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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

TV Watch: Lost, Dr. Linus

This episode was of note because the side-story was, for a change, nicely integrated with the on island story ... and also because both were pretty telling. While Sayid's two tales played off each other somewhat, here we get to see Ben Linus in similar moral territory, or more specifically we get to see Ben revisit an old moral quandry - would he save Alex or his power on the island, in a simpler setting.

I think it worked very, very well. I've always been luke warm on Ben ... he's fun when he's being all manipulative and evil, but there's an almost cliche aspect to it and I've always wondered how it will play out with the "we're the good guys" speeches The Others were known to give. But this is Ben at his best ... showing both his soft side, his manipulative side, and his please-don't-kill-me side. The guy has a lot of sides. Even if this is the last real look we get at his character, it is a darn good one.

On the parallel universe: clearly things aren't up to spec here. Alex should most likely be speaking French and not, say, be in the same school as Ben ... she was, after all, the Crazy French Lady's kid before anything else. The overt character interactions have now officially gone over the line of plausibility that there isn't a subtle hand at work creating this world for them. Also interesting that Ben and Ben's dad were in DHARMA and on the island until some point they decided to leave. What exactly happened to the island in this little snow-globe of a universe is up for grabs, but I'm guessing this must be "non-templed" Ben. So did Ben not get the same darkness as Sayid and Claire? Is this just how Ben is?

On island, I'd still love to see Hurley become New Jacob, but I think all signs are pointing to another Jack versus Locke showdown. Jack's seen the light, gotten the faith and is out to convince others. The most important tidbit about Richard, of course, is that Jacob's touch is responsible for his near immortality. So did Jacob touch Michael and that's why he was adrift in non-suicidal behavior? And does this mean Jack won't age?

Course Ilana has kept Sun in the running as a candidate. Hottest. Candidate. Ever.

These are pretty good party tricks that Jacob and AntiJacob can perform. Opening locks with their mind. Putting out fuses from beyond the grave. Keeping people from aging. I think we are safely out of sci fi related explanations, into something very old, very magical. I can't help but feel a little robbed from the early seasons' notion that Lost was like a puzzle ... if the solution to the puzzle is "it's magic!" well, that's a magic trick and not so much a puzzle. Not even a magic trick you can figure out, at that.

Still - the plot feels cohesive, and that's what I was really asking for out the last season. The revelations are still fun and they still fit into the larger aspects of the show. We're nearly half way there now, and I think the last few acts are going to rock.


Winkyboy said...

I want to know why Linus (in the sideworld) didn't just take the principal's job and write the recommendation letter himself...


Josh said...

Well, in context of Alex's description ... it needed to be someone from Yale. So The Principal himself, I guess.

But - it did seem abbreviated. The Linus we know would have had a response to such a thing (like, well, blackmailing him for both?). But then I guess he wouldn't have been "good"?

sterno said...

What's been great about this season is that each episode is as good if not better than the one that proceeded it. In this case, this is the first time I've actually felt some sympathy and sadness for Ben. Say what you will about his Machievellian ways, he always seemed to be trying to use his power for what he saw as the greater good. Obviously he drifted off the path, but it seems like, in the end, he's found his moral compass again.

As to @winkyboy's point, what I don't get is why he doesn't just hold the affair over the principal's head to get both. Like look, give up the job first, and then if you don't write a glowing letter of recommendation, I'll tell your wife. How hard is that? Besides, recommendation is written, no reason he can't use the evidence he still has against the principal next semester...

It's a bit of a contrivance to show that deep down he's actually a good person in spite of his apparent lust for power. So I'll let it go, but it was a bit tenuous.

This episode raised a couple questions for me, but at this point I'm not too concerned about the answers. For example, Locke showed up to tempt Ben back to his side. But:

1) Why does he need Ben?
2) Why didn't he just kill what's her name while he was there?

I suppose a reasonably explanation for this is that Evil Locke is evil after all and so this may be about his vanity. He wants followers and would much rather play clever games to get people to bend to his will because it's more fun than smiting them. Unless of course you're one of the red shirts in the temple, then it's fun to just find neat ways to dismember you :)

Josh said...

There is a Superman Conundrum with AntiJacob, and possibly with Jacob as well. They've got a few rules which aren't entirely clear to us ... but other than that they are insanely powerful.

AntiJacob/SmokeLocke/MiB is seemingly invulnerable, can transform into a deadly cloud and apparently manipulate objects with his mind. And actually I hope that last part doesn't go unexplained because it is quite removed from we've seen of Smokies in the past and really felt like a convenient R2D2 moment.

Weakness? Apparently some kind of ash?

My only on the spot theory is that killing everyone at the temple was entertaining for SmokeLocke but not entirely productive. As you say, he is more interested in followers than victims, and being invulnerable he probably isn't in a great hurry to kill everyone.