he screwed me, so don’t,” but could also mean that Richard as his main communicator has been aware of Jacob lying/misleading in the past, and has covered for him.

  16. Regarding candidates and killing each other… didn’t Ben shoot Locke in the gut with a wound that healed? (In that mass grave?) Was it because the island wasn’t done with Locke yet?

  17. I know her character is lame, but I can’t help but keep thinking of why Kate isn’t a candidate. She was touched by Jacob.

  18. I have a hard time believing that Widmore would have ordered or approved of killing Alex. I would think he would be as interested in Alex as he was in Charlotte, Miles and Daniel, as children of the island.

    I’m not sure I buy that. When Widmore had that meeting with Eloise Hawking (during which it was revealed that Faradey was their son), it seemed to me that he knew that Hawking was grooming Faraday to return to the Island where we would likely be shot and killed by the younger version of Hawking. If he knew that and didn’t intervene, what would Alex’ life meant to him? After all, he was Ben’s rival, and Ben was specifically told to kill both Rousseau and Alex. Ben chose to save Alex instead and raise her as his daughter. Widmore may have not ordered Keamy to kill Alex (Keamy was clearly improvising at that point in the battle), but I don’t think Widmore lost any sleep over it.

    I interpreted Ben’s confession this way: his first thought in the standoff with Keamy WAS to the Island and his own power, and because of that, he thought he had the power and control to call Keamy’s bluff. Or at least stall and keep Keamy talking until he can figure a way out of the standoff. His sin was one of arrogance: he was so sure in his ability to manipulate others, that he gambled Alex’s life on it. And lost. And he has been carrying that guilt around with him.

    His explanation to Ilana was a confession of his guilt. And as any good Catholic will tell you, the confession unburdens the soul and allows for atonement and redemption. That is what Ben is seeking now, and that’s why he chose to stay with Team Jacob.

  19. We know that Widmore is the person Jacob was referring to when he said someone is coming to the island. I’m leaning towards Widmore being on team smokie for two reasons. #1, my guess is that Jacob knew that Jack would get upset at the lighthouse and smash the mirrors, possibly making it hard for Widmore to come – even though he gave Hurley the directions to bring Widmore there (just a ploy to look like a good guy). Also, with Ben on Team Jacob, you could easily guess that Widmore will always be against Ben. Of course, that’s a dangerous guess to make given the players. I can’t help thinking that Smokie could end up being the good guy.

  20. so wait a second. Smoke Monster is MIB/Nemesis. But in the scene we are referring to, when Keamy killed Alex, it sure seemed to me like Ben controlled Smoke Monster to kill Keamy’s horde. But Ben was supposedly working for Jacob? Huh?

  21. Does Jacob touch one of the Kwons and not the other at their wedding? If so, that would tell us which one is the candidate, no?

  22. Tom, Jacob touched both Kwons at the same time at their wedding.

    One thing I do find odd though is that Hurley and Sayid were touched *after* they returned to LA as part of the Oceanic Six, so does that mean that Jacob identified them while they were on the island and then slotted their names into random numbers? Hurley in particular was very last minute – just a day or two before the Ajira flight, which in the present timeline, was just a few days ago. I guess we could theorize that Jacob knew his death was imminent, and thus needed Hurley to communicate.

    I have to say though that I think the touching is far more important than the numbers, which I believe in the end are just a random set of symbols threaded throughout the story like so many others – but I do think that *when* they were touched might be a bit of a plot hole.

  23. re Widmore – yeah Mudhead and CoolKev I’m open to your ideas. Widmore is one of the biggest mysteries in this from my point of view, and I’m hoping the writers place as much importance on him as I do in giving us some answers.

    Since the beginning almost, we’ve had scraps of information about him, and yet the whole picture remains elusive. Is he bad or good? What does he want in the end? What are his relationships to other characters (much speculation, little confirmed)? How much of a force has he been in island history? Is Sun still partnering with him? How did he get there in there in the first place? Does Desmond have a unique role in all this, or is he only there because Widmore placed him in the story?

