Say hello to the first ever Mobile Blog on Lost… and Gone Forever. It was partially written in the car on the way to the in-laws for Easter, partially written in 5 minute intervals when I had spare time over the course of the weekend, and completed during the car ride back home after Easter. This means it’s probably full of repeated ideas, changes of writing tense, and half-written sentences that I forgot to come back to. Enjoy!
Benjamin Linus. Okay, okay, okay. You were right, I was wrong. You’re smart. I’m dumb. Benjamin Linus did NOT die this week as I had predicted. But - although he didn’t die this episode, I’m still keeping him near the top of the Deathwatch 2009 List. As predicted, this episode effectively wrapped up most of his major storylines on the show – and while there are still a number of mysteries about his relationship with the Island… and how much he REALLY knows, I don’t know if we’re ever going to get nice and easy clear-cut answers to these questions.
That’s not to say that we, the audience, won’t find out more about the Island. But I think it’s more likely that we’ll see a lot of these major Island secrets revealed through Locke’s eyes in the “present” on the Island rather than having another Ben flashback to explain them. If you think about it, once Locke reunites with the Others, he’s due for some sort of “initiation process” in becoming their leader. Maybe they have a training manual entitled “Everything You Always Wanted To Know About the Island… But Were Afraid To Ask” that we’ll see him page through. Or maybe Locke will learn through experience, talks with Alpert, and taking a spiritual journey to Jacob’s cabin alone. Personally, I’d much rather watch these mysteries unravel in the present vs. the past – and have them be the focus of the on-Island action, rather than learning about them through a cutaway flashback scene while Ben walks through the Jungle, wouldn’t you?
The best part about this is that it will leave the audience to wonder about exactly how much Ben really knew – how often he was telling the truth and how often he was simply lying to manipulate others. Honestly, this seems like the best way to remember Ben. He’s a far more interesting character when we’re debating if he’s good or evil, telling truths vs. lying through his teeth.
But I digress. I have to assume that if Ben survived this week, he’ll be around for a while. The writers had the perfect opportunity to kill him this week – and if they passed that up, I can’t imagine a better opportunity will present itself in the storyline until the Season Finale or later.
As I mentioned, we did learn a LOT about Benjamin Linus this week, which helps provide some fresh insight into his character:
As the episode opened, Young Ben had just been magically “healed” by the Island. I have to admit I was a little disappointed we didn’t get any scenes of Alpert and Ben inside the Temple circa 1977 to find out exactly what happened. Did Smokey heal him? Was there a “Fountain of Healing”? Did Alpert do voodoo magic? We’re still left to wonder. But in the end, Ben was on the road to recovery inside an Other tent, rather than slowly dying in the Dharma Barracks.
We also got hints of the extent of Ben’s memory loss due to the healing. He didn’t seem to remember getting shot by Sayid (which also means he probably conveniently doesn’t remember Jin, Sawyer, Juliet, and Kate attempting to save him afterwards), but does remember his jerk father. Although this still smacks of a cheap plot device (wouldn’t he still remember our Dharma Survivors from living among them for three years prior to getting shot by Sayid? At the very least Sawyer, who was in a prominent position among them?), at least he still remembers how much he hates his dad and life among Dharma, which provides the necessary motivation for him to carry out the Purge – as opposed to Ben suddenly becoming a mindless follower of the Island who carried it out simply because it was a command. The act of the Purge carries a lot more meaning this way.
Note: there is one way that I’ll be cool with Ben forgetting a portion of the past. If the way that Alpert was able to save Ben somehow involved sending him / his memory / his consciousness “back in time” to before being shot, that would be a logical reason that he wouldn’t remember. But this seems like a stretch, might verge on “changing the past” (running in direct opposition to “whatever happened, happened”), and still seems pretty hokey.
Later, in 1989 we see an early 20s Benjamin Linus sporting a horrid haircut, who is apparently friends with a 12 Year Old Ethan… and they are both wannabe Others. Apparently, Widmore has sent the two on a mission to kill CFL – but upon seeing CFL with baby Alex, Ben is unable to pull the trigger. A couple of interesting notes here:
Ben must have become friends with Ethan, and convinced him that being an Other was way cooler than being a Dharmite. This explains why Ethan survived the Purge, but one wonders if he went through some “conversion” to being an Other, like Ben in the Temple – or if he just got to tag along with Ben vouching for his worth. But this is the first sign of Ben bringing “outsiders” into the Others, which we know he will continue to do over the years (Patchy, Juliet, etc).
