Lost: Dr. Linus Review (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Stab Like a Man
I swear to God, I uncontrollably spit out an audible snicker every time they show repeats of Ben stabbing Jacob in the chest. I’ve never seen such girlish stabbing in a full grown male. There’s little wonder Ben’s dad never wanted to have a catch with Lil’ Ben. Judging from his lack of stabbing prowess, I’m betting Ben’s dad spent a lot of time chasing down errant throws from 15 feet apart. Sack up Ben and learned to stab like a man.
And how about the way Ben runs? The beautiful Ola Ray ran through a spooky zombie/werewolf infested forest with more testosterone than Ben’s sprinting displays.
I do have to hand it to Dr. Linus in the sarcasm department though. “I’m fine, thank you” is just another one of Ben’s beautifully underplayed snarky comments.
Boy do I love it when I’m right about this show, and while I still expect a few of you more quarrelsome contrarians to dig your heels in and say this episode doesn’t prove anything, to you I say, Pshaw. I was right. Ben’s a good guy, who did what he did for what he believed was a good cause. If this episode showed us anything, and it actually showed us plenty, it showed us at that deep down, when push comes to shove, Benjamin Linus is a good guy.
Showing Off My Nerdishness
Of course, “good” is a relative term, and while I don’t feel comfortable in placing Ben in the “lawful good” category, or even the “neutral good” class, if my brief affair with Dungeons and Dragons in my high school days is clear, Ben has what it takes to be considered “chaotic good.” And in my book, that’s still good.
Ya know what else was good? Watching Ben teach class about the Little Tyrant himself, Napoleon Bonaparte. Man, they’re just spelling some of this stuff out for us now, but the parallels between le petit caporal and Island Ben are fun to explore.
Being exiled to the island of Elba was not Napoleon’s worst fate, lectures Dr. Linus, but rather it was his loss of power. Both Bens have always craved power, and both Ben’s are capable of making some regrettable decisions if granted such power. What we have to remember is both Ben’s do what they do, and did what they did because they believed their actions were for the greater good - so if the means must be justified at the end, Ben is willing to do what he must if he trusts his cause is just.
Let’s Hear it for Dicky Schlubb
If that means committing mass genocide and murdering his father in cold blood - believing a higher power (Jacob) was commanding him to do so, or if it means giving that dicky schlub Arzt his parking spot after he passes up his chance as principal, Ben will ultimately always do the right thing. (Or at least do what he believes is the right thing, and after all, that’s religion there in a nutshell.)
By the way, Dicky Schlubb is a great name for a hacky Borsht Belt character in a terrible short story. I’m calling dibs that name right now, so no one steal it from me. I don’t want to see the name Dicky Schlubb in anyone’s terrible short story unless it’s mine.
A Ben Linus Complex, a Complex Ben Linus
I’m also curious what the writers meant by this line when speaking of Napoleon:
“Sure they allowed him to keep the title of emperor without power, but it was meaningless. He might as well have been dead.”
Is SLU Ben hinting that Current Island Timeline Ben is dead (is that what we’re calling the current island timeline??? I forget what I’ve called that. Anyone remember?) He was brought to the temple as a boy – shot, bleeding and dying. Kate was warned his innocence will be lost and the action was irreversible. Was Ben brought back to life in the healing pools of the once pure temple’s Lazarus Pit? If so, what is the innocence he lost?
We were also treated to the rules that govern Miles’ conversations with the dead. His corpse chats are restricted to how the deceased died, the last thoughts before they “checked out” and he really does need to be near the bodies of the departed.
At Illana’s behest, Miles uses his now defined powers to narc out Ben. I loved that Miles used Ben’s own words against him. “…saw you standing over his dead body holding a bloody dagger, so yeah, I’m pretty sure.” And for the 6th week in a row, we witness Ben unloading another ten pounds or so of fecal matter into his boxer shorts. (I can’t see Ben as a brief’s kind of guy.)
Staring at his own reflection in the dark glass of the microwave oven in a humble flat shared by Ben and his elderly father we see a much different familial relationship between the two. While Dharma Ben murdered his own father with a poisonous gas in The Purge, school teacher Ben uses a life-giving form of gas to preserve his father’s life.
Poor Old Man Linus is not doing well physically, but at least we know, like the happy bond Locke shares with his father in the Safe Landing Universe (hinted at in “The Substitute” episode a few weeks ago) Ben and his dad have a loving rapport.
Linus the elder explains to us he has always regretted his decision to leave the island. “What could have been?” he muses, not realizing the horrifying truth of his vision of island-dwelling years. Still we are left to wonder the hows and whys of their departure from the island.
There Must be Meaning in This Phrase:
Cheese carrots? There’s no way Hurley would dream about anything carrot related if it wasn’t immediately followed by the word “cake.” I’m also surprised to find no mention of bacon in Hurley’s dreams. Pork products play a major role in all of my nocturnal reverie.
