L.A. Reality: Dr. Benjamin Linus, European History teacher at whatever fine high school that is, takes good care of his ailing, elderly father, who wanted so much more for fair haired boy (and dear old Dad says he thought they'd get it when they went to that Island with the Dharma Initiative, years ago).
Truth be told, Ben wants a little more for himself too, and he becomes keenly aware of this once his slimeball Principal makes him give up the history club he leads, in order to cover detention. The new substitute, John Locke, hears Dr. Linus griping to Leslie Arzt about the administration and makes a crazy suggestion. Benjamin Linus should go for the Principal's job. The whole idea is just a fire in Ben's belly, until his favorite student, Alexandra Rousseau, confides in him that she totally saw the Principal and the School Nurse doing it in the hearing test room.
Ben taps Arzt to find a way into the Nurse's email account, hoping that therein, he'll find the incriminating evidence he needs to oust the current Principal. And, Ben does get that evidence, and confronts the Principal -- hoping to force him to resign. But the Principal knows Ben's Achilles heel -- his aforementioned favorite student, Alex. Alex needs a recommendation from a Yale grad (i.e. the Principal) in order to get into Yale. Ben may well be a gambling man, but he would never gamble with Alex's future -- her life. And so... Benjamin Linus does the right thing, after all.
Island Reality; Jack, Hurley and Richard: Jack and Hurley are on their way back from the lighthouse, but Jack gets frustrated with Hurley who is trying to stall their return to the Temple. They run into Richard Alpert, who somewhere along the way informs them that everyone who remained at the Temple is now dead. Richard also tells the guys they're headed the wrong way, and takes the lead. But, he leads them to the wreck of the Black Rock. Because he was touched by Jacob, Richard doesn't age and can't kill himself, even that's what he so desperately desires, now that Jacob is dead. He asks Jack to kill him -- wanting him to blow him up with some of the dynamite on the old ship. Hurley tries to talk them out of this crazy maneuver, but when he can't, he runs clear of the ship.
After Jack lights the dynamite, he refuses to leave Richard, which gets Richard quite agitated. Jack then tells him about seeing his childhood home in the lighthouse mirror and how he's coming to terms with the fact that Jacob has a purpose for him. He doesn't think Jacob wants either of them dead, and insists that the dynamite will fail to explode in one way or another, and fail it does. With Richard's faith in Jacob restored, or at least redirected at Jack, they set off of their next trek, which I'll get back to, in a moment. But now, let's go to...
Island Reality; Ilana, Frank, Sun, Miles: Ben catches up with Ilana and crew soon after they make their escape from the defiled Temple and suggests they retreat to the Losties' old beach camp, where at least they'll have the water at their backs. Ben tells Ilana that Sayid killed Yoko and Lennon, and later, he tells Miles that "the thing" back at the Temple that killed everyone is the same "thing" that killed Ilana's friends, back at the statue. Ilana turns on her heels and says, "And Jacob too, right? It killed Jacob, too." Ben lies that yes it did, but Ilana's not buying. She knows of Miles' reputation (which is a great call back to Bram trying to recruit him in "Some Like It Hoth") as a dead-reader or whatever and takes out Jacob's ashes for Miles to work with. He confirms Ben killed Jacob (and mocks Ben with his own words while he's at it, too), which puts Ben on Ilana's shit-list, since Jacob was the closest thing to a dad she's ever had.
When this crew gets back to the beach, Ilana chains Ben up on Boone's Bluff, and makes him dig a grave -- his own. Later, Faucke appears at the tree line and invites Ben to join him over on Hydra Island. He unfastens Ben's shackle with his fricking mind, and tells him that he can find a gun a little ways off, in a clearing. All he has to do is get to it before Ilana does, and he'll be able to make his escape. But when Ben gets to the gun, and turns it on Ilana, he doesn't demand his freedom. Instead, he explains how his own thirst for power led to Alex's death, which weakened his faith in Jacob. He only killed Jacob because he was vulnerable to Faucke's manipulations, and Jacob's death is something he'll always regret. He also tells Ilana he would like to join Faucke. When she asks why, Ben cries that Faucke is the only one who will have him. Having finally gotten the truth out of Ben, Ilana tells him he can stay with her.