  24. So correct me if i’m wrong, but sayid was not able to kill fake locke due to the way sayids scale was already tipping. so wouldnt that imply that bens scale is tipped to the black side if he was able to kill jacob. it seems that now ben has tipped his scale. and if ben is capable of changing his fate, what stopping anyone else from doing it?

    and as for ilana not killing ben, i feel its because she knew that killing ben would change her scale, almost betraying jacob who she claims was a father figure. so how long has ilana and jacob been in contact?

  25. (Haven’t read the comments yet)

    I disagree about earthshattering revelations in this episode. There was a HUGE one. Clearly the flashsideways are not about a change at the time of the nuclear detonation. Were it so then Ben couldn’t be on the mainland due to his being taken by the others. (i.e. he didn’t leave with his father)

  26. The whole “Ben blackmailing the principal” thing was kind of ham-handed and badly handled. I guess the incriminating evidence just magically evaporated after that letter of recommendation was written…

  27. Brian (#30), I think that was the point. LA X Ben just doesn’t have it in him, which I think speaks well of him.

    brad (#28), I was surprised no one mentioned this about Ilana until you did, building on Greg’s having noticed the black/white lighting on her face while in the jungle. Not-Locke’s suggestion for Ben to run actually gave Ilana a chance to see the moral danger of her plan to kill Ben.

    Jack has found his faith and purpose. Richard’s wavering faith is rekindled. Hurley continues to be the quiet hero. Perhaps Ilana is considering the weight of leadership.

    Best line of the ep was “I’ll have you.” Ben is home at last.

    Greg (#16), I think it’s the first of Jenny’s (#17) options. I don’t put a lot of stock in the advice of a man intent on suicide.

    Dan (#1), it’s like you’re watching a different show, a cartoon version, in which Ben Linus wears a greasy bowler and a handlebar mustache.

  28. brad, I think Sayid couldn’t kill NotLocke because he’s no longer human, whereas Ben could kill Jacob because he was human.

  29. Dan, I agree with your description of Ben’s past, but your desire to see him dead reminds me of BOO! HISS! from an audience.

    I see redemption coming, and it’s all the more powerful precisely because of who Ben has been.

  30. Jenny, (re: #27): I agree that Widmore remains a major mystery as to his past and his motives. In addition to your questions, I have one of my own: what did he have to gain by helping Locke and getting the Oceanic 6 back to the Island?

    Dan (#23): Ben controlling Smokey when he was leader of the Others is another mystery that begs answers. It could mean that MIB/Smokey was trapped in servitude to Jacob (I theorized that he was a Genie a couple of weeks ago on this blog), and Smokey responding to Ben’s distress call during the attack was at Jacob’s order. Jacob being killed was what made Smoky “free” from this servitude.

    It could also mean something that to me is more interesting: that the MIB’s attempts to manipulate the outcome of the battle with Jacob extends very far back in time. If true, Ben and perhaps even Richard had been fooled by MIB very early on in thinking that Smokey was controlled by Jacob, and therefore in service to them, when in fact that wasn’t the case. Wasn’t it Ben who referred to the Smoke Monster as a “security system?” If the MIB planned this end-game with Jacob that far back (as hinted by their conversation on the beach as the Black Rock approached), then he could have planned to make his appearances coincide with the Other’s requests for assistance from Jacob. Ben would not know any different, because he admitted he never saw nor spoke directly to Jacob while leader.

    This would explain a couple of things: A) why Richard is feeling so betrayed by Jacob, since Jacob never clued him in as to the Smoke Monster’s true nature and motives; and B) why Smokey’s appearance to Ben (telling him to follow Locke) had such a powerful effect — Ben would have interpreted this as a message from Jacob himself. Thus, Smokey-as-Locke was able to easily convince Ben to kill Jacob.

  31. Mudhead, you raise a very good point in reminding us that Smokey hasn’t always been the root of all evil. You’re right Ben seemed to think he had some control over it in calling it up from the well and in referring to it as a security system, and then in Ben’s taking what it told him in the form of Alex at face value.

