Sunday, March 14, 2010

LOST: I'm digging my own grave.

6.07: "Dr. Linus"

First of all, I have to say that I am simultaneously amazed and frustrated that this show can make me feel anything at all resembling sympathy or pity for Ben. I was OK with him as a Lex Luthory supervillain type for a long while, but when he strangled John just minutes after talking him off the ledge, I hated him. A credit to the the writing around Ben and Michael Emerson's amazing realization of the character. That said, into the episode, starting with events on the Island...


Ben runs from the Temple, from the scene in the pool room, of Sayid, over the bodies of Dogen and his interpreter. He catches up with Ilana, Lapidus, Sun, and Miles. Ilana pushes Ben on his Esau-killed-Jacob story. THIS is why she scooped up Jacob's ashes, pretty sweet—she has Miles read Jacob.
MILES: Linus killed him.
Ilana's mightily unhappy, even for a bodyguard...
ILANA: Jacob was the closest thing I ever had to a father.
MILES: Uh-oh.
It is daylight when they arrive at the Losties' beach camp. Ilana gives everyone various survival duties, everyone but Ben.

I see this group, armed with a couple of rifles, at the camp, and I'm thinking/hoping we're gonna see the other half of the time-skipping Losties' high seas outrigger pursuit! When will those canoes end up at the beach for time-skipping Sawyer, Juliet, Locke, Faraday, and Miles to find?

Wow. Ben is WAY off his game. He tries to talk Ilana into doubting Miles's report from the afterlife and it comes off like the saddest kind of high school loser attempt to talk up a cool kid.
FRANK: You make friends easy, doncha?
Ilana spells out some details for us theorists in an exchange with Sun about finding her husband...
ILANA: Trust me, if anyone wants to find him, it's me. But I don't know where to look.
SUN: Why do you want to find Jin?
ILANA: Because your last name is Kwon. So is his. And I don't know whether I'm supposed to protect you, him, or both of you.
SUN: Protect us? What are you talking about?
ILANA: You're candidates. To replace Jacob.
SUN: Replace him? To do what?
ILANA: If you're the one selected, I imagine you'll find out.
SUN: Wait... You said candidates. How many are there?
ILANA: Six. There are only six left.
Let's do that math and show our work, shall we? Start with the Numbers...

4 - Locke
8 - Reyes
15 - Ford
16 - Jarrah
23 - Shephard
42 - Kwon

Subtract Locke on account of deathiness. Subtract Jarrah on account of claiminess. Ilana would know that because Ben told everyone that Sayid killed Dogen and Saul. Add Kate on account of number fifty-one-dom.

That makes five... What more does Ilana know? I don't remember seeing Hume or Lapidus on the cave wall or the Lighthouse mirror dial. 108's Wallace is crossed out on the dial, so whoever that is, s/he wouldn't be counted.

Has Ilana seen something in Lapidus? Ben's reaction in his exchange with Frank makes me wonder...
BEN: Oceanic... I remember that plane breaking in half like it was yesterday.
FRANK: You sound nostalgic.
BEN: Maybe I am.
FRANK: Y'know, I was supposed to be flying it. Oceanic 815.
BEN: And why didn't you?
FRANK: I overslept.
BEN: Come on...
His visual reaction, more than his words. I think it could be read—surprise surprise—two ways. On one level, Ben playing at drinking buddy "no way!" disbelief, while in his "make allies" mode. On another level, showing, for just a second, and then covering, some genuine surprise and then assimilation of new gear-turning data. That this man who missed his fate as pilot of 815 may have been tagged as a Candidate. Their exchange finishes with a hint of that notion, as well as a bit of meta-commentary on the structure of this season's storytelling...
FRANK: Can you believe it? Imagine how different my life would be had it gone off.
BEN: How different would it have been? The island still got you in the end.
Will we be treated to a flashback of Frank's Sydney hotel bedroom on the morning of September 22, 2004? We see Frank sacked out in bed, his uniform on a chair and hanger nearby, and begin a slow camera move to the clock on the nightstand. The camera pauses as a hand reaches into frame from the side and flips the alarm switch on the Widmore Industries digital chronograph from on to off. When the hand pulls away, we see that the digits have just clicked to 815, of course. The camera cuts over to Frank's sleeping face, sideways on the bed, and the hand returns to frame again, index finger extended and pointed directly at Frank's nostril. The hand moves in close, then touches Frank's nose and pulls away. Again. Again. Again, until Frank flinches and instinctively raises his own hand to wave away the annoyance. Frank rolls over and away. We hear a little chuckle from off screen. Cut to the TV flickering on and being muted, then navigation of menus to adult PPV, four movies ordered and a charge of $30 to the room. Another chuckle. Cut to the minifridge, just enough time to read the rules (you will be charged for each item removed) before the door is opened. We see the hands reach in and pull a half dozen tiny liquor bottles and then shut the door. "Hmmm..." The door opens again and a hand reaches in to grab a Toblerone... pause... then an Apollo bar. Door closes. Cut to wide shot of room from the window wall side to the door side as someone closes the blinds, darkening the room. We barely make out a figure moving toward the door. The door opens a crack as the figure checks the hall to see if the coast is clear, then swings the door open wide, and in silhouette in the door frame we see the mannish figure of Jacob... outfitted in a housekeeping uniform. We hear the rumbling flashback sound effect, the hotel room door closes, and we're back on the Island.


