Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Redeeming a Monster (LOST 6x7 “Dr. Linus”)

Even though I’ve been hanging with my family and friends, I want to make sure I keep up with writing once a week! So here’s this week’s LOST analysis. :)

Audiences love their villains. Possibly, because in truth, we all are or were once some sort of villain. For whatever reason, these baddies grasp our attention. An important part of good villains, however, is the chance that they might turn to the good side. Redemption is possible for anyone until they die, and to see an evil person change is an incredible experience.
On LOST, it may be possible one of the islands major villains has turned to the light. Or is he bluffing? An analysis of Benjamin Linus’ character and episode after the jump.

Benjamin Linus is known for being a devious, twisted, lying, scheming, and manipulating man. He is willing to, and does use everyone and everything he can for his agenda. No matter what may happen, Ben has a plan, and it usually revolves around his self preservation or advancement. He doesn’t blink an eye at lying or killing. These acts are as natural to him as breathing. Why did Ben become this man? Because he was looking for acceptance, and turned to evil acts in hopes of finding it.

As a child, Ben was denied a family bond because his father blamed him for the death of his mother. Lacking a proper “daddy” in his life, Ben sought family bonds elsewhere, with unfulfilling results. While he made some friends as a boy in the Dharma initiative, the lack of a strong father and mother prevented him from being able to fully enjoy others’ affections. His father’s, and eventually his, “workman” occupation also made them social outsiders. Young Ben believed finding his mother would redeem him in his dad’s eyes, so he chased after visions of her in the jungle, not knowing that the Smoke Monster was manipulating him by showing him glimpses of what he longed for most.

Eventually, Ben found a new family with the Others, and their god, Jacob. They offered him a purpose. Ben however, never felt accepted, even after he became their leader. This is because while he was supposedly receiving instruction from “Jacob” he had never met the man. The father figure he sought was now distant, passing commands from far away. Ben had always been taught to be patient for things to happen. He dutifully followed whatever he was told Jacob wanted him to do, hoping that someday, this person would show himself and be the dad Ben never had.

Events led Ben to believe Jacob had been manipulating him all his life, without a real care. In anger, Ben plunged a knife into the man’s chest, killing him. He soon regretted his actions, upon realizing he had been tricked by the Smoke Monster. However, he was now at a place where he could only turn to that entity. The Others had long given him up as leader, and most were now dead. The Survivors of both the Oceanic 815 and Aijira plane crashes who were followers of Jacob would never forgive him for murdering their leader. Ben decided he was willing to once again join Smokey’s dark side because it was the only thing that actually wanted and would accept him.

However, because he was truly repentant of his evil deeds, Ilana, Jacob’s bodyguard, told Ben she’d accept him back to their side. This moved Ben so much, he graciously accepted the gift and tried, though awkwardly, to help make camp. Coming episodes will reveal if this is a brand new Benjamin Linus, or just another game he’s playing. It is hopeful, since this is the final season, that we have seen the end of the evil Ben.

The climax of Ben’s character arch in “Dr. Linus” told a story of a man who had willingly committed evil, knew he was wrong, turned from his ways, and sought redemption. This Christian example also makes me think Jacob is still the good side of the Island, especially since his follower, Ilana, readily forgave the one who had harmed her and her people. Hopefully for Ben, the rest of the Jacobians will accept him on their side with open arms.

The Sideways storyline reflected Ben’s In Sideways Reality, Ben is a High School History teacher. The theory that the characters’ desires are fulfilled in this universe was, in my opinion, shown true in this episode. What Island Ben really wanted was a way for his adopted daughter Alex, to live again. He had foolishly played a bluff that led to her death. Although he blames Jacob, the responsibility was his. The chance to have her live again was portrayed through events drastically different and a lot safer than the Island world, but with similarities. The biggest difference is that Sideways Ben looks out for others instead of himself, and hopefully, Island Ben will do the same.

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