Ben didn’t suddenly become a cold-hearted killer after his life was saved in the Temple. So even though Alpert warned that he would “lose his innocence”, he still had enough to prevent him from killing CFL.
Ben warns CFL that “if you want your child to live, every time you hear whispers, you run the other way.” As I mentioned in the Instant Reactions, this could provide a (lame) explanation for how CFL was able to avoid the Others over the years – but more importantly, it seems to confirm that the whispers are a product of the Others. The weird thing is that the Others seem like totally normal people. Outside of Alpert not aging, it seems like Ellie, Widmore, Ben, Ethan, Patchy, Tom, etc didn’t have any “special powers”. So what is up with the whispering? How did these normal people from various backgrounds who came together on the Island as “Others” suddenly develop the ability to mysteriously communicate via mysterious whispers? I know some have theorized that the whispers are the product of people time traveling on the Island – but given Ben’s warning, I don’t think so.
When Ben brought baby Alex back to the Others camp, Widmore instructed him to kill her, claiming it is the will of Jacob. Ben challenges him by saying that if it really is the will of the Island, Widmore should be able to kill her… but Widmore refuses.
Lots to analyze here:
Jacob. Up first is Jacob – more specifically, his “relationship” with the Others. More than ever, I’m wondering who – if anyone - can actually “communicate” with Jacob. In the past, we’ve seen Alpert, Widmore, and Ben all evoke his name and orders – but are any really in communication with him? When Sawyer and Kate brought Young Ben to see Alpert, he seemed reluctant to save him – making sure that they understood the consequences of taking Young Ben to the Temple. I would think that if Jacob passed down some communication to Alpert about needing to save Young Ben, Alpert would have taken him without question, warning, or second thought. Heck, if Jacob wanted Young Ben to become an Other, wouldn’t he have “put him on a list” and sent a group of Others to kidnap him?
Instead, it seems like Alpert saves Young Ben out of the goodness of his heart. When Widmore questions this action, he claims “Jacob wanted it done. The Island chooses who the Island chooses. You know that.” It’s like Alpert is playing the “Jacob Card” as a way to justify his actions, knowing full well that Widmore could never question it – because Jacob’s word is Gospel.
Why? Well, if you recall two weeks ago, there seemed to be some animosity between Alpert and Widmore. When Alpert first decided to take Young Ben, his fellow Others said he should first check with Ellie and Charles – to which Alpert replied “I don’t answer to either of them.” It seems as though there was a definite rift between Alpert and Widmore. As we saw in 1955, Charles Widmore was a bull-headed up-and-comer in the Others, who thought he was a lot more important than he was – and his style seemed to rub Alpert the wrong way… yet somehow he made his way up the ranks of the Others to a leadership position.
The Lost writers have compared Richard Alpert to someone like the Panchem Llama, used to help find the next leader of the Others… but is not necessarily the leader himself. Based on this conflict between Widmore and Alpert, I have a hard time believing that Richard would ever “chose” him to be his next leader. But perhaps there was a gap in leadership among the Others. Maybe their former leader had died, and they knew that their next leader would be coming in John Locke (eventually, since he foretold his arrival in a way by talking about Jacob in 1955). The problem is that the Others still had to survive between 1955 and Locke’s arrival in 2003, and that probably required a leader. Perhaps this is why Alpert was so anxious to recruit Locke – even as a little kid – and why he was so angry when Young Locke failed the tests he administered… because it meant he had to go back and deal with a few more years of Widmore in charge.
Under this scenario, where there is no official “chosen one”, it makes sense that a strapping young Other like Widmore would win a majority vote of his fellow Other to become the leader. However, it would also mean that this leadership role was on shaky grounds – because if Widmore wasn’t really “chosen” by Jacob, he probably couldn’t communicate with Jacob either. Perhaps, Richard Alpert saw Young Ben as an opportunity to knock Widmore down a peg and get the Others to start questioning his authority. Suddenly, Young Ben isn’t some nerdy kid who wants to be an Other – but he’s a nerdy kid who was chosen by Jacob, making him seem far more important.
The interesting thing here is that Young Ben was no more “chosen” than Widmore was – but through Alpert’s lies, once Ben became leader of the Others, he was untouchable. He could do whatever he wanted – and if questioned, could just say “Well, Jacob told me to do it” and people would just accept it. Maybe Ben was a better leader than Widmore (at least more aligned with Alpert’s point of view), but it’s clear that over time, Alpert grew tired of his fake “air of importance” by referencing a relationship with Jacob that he knew wasn’t true… but also couldn’t call out since he was the one who started the lie many years ago. The hostility we saw between Alpert and Ben suddenly makes a LOT of sense. It also makes sense why Ben tried to destroy Locke (through his actions in the Swan Hatch, making him question his worth, trying to have him kill his father, etc) – he knew that Locke was legit, and when Locke came along, it meant his reign as leader was ending. Likewise, it makes total sense why Alpert went out of his way to secretly pass information to Locke (preventing him from having to kill his father)and help him – because it was his chance to get rid of Ben!