Ilana finally gives Ben's idle hands something to do...
ILANA: Pick it up and start digging!
BEN: Digging what?
ILANA: A grave.
BEN: For who?
ILANA: You murdered Jacob. It's for you.
Ben is *literally* digging his own grave! =)
Miles :not exactly tearing it up on the digging front, are you?
I'm annoyed it's taken so long to let Miles really get to flex his dead-reading muscles, but now that he's finally showing off, I'm pleased he's not holding back. When Ben offers to make good on his $3.2M offer for his silence, Miles explains...
BEN: I can get off this island. And when I do, I have a vast network
of people and resources that will get you that money. All you have to
do is cut me loose.
MILES: Why would I need your money when there are a couple of jabonies under there named Nikki and Paulo who got buried alive with 8 million dollars in diamonds on top of them?
Love that! Even if I'm pretty sure he mispronounced "jabronies." (Ask the Rock =)

Also interesting is Ben's claim to a vast network of people and resources off-Island. I'm pretty sure most of them have been overwritten out, but I would've liked to have known more about them earlier, when events in the outside world were still able to effect changes in the Losties' lives, y'know?

Ben tries to point up the injustice of being punished for killing a man who didn't want to live in the first place, when Miles explains otherwise...
BEN: I can't believe you're just gonna stand by and watch this happen. Ilana's gonna murder me for killing Jacob, a man who didn't even care about being killed!
MILES: No, he cared.
BEN: Excuse me?
MILES: Right up until the second the knife went through his heart... He was hoping he was wrong about you... I guess he wasn't.
There's some of that sympathy for the devil I mentioned at the top.

This hints at another level of fate vs. free will, above the affairs of lowly human beings, at the level of Jacob and Esau themselves. Jacob seems aware of it, resigned to it, while Esau seeks to make his own destiny. In the end, Jacob doesn't fight his fate, but hopes against it right to the end. Frames within frames. Games within games.

HURLEY: Cheese carrots.
Heh. Has someone collected all of Hugo's Island-sleeping mumblings? Are they all of crazy food combo ideas?

In the jungle, Jack wants to get back to the Temple, Hugo... not so much. Richard shows up to break the tie and point them in the right direction. Or so he says...

On their trek, Hurley Hurleys on...
HURLEY: So... you're not time-travelling?
HURLEY: But... you look the same as you did thirty years ago. How's that possible?
RICHARD: It's not easy to explain.
HURLEY: Is this, like, a Terminator thing? Are you a cyborg?
RICHARD: No, I'm not a cyborg.
HURLEY: Vampire?
RICHARD: Jacob gave me a gift.
JACK: Jacob? What do you know about him?
RICHARD: I know he's dead.
And they arrive... at the the Black Rock!

