LOST in Translation: Mind the Empty Bottle

Season 6 Episode 7
“Dr. Linus”
written by Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz
directed by Mario Van Peebles

“Dr. Linus” was one of those episodes that sits with you long after it’s over. Truly powerful and character-driven… this was Benjamin Linus’ Redemption Song… and a wonderful showcase for Michael Emerson who delivered another magical performance. Of course when you’re directed by Kane the Sorcerer from Highlander III: The Final Dimension how can greatness not be there for the taking?

You see it’s too much to ask for and I am not the doctor

“But without any power it was meaningless.
He might just as well have been dead.”
~Dr. Benjamin Linus

Irony, thy name is flash-sideways. Over there in the Mirror Universe, Dr. Benjamin Linus is a mousy high school English teacher with no backbone or true ambition. That is until substitute teacher John Locke plants a seed in his head to supplant the tyrannical principal when he says, “It seems like you care about this place and if the man in charge doesn’t, there should be a change”.

The writers did a great job of taking what we know about these characters back in the original storyline and turning it on its ear. Familiar, but different. The appearance of Alex as teacher’s pet was brilliant and Other Ben sacrificing his play for power in favor of her educational future was indeed powerful stuff.

The scene with Ben and his father was quite telling about this elseworld, never mind the fact that these two have a loving and thoughtful relationship. A far cry from their Island life. Roger commented that he wanted better for his son and referenced their time with Dharma. It begs the question: what led them to leave their Island paradise in this reality? Was it the Incident?

These answers are coming. I am even more convinced now that these flash-sideways have a bigger purpose, that the finale will bring it all together and we’ll collectively sigh and nod our heads at the creators’ masterstroke.

The Island is sitting at the bottom of the ocean over here on the Other Side. I’ve got a feeling that this will not continue to be the case. Something (Jacob?) is going to bring these Uncastaways together and they’re going to pay a visit to the submerged wonder down under… Then we’ll see something truly amazing.

Or not.

I don’t want to be the glue that holds your pieces together

“No, he cared. Right up to the second the knife went through his heart, he was hoping he was wrong about you.” ~Miles, speaking to Ben

Finally, Miles gets to step up and be useful, much to the chagrin of Benjamin Linus. The cat (Schrodinger’s?) is out of the proverbial bag and now Ilana knows that Ben put the icing on Jacob;s cake, introducing him to the choir invisible with a little Ginsu action. Needless to say, she was not pleased, after all, Jacob “was like a father” to the poor girl. Of course she being a Candidate-Protecting Rambo-esque hard ass, Ilana tasked Ben with digging his own grave. Can you blame her?

And then along comes Smokey doing what Smokey does best: offering more than escape (to the Hydra no less), but what had once been Ben’s greatest desire… the Island. Dark Locke has a way of taping into what these people want most, but it looks like this time around, his temptation fell on deaf ears, because “Dr. Linus” offered us the redemption Benjamin Linus.

Michael Emerson sold every syllable. Benjamin Linus was the deposed Napoleon, exiled and powerless… and power was his drug of choice. He sacrificed the only one he ever loved — Alex — in service to the Island… to Jacob… to his personal demon… and, at the cusp of escape back to UnLocke’s promise, he broke.

”I watched my daughter Alex die in front of me and it was my fault. I had a chance to save her. I chose the Island over her. All in the name of Jacob. I sacrificed everything for him, and he didn’t even care. I stabbed him. I was so angry. Confused. I was terrified I was about to lose the only thing that ever happened to me, my power. But the thing that really mattered was already gone. …I can never forgive myself.”

He told Ilana that he was returning to Locke because no one else would have him. When she replied, “I’ll have you” the damn burst, carrying Benjamin Linus away in a wave of redemption and forgiveness. With that simple redeeming statement of sublime grace, Ilana cleansed Benjamin Linus, baptizing him with those three words that he might be born again.

