Lost s6 ep 7

Okay, it might all have been planned from episode 1.  But luck can play a part as well.  “Things I am grateful for”, exec producer Damon Lindelof Tweeted this week, “Alfredo Sauce. My Waterpik. And last but not least, Michael Emerson”.  Emerson, of course, was originally cast to play Ben Linus for a handful of episodes only.  But not only has it become the Emmy-capturing part of a lifetime for Emerson, Ben Linus has become utterly integral to ‘Lost’: lucky for Darlton, lucky for Emerson, lucky for us.

And this was his finest hour.  In what was comfortably the best episode of the season so far – and which will, one suspects, go into the all-time top 10 of many ‘Lost’ fans – Emerson gave us as many different facets of Benjamin Linus as we could wish for, and still left us guessing.

This week there was a clear and explicit link between the flash-sideways and the on-island action, both past and present.  We got our first sight of Dr Ben Linus, history teacher, a few episodes ago, and we weren’t disappointed with the fleshed-out portrayal we got here: a conscientious and committed teacher, slightly fussy, devoted to his ailing father, disappointed with his stalled career.  Given a chance to satisfy his ambition in a somewhat squalid way – and a way which would involve a substantial betrayal – what will Dr Linus do?

Back on the island we were reminded more than once of what Ben’s ambition had brought him there, as he was unmasked as Jacob’s killer and forced to dig his own grave (I am so not warming to Ilana, BTW), before being offered freedom by Flocke: and, once again, a major choice.  And after last week, when we saw Sayid apparently rejecting redemption, it was fascinating to see Ben grapple – in two timelines – with the same possibility.

What gave it emotional depth, of course, was Michael Emerson’s quite astonishing performance.  In the past I’ve enjoyed every moment of Emerson’s measured, wry intensity; here he added shades of pathos (“He’s the only one who’ll have me”) on the island, and compassion and empathy off it, resulting in as good an acting performance as we’ve yet had from anyone in ‘Lost’.  Even now, though, I find myself wondering whether Ben was being sincere when he made his on-island choice, or whether he’s up to something.

So richly compelling were the Linus plots that they ran the risk of overwhelming the rest of the episode, but there were no makeweight plotlines this week: Jack’s apparent retreat from rationality; more about the candidates; Richard’s immortality; and a terrific Jack/Richard scene in The Black Rock which brought it all together.  And, in the final seconds, the return of a very big name indeed to the island.  There isn’t that long to go now for ‘Lost’, and on the evidence of last week and this the writers are starting to move through the gears.  This, though, was Michael Emerson’s week.

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8 thoughts on “Lost s6 ep 7

  1. CJ Cregg March 13, 2010 / 10:40 am

    I think we all know that I’m not generally a Ben fan. I said to Jed before this episode aired that I would need more than just Ben being Ben to enjoy it, but I’d wait and see because they’d managed fantastic episodes before with characters I previously hadn’t really enjoyed. And hey, what do you know? They did it again.

    Just as you said, Jed, they gave us different facets of Ben and to be honest, it seemed to me like instead of Ben being Ben, he became somebody else, albeit in an entirely believable piece of character development. I don’t just mean in the off-island story either. The Ben I don’t like is constantly manipulating and never saying anything I feel I should bother listening to because it’s always smug lies. This Ben seemed to have remorse, fear, anger, and a degree of humanity and emotional honesty (I hope he’s NOT up to something, but even if he is, at least some of his feelings were genuine)and something about him I could actually relate to. He’s far more interesting when he’s not in control of everything than when he is. I’m sure the old lying Ben is in there, but that’s not all he is any more. I like this new, human, broken Ben. And Emerson rocked it.

    I loved the choose Alex vs choose the power parallels between the off-island story and the on-island story, too. Nice that in e’s “better world” he did the right thing. Although to be honest, I think he’s a bit too hard on himself for Alex’s death on the island – Keamy would have killed her anyway, no matter what Ben did.

    Meanwhile, as you said, the Jack and Richard stuff was awesome. Absolutely loved new reckless, slightly crazed Jack and the new, lost-without-Jacob side of Richard. And the lovely slow-mo reunion at the end – Aw. The periscope suddenly poking up was pretty silly though. It was like a bad Jaws spoof.

  2. Capt. Harold Dobey March 13, 2010 / 1:06 pm

    Shame the costume department can’t move out of cliche-ville. Is that a still from The Bash Street Kids?

  3. CJ Cregg March 13, 2010 / 2:17 pm

    The Principal’s office has the same phone as the ones CTU in 24 used to have. Hello again CISCO!

  4. e March 13, 2010 / 4:55 pm

    CJ Cregg :
    I loved the choose Alex vs choose the power parallels between the off-island story and the on-island story, too. Nice that in e’s “better world” he did the right thing. Although to be honest, I think he’s a bit too hard on himself for Alex’s death on the island – Keamy would have killed her anyway, no matter what Ben did.

    In the better world, he grew up with a father, didn’t take a bath in the other-pool-of-infectious-evil, and basically had an opportunity to become part of humanity in a way that he couldn’t on the island.

    Yes, he’s still “alone” but even in his unmarried, low-income, living-with-his-dad life, he has a far richer connection with people (especially Alex).

  5. CJ Cregg March 13, 2010 / 7:08 pm

    At one point, e, I was worried they were going to have someone falsely accuse him of having an inappropriate relationship with Alex and a load of ugliness would rain down on the off-island story. I’m thankful they were cleverer and more creative than that.

  6. Kay20 April 30, 2010 / 7:41 am

    I loved this episode. Ben Linus is an amazing character – and Michael Emerson. Wow. There are few episodes that get me into weepy town, and this was one of them. I absolutely loved the final scene as the losties were hugging and greeting one another hello, and there was Ben, dejectedly, broken, off to the side. An amazing image (and I agree CJ – completely ruined by the dumb periscope at the end – WTF?).

    The Jack/Richard scene was tremendous – I thought one of them was going to remove the fuse, and when they let it burn out – genius.

    I am seriously going to miss this show. Not many others like it that are so smart in 1 hour.

    Michael Emerson – if you are not nominated for an Emmy this year due to this episode I think Emmy voters are smoking crack.

  7. Jed Bartlet May 2, 2010 / 9:41 am

    There are some good episodes to come, Kay, but this one is my favourite of the season so far.

  8. Red July 5, 2010 / 1:43 pm

    When did Locke get his teaching qualification? And how did Miles manage to dig up the diamonds without anyone noticing?

    That aside, I am thrilled to be back in Lostville.

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