“It was on this island that everything changed. That everything finally became clear: ELBA.”
And with that, we learned what the island is–Exile Island. So are we clear, Ben? Not really.
Even grander, ‘Dr. Linus’ passed a test and learned who he is (you’re not a ‘loser’ Benji!) after we watched the manipulated manipulator dig his own grave–and finally find redemption–on this week’s ‘Lost.’
Oh, and he’s now a man of principles (allegedly), even though he doesn’t get to be ‘The Principal.’ Darn. As the Island often reminds us, “That’s why it’s called sacrifice.”
After being taunted all week with promos that made it look like Ben was doomed, you’ll be relieved to know, “He’s fine, by the way.” So we can expect more mesmerizing performances from the terrific Michael Emerson.
It did spell the end of Big Bad Ben, though, in a metaphorical way, as Ben receives a second (or third) chance and forgiveness for his evil deeds (namely murdering John Locke and Jacob and being responsible for his Not-Daughter Alex’s death…and oops, don’t forget about that pesky Purge!). As a result, he gave one big diss to the Locke-ness Monster, who had released Ben’s restraints so he could fight off Ilana (or as smart Losties agree kill Jacob’s lady bodyguard) and take up the Man in Black’s offer to become his ‘principal’ replacement on the island (his ‘candidate’ name is crossed out anyway, so that’s a fib). No matter, Ben chose to ‘course-correct’ his failings with Alex, to be the ‘good father’ we keep seeing in the Alt-Verses, when he lets his blackmail scheme of the school’s principal crumble so Alex can go to Yale. Can’t wait to see what Puff Daddy does next.
Spell It Backwards: ELBA = ABLE
On The Island, you are able to change things.
“It was on this island that everything changed. That everything finally became clear: ELBA.” That’s what Dr. Ben Linus writes on his chalkboard during his European history class on Napoleon in the Alt-Verse.
(Stick with me, Dear Losties, I have a lot of cheese curds to throw at you in our weekly ‘what was that about?’ recap!)
Exiled and Powerless, That Blows
A sweater-vested Professor Ben, who suffers quite the Napoleon complex in the Alt-Verse (at least he’s tight with Dad here, just like Locke and Jack were), spells it all out for us.
On the isle of Elba, “Napoleon faced his greatest test. Because exile wasn’t the worst of his fate, what was truly devastating to him was the loss of his power. They allow him to keep the title of emperor, but without any power, it was meaningless. He might just as well have been dead.”
Ben might just as well have been describing his own fate on the island. He’s faced with a choice that alters his destiny off the island, where we find him getting railroaded by the school’s principal into covering after-school detention instead of his beloved ‘History Club,’ which only has five students–and the Number 1 star is–Alex. (That would be the baby he stole from the French lady Danielle Rousseau and raised as an ‘other,’ who was shot by Keamy for which Ben has much regret over). “Babysitting the burnouts in detention” parallels what Not-Locke asked Ben to do on the island in watching over the exiled Losties.
*The most significant moment in Dr. Linus’ Alt-Verse occurs during his dinner talk with pop, where they discuss the island and opine about what their lives might be like had they never left it. ‘Happily ever after?’ This is our first mention of anyone acknowledging the island exists in an Alt-Verse scenario.
~Napoleon was exiled on Elba during the years 1815 and 1816. And 8, 15, and 16 are ‘Numbers’; they represent Hurley, Sawyer and Sayid, respectively. ‘The Hundred Days’ marked “the time between Napoleon’s return from exile and the restoration of King Louis XVIII.” The Losties had been stranded on the island for 101 days when the Oceanic 6 were rescued and went back to the mainland.
*To clarify, I don’t think the Losties are ON Elba. But I think that island’s history could have been an INSPIRATION for some of what we’ve seen on ‘Lost.’ I’m sorry if that wasn’t clear. In pointing out all these things about Elba, I was just offering you some of the similar characteristics.
Europe’s Largest Marine Park (with Dharma Sharks, no doubt)
~A guided tour, courtesy of Wiki: “The Isle of Elba is a Mediterranean island in Tuscany, Italy. It’s one of a chain of islands that forms the Tuscan Archipelago, between the Ligurian Sea and Tyrrhenian Sea. The archipelago contains seven islands: Gorgona (a former monastery), Capraia (an agricultural penal colony), Elba (the largest), Pianosa (once a maximum security prison), Montecristo (featuring a fortress), Giglio (a commune) and Giannutri.”