Benjamin Linus spoke from the heart. He spoke the truth. And he was rewarded not with power as was offered by Dark Locke, but by something greater… compassion and understanding.

That was as powerful and poignant a moment as has been aired. I put it right up there with Penny and Desmond’s Christmas Eve phone call and Sawyer clinging to Juliet above the Incident Pit. And perhaps it strikes at the very heart of the show with all the same fervor displayed by a Sayid-thrusting or Ben-stabbing search for transformation.

It comes down to the two opposing philosophies of Jacob and the Man in Black. For UnLocke, people don’t change… “They come. They fight. They destroy. They corrupt. It always ends the same”. But Jacob disagrees and perhaps Ben’s transformation, Ben’s redemption, is all that Jacob is really after. Miles said that Jacob’s final thought was that he hoped he was wrong about Ben.

In the end, it looks like he was.

Jacob stated to the Man in Black, “It only ends once. Everything else is just progress.”

It looks like Ben has finally made some…

Michael Emerson for another Emmy? Maybe they should just start handing them out to the entire cast… The season has been that good, with tremendous performances by everyone throughout this entire arc.

I don’t want to be a substitute for the smoke you’ve been inhaling

What I’m talking about, Jack, is that Jacob touched me, and when Jacob touches you it’s considered a gift, except it’s not a gift at all. It’s a curse.” ~ Richard Alpert

There seems to be a lot of rules on this Island as to who can be killed and how and exactly who can do said killing. Who needs a rule book when we’ve got Richard Alpert around. Of course he was kept pretty much in the dark by Jacob, but he got the gist of it just the same.

Alpert’s done with Team Jacob and switching to Team Locke-ness Monster is not an option for him, so he’s hankerin’ for a suicide solution. The catch? He can’t do it. Jacob won’t let him, ala Michael back in Meet Kevin Johnson, so he wants Jack to do it for him. Unfortunately for the ageless wonder, Jack has had his time for reflection, staring out to sea and coming away from his “Lighthouse” revelation as a reborn Man of Faith, and he’s got a different game in mind: a little Russian Roulette, Black Rock-style.

Where Alpert has lost his faith in Jacob, Jack seems to have found it in spades.

As the fuse burned its way toward the stick of dynamite I couldn’t help but feel that it was symbolic of the entire series… the slow burn toward gnosis.

Jack makes his point and the travelers three — the shepherd, the slave, and the ghost whisperer —  return to the beach to be reunited with Sun, Frank, Miles, Ilana… and Ben. Team Jacob comes together.

On the Hydra Island waits Team MIB, with Sawyer, Jin, Sayid, Claire… and Kate… as well as Cindy, the kids, and a whole lot of Red Shirts.

But wait… what’s this? By the pricking of my thumbs, Charles Widmore this way comes.

Not that it hadn’t already been, but things just got a lot more interesting.

It’s nice to see everything coming together. With only nine episodes left, you sort of had the sense that it would start to any episode now, and while “Dr. Linus” can be seen as another positioning episode, another maneuvering of the chess pieces, there is an overriding impression that we are indeed at the dawn of revelation.

The writers are carefully pacing themselves, offering a showcase for each character, and maintaining the tension and suspense that sets LOST apart from any other drama on television.

Next Week on LOST

And then comes “Recon”, a Sawyer-centric episode (FINALLY!) that is sure to shake things up even more… not that you’d be able to tell it from the ABC promo that aired after “Dr.Linus”. They’re keeping their cards close to the vest for this one… And I’ve got a sneaky suspicion as to why.

But maybe this will make up for it a little bit:

And, as usual, I’ve a lot more to say, but no time left now to say it.

More to come later, as time permits…


Bob Freeman’s Occult Detective collection, That Olde Black Magick, is now available direct from Bandersnatch Books for a mere $13.00… FREE Shipping and Handling. Includes a signed bookplate with each purchase.


Coming in August of 2010.
by Bob Freeman
Belfire Press

Hell is empty and all the Devils are here…



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