or Able was I ere I saw Elba
Lost – “Dr. Linus”
(season 6, episode 7)
What would Lost be without Michael Emerson? The man has a talent to deliver any line with a creepy smarminess (See him in a 1992 prison guard training video), but also for conveying deep and genuine emotion. Benjamin Linus killed his father and let his adopted daughter be killed in service of Jacob and the Island. And what for? Why did he make those sacrifices?
More questions and spoilers after the break
What was Jacob’s plan? Emerson just killed the scene confronting Ilana. He manages to show the depth of Ben’s grief and also show the possibility that Ben is, as always, spinning the wheels in his head to figure out a plan to keep himself alive and try to get an advantage.
On an Island where people are very likely to be killed by either natural or human causes, it’s certainly useful to have someone like Miles, who can confirm a corpse’s cause and method of death. That skill proves to be a useful deus ex machina that keeps Ben from being able to continue lying to Ilana, Sun and Lapidus about the circumstances of Jacob’s death. As a result, Ilana forces Ben to contemplate his role in Jacob’s death.
In the flash sideways, Ben and Roger left the Island and Ben went on to get a doctorate in European history to end up teaching high school alongside Leslie Arzt and new substitute John Locke. We happen to see him teaching about Napoleon’s exile on the island of Elba, which the French Emperor eventually escaped and marched on Paris, although his second reign only lasted until the Battle of Waterloo later that same year.
In this timeline, Ben helps his father and tutors Alex Rousseau, who is applying to Yale. Ben has the opportunity to blackmail his principal in exchange for more personal power, but at the cost of killing Alex’s chances of getting into Yale. In the alternate timeline, Ben has a plan, but tries his best to save Alex’s future.
Elsewhere on the Island, or the first time, we see Richard as a man who is lost and out of his element. He’s always seemed to be close with the Island and in the know– if not the same confidence of being few steps ahead of everyone else that Ben could exhibit. But without Jacob, Richard is directionless and hopeless.
Ben is not the only one confused by his place in Jacob’s plan. Richard confirms that he came to the island on the Black Rock, has been serving Jacob, and Jacob granted hiim a sort of immortality. Jacob had a plan; he could convey the gift of longevity, if not immortality. Was he a Cylon?
Is the crazy smile after surviving a dub stick of dynamite, proof that Jack has become a man of faith. Are Jack, Hurley, Sawyer, Sun and Jin protected by Jacob’s touch in the same way as Richard, while they are on the Island? Did Jacob’s touch fail to protect Locke once he left the Island? Was part of the loophole that the Man in Black found luring Locke off of the Island?
While this episode was filled with good elements, the last few feel like they’ve kept too many pieces off of the table. Sawyer hasn’t been seen since The Substitute. This week, Smokey’s band of followers– including Sawyer, Claire, Sayid and Kate– were completely out of the picture. Jin didn’t appear at all this week, either. But the episode closed with a brief appearance of a character coming back who has yet to be seen at all this season, bringing more of the pieces of the puzzle into the picture.
The last scene on the beach let Oscar winner Michael Giacchino’s score take the forefront and be a more effective substitute for some dialog. As a visual medium, a picture can be worth a thousand words, and sometimes pictures alone are more effective without words. The writers, director and producers deserve credit for trusting the actors and Giacchino to deliver without feeling the need to explain everything.