Dr. Linus, I presume.
Reports of Ben Linus's death have been greatly exaggerated. And I, for one, am relieved.
This past week, with knowledge of the episode entitled "Dr. Linus," the Lost community has been endlessly speculating that Ben Linus would meet his demise, and it certainly seemed likely at times last night. Why the anxiety? Even if he had died, it certainly doesn't mean he would stay that way. Not in the Lost World. But character redemption is so much better than being the walking dead (ask Sayid or Locke), and it was good news that Ben Linus survived Ilana's attempt at revenge for Jacob, the man "who was like a father," and in doing so, concluded the first feel-good episode that we have seen so far this season.
Continuing the trend of character-centric episodes with sideways flashes of "what might have been" or "what will be," along with a couple of scant answers to Lost's myriad of questions, "Dr. Linus" presents Dr. Benjamin Linus, PhD in European History. We were introduced to this version of the usual lying liar Ben Linus during John Locke's off-island life in "The Substitute." In Sideways World last night, we see Ben as a disgruntled high school teacher, overqualified for his job, devoted to his students, but frustrated by the administration of the school (read island) and tempted to take things into his own hands and make things right.
We also meet Ben's father, Roger, who apparently didn't fall victim to patricide and the Purge. Here is the first reference by a character in the sideways world to the island: Daddy Linus, oxygen tubes in his nose, waxes philosophic about the road not taken:
"This is not the life I wanted for you Ben. I wanted so much more. That's why I signed up for that darned Dharma Initiative and took you to the island. They were decent people. Smarter than I'll ever be. Imagine how different our lives would be if we stayed."
This is the heart of the matter for the revisionist flashes. I'm not sure how these two plot lines will be ultimately reconciled, but Pater Linus offers the story's, and the season's, theme: a different life.
This conversation between father and son is not the first time we have seen Lost's Daddy issues resolved when presented with the alternate timeline. In "The Substitute," we can assume that Locke and his father have a good relationship as well — he's on the wedding guest list after all. From the dialogue between Roger and Ben, we think we are going to see a father-son relationship explored in "Dr. Linus," but instead we see a father-daughter bond. Ben makes good with Alex Rousseau. Ben Linus gets a chance in the sideways world to choose a better figurative life for Alex, an Ivy life, in contrast to his choice of life or death, literally, for Alex on the island. Rare happiness descends on the beach camp.