Note the irony – Widmore tried to discredit Young Ben by getting him to kill CFL – an innocent woman on the Island, just like Ben tried to discredit Locke by getting him to kill his father. Silly Ben, it didn’t work the first time, what makes you think it was going to work the second time?
So in summary, from 1955 until 2003, the Others had two leaders – Widmore and Ben – neither of whom had any ability to communicate with Jacob… even if Ben pretended that he did. When Ben brought Locke to the cabin and he legitimately heard Jacob’s plea to help him, he freaked out. It confirmed that Locke is legit… and that Jacob had not been happy with how things had gone for the prior fifty years under the reign of pretenders.
Widmore. As for Charles Widmore himself, there are still a ton of questions about this guy. This episode did confirm that he had been leaving the Island periodically, (in my mind) living a double life. Off-Island he was a successful businessman with a wife (who could be anyone – and is just as likely never going to be featured on Lost) and daughter (Penny, who probably has no idea about the Island). On-Island, he was the ruthless leader of the Others who managed their truce with Dharma and ensured that the Island was protected from outsiders. While having Widmore live this double life makes a lot of sense (as his business connections and wealth could provide the money and resources we saw that the Others had), it also raises new questions.
For starters, where did Widmore come from in the first place? How did he first arrive on the Island? Once he got there, why did the Others assimilate him into their culture vs. killing him like they did the US Military team who refused to leave? After spending (presumably) a decent amount of time on-Island, how was he able to return to the real world and quickly become a successful businessman? For that matter, how were the Others able to come and go from the Island? We know that post-Purge, they gained access to the submarine. But pre-Purge, we’ve yet to see how they were able to come and go from the Island (although Alpert seemed to confirm they did have SOME WAY to do it, but it was privileged information). Short of a Widmore flashback, I don’t know how we’ll ever get answers to these questions – but these are questions I want to know… which again is why I think it’s the perfect time to kill off Ben and have Widmore move into full-time character status.
All we do know is that Ben was able to use Widmore’s double life as proof that he was an unworthy leader of the Others. Even though Widmore was probably providing a lot to the Others (and Island) in terms of resources, he wasn’t dedicating 100% of his time and energy there – which provided Ben with just the crack he needed to rally the Others into supporting him and exiling Widmore. Suddenly, it’s crystal clear why Widmore would tell Ben that “everything he had in life he stole” and believes that the Island is rightfully his.
Penny. While we’re talking about the Widmore family, this episode revealed that our worst fears were NOT realized and Ben was unsuccessful in killing Penny at the marina. There’s still hope for the Penny and Desmond happy ending to continue! Again, the irony is that although we view Ben as this cold, heartless man – once faced with actually killing a mother in front of her child, he can’t pull the trigger – just like CFL and Alex. We’re lucky he didn’t steal Lil’ Charlie this time.
The question is – since we know that Penny and Lil’ Charlie were unharmed – and although Des got shot – he clearly wasn’t THAT injured, since he was able to tackle and beat the crap out of Ben… what next for Desmond? I had always assumed it would be a desire for revenge that would drive Desmond back to the Island (where he has to end up, right? Not only because we need to see if he is “special” enough to change the past / future – but also because Ms. Hawking told him he wasn’t done with the Island). Given that he and his family dodged Ben’s best effort to ruin their happy ending, why in God’s name would Desmond ever return to the Island – where Ben happens to be – to give him another chance?
The only way I can see Desmond returning to Lost is through Charles Widmore.
Remember, before Ben attacks Penny and Desmond, he tells Widmore that he’s looking at them… and that he’s going back to the Island that day. I can see Widmore reacting one of two ways:
- Widmore rushes to find Penny, afraid that she has been killed by Ben. Upon finding them (recall that Ben also told Widmore the name of Desmond’s boat, which should help him track them through harbor records or something, right?) he convinces them that they need to return to the Island… somehow.