The episode ends with Hurley, Jack, and Richard reuniting with Ilana, Sun, Frank, Miles and Ben at the beach camp. There are hugs all around between the Losties, and friendly greetings among the rest, except for Ben, who stands on the outside, looking in. As always.
But wait? What's that out in the water? It's a smoke monster. It's a leviathan. It's a submarine! It's a submarine carrying Charles Widmore right back to Craphole. Excuse me. I have to take a sedative.
So... that happened! What's there to say about it. Michael Emerson's performance knocked my socks so far off that I have to buy new ones. Seeing Richard Alpert all vulnerable is a thing of beauty. Understanding the method in Jack's madness feels rewarding. Laughing at Miles cuts the tension. Witnessing Sun's joy at reuniting with her old friends warms my heart. But most of all... I never thought I'd enjoy the redemption of Benjamin Linus so very much, so I'm going to sign off now, before the questions return to screw with my enjoyment of this funhouse ride.
(Did you see that fricking submarine? I didn't just dream it, right?)
I'm starting the full recap now, so until then, please join us in the forums, where we seldom make you dig your own grave.
Aside: After we nuke ourselves to oblivion, nay -- after that -- after even Keith Richards and the cockroaches have fallen, Benjamin Linus will still be plugging along. He may have a thing or two to learn about telling the truth, but the man's survival instincts are...to die for.
Currently, in the Island Reality: Ben runs through the jungle, and after he falls flat on his face, he looks up to see a line of torches passing through brush. But it's not the wood elves leaving Middle Earth forever for the Grey Havens. It's Ilana, Frank, Sun, and Miles (who, henceforth, will be known as Ilana & Co, unless I get bored, and then elves it is).
Ben is on Ilana & Co. like white on rice. He startles them, so they surround him, and Ilana demands to know where Jarrah is. Ben, still panting, huffs, "I'm fine. Thank you." Ilana's in no mood for licking his sore ego, so she ignores his attitude and demands Sayid-intel. Ben says, "Considering that he just killed Dogen, I don't think he's going to be joining us." He adds that Sayid killed the interpreter, too. When Ilana asks if he's sure, Ben says, "He was standing over their dead bodies holding a bloody dagger, so yeah, I'm pretty sure." Remember that, 'cause Miles will.
Ben suggests they go to the beach where the Losties used to live. "At least we'll have the water at our backs, and it's familiar territory. Anybody else got a better idea?" They all look at each other for a moment before Ilana says, "No." Back to the beach baby, yeah!
L.A. Reality: Dr. Benjamin Linus writes
Able was I ere I saw Elba on the chalkboard as he lectures his class on Napoleon in exile. You'll never know how close I came to headlining this episode, "Linus was I ere I saw Sunil," until I remembered that you all don't know my Lost-watching friend Sunil (although he is famous on the internet). At any rate, the parallels fall fast and furious as Dr. Linus lectures that "it was on this island that everything changed; that everything finally became clear..." He thinks he's still talking about Napoleon and Elba, but we point and laugh as he gets into the part about how it was the loss of power that was a fate worse than death for the wee Emperor.
When the bell rings, Principal Reynolds (William Atherton) is at the door doing his best Ben Stein drone. "Walk with me." Due to budget crises and other events above Ben's "pay grade" Reynolds is pulling Ben in to cover after-school detention. This will mean Ben has to give up leading the history club. Doing so to watch a group of burnouts is so not Ben's cuppa. When Ben argues that they should be providing for the students who are ambitious and invested in their studies, Reynolds sneers that the history club isn't for the kids: "It makes you feel needed. Unfortunately, for now, you're needed. In detention. Thanks for your understanding, Linus." After Reynolds walks off, Ben snivels, "It's Dr. Linus. Actually."