Friday, March 12

Dr. Linus (S6, Ep. 7)

The Back to the Island column for "Dr. Linus" has been forgiven for your reading pleasure on Chud's experiencing some technical difficulties this week, so the page order is screwy. Start on page two (linked here), read page three, then circle back to page one. It's a bit of a pain, I know, but it's out of our control at the moment. Thanks for reading.




  1. Jack seemed awful certain that Jacob wouldn't let him die, considering he had been told repeatedly that Jacob was dead.

    Of course on Lost, nobody is really dead dead, they're only Abe Vigoda dead.

  2. This is part 1 of a longer post:


    As we arrive at the middle of the final season of what is, if not the very best, then most assuredly one of the top five scripted television series ever produced on this planet, I think it’s a good time to take a look at one aspect of the show that, to my knowledge, has gone unnoticed.

    There have been countless television shows, feature films, and novels that have dealt with good people doing bad things and bad people doing good things. We all know, on some level at least, that no one is totally black or white in their deeds. This is why we are drawn to superheroes such as Batman and Iron Man. Yes I know they are not imbued with super powers, but the analogy still holds. We are drawn to them because even thought they put on the suit and fight crime, or ‘do good’, there is still a sense of danger about them. There is still a sense that under the right circumstance, they could be lured to the dark side of their natures.

    We have seen this scenario play out in numerous novels and television shows, some shows such as The Shield, with the most fully realized anti-hero in my memory in Vic Mackey, have made us feel pity, anger, hate and empathy for the main character not only in the course of the show, but sometimes in the course of a single hour.

    “LOST” though has done something that I can never remember seeing before. It has taken us on a journey with characters and made us aware, in ways that most shows can only dream of, of what drives them to do the things they have done and are doing.
    I am going to assume that if you’re reading this, you have seen the show and are aware of the alliances that have been made, broken and remade, so I’m not going to bother with the spoiler warnings. If you haven’t seen the first five and a half seasons, you would be crazy to try and jump in on the last 9 episodes.

    As I was saying, Lost has done something that I’ve never seen before. Now, in the last season, we have the lines between Good and Evil clearly defined. The sides have, for the most part, been taken and we know who is on what side and we know why they are on the side they’ve chosen. This is where this show is different, and this is where Lost have elevated itself beyond almost every show that has ever come before. Where most shows and movies boil it down to a simple level, which is: Person A is bad because this, this and this happened to him and he wants revenge. Person B is good because this, this and this happened to him. it’s all usually very simple and clear cut. There are of course various exceptions to this rule, and on the rare occasion the motivations are made clear and when that happens, the impact of the story always benefits from it. What Lost has done though is to show us the motivations, not of just one or two characters, but of the entire cast.

  3. Part 2

    For five seasons we have followed James “Sawyer” Ford, Kate Austen, John Locke, Sayid Jerrah, Hugo Reyes, Jin and Sun Kwon, Jack Shepherd and Claire Littleton. We have seen then from early points in their lives, we have seen the ups and downs, we have watched them fall in love, we have watched them fall apart and try and put their lives back together again. We have seen the small triumphs and the little defeats that can break a persons spirit. We’ve seen them give up everything for hope and we’ve seen that hope taken away from them. We’ve been there as life, God, the Island, Jacob or all four have given them breaks that have been unfair and would have driven even the most righteous man to ruin. In short, we’ve seen the entire journey that has led some of them down the road to the dark side and above all else, we can understand how they could have chosen that road.

    We’ve seen Sayid try and redeem himself, only to watch Shannon gunned down in his arms. We’ve seen him beat amazing odds to make it off the island and find the love of his life, only to see her die in front of him. We’ve seen him beaten, shot, stabbed and tortured for what seemed like no reason. We watched as Dogen tried twice to kill him and then send him out to die. We can understand why he would take the deal that the Man in Black/anti-Locke offered him, because I think most of us in his situation would have taken that same deal. If he is indeed to be a villain in these final weeks, it’s a villain that we can understand and sympathize with, because we can see ourselves in him.

