by Sarah Carbiener
I loved, loved, LOVED this week’s episode, and not just because Kate was nowhere in sight. “Dr. Linus” reminded me where the bar should be and, in retrospect, last week’s episode has lost all its luster.* It’s not just that Michael Emerson is absolutely mind-blowing as Benjamin Linus and completely rocked this episode, but the show was about the characters this week, not the answers! I feel like I have been rewarded for putting up with Kate all these seasons.
It’s incredibly clear that the series is gearing up towards a big battle between good and evil. Characters are knowingly and unknowingly choosing sides, and quite a few bodies have hit the jungle floor. Up until this week, however, I forgot why I should care about a big battle on a mythical island that attracts planes and polar bears. The answer is the fallout; it’s always been the fallout. From the first time they crashed onto the island, the best episodes have been about the characters sorting through the wreckage, making decisions, and dealing with the horrible consequences one way or another.
Ben has made a lot of bad decisions with some really horrifying consequences. This week on the island, we get the biggest and best payoff ever with his character. He faces up to everything he’s done and what it’s cost him, and then he makes another choice, a new choice. It tangentially relates to the mythology, the answers, and the big battle on the horizon, but it’s incredibly powerful because the focus is on what Ben and Ilana (Zuleikha Robinson) are suffering through as human beings, independent of all the symbolism and callbacks and statues on the beach.**
Also, in the off-island scenes, Ben was put in a situation parallel to one of the most traumatic events his character has experienced so far. This made the comparatively lower-stakes off-island stuff feel so important. I knew exactly why I cared what happened; I don’t know why it hasn’t been that way in every off-island storyline this season. If it’s because they’re saving the really extreme parallel storylines for the main Oceanic 6 later on, that’s seriously lame.
It felt like the show’s creators flipped a switch this week and suddenly the whole series is back on track. Like Alan Sepinwall, I even enjoyed the Jack scenes this week. They had the classic montage at the end where a bunch of people were reunited on the beach. My heart, it was warmed.
What did you think? Are you also holding your breath to see if they’ll keep up this momentum? Did you notice the two Real Genius alumni in the off-island scenes?
MILDLY SPOILERY DISCUSSION QUESTION:
If someone had you at gunpoint, would you dig your own grave?
*Spoilers from last week’s episode
In last week’s “Sunset,” there were a few good scenes with Sayid. However, the baseball backstory, the horrible exposition—Sayid’s brother telling Sayid that he was a torturer for the Republic, something I’m pretty sure Sayid knows already, and the anticlimactic end to the temple (yes, I think the smoke monster is fairly anticlimactic at this point)—all made for a pretty eye-roll-inducing episode. I think I was just distracted by all the violence after the week before where in “Lighthouse,” Jack drank, felt sorry for himself, and smashed stuff. Mirror make Jack MAD!
At the end when Ilana asked Ben why he would go with Locke, and Ben said, “Because he’s the only one who’ll have me,” that is what this show is all about: the real, human reasons the characters on the island do what they do. I need to re-watch that entire scene immediately.