    Although in the latter case, he might have thought that even though it was evil Smokey, it really was Alex speaking to him, perhaps because he knew that Smokey can give voice to the dead?

    Also, while Smokey wasn’t such a good experience for the pilot or Eko, when Locke saw it early on, he referred to it as beautiful.

    Maybe, Smokey has been MIB all along, and rather that being in servitude or what have you, he’s just been stuck and restricted in his movements while Jacob was alive. Knowing that the pilot and Eko (and Rousseau’s crew) were not candidates, he could go after them – but knowing that Locke was a candidate, all he could do was take a good look at him, and he had to leave Rousseau alone as well.

  32. Clark,

    Re: your #29 comment, it was always about more than just the changes resulting from the detonation, since all sorts of other things occurred, before the detonation, as the results of time travelers from the future arriving in 1974.

    But, far more importantly, your larger point stands, since Ben’s being taken to the Others was already part of that changed history. There’s something else coming into play here. Good call.

  33. so wait a second. Smoke Monster is MIB/Nemesis. But in the scene we are referring to, when Keamy killed Alex, it sure seemed to me like Ben controlled Smoke Monster to kill Keamy’s horde. But Ben was supposedly working for Jacob? Huh?

    Maybe there are more than one smoke monsters. Maybe both Jacob and Nemesis can go smokey.

    Recall also that at one point Smokey inspected Eko and seemed okay with him, then later on we see Eko smashed by Smokey. Two Smokeys could explain the apparent change of heart.

    (Incidentally, if there are two Smokeys, and they mated, then their babies would be ______)

  34. Smokey killing Eco still grates on me. But now for more reasons. It seems like Eco was a candidate but suddenly could kill him later? Why?

    Wayne, but most of the events prior took place due to the effects of the time traveling six. If they never crashed then none of those events could have happened. With the Ben incident we realize (a) there was a Dharma and (b) Ben didn’t stay on the island. But the time frame was such that it means this wasn’t due to the traveling six nor the nuke. So I think this is an important clue.

    It would be nice to see Rousseau one more time (either young Rousseau or old crazy Rousseau). I’m still confused about Claire. Also, did we figure out the voices of the Others yet? Is it smokey? Smokey seems to have that mechanical sound. Could the difference be two smokeys? I don’t know.

    I’m most curious about Jack’s dad. He appeared off island which means he couldn’t be smokey. Ditto with Charlie. Something else is definitely going on.

  35. Clark,

    Eko’s actor simply couldn’t do the show anymore, right? So they had to write him off some way. It was definitely a weak part of the story, but that’s my impression.

  36. But the time frame was such that it means this wasn’t due to the traveling six nor the nuke. So I think this is an important clue.

    Huh? Isn’t that the same as what I wrote in my second paragraph? The revised 1974-1977 with the time travelers already had Ben going to the Others.

    If they never crashed then none of those events could have happened.

    Or are you saying here that they never would have time travelled at all because they never would have crashed (as a result of the things they did when they time travelled)? It can’t work that way. I think we agree, but I’m not sure what you mean by this sentence.

    (It’s a good think we’re not putting all this thought into something trivial like a TV show.)

  37. Interesting idea that there are two Smokeys, which could explain why Ben was expecting a certain kind of Smokey and got Alex yelling at him instead.

    As for Christian, I remain convinced that there are two versions – in casual clothes, he’s Smokey, but in a suit, he’s either in Jack’s head or a legitimate ghost in the way that Hurley sees ghosts. Suited Christian has only appeared to Jack, and he’s the only version appearing off-island.

    Similarly, it’s now confirmed that Hurley definitely sees dead people (not in his head as I thought for the first few seasons), so I think we can assume that anyone he sees or has seen is a regular ghost and not Smokey. Has Hurley seen NotLocke/Smokey yet? I don’t think so.

    As for the timeline, agree that in LAX world, there was no bomb detonation and no time traveling – otherwise Ben and Roger would certainly have memory of young Ben being shot and almost dying, and not be speaking about the island like it’s a place they should have considered staying.