    We’ve seen Sawyer go from someone who was a coldhearted con man who was in it only for himself to slowly letting his guard down and becoming a team player over the course of four seasons. We know the back story about the con man who swindled his parents and caused their death. We’ve seen Sawyer on his quest for revenge and watched as he has seen that quest through and found the emptiness that revenge brings. We saw him let his feelings for Juliet bloom and grow into true love and devotion. We also saw the devastation in his eyes as he watched her die in his arms. We’ve seen him rebuild the walls around himself that it took so long to dismantle and we can empathize with that pain. We watched as he took the deal that MIB/Anti-Locke offered him, and we know that in his situation we would probably taken the deal as well.

    What I’m trying to say here is that as we move in to the end game of the series we not only see why the lines have been drawn but we see the sad inevitability of the sides being taken. We understand why these people are doing the things they’re doing. In too manyt shows it’s easy to climb on our high horse and proclaim that we would do the right thing for no ther reason than that it’s the right thing, and we must do the right thing no matter what the cost. What Lost has done so perfectly is show us that sometimes the right thing isn’t only hard to do, sometimes it kills us inside to do it. The other brilliant thing that Lost does is actually something is doesn’t do: It doesn’t judge. Sayid choose what seemed like the only path open to him. Sawyer did the same. The show does not paint them as clear cut villains. Instead it paints them as something we can all be accused of being. Something we can’t help but be: Human.

  4. Michael, that's a fascinating summary and observation.

    And Morse... Man. you have created a destination where those of us who don't have a blog or are not quite motivated to nurture something like a blog feel they can share their vision of Lost. That's huge. Thanks for that.

    That said, I came here to comment on your Dr. Linus Column....

  5. Technical thing first. When you click on the link to the column from your menu page on CHUD, you end up on the 3rd page. You then have to go back to read the first two pages, the second page not linking to the 3rd. It's a technical problem but I'm sure it's one you'd like sorted out.

    More importantly:
    Awesome man. Thanks for taking all the time to do this. I think you wrote your best column yet. I think it is certainly informed by what I agree may be one of the most shocking and emotionally unexpected (and best takeaway lines ever) that Ilana gave to Ben. The one bit of understanding and compassion - I think - changed so much of what would happen. You have captured and moment and really done it right.

    Thanks for writing these. I love to post my own random thoughts, but the real value to me in coming here is reading your comprehensive ideas and perception. I prefer your column's over Doc Jensen's dramatically. I haven't read AV club, but this is my favorite online Lost content by far.

    Good on ya.

  6. Thanks, Miles. Your comments/compliments are genuinely appreciated. I'm grateful that you folks have found this little blog, that you're enthusiastic about commenting here, and that you've been uniformly positive and supportive (on the internet! how rare is that?!).

    Apologies for the technical difficulties, but they're entirely out of my hands. Apparently, Chud's been having this problem all week. I've asked them to slap a short disclaimer at the top of page three to reduce confusion.


    I didn't have the time to read your comments until now, but I wanted to say that I agree, and that what you've written nicely sums up one of the many reasons why I enjoy this program so much. It emphasizes the complicated realities of being human in a way that's accessible and also complex. Thanks for posting your thoughts, and I hope you'll let us know what you think as the season goes on. I'm always happy to have more intelligent commenters here.



  7. Oh, and on a totally self-serving note: If you guys are enjoying these I encourage you to spread the word, leave links on other sites you enjoy frequenting, etc. et al. I'd be grateful.

  8. Hi! I lOVE the column, look forward to it feverishly each week, etc. I do, however, have one TINY, unimportant criticism: Vortices (pronounced vortice-ease) is the plural of vortex. One vile VORTEX, two vile vortices. Just like in geometry, you have an x-vertex and a y-vertex: the two vertices.

    Sorry to be so pedantic, it just bugs me slightly every time I see it. Keep on doing what you're doing!

