When it comes to self-explanatory episode titles, Dr. Linus would seem to be a definite contender for top honors. Of course, it is entirely possible - especially after the Sundown fake-out - that the upcoming episode does not focus on Ben. But I doubt that. I’m pretty sure that this week will give us Ben, Ben and more Ben, and it will be beautiful, and it better be because I have a feeling this may be the last time we see him on the Island.
On my checklist of things that must happen in order for me to be fully satisfied with the final season, Ben’s redemption / vindication (some combination of the two, I presume) is right near the top of the list, alongside the related points of Jacob being the good guy and our finally getting the scoop on Annie. So maybe wishful thinking is driving my thoughts here. But just as Charlie’s death, sad as it was, was my favorite scene in the oppressive Through the Looking Glass, I believe that if Ben dies this week, it will be a truly moving moment. It could even surpass Charlie because Ben is a much darker character, and much more maligned. Charlie’s self-sacrifice was powerful; Ben’s might be even more so.
Of course, LOST has a long history of misleading previews, so it is entirely possible that “the man who brought death to so many” will turn out to be someone other than Ben. Though he fits the description well, it could apply to others. Sayid seems like a logical candidate. And we mustn’t forget that Someone Is Coming to the Island. That description applies equally well to Charles and Desmond (albeit unintentionally in Desmond’s case). If Charles returned, I can certainly imagine a bloody confrontation between him and Ben.
And of whom is he begging forgiveness? I’m hoping Jacob, but John would be fine too, and really anybody as long as it’s not a comment to someone he’s about to murder or has just finished murdering. And is he digging up John in the preview? Might that mean that we will get to see a resurrected John after all? Or that Jacob will use John’s likeness in some way, either aping it like MiB or simply stepping into the body? Can you imagine the beautiful chaos of there being two Johns on the Island, plus another in Sideways world? Can you imagine the accolades for Terry O’Quinn?
What might “Dr. Linus” mean? I presume it’s a reference to Sideways World, though it did look like Ben was working as a veterinarian or biologist of some kind in The Economist, so I suppose it could have something to do with that. And we don’t really know anything about his mother, do we? Is it possible that she was a doctor of some kind and that will prove somehow significant?
But I think my money’s on Sideways World. It might just be a derisive nickname hurled at him from a student who isn’t giving him any chili peppers on Ratemyteacher.com. Or it could be that he actually does have a doctorate but is teaching high school anyway, whether because he was in some way forced into a less prestigious role or because he felt called to do so. If it’s the latter, I’d relate that to some internal desire to atone for Alex’s death in his former life by helping teens like her in his current one. And, again, “Dr. Linus” might not be Ben at all. So, desperate as I am for validation on my theory that Annie is Very Important, I propose that in Sideways World, Annie is Dr. Linus, wife of Benjamin Linus, while back on the Island, we will finally get some concrete idea of what happened to her.
It seems too early in the season for us to lose a character as critical as Ben Linus. But we’ve already lost Juliet, Dogen and Lennon (and Keamy again...). And as crucial as Ben is, he’s not one of the original gang. I wonder if it’s ultimately going to come down to just the original castaways - Jack vs Sayid, Kate vs Claire, Hurley vs Sawyer... Except I don’t think Sawyer is really on Team Smokey. And it’s hard to imagine Sun and Jin ever going up against each other. At any rate, though, I can’t help wondering if on the Island, it will come full circle, with later additions like Miles, Frank, Ilana and Richard gradually dropping off. Not that I like the idea of any of those four dying... But as Dumbledore reminds us, there are much worse things than death. Especially on LOST. If we are truly seeing the end of the story in Sideways World, then we needn’t fear these characters’ deaths, only their corruption.