    If Oceanic never crashed, then Locke would not have time traveled ever, so what we saw in 1954 didn’t happen, nor the do-over time 1974-77.

    Once again it’s back to Widmore though, because in the LAX timeline, we have no idea if he stayed on the island, nor do we know the fates of the children of the island – Daniel, Charlotte and Miles. We do know the island is now underwater, so it’s possible there were a whole series of things happening not involving Ben or Juliet, but still involving Dharma vs the Widmore/Eloise/Richard Others.

  38. I think the whole candidate thing is a rule not nessecarily an absolute. Canidates can be killed it’s just frowned upon. I also don’t think Jacob “touches” all candiates. It’s possible that that’s a whole other level or something.

  39. If Oceanic never crashed, then Locke would not have time traveled ever, so what we saw in 1954 didn’t happen, nor the do-over time 1974-77.

    This is an interesting point. Given that there was a great deal more time travel than just ending up in 1974, there are numerous possibilities for alternate timelines. From what we’ve seen, there were brief (and seemingly inconsequential) landings in a number of times, some possibly very far in the past. The 1954 time travel, though, involved significant interaction. It’s entirely possible (not that I think it’s what we’re actually seeing in LA-X) that we’re seeing a timeline that diverged at 1954, not 1977.

    It’s all very messy, since we’re not talking about known or real phenomenon. We don’t whether the time travel we’ve seen allowed for bouncing between alternate timelines, or if travel forward is restricted to the timeline created by your last entry into the past. In other words, once you’ve gone into the past and changed something, can you go back to some future point in the timeline you came from, or are you stuck with the new trajectory?

    What you can’t say (according to me) is that, because you went into the past and prevented the plane from going down, you weren’t in that past, since you only ended up in that past because the plane went down (in the relative future, mind you – tensing is difficult with time travel). You create another timeline each time you go into the past and change something. That timeline diverges from the timeline you came from at the first point at which you’ve made something different occur. But whether that new, alternate future involves your going back in time or not, what you did in the new timeline will always be there. A new future lacking time travel cannot affect the (revised) past, even if that past was the result of time travel from a different (i.e. previous revision) future.

    (I swear I’m not posting from an asylum.)

  40. Dan, I agree they had to write Eko out due to the actor not getting along with the Locke actor and hating Hawaii. However I think we can draw significance from how they did it. By then the basic plot of the series was in play.

    Wayne, so you think Ben’s comments to his dad might reflect a butterfly effect from the lack of a 1954 appearance by the six?

  41. Seems like Smokey has been in the service of Jacob but wants out (the Genie theory). Reminds me of the development of Satan in Judeo-Christian thought, from God’s agent (book of Job) to God’s enemy. Jacob makes a good Yahweh too — at once both loving and seemingly indifferent.

    Maybe both Satan and Yahweh die in the end, a metaphor for the death of religion. Our heroes in the end are the humans not the gods, Lost-as-humanism.

  42. Wayne, so you think Ben’s comments to his dad might reflect a butterfly effect from the lack of a 1954 appearance by the six?

    Not necessarily, but it’s possible. I put that out as one example of the many possibilities that all the jumping around in time (or lack thereof) could create. But it’s also possible that what we’re seeing in the LA-X reality stems from something not directly or at all related to time travel. In any case, I think you’re right that LA-X is not the result of 1974-1977 time-traveler activities.

  43. I found it curious that in the LA X timeline, Roger Linus spoke wistfully about how life would have been different had he and Ben stayed on the Island. Weren’t they aware that Dharmaville is now sitting at the bottom of the sea?

    Which makes me wonder again what really happened to the Island in the LA X timeline. One would think that if a major event happened there that destroyed the Dharma research colony (something akin to The Incident), it would have been known to people who were there at some point in the past. Roger had at least one friend in Dharmaville (Horace), so his lack of knowledge of the colony’s destruction is odd.