Richard explains that there's nothing for them at the Temple anyhow. He had just come from there and there were no survivors. Jack puts it together that Hurley must have known about this and Hurley owns up to having inside info from Jacob. When Richard hears that Jacob's spoken to Hurley he offers him some advice...
RICHARD: You spoke to Jacob?
RICHARD: Well, whatever he said... don't believe him.
... before approaching the ship...
JACK: Where are you goin'?
RICHARD: There's something I need to do.
JACK: To do what?
Inside the Black Rock, Richard examines the shackles and chains. Esau DID say that Richard looked good in chains. That sounded like a clue that Richard was part of the ship's original cargo, but I really would rather Richard, aka Ricardus, is longer-lived than that. So instead, perhaps in denial, I took it to be a reference to imprisonment and/or punishment somewhere on the Island, perhaps in the Black Rock brig, collateral damage of the ongoing struggle between Jacob and Esau. Damn, in an earlier season, I'd say I smell a Richard flashback. Hrmmm... Maybe in the finale?

Richard explains that he was here once before, and in all the time that he's been on the Island, this is the first time he's returned. He's looking for the dynamite, the dangerously unstable dynamite. Richard explains that he can't kill himself, tho, so he needs someone else to light the fuse.
RICHARD: Even if I wanted to, trust me, I do. I can't kill myself. Which is why I want you to do it for me.
JACK: What are you talking about?
RICHARD: What I'm talking about Jack, is that... Jacob touched me, and when Jacob touches you... well, it's considered a gift, except it's not a gift at all. It's a curse.
HURLEY: Dude, seriously! Let's go now!
JACK: Why do you want to die?
RICHARD: I devoted my life, longer than you can possibly imagine, in service of a man who told me that everything was happening for a reason, that he had a plan, a plan that I was a part of, and when the time was right that he'd share it with me, and now that man's gone so... why do I want to die? Because I just found out my entire life had no purpose. Now if I light this myself it won't work, but you can light it for me Jack. I made the fuse long enough so you'll have time to get out.
Hurley doesn't want to stick around and get Arzted, so he gets scarce. Jack, on the other hand, agrees to help Richard. In this classic Island scenario replaying itself, Jack gets to play the true believer and Richard the doubter, the one whose lost his way.

Jack lights the fuse and insists on staying with Richard for the end. He shares with Richard his Lighthouse epiphany. Perhaps a little counter-intuitive, but really, just the thing to blow away the question marks that Jack's been walking around with for so long. What Jack saw at the Lighthouse was that he arrived on this Island for a Reason. That there was this impossible device designed to help Jacob keep an eye on him all his life, and that just couldn't be without a Purpose. He smashed the mirrose because he felt like a pawn, but staring out at the ocean afterwards, he realized that there must be a Purpose to all of the bleepity bleep that this pawn has been thru.

And he's ready to put that to the ultimate test. In just the way that Michael couldn't die until he'd done completed his service to the Island (now THAT is something that needs a little sorting thru after the fact, donchathink?), the Island/cosmos/rules/powers that be won't allow Jack to die.

I'm gonna assume that Jack believes that Richard is still part of the same plan that he's a part of, so he believes that BOTH of them will make it out of the Black Rock alive, and y'know, Richard doesn't get blown to smithereens while the deck planks above Jack suddenly give way and a giant iron cauldron manages to drop on top of him, completely shielding him from the blast.


Anyhow. Turns out Jack's got it right for both of them. Whew! Gotta say, I really enjoyed that scene. First, as a replay of the Locke-Jack witnessing we've seen before. Second, for seeing Jack finally in alignment with the Island stars. Third, for the way Matthew Fox actually delivered Jack's true belief.
RICHARD: All right Jack. You seem to have all the answers. So now what?
JACK: We go back to where we started.
Speaking of... Meanwhile, back at the beach...

