Applesister1 had this to say in response to my disappointment over the brief interaction between Ben and Sayid from last week’s episode:
Ben and Sayid: from Ben’s perspective, the last time he saw Sayid was on Ajira 316, right? When Sayid told Ilana Ben was evil, because Ben had recently manipulated Sayid into becoming an assasin, no? I’m not sure what other “familiarity” we should expect. Ben doesn’t know Sayid shot him as a kid, he just knows Sayid pretty well and knows Sayid hates him. But he doesn’t know Sayid has now fully embraced his dark half…and when he sees that he has, he his rightfully scared.
I should clarify that my disappointment comes from a viewer’s perspective. From a character standpoint, perhaps it wouldn’t have been “natural” for them to act like anything was out of the ordinary (they are on a crazy island, after all), as they saw each other on a flight not too long ago. But from a viewer’s standpoint, we’ve learned so much more about their history and relationship. And from that point of view, I was hoping for something a bit more. Just a minor quibble – it was an awesome episode.
As was this, of course. You know how last week I noted that Locke episodes usually rock while Kate episodes can be a dud? Well, count Ben-centric (Bentric?) episodes as ones that are pretty much guaranteed homers (if nothing else, they enlighten us with new ways of how much Ben tends to lie). In a lot of ways, this was the most revealing flash sideways yet. The big reveal, of course, was that the island was in existence up until the early 70’s (at least), and that Ben and his father spent a bit of time there. But what made them leave? I assume it wasn’t Ben getting shot or the island getting attacked, which happened in the familiar reality, since their outlook was pretty nostalgic as they wondered if their lives would be better had they never left. Of course, when his dad mentioned the island he might’ve been talking about Manhattan or something. So who knows?
Much like the past episodes we’ve seen, certain characters seem to be intimately tied to each other. Even with the island no longer a factor (presumably), these people are still meant to come together. With Ben, seemingly, no matter what he’s destined to surround himself with people like Locke and Alex. And, much like we saw with Sayid last week, no matter how different the circumstances and variables, certain character traits are inevitable. Ben has a seemingly healthy relationship with his (unhealthy) father, and he lives in everyday society. Yet once the opportunity presents itself, he resorts to lies, manipulation, and threats in order to attain power.
And like his island counterpart alluded to later in the episode, when his proverbial moment of truth came, he had to decide between the power and a girl he cares deeply for. On the island, he chose the power (or, perhaps more accurately, he called the wrong person’s bluff). In the sideways world, I’m glad to see that he selflessly sacrificed his rise up the ladder. Speaking of which, though, part of me wishes we learned more about the relationship between Ben and Alex. What drew them to each other? Did he just recognize her as a special person? In this universe, what made him care for her so deeply?
And can I just bring up the fact that this show just LOVES to use Artz as an extra. I’m beginning to think they regret killing him off. He’s like the Flight 815 version of Ethan.
Naturally, the island hijinx more than held its own in this episode as well. If nothing else, this episode was all about Ben’s redemption. And much like how I was pleased to see Ben choose Alex over his promotion, I was also happy to see Ben stick around with Ilana and the Losties instead of going the “easy,” presumably evil route of rejoining the Locke Ness Monster. I truly do believe this was a turning point for the Ben character. We can now appreciate why he did some of the terrible things he did, and he’s shown remorse for many of those deeds. That doesn’t necessarily make him a good person, but he is a lot easier to forgive and understand. I really enjoyed his final confrontation with Ilana in the jungle. And I know it’s merely a taxi cab receipt printing, but the sound of the Smoke Monster approaching is still one of my favorite sound effects in all of television.
And just think, for the past few weeks I’ve been worried that Widmore will end up being inconsequential in the grand scheme of this story. And who pops up at the end of the episode? Ol’ Charlie Boy himself! Could he be the person Jacob was referring to? Where will he fall in the epic end battle? Sweet!
While it was the “B” story, I actually loved the stuff with Jack, Hurley, and Alpert. For the most part, Alpert has been pretty detached from these particular characters (obviously, he’s mostly been surrounded by Ben, Locke, and Sawyer), so it seemed fresh seeing this threesome together. And for that matter, it was great seeing the return of “Man of Faith” Jack. It was such a surreal change seeing him talk about hope and destiny at the beginning of last season. Yet, by season’s end, and especially since the beginning of this season, it seemed like we were seeing the old, stubborn Jack. However, Jack lighting a stick of dynamite and sitting there, waiting to see if it blows up, so incredibly confident that it won’t because he’s meant for something bigger – all in the name of a man he never even met – was powerful and utterly exhilarating. Hell, even Hurley hustled (well…) out of dodge. And at the end of the scene, he jolted Alpert back into his role as the faithful follower. And his “should we try another stick?” line was fantastic.
And of course, we got some answers! Not only did we learn why Alpert hasn’t aged, but we discovered that he’s essentially immortal. The only way he can die if it’s by the hands of somebody else. And it all happened because Jacob touched him (like he did many of the other characters). If nothing else, this may explain why Jack was seemingly unable to jump off that bridge (and why Locke’s attempted hanging wouldn’t have succeeded). Interesting idea, though: Did he ever lay his hands on Michael? If you recall, he wasn’t able to commit suicide. And he only died when Christian “released” him.
Oh, and considering how genuinely touching seeing Sun reunite with Hurley was, I really can’t wait to see her and Jin together again.
That’s it for this week. I await your comments!
Matt Basilo has been writing for Inside Pulse since April 2005, providing his insight into popular television shows such as Lost, 24, Heroes, and Smallville. Be sure to visit his blog at [a case of the blog] and follow him on Twitter.