Michael Emerson talks about Ben’s flash-sideways in Dr. Linus, accompanied by great clips from that episode.
Emerson expresses perfectly what it is about the flash-sidways scenes that is so intriguing:
It kind of gets you in the heart, I think, to think that had our lives been just a little different, as a result, so many things would have changed, and how easy it would have been to just have simple happinesses and not be on the front lines of some cataclysmic battle between good and evil.
The video also has a clip of part of the memorable scene where Ben confesses to Ilana, and she forgives him. and it contains more of Emerson’s insightful comments about his character.
In this week’s video podcast, Josh Holloway talks about what is was like to play sideways Sawyer in Recon. He also talks about how the actors, when the show first started, never imagined it would be so successful.
And speaking of Josh Holloway, ABC also put out a promo full of clips of Sawyer, set to music:
In last week’s audo podcast, Damon and Carlton talked about Sundown, raising the questions of whether Sayid was good or evil, and whether Dogen deserved what he got.
They talked about Dr. Linus, which Damon said was one of their favorite episodes of the season, if not the entire series.
They revealed something interesting about the episode title Recon: that it had a double meaning. It meant reconnaissance, but it also meant re-con, as in to con again.
They said that LOST: The Zombie Season will not be a Broadway musical, alas.
On a serious note, they said that the Man in Black may have gotten stuck in Locke’s form because that was the form he was in at the time that Jacob died.
Finally, Carlton got stymied by a viewer question about lactation.
This was the March 11, 2010 podcast, which you can find on the ABC site.
I was invited to be a guest blogger at the Mother Jone’s LOST chat this morning, to talk about the amazing episode 6×07 Dr. Linus. Thanks, MoJo!
We talked about the newly-sympathetic Ben, Daddy issues, Sun and Jin, Jacob’s touch, Widmore’s team, the head-hurting question of the sunken island, and whether we mind not getting answers. You can read it here: MoJo LOST Chat: Dr. Linus
“For a reason” is the catchphrase that inspired the name of this blog, the one phrase that seemed to best capture the central mystery of the show.
Originally, it was a phrase associated most strongly with Locke, something that Locke, as the man of faith, would say to Jack, the man of reason. Jack would always brush Locke off, too skeptical to listen.
Now we’ve turned a corner. Jack is no longer skeptical. But neither is he relying on blind faith.
In last night’s episode, 6×07 Dr. Linus, the phrase “for a reason” was spoken twice, once by Richard Alpert and once by Jack.
You can see both those moments in the “Quick Cut” video below:
Alpert: “I devoted my life in the service of a man who told me everything was happening for a reason. And now that man’s gone, so my entire life had no purpose.”
Jack (as the flame approaches the dynamite): “For some reason Jacob had been wanting me to know that he had been watching me ever since I was a kid. I’m willing to bet you that if Jacob went to that trouble, that he brought me to this island for a reason, and it’s not to blow up sitting here with you right now.”
"Jacob brought me to this island for a reason"
That’s a big shift. Originally, in Locke’s formulation, the explanation for the reason they were brought to the Island was mystical and abstract. It was fate. It was their destiny. Locke was speaking the language of abstract religion.
But now we’re getting more concrete. It was Jacob, a specific person, who brought them there, for his own reasons.
Since Jacob, presumably, is just a person, not a god, we have now left the realm of abstract faith. Perhaps God or fate or destiny may work in mysterious ways that humans cannot fully understand, but Jacob’s reasons can and will be explained.
Because the reasons originate from within the mind of a specific person, the explanations will be concrete and non-mystical — the type of explanations that even a man of science can accept.
And, in fact, Jack is looking at Jacob and his reasons with a scientist’s eye, drawing a link between cause and effect: “I’m willing to bet you,” Jack says, “that if Jacob went to that trouble, [then] he brought me to this island for a reason.”
In the lighthouse, Jack observed evidence that showed him that Jacob had been watching him since he was a child. From that, Jack infers an explanation: That Jacob must have had a reason to bring him to the Island. It’s a logical and rational inference — and a testable hypothesis.
Jack tests it by lighting the fuse on the dynamite. The flame fizzles out. The hypothesis is confirmed.
“For a reason” has become a mystery that will be solved not by faith, but by science.
In honor of the Ben-centric episode Dr. Linus coming up tonight, I wanted to take another look at this clip from The Substitute.
Starting at 0:52, we see Sideways Ben, wearing a sweater vest, in the teacher’s lounge, fussing over the coffeepot, saying:
How many times do we have to go over this. If you have the last cup of coffee, you remove the filter, and throw it away. Fear not, I will make a fresh pot
"If you have the last cup of coffee ... "
Every office, every workplace has someone like this. Here, in this sideways school, Ben is that guy. Michael Emerson’s inflection is perfect. I think everyone who has ever worked anywhere that had a communal coffeepot must feel at least a twinge of recognition.
What I love about this scene:
— It’s so real, such a part of everyday life, yet something that doesn’t often get portrayed in a drama, especially not a drama tackling such big issues as good versus evil, free will versus destiny, and faith versus reason.
— Michael Emerson is an acting god. To go from the terrifying Henry Gale of Season 2, to the prissy sweater-vest guy in this clip — and to make each one absolutely 100% convincing — is sheer genius.
— Sideways Ben and Sideways Locke seem to have an instant rapport, a mutual respect. Very interesting.
"Tea? Now there's a gentleman's drink."
I also wonder what this scene tells us about the sideways world.
We’ve seen some of the sideways characters get what they want or need: Locke gets Helen, a good future, a sense of humor about his plight, and a healthy sense of boundaries. Hurley gets good luck. Kate gets away. But the sideways world isn’t a Disnified land where all dreams come true. Sayid gets to be with Nadia, but only on the fringes of her life. And everyone still seems to be controlled by their character. Hurley is still warm-hearted, but Sayid is still violent.
What does it mean, then, that Ben, the larger-than-life arch-villain in the Island world, here seems so ordinary? What did Jacob do (if it was, in fact, Jacob who did it) to transform this Milquetoast into a cool killer?
Or is Ben not quite as ordinary as he seems here? That’s a possibility. Maybe we’ll find out more about that tonight, in Dr. Linus.