*These islands were mostly prisons. Desmond used to belong to a monastery. The Dharma Initiative was a commune. The Hydra station had cages and did animal experiments. Richard was a slave chained up on The Black Rock ship.
*Montecristo refers to that Montecristo, the classic work of literature, ‘The Count of Monte Cristo,’ by Alexandre Dumas, who wrote the tale of revenge, justice, and redemption of an imprisoned innocent man held captive in a fortress for 14 years. It was written just before ‘Napoleon’s Hundred Days.’
*Alexandre Dumas and Napoleon are buried in a crypt at the Panthéon in Paris, along with other distinguished Frenchies like Rousseau, ‘Les Miserables’ author Victor Hugo (Hurley’s real name is ‘Hugo’), a child prodigy (a recurring theme) who was forced into exile (a recurring theme), the “Mother of Modern Physics” Marie Curie, who’s credited with creating the theory of radioactivity (Faraday experiments, anyone?), as well as Louis Braille and Voltaire.
~Bt-dubs, there’s another Panthéon in Rome that is dedicated to “all the gods,” as well as the Virgin Mary and all the martyrs. (*We’ve seen a lot of ‘Mary’ symbols on Lost and John Locke seems like a martyr.) It’s considered sacred ground and is among the World Heritage Sites.
*NOTE: Italy is home to the highest number of World Heritage Sites, special places across the globe, of which it is in the best interest of the international community to protect and preserve. That logo looks a little Dharma-ish, no? Are Widmore and Mrs. Hawking part of a secret society ordered to protect the World Heritage Sites across the world? Would explain Mrs. H’s crazy coordinates contraption in the church cellar.
The Legend of Elba
So ancient rumor has it, the islands of the Archipelago were formed from the crown of Venus, the Goddess of Love, when she lost it while swimming in the ‘crystelline waters’ of the sea. The precious gems of her crown fell into the Mediterranean waters and became islands. Today, these islands are known as the Tuscan Archipelago. Cute, right?
According to Wikipedia: “The island was well known from very ancient times for its iron resources, mineral waters and its valued mines. The Greeks called it Aethalia (fume) after the fumes of the furnaces for the metal production.” Fumes? Furnaces? Puffs of black smoke? Hello, Smoke Monster! Is this why the ‘Temple Jacuzzi’ is … ‘special’?
On Ben’s Chalkboard in the School Room, it reads ‘Places to Locate’ and lists ‘Po River,’ ‘Piedmont – Sardinia,’ ‘papal states,’ and ‘The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.’ *Will investigate.
Here’s a secret to ‘Lost’: Palindromes.
The Palindromes theory has been discussed before but with the mention of Elba it seems there are even more parallels. Especially with all the mirroring images this season (the letters in a palindrome mirror each other). (BTW, did you see Alt-Ben catch his reflection in the microwave?)
~Per Wiki: “A palindrome is a word, phrase, number or other sequence of units that can be read the same way in either direction (the adjustment of punctuation and spaces between words is generally permitted).”
~Sample Palindromic Words: Reviver. (like the Temple Jacuzzi!) Civic. Radar. Level. Racecar. Also: MOM and DAD (Losties have parental issues). Also: EYE. The series is known for opening shots of a characters’ eye for establishing POV. Also: Jacob is the EYE of the island and the island is looking for a New Jake.
~Here Are Some Famously Quoted Palindromes (phrases in which the letters spell the same phrase, whether you read it the normal way–or backward, get it? Kinda like Satanic messages when you spin the record backward):
“Able was I ere I saw Elba” (Elba’s an island with similar characteristics to our island)
~”Never Odd or Even” (The Numbers?)
~”Lewd I Did Live, Evil Did I Dwel” (Hello, Man in Black! Or Jacob?)
~”Name no one man” (Because it’s mirrors, so you have two, duh)
~”No devil lived on” (Just tell that to Keyser Soze)
~”Dogma: I am God” (Vincent, we’ve missed you!)
~”Red rum, sir, is murder.” (‘The Shining’ reference, another nod to Stephen King)
~And the best one of all: “LISA BONET ATE NO BASIL”
(Isn’t this fun?!)