With only eleven episodes to go before this show goes off the air, they don’t have time to play around with too much misdirection anymore. I’m calling it right now. Richard was a captive aboard the Black Rock a few hundred years ago. Yeah, I kind of called it a while ago, but I never gave it the Joe Oesterle 100% Guarantee* before this week. They didn’t come right out and say it, and as Richard slyly hinted to Jack - he eventually will, but just not this episode. That said, Richard a.k.a. Ricardus is a former albeit reluctant passenger of the Black Rock.
*The 100% Joe Oesterle Guarantee in no way implies an actual guarantee of anything other than Joe Oesterle’s right to brag loudly and often if he is proven correct about the much-shared belief that Richard Alpert arrived on the island by way of the Black Rock ship.
A Man of Faith
Mr. Alpert is hoping either Hurley or Jack will help him end his life. Richard has finally lost his previously undying belief in Jacob, but all it took was that bastion of belief himself, Jack Shephard, to bring Richard back into the fold.
Look at Jack nowadays huh? A suicide junkie turned into a man of faith. Watching Jack light that dynamite fuse and close his eyes reminded me of his many booze-fueled frequent flyer trips to another plane crash, except this time, Jack understands he’s here for a reason. It was proven to him in the magic mirror. Jacob watched him for years and decided Jack has a role to play, and finally, Jack is ready to play. My mirror only shows me a guy who needs to start back on his cardio program.
My Anaconda Don’t Want None Unless You Got Buns Hun.
Back on the beach, Ben finds Sawyer’s “Booty Babes” stash as well as the autobiography of another island-loving Benjamin. The island was Britain and the other Ben’s last name was Disraeli. After I write this article, I will spent some time Googling one of those two subjects. Naked girls or European statesmen? I’ll let you guys figure out which one.
Those Were The Good Old Days
Ben admits to Lapidus he is nostalgic for his old island days, and is genuinely surprised to find out Lapidus was supposed to fly 815 that fateful day. This leads Lapidus, like Ben’s father, to wonder about what could have been. Ben’s shock quickly turns into an acceptance of inevitability and he is seeing things a bit more clearly now, as he reminds Lapidus the island got him anyway.
This naturally blows Frank Lapidus away, and on a slight tangent I’d like to say I’m pretty sure the actor Jeff Fahey is never not stoned. No one plays “blown away” that well without literally blowing a bone before the take. Seriously, if you have TiVo, freeze frame any second Lapidus is onscreen. To me, it looks like he does nothing but bake himself on the Paca Lolo in his trailer until 5 minutes before call time.
A Promise is a Promise
Meanwhile SLU Ben is going above and beyond for the cause. He has a deep admiration for his student, Alex Rousseau. She is, he tells her, one of the brightest young minds he has ever encountered, and he doesn’t fear for her future at all.
Ben promises the overachieving Alex a tutorial lesson in the library before school, and while the two are going over trade agreements of the East Indies, Alex lets it slip that the thorn in Ben’s professional side has been having a sexual dalliance with the school nurse. Of course this secret is only given with the proviso Ben keeps the information to himself.
Ben assures his adolescent charge that “a promise is a promise” and to his credit, he eventually sticks to the spirit of the guarantee, if not the letter.
Sounds like Miles was channeling Hulk Hogan when he mentioned the “Jabrones” buried with 8.5 million in diamonds. Miles may be less good than Ben when all is said and done - what with all his greed. I’m worried Miles may be a casualty before this cast of castaways take their final curtain call.
Michael Emerson once again displayed remarkable acting ability by conveying more with his huge bulging eyeballs than most actors can with a page of dialogue. (To be fair, Emerson’s eyes are enormous, so he does have a much bigger, spookier ocular palette to work with than other normally-pupiled thespians.) The look of “what have I done” when Miles informed him of Jacob’s last thought was precious. Ben was touched that Jacob thought so highly of him, and disgusted at himself for not staying strong to the end. Great acting there, Ol’ Bug Eyes.
Napoleon and the Dynamite Victim
Unlike the caring, devoted Dr. Linus, Dr. Arzt enjoys flunking kids. Regardless the universe, Arzt is a dick. Now let me be clear. Arzt is not as annoying as Radzinsky. Radzinsky is a douche. Arzt is only a dick. You yourself probably have a few dick friends, but you never have more than one douche friend. Douche friends are too much work, and the friendship never ends well… because the guy is a douche. Arzt is simply a dick.
One thing I’ll say for that dick Arzt, if he lived on the island this show would have only lasted one and a half seasons. Arzt may be a dick, but he asks pertinent questions, and expects replies in the same conversation…. Not 12 episodes later. So it was when Ben told Arzt about Principal Reynold’s school time hanky panky. Dickish Arzt got answers immediately.
