Posted By Kent Merritt


Gentle Ben


This week's Ben-centric episode presented us with a kinder, gentler Ben Linus.   A Ben Linus who might have lived quite a different life if fate had dealt him a bitter - er, better - hand.   If he would have grown up with a semi-loving father, a semi-decent job, and at least half of a spine. 


Because even in the sideways world, this kinder, gentler Ben was still a schemer. He just didn't quite have the cojones to pull off any great schemes. "You can have my parking spot" he offered to an indifferent Sideways Arnzt in a lame attempt to make a friend after his failed attempt at blackmailing the school principal.  Because in this sideways world, Sieways Ben really doesn't care so much about success, power, or the promise of a better parking space, as he cares about being a nice guy. Sideways Ben realized that doing the right thing was more rewarding than being devious, deceptive, and scheming your way to a better life.


Personally, I prefer the devious, deceptive and scheming Ben. When he confessed to Ilana that he would be returning to Locke's camp because "He's the only one who will have me", I have to say that I cringed a bit.  I suppose the writers are showing us that Ben is repentive and therefore worthy of redemption, but it sort of feels a bit of a cheat to see him spill his guts like that, then turn and follow Ilana back to the beach like a lost little puppy.


Other than this episode being all about the Benjamin, this episode also provided us with a Big Reveal revolving around the mysterious Richard Alpert.  It turns out he was 'touched' by Jacob, which bestowed upon him the gift of immortality. Or, semi-immortality, since he is capable of dying, just not by his own hands. So, does this mean that the other castaways are now all immortal, since they were all 'touched'?!   If any of them do actually make it back to the real world, they might have a hard time explaining why they will never, ever age! That's really good news for Hurley, since he won't have to worry about dying early from obesity-related diabetes!


So now with Ben a sympathetic character, Sayid a cold-blooded killer, and Jack showing more faith in the island than even the Immortal Richard Alpert after daring the island to blow him to tiny bits, the lines of good and evil are being drawn in the sand.   And just as it's getting hard to know who to root for at this point, along comes Charles Widmore with a submarine full of troublemakers.  At least now we know what Jacob's last words meant!


For the record, Michael Emerson should be awarded another Emmy for this episode. What a tremendous range he showed in both sideways world and island world! A couple of weeks ago, I predicted that the final scene of Lost would be a recreation of the beach scene between Jacob and The Man In Black, where John Locke inherited the island and a newly possessed Ben repeats the line, "Do you know how badly I want to kill you?"   However, after seeing this episode, I'm beginning to think that the same two characters just might make it as the final representatives of Island Good and Island Evil, only this time, with a redeemed Ben being the inheritor of the island, and the envious John Locke still steaming (or make that smoking).



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