I’ve Got Their Number
~I just realized that Sawyer’s ‘Number’ is 15 and Kate’s number (while not a ‘Number’) is those numbers reversed, 51. See … they are SOUL MATES, a reflection of each other. I always have and always will be rooting for Dimples and Freckles! Feel free to disagree.
It’s a Gas!
In the Alt-Verse, a gentle Ben cares for his ailing father and is seen replacing his oxygen tank. Flashback to The Purge, my Dharma Darlings, when Ben massacred The Others–and his own father–by gassing the joint. (To be fair daddy was mean.)
Was it an inside joke that Principal Donald Reynolds was played by ‘Die Hard’ baddie William Atherton? Die. Hard. It’s hard for Richard and Jack and The Others (and Michael and Claire and Sayid and Christian) to die. Hmmm….
~P.S. Donald W. Reynolds was an American businessman, media mogul and philanthropist, who served in the military in WWII, and has a bunch of buildings named after him, like a stadium, colleges, a performing arts school, and a charitable legacy that includes grants in the areas of aging and quality of life. (I’m telling y’all, we’re dipping our toes into the Fountain of Youth. Or something.) Doesn’t the real-life Reynolds, uh, sound a little like, ummm, CHARLES WIDMORE? Oh, and by the by, my handy Wiki search also reveals that when he died, Reynolds stipulated that “his three children will receive a trust income of $50,000 a year for life, but they will be left with only $1 if they unsuccessfully contest his will.” Ok, I don’t know what that means, but intriguing, No?!
There’s Something in the Water
When Ben reaches under the sink, there is a specific close-up shot of a bottle of water. On the beach, Ben makes a point of picking up an Oceanic labeled bottle of water. Sawyer found Ajira bottled water before we knew about the airline’s magical flight from Guam. In Season 1, Jack and the Beach bums split into two factions when he sought refuge in the Caves, which was the only source of fresh water. Kate and Sawyer took a dive in the waterfall and found dead two passengers strapped to airplane seats, and a briefcase, under the water. This same cove is where Ajira Flight 316 crashed the Oceanic 6 back onto the island. Sawyer traded two bottles of water to Jin for fish. Jack saved Boone after he tried to save a drowning woman. Charlie drowned in the Looking Glass. Sayid drowned in the dirty water in the Temple Jacuzzi. The sacred Temple is surrounded by a pond–that reflects the Temple’s image. Boone and Charlie gave pregnant Claire first dibs on the H20. Way back in Episode 5 of Season 1, “the survivors begin to struggle as they realize they are running out of fresh water.” The title of that episode was ‘White Rabbit.’ (Read about all the rabbits here.) Is that when it all started, when the Losties fell down the proverbial ‘rabbit hole’? Is the water poisoning everyone on the island? Is the water causing ‘The Sickness’? I have a lot more to say on this subject, but will save it for a separate post because it’s deep.
Did you catch all of last week’s ‘Lost’ clues? See what you may have missed here.
On the beach Ben finds a “library,” as Frank calls it, with another set of planted titles to make us go, hmmmm….
~One book is ‘The Chosen’ by Chaim Potok, published in 1967. It’s about two Jewish teen boys from different worlds who strike up a friendship, while the father of one boy bans him into silence for two years to teach him about pain and suffering. Daddy issues? You betcha.
~Another book is by Benjamin Disraeli, the Earl of Beaconfield, who was the two-time prime minister of Great Britain, a romantic novelist, and inventor of modern conservatism.
~And how could you miss the girlie mag with the cheeky headline: ‘The ‘B’ Spot: Big, Bouncy, Beautiful, Buns’ … Also note one of the subheads said something about ‘View Mirrors’
~”It’s a test.” Alex says her AP test is on Friday. Jack’s son David’s piano ‘test’ was on a Friday. Dogen’s son was killed on a Friday (um, did he fail his test?).
~During Alex and Ben’s study session, they reviewed Chapter 19: East India Trading Company, and then moved onto The Charter Act of 1813
Clues or Coincidences?
~The East India Trading Company is also known as ‘The John Company’ and traded such things as cotton, silk, tea, OPIUM and saltpetre. What’s saltpetre? It’s another name for potassium nitrate, which is the oxidizing component of BLACK POWDER. Black powder, or ash, is used to form a protective circle to keep out evil on the island.
