Loved this episode. Besides maybe "Lighthouse", best one so far this year. "Dr. Linus" has always been the best character on Lost thanks to the incredible Michael Emerson (and if he doesn't win an Emmy I'm going to blow my gasket!) and we got a full episode of him. What did we learn? Well, oddly enough, the subplot probably shed the most light on anything this week, with Jack very much becoming the man of faith he never used to be (and perhaps becoming the leading candidate too?) and Richard really, really wanting to die...poor dude.
So, the flash sideways gave us a short glimpse of Locke, urging Ben to stand up and be heard at the school. He does just that but in a Ben Linus kind of way, where after learning from Alex (his student in this reality, not daughter) that the douchebag principal is having an affair with the school nurse Linus hacks into the nurse's email and finds evidence. He is about to use this against the principal to get his job, when the principal flips it around and threatens to destroy Alex's life if he carries through with blackmail. The old Ben wouldn't have hesitated to protect his wants (i.e. watching his daughter get shot), but this Ben sacrifices his own future for Alex's...and it was an incredibly touching moment.
I like how the flash sideways are continually referencing the island's characters' failings and almost redeeming them. It seems more and more that the flash sideways is a good place for the Lost characters and I wonder how this will lead into the collision of the two realities...so curious...
Now, the Island reality...here, Ben is found out by Ilana to have killed Jacob (through Miles' ability to experience the last moments of somebody's death), which means that Ben is one dead dude in Ilana's eyes. Ilana, of course, has the sole purpose of protecting Jacob. So, she makes him dig his own grave. Ben does, and is very close to finishing, when the Man in Black comes and, typically, offers an escape if he'll join the group that is leaving the island. Ben accepts and runs away, chased furiously by Ilana, to the rifle leaning against the tree. There, Ben and Ilana have a tense standoff. Old Ben would've shot her without hesitation. But he has changed, and you see this throughout the whole season so far, especially this episode, so he doesn't shoot her. Instead, he confesses to her that his whole life is a lie, and breaks down. He tells her that he is going to Locke because nobody else will have him. As Ilana turns around, she tells him that she will have him. Surprisingly, he follows her back to the beach, where he offers to help Sun put up a tarp.
The subplot here has Hurley and Jack meeting up with Richard, and following him to the Black Rock. This is how Richard got to the island. Richard tells them that Jacob touched him and gave him a gift (immortality). But his whole life was devoted to following a purpose that he now believes to be a lie (think Ben's feelings here, too). Richard explains that he can't kill himself and asks Jack too. Jack obliges and tells Hurley to leave when Jack sits down WITH Richard and lights the fuse on the dynamite. Wow. But while Richard is freaking out, Jack tells him that the fuse will go out and they won't blow up. Jack believes he has a purpose and the island, or Jacob, won't let him die. Sure enough, after an unbearably tense moment, the fuse does go out. Jack asks if Richard wants to try more stick of dynamite. Richard seems to have a bit of faith restored.
They end up going to the beach as well and share a nice reunion with Sun and the others, with Ben standing off watching...and Charles Widmore watching them from a submarine....duh duh duh...
Awesome episode. Probably up there as one of the best in the whole series. Thoughts?
I totally agree about Michael Emerson. He's probably the best actor on the show, and anytime an episode is a Ben episode, things are gonna be good.
I really enjoyed the redemption Ben attempted in both "realities", too.
This was a pretty intense episode overall, even with the secondary storylines, and has me so pumped for the rest of this season/series!