the redemption of benjamin linus

Ben runs from Ilana. He finds the rifle and points it at her.

“Drop it! Put the gun down.”

She puts her gun down. She puts her hands up, but then drops them.

“What are you waiting for?”

“I want to explain.”

“Explain what?”

“I want to explain that I know what you’re feeling,” he says.

“You have no idea what I’m feeling.”

“I watched my daughter, Alex, die in front of me and it was my fault. I had a chance to save her, but I chose the island over her. All in the name of Jacob. I sacrificed everything for him. And he didn’t even care. Yeah, I stabbed him. I was so angry, confused. I was terrified that I was about to lose the only thing that had ever mattered to me. But the thing that really mattered was already gone. I’m sorry that I killed Jacob. I am. And I do not expect you to forgive me, because I can never forgive myself.”

“Then what do you want?”

“Just, let me leave.”

“Where will you go?”

“To Locke.”

“Why?”

“Because he’s the only one that will have me.”

“I’ll have you,” she says. She picks up her gun and walks away.

Ben thinks for a moment, then follows her.

To be perfectly honest, I am not quite sure what to make of the final season of LOST so far. Maybe it’s the unknown of what exactly happened after the bomb went off during last season’s finale, the overall process of trying to compute all that had transpired leading up to that point, or the new flash-sideways storytelling technique, but I have felt a sense of unease about the fact that what was expected is not necessarily coming to fruition. Coming into season six, any and every LOST fan was hoping for heaps of answers and definitive statements about what we have watched, and, while there are glimpses of what’s real coming into focus, we, like the characters on the island, continue to wander in the jungle of the unknown.

This week’s episode provided some semblance of connection between the flash-sideways world and the island world in the redemption of Ben Linus, one of the show’s most heinous characters. A master manipulator, liar and a coldblooded killer to boot, this one-time leader of ‘the Others’ has become somewhat of a pathetic figure in recent episodes. As we watched him dig his own grave under the watch of Ilana, a woman struggling with the death of a man that was ‘like a father’ to her at the hands of Ben himself, I’m sure we all thought back to Ben’s reign of terror on and off the island (which also included his willingness to allow his own daughter to be murdered) and thought, ‘surely, he is getting what he deserves.’

At the same time, however, we witnessed Dr. Linus, the promising academic turned high school teacher / carer for his sick father, buck the trend to seek power and put the needs of others ahead of his own and in so doing quite literally changed the course of his life. In the amazing conversation quoted above, we see Ben receiving the gift of grace, forgiveness and acceptance that he never could have imagined himself worthy of. The look on his face when Ilana says “I’ll have you” is one of wonder and amazement, as though he had heard words that infused him with the gift of new life. [side question: did Jacob allow Ben to kill him in order that he come to this point of redemption?] While he seemed to look somewhat uncomfortable in the context of this newly formed community on the beach, one can only hope that he will indeed contribute to something good in the show’s final episodes.

Maybe it’s naive to expect all the answers to be provided for us as we anticipate the show’s climax. Certainly it is true that on the path of discipleship, the answers can truly be few and far between. What makes following Jesus truly great, however, is witnessing glimpses of his grace and love in the most unexpected of places. If there is hope for the likes of Benjamin Linus, then certainly there is hope for each and every one of us.

And that is the greatest answer to the deepest question in all of our hearts.

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