Lost Review: The Redemption of Benjamin Linus

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How do you know when you've watched an exceptional episode of Lost?

When you see the redemption of Ben and the official transformation of Jack into a main of faith. Oh, and when the hour concludes with Charles Widmore in a submarine, gliding underneath the water, just off the island shore.

Wow. To paraphrase Kanye West: "Dr. Linus" was one of the greatest episode of all-time. Of all- time! Let's begin this review by going over what we learned:

  • Richard came to the island on the Black Rock.
  • He was given the "gift" of eternal, youthful life when Jacob touched him. Does this apply to all of the touched castaways? It seems to be the case for Jack.
  • There are six candidates remaining, according to Ilana. Would that be Jack, Hurley, Kate, Sawyer, Sun and Jin? Or does "Kwon" only refer to one of the latter pair, and might Lapidus be a candidate?
  • Even in Ben's sideways storyline, he and his father were part of the Dharma Initiative on the island... but they left, a decision Mr. Linus now regrets due to his son's sad life.
  • Alex's last name is still "Rousseau" and she referenced her mother as working two jobs. Does this mean everyone's favorite, crazy French lady was never shipwrecked on the island? Or did she also leave somehow?

While we'll get to Jack's revelation and the incredible conclusion to the hour shortly, this episode was mainly about Ben - and it provided us with a new theory on the Sideways World vs. the Island World as a result of his story. See if you agree with it below...

It's Dr. Linus

On the island... Fake Locke tells Ben that there's another option for him, one where he's (literally) free from the shackles of his current life. He offers him the power of running the island. Who will accept Ben? Fake Locke will.

In 2004... Locke tells Ben that there's another option for him, one where he's free from the budgetary restraints of being a teacher. He implants in him the idea of being principal. Who will listen to Ben? Locke will.

On the island... Ben tries to make a deal with Miles: stop Ilana from killing me and you can have your $3.2 million. Miles shoots him down.

In 2004... Ben makes a deal with Arnzt: break into the school nurse's email and you can have a new parking space and lab equipment. Arnzt agrees.

On the island... Ben admits to Ilana that he once chose power over his own daughter, and the decision has haunted him ever since. He's filled with regret and, most incredibly for Ben Linus, honesty.

In 2004... Ben chooses Alex over power. He's filled with pride.

While these two arcs are close to the past sideways timelines in which characters seemed to have a second chance at righting their wrongs (Ben murdering his father on the island vs. Ben helping to keep him alive in the new 2004), the utter similarity between what we saw in each world makes me wonder:

Could events be happening AT THE SAME TIME?

Based on the flashes of recognition in previous 2004 storylines, it's evident that the island consciousness of Jack, Kate and company is occasionally felt by their Sideways counterparts (think: when Kate sees the whale doll in Claire's bag, when Jack sees his appendix scar)... but what if these worlds actually exist simultaneously and can impact one another?

When Ben learned from Fake Locke that he could make a choice that saves his life and provides him with the power he always desired, was the flash sideways scene between Dr. Linus and Alex - where she also offered him a choice that would save his lame life and provide him with power - taking place at the same time?

Ben initially sought the power in each case. But when confronted with his regret over Alex's death on the island, Ben broke down. What did viewers soon witness? A Sideways whoosh in which Ben made a different decision, one he seemingly wished he had made on the island.

We now ask: what if the scene between Ben and Ilana was somehow occurring in lock (Locke?) step with the scene in which Ben was told by Principal Reynolds that his power play would result in Alex not getting into Yale? What if Ben's on-island admission of honesty and sorrow was actually translated directly to his Sideways self in 2004 and, subconsciously, Ben chose a different path in that universe?

As for Jack, the transition to a total and complete man of faith is certainly complete. His stance against Richard and the dynamite was one of the most suspenseful, interesting scenes in show history.

At the end of "Lighthouse," Jacob said Jack needed time to realize his mission. He may not know the details of it yet, but Jack is clearly reborn in a way: he's confident, finally, that he was brought to the island with a purpose. And where to go from there?

Back to where it all began, as he told Richard. Cue another of the coolest scenes in show history, as Jack, Hurley and Richard re-created the slow motion beach reunion from season three's "One Of Us." Awesome stuff.

