Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Review: Lost 6.7: Dr. Linus

I've recently gone back to the first season on DVD for the first time, and boy is it weird. Good weird, though. It's not necessarily better than the later series in every way, but its certainly more accessible and the characterisation is just... by golly it's good. I don't know whether or not to review Season One for the blog, as everything I say will feel a tad redundant given that I'm going to be covering our characters' journeys as I examine their last few episodes. I'm rambling - onto Dr. Linus!
Ben begs for forgiveness and explains why he killed Jacob.
Lost - Season Six, Episode Seven - Dr. Linus
Written between 8th and 9th February 2013

Benjamin Linus. That's a sentence in and of itself - the show's most memorable, most entertaining character that only popped up in the third season. Michael Emerson's performance and simple good writing has made Ben Linus the symbol of all of Lost's potential, becoming a threefold hero, villain and expositional device. He is a character that you can never trust, that is always unpredictable and yet strangely predictable in his unpredictability. Dr. Linus, the last Ben-centric episode and one surprisingly early in the season, is about the character's redemption arc after two seasons of ruining his own life.
     In the main island storyline, Ben escaped the Temple with Ilana's group, including Miles. Desperate to discover what happened to her father figure, Ilana gives Miles Jacob's ashes, and he reveals to the group that Ben was his killer. Ilana has him shackled on the beach, and begins forcing him to dig his own grave. The Man In Black arrives to let him go, informing him of where he can find a gun, and Ilana ends up pursuing Ben through the jungle until a standoff, where Ben apologises to her and tells her that he will never come to terms with his actions. When he suggests he go off and join the Man In Black, she appears to forgive him. Richard meets Jack and Hurley at the Black Rock, and says that he's going to kill himself, but Jack talks him out of it by convincing him (with some pretty strong evidence) that it's impossible to do so. Out in the bay, a submarine appears on the horizon - it's Widmore's.
     In the flash-sideways timeline, Ben's life has taken a very different turn. He is a shy, unassuming high school History Teacher, bullied by the corrupt principal and more concerned for his students (especially Alex Rousseau, who was his adopted/kidnapped daughter in the main timeline) than he is for his own career. A conversation with Alex gives him the opportunity to blackmail the Principal and gain power in the school, but his plan is cut short when the Principal threatens to ruin Alex's chances of going to Yale like she wanted to. Unlike in the original timeline, he puts her interests before his own power, and the two come to an agreement.
Ben's flash-sideways counterpart is much less evil.
     Emerson gave another magnificent performance in this episode, with particular high points being his moment of decision in the flash-sideways and his final monologue to Ilana, which on first broadcast almost had me in tears. He was key ot the episode's success, allowing the script to fully break down the core essentials of Ben's character and push all of his buttons. In the main timeline, we got to see him punished for his deed and explain his regret over letting his power take precedence over his love for his own daughter, and in the flash-sideways we see him get to put this into practice as he sacrifices power for Alex. 
     Ben's journey through the series is one that I feel does peet off a bit at the end. It's always going to be a bit disappointing to see a character as ruthless and controlling as Ben come to terms with their own problems and try to become better people. In the end, Ben's parental-abuse-driven quest for power amounts to nothing, and I think it's fair to say that he spends the rest of this season following people around being unimpressing. However, I was glad for this episode, which gave Emerson one last chance to really go all out and take the character of Ben to its logical and very satisfying conclusion.


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