*Opium? That could explain a lot of the hallucinations on the island. Gives new perspective to Ben’s comment about “High Seas” during History Lessons with Your Dead Daughter.
*Saltpetre is also thought to decrease sex drive. Bummer.
Sound the Alarm
~We finally learn why Frank Lapidus didn’t fly that plane. HE OVERSLEPT. Like Ben said, ‘Come on!’ He was originally scheduled to pilot Oceanic Flight 815 (would it still have been doomed under a different captain?). Hurley, who was staying in the same hotel as Lapidus–Hotel Persephone (Persephone was Queen of the Underworld)–almost missed his flight because his alarm clock didn’t go off.
Frank reiterates a similar sentiment Ben and his father make, saying “Imagine how different my life would be had that alarm gone off.” The professor makes a good point however: “How different would it have been? the island still got you in the end.”
‘He Might Just As Well Have Been Dead’:
~ Hurley dreaming of cheese curds
~The Black Rock Scene between Jack and Richard
~Ben’s redemption. And Jack coming off pretty cool too.
~Miles eyeing up that diamond from Season 3 rejects Nikki and Paulo, who were buried alive…along with a pouch worth of $8M in gems. (Did Miles ‘talk’ with Nikki and Paulo to learn about the diamonds? Their deaths occurred long before The Sarcastic One arrived with the Freighter crew) Also: Miles finds a diamond and is a diamond in the rough…love that guy. Speaking of diamonds, the island is a gem–see Venus’ legend above.
~And “he” comes. WIDMORE. dun da dun! It’s not really surprising; we all figured he was a likely candidate to be the one coming to the island that Jacob warned about, but was I the only one with a desperate sigh of disappointment when it wasn’t Desmond in the sub? P.S. Was anyone else scouring Ben’s school hallways, waiting for WAAAAALT to walk by? Seriously, I’d better get one more cameo of him, and oh, yeah, a full explanation of why that kid (and Aaron) are ‘special’ before this show is all Locke-d up in May!
“Uh oh,” – Miles to Jacob killah Ben, when Ilana reveals Jacob was the closest thing to a father she ever had.
“Who else is going to have me?” — Ben. “I’ll have you.” — Ilana (all together now, awe!)
“Cheese Curds.” — Hurley
“So you’re not time-traveling? You look the same as you did 30 years ago. Is this like a Terminator thing? You a cyborg? “ – Hurley to Richard
“Want to try another stick?” — Jack after playing chicken with Richard, over a lit stick of dynamite at The Black Rock. Look, Jack makes another funny!
“What are you gonna do, write me a check on this banana leaf?” – Miles to Ben, who offers him that $3.2 million he asked for if they get off the island.
“Imagine how different our lives would have been, had we stayed.” – Alt-Verse Roger Linus to son Ben
“There’s something I need to do,” – Richard says to Jack. What? “Die.”
~Again, I ask, Is Jacob bad? Richard warns, whatever he says, ‘don’t believe him’
~ Where did Richard come from? (that we wouldn’t believe him if he told us)
~Is Lost island really just high-school, and all the Losties sent to the island are in ‘detention’ and some schlub is stuck babysitting them? No wonder The Man in Black is such an angry guy and eager to blow that Taco Stand!
~If MIB leaves the island—and destroys everyone in the process—Is that why the island sinks? (Remember that scene in the season premiere of the island underwater)
~Who is the nurse? Juliet? Since Ben had a crush on her in Dharmaville and was jealous of Goodwin, I’m guessing by the similar evil glare when he heard about the nurse’s after-school special with the principal, that he might have had a thing for her too.
~Way back when Henry Gale aka Ben said, “I’m one of the good guys” … after this episode do we agree now?
~Why was Dr. Artz’s science lab equipment from the 1950s—was it Dharma equipment?
~ What’s behind all the noun descriptives anyway? The Candidate (Jack?). The Principal (Ben). The Substitute (Locke). The Little Prince (Aaron). The Constant (Desmond). The Incident (Da bomb). The Temple Master (Dogen). The Interpreter (Lennon). The Variable (Faraday). The Package. (that’s coming…ssshhhh!) The Last Recruit (Oh, snap!) The Chosen One (Oh, wait that’s Buffy…)
~WHERE’S SAWYER???? (I refuse to stop asking this until my TV husband is returned safe and sarcastically sound.) I’d also like Jin back now, too. Please.