A few questions, before we turn things over to readers:

  • We need to learn more about Ilana, right? How did she get in contact with Jacob? Did he make a Dogen-like deal with her?
  • What is Widmore's purpose at the island? It sounded more nefarious than benevolent. And why can he suddenly locate the island?
  • What's the next 80's movie Hurley will reference? We've had plenty of Star Wars and got Terminator this week.
  • We haven't seen Sawyer in two weeks. Are female viewers still tuning in?
  • And finally: do you believe in the redemption of Ben? This is a character that has made a life out of lying and manipulating? Has he truly turned an honest corner... or does he still have a self-serving agenda?


Editor Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 (58 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.


Holy crap. Now I remember! OMG. Michael wanted to kill himself so badly. He tried everything! (recollects)
Shooting himself with a gun. Eating pills that would kill him (overdose). And then trying to hang himself... and the rope breaks. LOL!


I thought the sideways universe was the same as the original up until the point where Jack and co detonate the bomb on the island, then it creates an alternate universe from that point in time onwards? So surely Ben was still shot? Bens father references them leaving the island in the lead up to the bomb being set off by the Losties at the end of season 5.


Agreed, Sam. On a side note, I LOVED the Nicki and Paulo story line. I thought it added a different depth to the lost universe not already explored. And to have those two corpses buried alive with all of those diamonds just SITTING THERE. It makes to beach feel more vulnerable than it already is. Also, I had a theory that this was all happening at the same time. The island we saw is the island from the 1970s timeline while the island we are on is the one from the 2000s timeline but both are sharing the same world. So there are two islands: one sunk one not.


Ok so I have a Kwon candidate theory; it doesn't make sense that with Jacob touching both of them only one could be a candidate, I would imagine both have equally important roles, and lets not forget Kwon number three... baby Kwon, conceived on the island after Jin and Sun were "brought" there by Jacob. This baby would likely not come to be if they had not gone to the island and reconciled their obviously troubled marriage. Sure, we havent seen baby Kwon in a while, but everything that occurs on the show occurs for a reason, and it would also be an interesting segway to go back to the pregnancy issue of the island. Also, I think Hurley's role in the whole story is being underlooked, remember how he supposedly "started" this whole thing by using the numbers a fellow inmate in the psych ward was stating over and over? And I may be remembering this wrong but I believe Jacob didn't touch him until after his lottery win. Also, where does his ability to see dead people come from? Is it a gift from Jacob, or did he get it from somewhere else?


I think Richard's "gift" is long life, not eternal life. He CAN die, he just can't kill himself. We know others who have been touched by Jacob who have died, but not by their own hand (such as Locke). Jack was also touched, and as such he also cannot kill himself, which is why neither he nor Richard was harmed -- Jack lit the fuse. It is not that Jack is blessed with eternal or even long life -- just that Jacob's touch prevents a person from killing himself, and perhaps even Michael was touched since he was unable to do himself harm also. I think there is a very real possibility the two time lines are happening at once. And I saw a parallel in Ilana's relationship to Jacob with Alex's relationship to Ben. Man, how will they tie this together?!


I think when dealing with the character of Ben you have to be careful about making assumptions. Personally, I thought Ben was able to make the selfless decision of not blackmailing the principle because the whole ordeal with Sayid shooting him never occurred and consequently he was never "changed forever" as stated by Richard at some point during the last season. That said, this point of view fell apart when Ben chose to remain with Ilana instead of following Slocke even though I guess it could be because he is supposed to know enough about the island to know that Slocke is evil.

Matt richenthal

@Sam: I agree! Damon and Carlton have admitted they messed up with those characters and killed them off in an impromptu episode... but it was still fun to get that reference. Also, gotta figure they were making a conscious effort to depict Miles as the new Sawyer, as he was sitting by himself on the beach and, of course, stealing other people's stuff there.


I was particularly pleased to see them tie in what I had considered the most completely useless episode, when the couple was buried alive with diamonds after being bitten by numbing spiders in (I think) Season 3 (the half where the writing took a huge dive and the show nearly ended for most of us) by making their bodies and loot Miles reasoning for not making a deal with Ben to help him escape. Really cool tie in I didn't think could happen!

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