JANUARY 25, 2011
AIRED: MARCH 9, 2010
If I had any time, I’d string together all of the major Ben episodes (not just his “centric” ones, but his introduction, the reveal he’s an Other, etc) and marvel at the change he made over the course of the five seasons he was on the show. Ben (and Michael Emerson’s performance) were such an integral and enjoyable part of the series, it was almost odd to go back to S1, when he wasn’t even mentioned let alone present. And with perhaps the exception of Jack, he made the biggest change as a character, which came more or less to its conclusion in “Dr. Linus”, which cemented him once and for all as a good guy.
Of course, the writers had been leading him in that direction for a while now, but he was still showing his manipulative side here, lying about how Jacob died, only for Miles to use his superpower to expose him. But by the episode’s end, he had made amends, apologized to Ilana (who claims Jacob was like a father to her, and we’ll just have to take her word for it I guess), and had been seemingly accepted by the group for once – Sun even lets him help her put the tarp on her little tent. I guess they could have had Jack and/or Hurley shake hands or hug him when they returned to the beach and went through the familiar “reunion” routine, but I suppose that would be pushing it.
Especially since, despite being a mostly good episode, the writing gets painfully on the nose more than once, with Ben discussing both on the island and in the flash sideways how different life would have been had this happened or not happened, as if we didn’t get it yet. Having Ben and Jack hug it out might have killed all of the episode’s goodwill, which in retrospect would be even MORE upsetting since this is an other instance of the “waiting room” having a strong emotional story that in many ways serves as a character redeeming themselves for their biggest failing in life, in this case Ben’s failure to save Alex. As I mentioned yesterday, these sort of stories were far more logical and meaningful than Sayid’s typically action heavy tale, and validates the whole “Lost Heaven” idea, especially when you know that’s what it is.
The Jack and Richard stuff is also quite good, as we finally learn a bit about Richard’s agelessness (love Hurley asking him if he’s either a cyborg or a vampire), and their faceoff in the Black Rock is pretty sweet too. I almost sort of wish that Richard panicked and put the fuse out himself, just to maybe put some doubt into Jack’s mind again (he’s pretty much a firm believer now, or, fittingly, a “Man of Faith”), but you can’t deny it’s a pretty awesome scene. It’s also the rare time Richard ever really talked to anyone besides Locke or Ben; it’s a shame that he was finally added to the main cast this season but never really got integrated with the rest of the characters.
This episode also has one of the more annoying instances of the sudden rain that has plagued the show from the very beginning. It rains all the time in Hawaii, and being a TV show set almost entirely outside, they can’t very well just go to a cover set or delay filming. So you’ll often see it raining in a scene even though it wasn’t raining in the scenes before or after, and there’s not much they/you can do about it. But here, it’s actually raining pretty strongly in HALF of a scene! Jack and Hurley are chatting, and on Hurley’s shot it’s clear, but on Jack’s it’s pouring, and you can’t even HEAR it, rendering the scene very distracting and fake. If it were up to me (and nothing ever should be), I would have digitally added rain on Hurley’s coverage and added in the appropriate sound effect, so it would at least be consistent for the scene.
Also, while I could certainly live with never hearing their names again, I love the sort of “epilogue” to the Nikki and Goddamn Paulo story, with Miles bringing up their diamonds very casually as a funny shoutout, and then seemingly robbing their graves at some point to get the diamonds for himself, which should more than take care of his 3.2 million dollar wish. Lucky bastard. I need to have the power to talk to the dead! All I want is like 50 grand to pay off my debt and buy a new car, jeesh.
Final note - according to the Lostpedia, the role of the principal was written specifically for William Atherton. Way to creatively cast, Lost writers – have William Atherton playing an asshole. Too bad they couldn’t work in Reginald VelJohnson as a cop or maybe Michael Cera as a socially awkward annoyance.
Where are we?