The Monster SNEAKS into the Losties' cemetary to pow-wow with Ben.
ESAU: Hello Ben.
BEN: What are you doing here?
ESAU: Visiting. What are you doing?
BEN: I'm digging my own grave.
How awesome is that?! He actually SAYS it! =)

Lockesau plays dumb, getting Ben to whine about how he's the reason Ilana is going to kill him and are-you-happy-now? Au contraire, says the Monster...
ESAU: I don't want you to die Ben. In fact I went back to the statue to get you, but you'd already gone.
BEN: Get me? For what.
ESAU: I'm gathering a group to leave this place for good. But once we're gone, someone's going to need to be in charge of the island.
BEN: Me?
ESAU: I can't think of a better man for the job.
(Did anyone else hear, "except maybe Chuck Widmore" after that? =) He unshackles Ben, tells him where to find a rifle, directs him to join the Monster gang at the Hydra station once he's taken care of Ilana, and then sets off on his merry Monster way. Ben takes a moment to assess the situation. Perhaps Ilana senses something amiss...? In any case, their eyes meet across the beach, like Steve Martin's and Kevin Bacon's at the beginning of PLANES, TRAINS, AND AUTOMOBILES, and Ben makes a break for it, Ilana in hot pursuit. Ben hustles, and there's enough time that I'm thinking that Esau's set him up, much the way Dogen set Sayid up, to die at the hands of another (which given the enigmatic rules, may very well be the only way Esau can effect Ben's death), but no, the rifle is there, as promised, and Ben does, in fact, get the drop on Ilana. Instead of ballistically turning the tables, Ben uses his upper hand to confess, to explain, to beg for his life, even if it's only to give it to the Monster...
BEN: I watched my daughter Alex die in front of me. And it was my fault. I had a chance to save her. But I chose the island over her. All in the name of Jacob. I sacrificed everything for him. And he didn't even care. Yeah I stabbed him, I was... so angry... confused... I was terrified that I was about to lose the only thing that had ever mattered to me, my power. But the thing that really mattered... was already gone. I'm sorry that I killed Jacob. I am, and I do not expect you to forgive me because... I can never forgive myself.
ILANA: Then what do you want?
BEN: Just let me leave.
ILANA: Where will you go?
BEN: To Locke.
BEN: Because he's the only one that'll have me.
ILANA: I'll have you.
At this, Ilana turns to return to the beach. Ben follows.

An excellent LOST moment for me. A why-I-watch-the-show-moment, y'know? When you get to watch characters that you love (and love to hate) grow and change before your eyes. Sure, Ben is at the lowest he's ever been, and if you want to look at his options coldly, well, any-not-infected-one's gonna choose Ilana over the Monster any day, right? But shut off the calculator and take him at his word, and at the commercial break, you will want to shake yourself for feeling anything, not to mention hope and sympathy and maybe even a little happiness, for this rat bastard who strangled John Locke. Happiness, cuz Ben has chosen to ditch the Monster and his promise of Island Protector, and Ilana's acceptance is for him a touching proxy for Alex's.

With all the Ben-and-Alex flash-over fun, Ilana's earlier declaration that Jacob was like a father to her had me thinking "alternate reality Alex?"

I wonder who will end up in that grave in the end.

Y'know, I usedta get a bit peeved at the slow-mo end-of-episode reunion or eve of destruction montage. It would eat up valuable minutes that should've been used telling us WTF the Monster was, y'know? But this time, I was cool with it...

Frank at the fire...
Miles checking out Ken and Barbie's diamonds...
Ilana crying - what is she holding? Bag of ashes?
Hurley, Jack, and Richard arrive...
Reunion! Like when Jin and Michael and Sawyer returned from the Tailies' side of the island, or like when Sawyer and Kate returned from the Others, right?
Jack shakes w Ilana...
Jack sees Ben...

The camera pulls back to the water, to a long shot of beach, then, the water. The periscope of a submarine breaks the surface...
CAPTAIN: Sir, there are people on the beach. Should we stop?
WIDMORE: No, proceed as planned.
CAPTAIN: Yes Sir, Mr. Widmore.
Widmore is subbing over to the small island! He's in cahootz with Esau! I'm such a naive romantic, I don't want to believe it—Why the F? Did Esau promise him the Island? That DOES make sense, but man, the Widmore we've come to know wouldn't put himself at the service of a Monster, right?

Man, this thing is a ramble and a half, and it's only half of the show. Hrmm... I'll try to bang out something a bit more concerned with developments and less about a recap.

Keep on keepin on~

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