"Right up until the second the knife went through his heart, Jacob was hoping he was wrong about you. Guess he wasn't."
(Thanks to Dark UFO for all the screencaps).
Looks like I hit either two or three of my fearless predictions yesterday, depending on whether you consider this episode to be the best of the season or not. I think if it's not, it's really really close behind "The Substitute." Michael Emerson was simply fabulous and I think he likely will be in the running for another Emmy next year for his work here. The scene with him and Ilana in the jungle was awesome, but I think the shot of Ben on the beach, standing alone miserable and broken while everyone embraced, was even better.
I actually feel a bit sorry for Ben, despite all he's done.
- Jack's leap of faith
- Learning Richard's "chains" were from the Black Rock
- Miles with the diamonds
- Smokey giving Ben an option
- Alt Alex and Alt Roger
- Pencil Neck as Ben's principal! Could that casting have been more perfect?
- Charles! And he brought a sub!
This episode seemed to have just about the right mix of everything and I liked that we got a bit of everyone except for Sawyer, Jin and the rest of Smokey's crew (which it looks like we'll get next week). I really liked Ben's Alt story too, despite the fact Alt Locke wasn't featured more prominently.
Was Alt Ben happier than he would have been on the Island? Seems both of Ben's possible lives are rather bittersweet. On one hand, on the Island Ben enjoyed a position of power for years, got to raise Alex himself and certainly has had a more exciting life than that of his Alt (and even now, at his lowest point in his Island life, he still claims to have a network of people and influence in the outside world).
But consider that Alt Ben 1) appears to have a better relationship with his father, given that Alt Roger isn't rotting inside a 70's era DHARMA van and 2) has a better relationship with Alex, given that she's not rotting in the Barracks and appears to be on her way to Yale. Would Alt Ben have traded his life for his Island life, knowing everything that would happen? It's essentially the same choice he had when he weighed being a principal vs. Alex's future and I was heartened and touched when he chose the latter. I have to think he would do so again weighing the two options.
Of course, if we're talking about Ben's choices here, he really has no one to blame but himself. In some ways, he was more of a pawn than Locke was. Think about all the things he did - the Purge, stealing Alex, getting Widmore exiled, kidnapping Walt, getting Sayid to kill for him, killing Locke, killing Jacob - to put himself in the miserable predicament he's in right now. Is it really any wonder why Jacob let Alex die? In some ways, her life was the price for all the horrible things Ben's done.
So what happens now for Island Ben? When Ilana forgave him and allowed him to stay, he still did have a choice to go with Smokey - tempting, given the Island has nothing left for him and he still probably could have cobbled together a nice life in the outside world, not to mention no one on the beach would have cared if he'd gone. But the fact he chose to stay, I think, gives him one last chance at redemption, one I hope he gets before the series comes to a close.
1) What is Charles' plan?
So it looks like I was right that Charles was the person Jacob said was coming to the Island. But what's his plan? Considering that Jacob seemed to want Charles to arrive safely, I think it's safe to conclude he'll be working with Team Good.
But what can he really do? If he's knows what he's up against in Smokey, he's got his work cut out for him. Smokey could kill everyone on board that sub in the blink of an eye, so I imagine Charles knows something that can either stop him or slow him down.
It was curious that he didn't stop to pick up any of the beach dwellers - you would think he would have needed them unless he was carrying out a mission for Jacob himself (which very well might be the case).
I'd love to get a Charles Widmore episode before the series ends.
2) Is everyone Jacob touched immortal?
It doesn't seem that way, given that Locke is dead, but that fact alone begs another question: Why did the Island allow Ben to kill Locke in the first place? You would think that if everyone Jacob touched lived "charmed" lives that didn't allow them to die, Ben wouldn't have been able to strangle Locke at all (all the more reason I think the six candidates are NOT the six Numbered candidates on Smokey's wall and the lighthouse had the true list - see #3).
But this episode we found out that Richard came to the Island on the Black Rock and the "chains" Smokey referred to in the season opener appeared to be the ones Richard was examining in the ship. Since the Black Rock disappeared in 1845 and presumably Richard was an adult back then, that makes Richard around 180-200 years old. Richard's another one who needs a full flashback - be nice to see him arrive on the Island, eh?