By the way, a case can be made that Arzt is also a worse human being than Ben because Arzt only cares about his pension, summer’s off and a parking spot that’s not too shady, but not too hot. Ben sincerely wants to help students make something of their lives, and have the choices and chances he was never given – ostensibly for spending time on that island.
Racing For His Life (Like a Sissy)
Smirking Smlocke and his weird mechanical Coney Island roller coaster SFX C.D. approaches Ben as the good doctor digs his own grave. Smlocke seems genuinely appalled at the news Illana plans to kill the former Others leader, but maybe his “genuinely appalled” face looks a lot like his “yeah, I knew she’d do that” face. Ben is none too pleased at the prospect of an early death either, but he has little recourse – what with his leg shackled and no firearms to ward off his attacker. Whoops… I was wrong on both counts as Smlocke performs a little of his wish granting magic and provides Ben with not only the means necessary to do away with Jacob’s surrogate daughter, Illana. But Smlocke’s also dangling the keys to the kingdom right in front of Ben’s aforementioned buggy eyes. Power, it’s all either Ben seemed to ever want.
Here’s what I don’t like about placing the gun 200 yards away, and spotting Ben a 100 yards in a race with a gun-toting Illana. Ben is a sissy sprinter. I’ve said it before, but it needed to be repeated. The man runs like a chick. And I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize to any chick I’ve offended by comparing Ben’s running style to yours (if you’re a chick who doesn’t run like a chick.) Sorry chicks.
Good Ol’ Ben (I Say That Because He’s Good)
It turns out power was never what either Ben ever really wanted. SLU Ben decides it’s more important to stay true to his values and however tempting, and regardless of the good he might have accomplished, betraying a student, and betraying his beliefs were never up for discussion when push came to shove.
Current Island Timeline Ben ultimately rejected tainted power as well. All this Ben wanted was a chance to be heard, a chance to plead his case. Ben immediately admits he not totally blameless in the carnage caused, but he honestly felt he was doing what was right. He believed in Jacob, and he felt used. Ben accepted blame, and was willing to suffer the consequences. When push came to shove, and Ben isn’t a heartless killing machine. His kills were based on the belief that he was doing the right thing. Many a general on both sides of the battlefield has ordered the annihilation of humans believing what they did was what was best for God and country.
After his impassioned plea, Ben implores Illana to allow him to leave and rejoin with Smlocke because as he tearfully explains, “he’s the only one who will have me.”
Suddenly, through her own pain, Illana recognizes Ben as a Jacob follower who may have been asked to accept too much of a burden. Ben was a man of faith, and because that faith was so steadfast and so unwavering, he allowed his daughter to be murdered in front of his own eyes. Ben can’t forgive himself, but Illana now can.
So This is How the Other Half Live
As she leads Ben back to the beach camp, Ben starts to feel accepted. As he helps Sun set up camp, he feels, maybe for the first time in his entire life, that he’s finally on the winning side.
Finally Jack, Hurley and the ageless Richard make their way to the beach. Hurley is all hugs and love while Jack greets everyone warmly until he notices Ben off to the side. Jack sidesteps a bit to be sure he sees what he thinks he’s seeing. Ben for his part, no longer feels as accepted as he once did.
As the former enemies stand off against each other once again, a proverbial line in the literal sand between them, but this time, it looks like they’ll be on the same team. Ben told us years ago which team he was on. Now we all know. Ben plays for The Good Guys.
Oh yeah, and then Widmore pulled up in a cheesy submarine. I guess he’s the guy Jacob was expecting.
Until Next Week
So until next week, fire up your Hi-Def TV, (Imperative if you’re trying to find a frame where Jeff Fahey doesn’t look stoned.) make sure you hit the record function on your TiVo, (For multiple viewings of the fine periodical, “Booty Babes.”) keep your laptop nearby, (You’ll never know when you might need do a little research on the other book in Sawyer’s tent – “The Chosen” ) load up that bong, (For some of us, LOST isn’t our only drug of choice.) and get ready to get LOST.
Joe Oesterle is an award-winning writer and illustrator, but what he often fails to mention is that many of those awards were won on a New Jersey boardwalk. Check out his blogsite for animations, stories, illustrations, photography and free money.
Mania Grade: B+
TV Series: Lost
Episode: Dr. Linus
Starring: Michael Emerson, Terry O'Quinn, Matthew Fox, Evangeline Lilly, Jorge Garcia, Josh Holloway, Elizabeth Mitchell, Nestor Carbonell, Naveen Andrews, Daniel Dae Kim, Yunjin Kim, Ken Leung,
Written By: Edward Kitsis, Adam Horowitz
Directed By: Bobby Roth