    And the fact that Ben and Roger WERE living in Dharmaville sometime during Ben’s childhood means that the colony was active at least during the early 70s. Ethan’s appearance in the LA X timeline in an earlier episode also suggests that his mother, Amy, and possibly Horace, also abandoned Dharmavile before it was destroyed. The question that remains is whether they left Dharmaville because of the impending destruction, or if they did so simply of their own accord.

  44. Weren’t they aware that Dharmaville is now sitting at the bottom of the sea?

    I bet not. Roger was a peon who probably didn’t have access to much information. DHARMA was very secretive about island activities. I bet they would have controled the information going in and out.

  45. I wonder if they could have done the same shot of the island under the sea in the original timeline of Season 1 had they chosen to do so. The question is, when is the island under the sea, and is that the same time you would be in were you able to arrive on the island? In other words, the island that Oceanic 316 crashed on may not have been in 2004, and only an approach meeting some number of criteria will allow you to reach the island by displacing you in time such that you meet the island in the (or a) proper time. The same goes for leaving. If you don’t follow the correct heading, you may not properly reverse your displacement in time, leaving you in some other time than you would expect, given the amount of time you were on the island.

    People will tend to point out evidence that the island was in the same time as the outside world, such as Ben telling Jack the Red Sox won the World Series. But information could reach the island as well as anything else by being properly displaced in time by following the proper path under the proper conditions.

    What this would mean is that the island’s being under the sea in the LA-X timeline may be a partial red herring. It made us think the detonation made made it that way, but it may simply be that island is and always was under the sea in 2004, which is why it is so hard to find. I say “partial” because the island’s being under the sea may be a clue to the fact that the events we have witnessed on the island did not happen in the time we previously thought. It may also be that there are different approaches to the island that will allow you to reach it, but not all of them will displace you by the same amount of time.

    This would allow someone from, say, 1895 in the outside world to arrive in the same island time as someone from 2010 in the outside world, provided they took different paths and the 2010 person’s displacement was 115 years great than the 1895 person’s. This would also allow for Locke’s and Ben’s time travel when they left the island after turning the wheel. I don’t remember Ben’s specifics, but Locke ended up in what to him was 3 years in the future. This may have been due to his leaving by a differnt path than the one by which he entered.

  46. Many are assuming that the island is underwater in LAX timeline as a result of Jughead’s detonation in 1977.

    There’s no evidence that the island sunk at that time, and if anything, Roger’s comments to Ben in LAX would indicate that they left willingly and wished they hadn’t. That doesn’t sound like a man who was forced to evacuate in the hours before Jughead, or who escaped as the island was sinking.

    I think the island sinks in 2007 – this season by an incident that hasn’t yet happened – resetting everything to 2004 and giving everyone memory of a life they didn’t actually lead before then (ie quirks like Jack not remembering getting his appendix out – has he never seen that scar before?), or that they wished they had led (and that perhaps Flocke and/or Jacob granted them as per his bargains with them).

    Back to Widmore for a second – I hope we get a centric this season to finally tie all his pieces together.

  47. Yes, I’d originally thought the island sunk with the bomb but I think over the past few weeks there’s been a lot of evidence it didn’t. Whether it is something that happens this season (perhaps even in the finale) is up in the air. As I think I said in the prior week’s discussion I really hope it doesn’t end such that the flash sideways are events after the resolution in the finale.

  48. Yes, I’d originally thought the island sunk with the bomb but I think over the past few weeks there’s been a lot of evidence it didn’t.

    For the record, I’m still strongly of the opinion that Jughead caused the island to sink to the bottom of the Pacific.

  49. While I still think Jughead is probably responsible for Dharmaville becoming the new Atlantis, Wayne may be on to something here regarding time displacement as an aspect of how one approaches the Island. In support of this idea, I present two scenes from past episodes:

    1) Faraday’s rocket experiments with the freighter (where the rocket was observed at different times from the Island and the boat); and

    2) Eloise’s careful mathematical calculations to determine the exact location of the Island in order to return the Oceanic Six. Some comment she made during that episode (sorry, working from memory here, and I may be wrong), seemed to suggest that she was trying to locate the Island in space AND time.

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