Richard doesn't seem to age at all, but the two candidates Jacob touched in childhood - Kate and Sawyer - certainly did. Interesting to think that perhaps all the candidates would have lived forever had they not come to the Island. But really I think Jacob's touch merely offered them all a bit of death protection up until the point where they could fulfill their destiny on the Island.
3) Who exactly were the six candidates Ilana was referring to?
This, to me, was the most interesting question of the show. The simple answer is that we take the six names from the cave at face value - Locke, Reyes, Shepherd, Jarrah, Ford, and Kwon - and assume that Smokey was right (for more on the idea that Smokey lived in the cave, check out Bigmouth here). But three things puzzle me:
1) Ilana called Frank a candidate last season
2) "AUSTEN" wasn't crossed off the lighthouse list.
3) If the six cave names were the six candidates Ilana was referring to, she should know there aren't six candidates left now, since Locke and Sayid are gone.
This makes me think that the true candidate list really is the lighthouse list and that Frank and Kate are both on it (Lapidus isn't on either the wall or the lighthouse list, Miles is crossed off the wall, but isn't seen on the lighthouse either). Interestingly too, Locke's name is NOT shown on screen on the lighthouse list (neither is Hurley's), meaning Jacob could have already eliminated them as candidates. Smokey was probably trying to work out for himself who the true candidates were and, while he was certainly right on a few, also got a few wrong. Personally I think Frank would make a great new Jacob. :)
So who would the real six candidates be then if we assume the lighthouse list is the true list? Shepherd, Jarrah, Ford, Kwon and Austen were all seen not crossed off the lighthouse, meaning these five were likely five of the six. This leaves one unseen candidate - possibly Hurley, but I definitely think Frank could be one as well.
4) Why is Smokey on Hydra Island? Is there something there that will help him leave?
My first thought when I heard Smokey was going to Hydra Island was "is he going to fix the plane and fly away? How boring." But I wonder if there's something else there - maybe underwater - that he can use to escape. Of course, Smokey could know that Charles is coming to the Island and is merely bringing his troops to an easily defended location.
Maybe Smokey just had a hankering for fish biscuits. :)
5) So when was the Island destroyed in the Alt?
The fact Roger and Ben actually went to the Island to join the DI then left was a really interesting bit of info as well. It means the Island existed in the Alt up until the mid seventies at least, increasing the possibility it existed right up until the Incident itself. And the fact that Alex is alive and well in the real world means Danielle never crashed on the Island in 1988, suggesting it was almost certainly destroyed by then.
This also suggests that Ben's birth happened pretty much the same way as it did in the present day timeline, given that Horace seemed to at least offer Roger a position in the DI that Roger checked out before returning to LA.
- The book that Ben appeared to pick out of Sawyer's stash seemed to be a biography of Benjamin Disraeli titled "Justice and Truth in Action." I'm not entirely sure if it's a real book or not, given that Google doesn't come up with much, but one of Disraeli's most famous quotes was "Justice is truth in action."
Sawyer's magazine is pretty hilarious too:
- The other book Ben found was "The Chosen" by Chaim Potok.
- I liked how Ben was eating sushi for lunch. Brave keeping it in the community fridge.
- Also liked how Ben was quizzing Alex on the East India Trading Company, an obvious reference to the Black Rock, and his personal parable on Napoleon losing his power.
- Did Nikki and Paolo "tell" Miles about the diamonds themselves? Loved the reference.
- I loved the reunion montage at the end, as I always do on LOST. And even though the show is to the point where it's seems a bit cheesy now given how many times they've done it before, I still find it touching because I love all these characters. Nice to see Richard joining up with Team Good as well, which has now gathered together four possible candidates if you include Frank.
- The importance of Jack's leap of faith can't be understated and while I would have liked to see a less metaphysical resolution to the show, I really loved that scene with him and Richard in the Black Rock. More good Jackface there too - New Age Jack is a lot more likable than Determined Hero Jack, though both would make excellent band names.
Even though not a whole lot happened this episode - really most of the plot movement was just in getting Jack, Richard and Hurley to the beach - I loved it, largely thanks to Michael Emerson's performance. If that was the last Ben episode of the show, it was a terrific one to go out on. 4.5/5.