Opening with Ben Linus fleeing through the jungle, episode 7 of Season 6 picks up directly from the end of the previous one. Having discovered that they are no longer safe at the Temple like they were told they would be, Ben, Lapedes, Sun and their small group decide that the only option they have is to return to the beach where they buried Locke’s body.
This week’s flash sideways, as the title of the episode suggests, is dedicated to Ben. The last time we saw Ben in the non-island timeline, he was a teacher in a school and being introduced to a newly employed John Locke. Here we pick up with Ben seeming to be rather disgruntled and underappreciated in his job, which is until Locke suggests that he should be school principle.
Away from the school, Ben is shown caring for his father, Roger, moaning about the way his is under appreciated in his job. As series followers will know, we have seen Roger before a'” dead. Roger was one of the Dharma Initiative on the Island and took Ben there are a child, only to be killed by his son when the revolt of the Others began. Here though, Roger tells Ben how they should never have left the Island and perhaps Ben could have been something greater than he is now. Another change to the history of the Island it seems. In another turn-up, Alex, last seen as Ben’s “adopted” daughter arrives on his doorstep.
In this reality, Alex is one of Ben’s students. Through a throwaway remark by Alex, Ben discovers that the school’s principle had been having an affair in the school in the next room to where students were waiting to be seen by the nurse. When he tries to blackmail the principal into resigning from his post, the tables are turned on Ben when the principle tells him that Alex has requested a recommendation to get her into university and if Ben goes ahead with his threat, Alex will never get into a university or any other institution. In the end, Ben decides that giving Alex a future is more important and he backs down.
On the island, Miles is given the task of communicating with the powdered remains of Jacob to find out how he died. After a successful connection, Miles announces that Ben was the one who killed him, leading the once-leader of the Others to become an instant outcast.
Once back on the beach, the group finds the remains of the Oceanic passenger’s camp and set to work making it habitable. Sun discovers from Ilana that either Jin or her are candidates to take over Jacob’s role on the Island. She is also told there are only six candidates left and Ilana must protect them. We already know that Jack and Hugo are two of the candidates, Lapedes has been hinted as another, so if both Jin and Sun turn out to be another two…who is the final one? Could it still be Ben after all he has done? Or maybe Miles? I’m sure all will be revealed, but probably not until the episode entitled “The Candidate” later in the series.
In another storyline that hasn’t featured for a couple of weeks, Hugo and Jack leave the lighthouse behind and head back to the temple. Hugo, having being told by Jacob that bad things are going to happen, tries to stall Jack’s return. Unexpectedly to both of them, Richard appears out of the jungle and tells Jack that if they want to go to the Temple, they should follow him. Having little choice, they do.
Back on the beach, Lapedes tells Ben that he should have been the pilot of Oceanic 815. Ben tells him that the Island still got him in the end. Suddenly a gun appears at Ben’s neck and WOMAN leads him at gunpoint to an area of dirt and tells him to begin digging his own grave. While digging, Miles tells Ben that he was mistaken for thinking that Jacob did not care about dying and that but he did hope that Ben would not go through with killing him.
In the jungle, Hugo asks Richard why he never ages. Richard tells him that Jacob gave him a gift but goes into no further details. It soon becomes clear that he is not leading Jack and Hugo to the Temple, and Richard confesses that he is not taking them there for one reason everyone there is dead. Hugo also makes a confession of his own, that he knew something bad was going to happen at the temple because Jacob told him. Richard tells Hugo not to believe anything Jacob says before announcing that he has something to do. Die.
The three of them end up back at a familiar looking ship full of dynamite. Richard tells Jack and Hugo that Jacob touched him many years ago, and when Jacob touches someone they cannot kill themselves. He asks Jack and Hugo to kill him because now Jacob is dead, he knows that his life has no purpose and all Jacob told him about there being a grand scheme was a lie. As requested, Jack lights the fuse on the dynamite then says he is not leaving until Richard talks to him.
Jack tells Richard about the incident at the lighthouse, and says that Jacob wanted him on the Island for a reason and it was not to be blown up. As they wait, the fuse burns down to the last centimetre then inexplicably burns out. He tells Richard that the only thing they can do is go back to where everything started. Assuming all we know, that would suggest a return to the Beach.
As Ben continues to dig his grave, the smoke monster appears in the form of Fake Locke. He tells Ben that he is gathering a group to leave the Island for good and when he is gone someone needs to take over the command of the Island. He tells Ben that a rifle is waiting for him in a tree nearby, all he has to do is get it and shoot Ilana. Ben runs and makes it to the rifle, turning the gun on Ilana but not firing. Instead he tells her how he watched Alex killed in front of him because he chose to follow Jacob and the Island, and it was that reason why he killed Jacob because he caused the loss of Alex.
Ben tells her that if she lets him go he will go with Fake Locke, but it seems his story has won her over when she tells him that he doesn’t have to go to Locke as she will let him stay with them. The linking of Alex on the Island to the Alex in the flash sideways is one of those touches that the writers come up with every so often Ben lost Alex in the Island because he was putting himself first, but in the flash sideways he decides that her future is more important than his success. Could this be another insight into the meaning of the flash sideways? The characters being seen making the right choices over the wrong ones they made on the island? Again, who knows.
IN the final, “Big hug” scene, Jack, Hugo and Richard all arrive at the beach to be reunited with the rest of the “good guys,” but little do they know that they are being watched from out at sea. Charles Widmore, elusive for this series so far, makes his first appearance in a submarine headed for the Island. Is he the one who is going to take Fake Locke and his group from the island, or is there another reason? We know Widmore wanted to return to the Island more than anything, buying and bribing to make it happen, so do we really believe he can have a small, simple pick up job to carry out? Not a chance.
Looking forward to next week we finally discover what happened to Sawyer after we last saw him in the cliff-cave with Fake Locke. He has a task to carry out but what is it and what consequences will it bring?