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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Benjamin Linus: Great character, or greatest character?

     Last night's episode of ABC's Lost was called "Dr. Linus", and assuming it was clearly a Ben story, I eagerly tuned in.  I was far from disappointed.  Ever since we caught a glimpse of Dr. Linus, the history teacher at the high school where John Locke (Terry O'Quinn) was working as a substitute teacher, I yearned for more information.  Last night, we got it.
     Dr. Linus cares as much about his students as the Ben of the island cared about the people he lead.  And what's more, even though he seemed like a much better man, he is was still ready to resort to the deep, dark tricks he pulled in the other timeline.  Yet, here, he did not pull the trigger.  He did not call a bluff.  He held back, and it proved that Ben has something in him better than anyone expected.
     This brings up to further debate on an age old questions: do circumstances determine who you are?  In Ben's case, yes.  Island Ben was pushed to the breaking point over and over and it led him do become a pretty nasty psychotic.  When we saw young Ben in the 1970's, clearly he was not that way.  Alternate path Dr. Linus was not either, and it was with supreme irony that his father told him they should have stayed on the island, it would have been better for him.
     Back on the island, Ben had a breakdown that reminded us once more why Michael Emerson wins Emmys for the role.  He proclaimed he would go with the smoke monster because no one else would have him.  True, at this point, who would take that Ben?  But Ilana (Zuleikha Robinson) took pity on him, and agreed to take him, just when the audience needed to see someone accept Ben.
     You seen, while Ben has done unspeakable evil, the writers of Lost have somehow managed to make us see why he did what he did.  After last night, we also saw the potential for greatness in him.  Does Island Ben deserve redemption and a happy ending?  Probably not.  But he should get one.  He should get one because they made the viewers truly care about him, and many of us will be highly disappointed if he does not.  Ben Linus will go down as one of the most truly interesting, complex, dynamic characters ever created in any medium.  Michael Emerson, Damon Lindelof, Carlton Cuse, be proud of your creation.  We are.
     Plus, the episode had Leslie Artz (Daniel Roebuck), and that's always a good time.
     ABC will present 9 more episodes of Lost before the series finale Tuesday nights at 9pm.

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