  9. I'll second Miles' feelings about the column, Morse! Over the years I've read nearly all of the Lost blogs/columns out there and yours quickly became my favorite mainly because we share a similar interest in the show. Most other sites are primarily interested in the mysteries (which are all fine and good) whereas yours seems at least as interested in the characters as people and the themes behind the mysteries. So, again, thanks for giving us a home!
    As for the episode itself, I thought it was a knockout. I too found myself greatly moved by Ben's redemption this episode, both on and off the Island. Speaking of Ben, the last couple of episodes have got me thinking about Jacob's last words to Ben: "What about you?" At the time I thought, "How incredibly cruel. Don't you know what this guy gave up for you?" But in light of Miles' comment to Ben I'm now thinking that what Jacob was trying to say was more akin to, "Ben, you need to learn that you have a part to play in a larger plan and that may involve you giving up your own desires for the greater good." Or, in short, "You're on the wrong path but it's not to late to change."
    Oddly, I've not seen too many people commenting on Jack's massive change of heart this episode. This seems a bit strange to me because Jack has always been, if not the most interesting, the central character to the show. Despite this though, even this late in the game, we still know far less about his trajectory, how he and his family fit into this whole mess, than practically any other character on Lost. And this episode seemed like the beginnings of some answers to the mystery of Jack.

  10. It might be too simplistic, but here's a theory for Widmore's return.

    The Ajira flight was only partly about traveling along a certain path and at a certain speed - it was mostly about those six people (seven if you include the pilot, and eight if you include the corpse) replicating their journey to the island.

    We don't know how Widmore got there initially, but we do know how he left...

  11. I think Widmore made a deal with the MIB to get back to the Island. Maybe delivering Locke was part of it, maybe not. If I'm right though, I wonder how that impacted Anti-Locke's offer to Ben. Did he actually intend to have Ben replace him, or did he just want Ben to be around when Widmore arrived? Widmore's allegiance (If I'm correct), will also serve to keep Ben on Team Jacob. He's not likely to join up with the same side of the guy who contributed to his daughter's death, is he?

  12. Interesting thought, Jim! I like the symmetry you're implying with it. Resident, I'm suspecting that as well. The Man in Black seems like the sort of guy who'd keep a Matthew Abaddon on the (figurative) payroll.

    That said, I kind of like the idea of Ben and Widmore ending up on the same side after all their back-and-forth. It'd create an interesting dynamic.

  13. Great column again this week, Morse, thanks.

    I've been a big fan of Ben for a while now, so I found this episode to be all kinds of awesome/heartbreaking/genuinely touching. That "Because he's the only one who will have me / I'll have you" was so simple, but it was one most emotionally affecting thing I've ever seen on a TV show. And Michael Emerson keeps finding new ways to be better than expected, even though you'd think he would have had to stop topping himself at some point.

    One of the most interesting things about this episode for me was that it really took away most of my doubts about Jacob. The last few scenes of Dr. Linus really seemed to offer up in microcosm the idea that the Man In Black tempts people with what they think they want, while Jacob leads people to what they actually need (whether they're consciously aware of it or not). Man in Black told Ben that he could have the island, but it was implied that Ben would get to rule it while everyone else escaped. He offered it because he thought that what Ben wanted more than anything else was to have full and uncontested rule over the Island. And for most of his life, that's probably what Ben thought he wanted too. But when Ilana made that startlingly kind offer to accept him, you could tell that that was all Ben particularly wanted or needed. Flocke seemed genuinely clueless that this was what Ben really wanted/needed, and that makes me think that's where he's going to trip up in the long run. He offers people what they think they want, but not what they really need, and that could get him into some real trouble if his followers start to pick up on that.

    And on a not-really-related side note, when I first read the "Job or girl?? Girl or job??" bit about Alt-Ben's choice, my mind immediately went to biblical Job instead of, you know, actual jobs. That's when you know you're reading a classy blog.

    And yeah, I like that idea too, Jim.

  14. I, too, suspect Widmore and Ben to be in the same team at the end. I think that will be the (next to) last sacrifice of Ben, to help the murderer of his daughter for the greater good. Just like he chose Alex over power. I still half suspect him to die for the island, too and/or its new "Jacob", to make amends for killing Jacob.