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Ben Linus goes to school: Discuss tonight's episode of 'Lost'

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Of all the things I write each week about Lost, this Popwatch item is the one I dread the most. Don’t get me wrong: I love talking about Lost, and I love engaging with you guys about the show. I just hate having to make a snap judgment about an episode without having time to properly digest it. So unfair! Lost has always defied quick and easy processing, but this season has been especially challenging. The parallel world story lines make Lost feel like two different shows sandwiched together. And each episode is so dense with explicit and subtle callbacks to previous episodes. Yeah, yeah, I know: the producers have told us not to sweat decoding all of them, that the stories can be appreciated without knowing the historical minutia of the show. But as I’m sure Professor Benjamin Linus would argue, knowing all that history makes for a richer, more meaningful experience. And I’m all about the richer and the more meaningful. (SPOILERS BELOW. DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVEN’T WATCHED TONIGHT’S EPISODE.)

So I’m not going to give you snap judgment. Not this week, and maybe never again. You’ll always get something from me right after the episode airs—but not a critique or a grade or a Yayyy! or a Nayyy! But I’ll tell you what I find myself thinking about as I buckle in for a long night of thinking and writing ahead. I’m thinking about suicidal Richard Alpert and the implications of Jacob’s touch. I’m thinking about how exactly Jacob could have really been a father to Ilana. I’m thinking about Jack’s dynamite stick and how our heroic man of science/man of faith has really developed a taste for the dramatic flourish. I’m thinking about Charles Widmore’s return the the Island. I’m thinking about how Ben’s poignant and comic Sideways story can be seen as a pretty complete Theory Of (Almost) Everything For Lost. And I’m thinking about Ben’s dramatic choices to close both his Sideways and Island arcs. Last week, we were led to believe that no matter the world, Sayid’s stories would end bleakly, with murder. This week, we got the opposite: we saw that at least in two possible worlds, Benjamin Linus is capable of making redemptive choices—and even telling the truth. The episode was a little bit Election (as in, the Reese Witherspoon high school flick about upwardly mobile Tracy Flick), a little bit The Hurt Locker (as in, that movie that just won the Oscar), and a little bit It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown! Your soundtrack song: Coldplay’s “Vida La Vida.” (I used to rule the world…) I’ll explain all my crazy thoughts tomorrow morning in the recap. Until then, the message board is yours.

More Lost:

Lost recap: Lessons Learned

Doc Jensen: Island of Lost Souls