Note: Spoilers on this week's episode of "Lost" below. If you haven't seen it, don't click through.
OK, "Lost" answer seekers -- are you happy now? This week's episode, "Dr. Linus," finally made some headway in solving a few of the show's mysteries. We learned that Richard, indeed, came from the Black Rock ship. We learned that Richard doesn't age because Jacob touched him and Jacob's touch is, in the words of Adrian Monk, a gift...and a curse.
We learned that the Ben and Roger of the alternative timeline were on the Island and did join up with the Dharma Initiative, but left -- presumably before the purge, as Roger is still alive (if not entirely well). We learned that someone is indeed coming to the Island -- Charles Widmore.
And we learned that a parking spot next to the maple tree is far superior to the one under the maple tree.
But, even without a single answer, I probably would have enjoyed "Dr. Linus," if only because it offered Michael Emerson his first showcase of the season, and reaffirmed just how awesome he is.
Actually, the set up of the episode is quite clever. In Island world, we see Ben, stripped of all power and on the verge of losing the one thing he has left -- his life. In alt-world, we see an equally powerless Ben who attempts to use his natural gift of manipulation to push his way into a position of power.
In both situations, Ben's fate is determined by his love for Alex. In Island-world, Ben saves himself from Ilana's wrath (for now, at least) by telling her that he killed Jacob partly out of his grief about Alex. He let Alex die in service to Jacob and was infuriated to learn that Jacob didn't even care about him. His murder of Jacob was vicious and vengeful, but understandable. Ilana seems sufficiently moved and spares him.
Meanwhile, in alt-world, Alex is not Ben's adopted daughter, but his prize student -- and, we sense, the only one who really appreciates him. When alt-Ben attempts to blackmail the principal into resigning, the principal threatens to ruin Alex's life if Ben forces him out. But, whereas Island Ben sacrificed Alex in his quest to rule the Island, alt-Ben sacrifices his own ambition to save his pet pupil's future.
The question is, does alt-Ben realize what he's done? Does he know that he's righted a wrong committed by his Island self? My guess is yes, judging from the satisfied look on his face as he offers his parking spot to alt-Arzt. But how? In last week's episode, the Locke Mess Monster promises Sayid whatever he wants in exchange for his help. Did he make the same deal with Ben?
Still don't know. I just know that Emerson totally brought it this episode. The scene where he explains his motive for killing Jacob was amazing -- and one of the few moments that we really see Ben's human, sympathetic side. When Ilana asked Ben why he planned to follow Locke Mess, his heartfelt response broke my heart: "Because he's the only one who'll have me!"
Oh, Ben. You might be a manipulative jerk, but I somehow love you anyway.
Anyway, here are some more thoughts on "Dr. Linus."
* Arzt, Ben and Locke all work at the same school? Please tell me these guys will be engaging in an after-work bull session over a few beers. I would watch an entire episode of that.
* And really, just ONE alt-Locke scene? I feel cheated.
* As far as the Island story, what do you make of Richard's revelation (or quasi-revelation) about Jacob's touch? Lest we forget, he also touched Locke, Hurley, Sayid, Jack, Sun, Jin, Kate and Sawyer. So, are they ageless and deathless now, too? Locke, at least, has been killed -- by someone else's hand. Richard said he could be killed by someone else, so Locke's death doesn't necessarily mean that Jacob didn't work some mojo on him. And Sayid may or may not have been killed and replaced by a nefarious spirit.But, again, his gunshot won came from someone else. Also, Jacob protection would explain why Jin survived the boat explosion. And it would explain why Jack's off-Island suicide attempt in "Through the Looking Glass" was thwarted. Hmm.
* By the way, can I say that I was kind of proud that Jack was right about the dynamite not exploding? "Good for you, Jack," I thought. "You finally got one! Yay you!"
* We only got a little taste of Miles this episode, but at least he played a pivotal role, revealing Ben as Jacob's killer. And, man, Ken Leung can get a surprising amount of juice out of the phrase "Uh-oh," can't he? Please tell me he'll have another showcase ep before this is all done.
* Alt-Alex's last name is Rousseau, and she mentions that her mom working two jobs. So, can we assume that Danielle is alive in this timeline as well? Oh please let that be so! I definitely want to learn what her alternative life is like.
* Yes, that was William Atherton, aka Richard "Dick" Thornburg in my all-time favorite movie, "Die Hard." He was a perfect fit for the role of the snotty principal...but this isn't all we'll get to see of him, is it? Seems like kind of a waste. I have a feeling he'll be back.
* Hurley's first words upon waking up: "Cheese curds." Could not be more perfect.