Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Ben's Redemption



I have some correspondence with a Lost buddy of mine (I mention him often because it was his influence that inspired me to give Lost a chance, for which I will forever be grateful) that I happened to save for the blog a little later. We kick around different conversations about characters and their developments on the show. I kept my favorite responses to him out of our correspondence I’ll just post here.

On Linus and Jacob:
                “I had a long thought about Linus’ killing Jacob when Miles tells him that up until the stabbing, Jacob was hoping he was wrong about Ben, proven that he wasn’t. Then Ben talks about Alex’s death, and it made sense. It was like how many of us might feel like exacting a rage against God for being devoted and yet suffering a terrible loss despite our efforts. That is kind of how it came off to me. Ben had allowed Alex to die for Jacob, for the island, and in return he felt dismissed as if his actions were in vain, not taken seriously.”
I also added:
                “And ultimately, it was a test to see Ben’s true character. To see if Ben would do the right thing, instead of wrong. And in some way, through his confessional to Ilana, he had rectified his ways, given forgiveness when perhaps he wasn’t altogether deserved of it, yet when under the context of why he reacted as he did, it made sense. We all do that, don’t we sometimes? We all fail to contemplate what we are doing because in that emotional response context isn’t as clear.”

Dr. Linus gave me a lot of food for thought. It had an extraordinary performance from Emerson and credit to the writing team to give this character his reclamation. Much like Ebenezer Scrooge, Ben Linus hasn’t exactly endeared himself always to those around him. Despite a good giggle at the joy of seeing Ben as a European teacher in the sideways—looking for the school to benefit and students given more attention, looking to blackmail the affair of his curmudgeon principal (played as only William Atherton can) with the nurse so that he can wrestle control away—friends with Artz, how could I not enjoy the idea of them being buddies? And Alex just being a student of his while he tends to his sickly father, beholden to an oxygen tank; Ben in the sideways is quite dissimilar to the Benjamin Linus seeking to be *the guy* on the island and please Jacob so he has greater leadership position. Alex’s college career is of greater importance than being the school principal. On the island, as he is held at gunpoint, forced to dig his own grave when Ilana learns from Miles that Ben killed Jacob (his ash is scooped up by Ilana within the remains inside the foot statue), Linus has plenty of time to dwell on all his mistakes and why he did what he did. And when Ilana and Linus really talk about why Jacob was killed, Ben truly airs his pain, seemingly quite genuine in recognizing how angry he was, that he would prefer not to follow The Man in Black, feeling as if he has no place to go. Ilana sees him baring his soul and accepts him. He is forgiven. He loved Alex, committed to Jacob, suffered her loss, feels regret for killing Jacob, and truly seems willing to no longer fight against those in support of Jacob’s choice for the island.


I thought about Locke and Ben, speaking to my friend about this complex relationship between the two:
                “His actions towards Locke are reprehensible. And yet Ben admired this man because he would like to have his virtue and despite Locke’s flaws (and we all have them) he was a better man than Ben would ever be. But if Ben is made to realize that even he can be forgiven, then all hope is not lost. And considering all that is happening, any hope is better than no hope at all.”

And when asked by my friend about The Substitute I included:
                “Last night I watched The Substitute. It was about Locke’s flash sideways where Hurley got him to go to a temp agency to get a teaching job. Ben, as fate would have it, is a teacher there at that time (so he wasn’t on the island). On island, Locke is dead and Ben actually admits to killing him and speaking well of him as a believer and good man. Meanwhile The Man in Black, for killing Jacob, is trapped in Locke’s form. He recruits Sawyer to help him leave the island. He shows Sawyer the cave with all of Jacob’s “candidates” to be caretaker of the island.”

As much as Locke and Ben found themselves at odds (often Ben turning on Locke when his back is turned), Ben did see his value despite the numerous attempts to circumvent him on the island. So we have seen Ben warts and all. His ups and downs, his darkness and talents, on and off the island; Ben has been a character shown in great depth, often quite surprising, other times disturbing. The lies and deception, evil and redemption; shows like Lost can give us all of this character because it is just damn good…and it doesn’t hurt to have the actor of the caliber of Emerson in such a complicating role. We must really find it in our hearts to forgive this man, even if he really doesn’t deserve it.

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