BEWARE! HERE THERE BE SPOILERS!
Don't say you weren't warned. Now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's talk LOST!
This was a terrific Ben-centric episode, and I was completely engaged and invested with the flash-sideways universe's plotline as much as I was with the island plotline. I really am loving the alternate universe. It was so interesting, the parallels and double and triple meanings that the writers wove into that portrayal of Ben. Three cheers for excellent writing! I'll definitely be re-watching that episode. Here are my favorite moments from the show.
I thought this was the most shocking moment of the night:
Jack and Richard are watching the fuse burn on the dynamite. Jack just finished describing the incident at the lighthouse.)
Jack: "I have no idea why, but I'm willing to bet you if Jacob went through all that trouble, that he brought me to this island for a reason, and that it is not to blow up sitting here with you here right now."
Richard: "That's a pretty big risk your taking."
Richard: "What if you're wrong?"
Jack: "I'm not."
Jack used to be the "man of science", while Locke used to be the "man of faith". Looks like the little incident at the lighthouse finally convinced Jack of Jacob's powers and he has now completely switched over to being a man of faith. I was quite shocked. I guess Jack had an epiphany when he was taking that little time-out to stare out at the ocean. It's an exciting development to his character, and I think the writers have done a good job of showing his slow transition to this way of thinking, with his choosing to return to the island, with detonating the bomb, etc.
I also loved to see a little bit more of Richard's reaction to all the events that have transpired and felt bad for him. It's interesting that he's unable to kill himself. It reminded me of when Michael escaped with Walt and became suicidal when he was off-island, but no matter what he did, his suicide attempts never worked. Then Mr. Friendly found him and told him the island "wouldn't let him die." When Michael was back on the freighter, trying to keep the bomb frozen until everyone could get off, Christian Shephard (a.k.a. Smokey? a.k.a. Jacob?) appeared to him and said, "You can go now." and then the bomb blew up. Hmmm... lots to chew on there.
As an aside, there was another shocking moment in this week's show and that was when we saw the submarine with Widmore in it, (although I assumed he was the person Jacob was referring to when he said someone was coming to the island). What's he up to? How did he find the island?
I thought this was the most heartbreaking moment of the night:
Ilana: "Then what do you want?"
Ben: "Just let me leave."
Ilana: "Where will you go?"
Ben: "To Locke."
Ben (in tears): "Because he's the only one that will have me."
Ilana: "I'll have you."
I never ever ever thought I'd ever have sympathy for Ben. I think back to those days when he was Henry Gale, locked in the gunsafe in the hatch. How manipulative and evil he was, and how much I hated him. After all the atrocities he has done, all the manipulation and heartache, even when Alex died, I never thought I'd cry for Ben. This show changed that. Again, I think the writers have done a good job of slowly tearing him down, tearing away all the things he used to rely on, to leave him completely broken and exposed, so that he finally, sincerely, repented of his evil ways - his lust for power. I think his apologies and confessions up to this point weren't 100% authentic, because he was still holding back, they were still a little self-serving. He had to hit rock bottom figuratively and literally (in digging his own grave) to finally get it.
I cried when Ilana showed him grace, and told him she would have him on her team. I also cried when in the flashsideways world, he chose to protect Alex over his own selfish wants and his own desire for power (an active illustration of what the island Ben just now figured out). It's hard to forgive horrible people, such as the Ted Bundys and Hannibal Lectors of the world, of which I would include Ben in that group, but what a powerful example of Christian grace, to forgive those who don't deserve it, when they sincerely repent. I don't know if the writers are coming from that worldview or not, but that's how I interpreted the scene, and why I think it had such power.
Other heartbreaking moments in this episode were: the scene with Richard, who was so broken, and feeling as if his dedication and service to Jacob were all for not, and the classic slow-mo montage set to music with the reuniting on the beach. Yes, we've seen it a bunch of other times. It used to be a LOST end-of-episode standard. But it's been a while since they've used this, and I wasn't ready for it. It still got me all teary-eyed.
And finally, here's the funny moment of the night:
Hurley: "Cheese curds."
Jack (to Richard after the TNT fuse burns out): "Want to try another stick?"
Ben: "The things people will bring on a plane!"
It seems as if multiple "candidates" are rising to the occasion. Ever since the whole "candidates" concept was introduced, I've been thinking Hurley would be the one, because he's always been pure of heart, but now Jack seems to be rising to the occasion and maybe... even... Ben? Why do you think Ilana forgave him and accepted him into the fold? She's obviously very hurt that he killed her god/mentor/father-figure. Does she know he's actually a candidate? Or did she do it simply because it was the right thing to do? What did you think about Miles's revelation, when he told Ben that he was wrong about Jacob being indifferent about dying? He said "right up until the second the knife went through his heart, Jacob was hoping he was wrong about you." Could Jacob see past all the hurt and horrible choices in Ben's life, and see the potential in Ben to be good and do the right thing? How does Widmore figure into the plot as it stands now? What a long strange journey its been, and it isn't over yet. Leave me a comment and let me know what you think.