- Widmore rushes to track Benjamin Linus, afraid that he’s actually found some way back to the Island… and this is either bad news for the Island – or he wants to tag along so that he can return to the Island as well. Think about how Ben actually returned to the Island. He hopped on board Ajira 316 with a number of passengers from Oceanic 815, recreating the events that led them to the Island in the first place (keep in mind that they voluntarily left, but were not “banished” like Ben and Widmore). With them out of the picture, already back on-Island, Widmore is left with very few options of getting back to the Island himself – but the easiest one would be to have DESMOND recreate the actions which brought him to the Island in the first place… which conveniently was in a shipwreck… and he’s conveniently currently living on a boat.
It seems like the easiest answer to all the open storylines (in my mind) is to have Widmore do both. He immediately starts tracking Ben (which tells him that he’s on Ajira 316 – which helps him narrow down where the Island could be), then rushes to Penny’s side (under the guise of “being concerned about her” – which he may legitimately be), but then convinces them / forces them to sail the path of Ajira 316, hoping to end up back on the Island.
Sure, convincing them to do any of this seems like a stretch right now – but he could reveal to Desmond that the world is going to end unless he does it… or he could hire a goon to point a gun at Lil’ Charlie to force him to do it. Either way, the net result is that Desmond, Penny, Lil’ Charlie, and Widmore end up back on the Island… just in time for the Sixth Season “Battle for the Island”.
The Shadow of the Statue. I have to assume that Ilana and “three of the others” will figure prominently into this “Battle for the Island”, but the question is, who are they? There are really only two options:
- They are working for Widmore. When Widmore got the call from Ben, he immediately started tracking him – putting four of his “men” on Ajira 316. The “crate” of “stuff they need to move” are weapons and equipment that they’ll setup to help Widmore find the Island.
- They are not working for Widmore. In my Instant Reactions, I posed they might be former Island inhabitants (pre-Others) who got sent way into the future through the FDW and have been working to return to the Island ever since. Most of this was based on their “shadow of the statue” secret phrase (much like Desmond’s “what did one snowman say to another” secret phrase inside the Swan Hatch). The more I think about it, the more “out there” this theory seems, although it seems to be popular on the Internets since it could reference the ancient Four Toed Statue – which seemingly has been destroyed for the past few hundred years. If the Shadow of the Statue know about THAT statue, they are either from the way back past or at least know about the way back past (descendants of those people).
I guess I always assumed that the Others were a motley crew of people who had randomly found the Island over the years... but were always “the Others”. I had never thought that the Ancient Egyptian culture on the Island was defeated by some less-ancient culture back in the “Original Battle for the Island”, but assuming the Shadow of the Statue are not just reinforcements for our Others (bringing fresh soldiers and weapons), which I think it unlikely – they’re there to fight for the Island. It really starts to paint a picture of the Island as being a place that has been continually fought for over the course its entirely existence. Widmore and Ben are simply the latest iteration of this battle. Maybe Alpert is some un-killable instruction manual that comes with the Island. No matter who wins the battle, he’s around to tell them the “rules”, show them Jacob’s cabin, etc.
So who are the Shadow of the Statue? I can’t quite work out the details yet, but I really think they have some connection to the Ancient Island Culture. Think about it – having these new characters be tied to the Ancient Egyptians on the Island would provide we, the viewers, as a reason to learn about the Four Toed Statue, the original discovery of the FDW, explanations for the hieroglyphics all over the Island, and learn how old Alpert REALLY is. Plus, this allows Widmore to come back to the Island with Desmond as “good guys” needed to help the Others in the battle against these people, which I think makes for a really cool storyline.
What lies in the Shadow of the Statue? I don’t know if the answer to that question really matters (much like “what did one snowman say to another” didn’t really have anything to do with Dharma), but the simple answer seems to be something like “The Island” / “Paradise” / “Home” which would be really deep to the Island ancients, but not as much to anyone else.
Smokey. If I had one complaint about this episode, it would be the cheese factor of Smokey’s encounter with Ben underneath the Temple. Up until this point, Smokey has always been pretty “cool” – even when he “scanned” Eko, there were just fleeting images of Eko’s past intertwined with his smoke. However, when he surrounded Ben, we were treated to poor CGI images and “flashbacks” of Ben’s life, highlighting all the most emotional scenes – contrasted against Ben going through a wide array of emotions while he watched. It just didn’t seem cool.
It did confirm that Smokey does “judge” people – and then allows them to live or die based on what he sees. With Eko, he wasn’t sorry for his actions… and he was killed. With Ben, he was truly sorry that Alex died, but he had to do what he had to do to protect the Island – and apparently that was the correct answer. The thing I don’t quite understand is why Smokey only judged Ben on Alex – how about Caesar, who Ben just killed a few hours earlier? I guess Alex was the only death that Ben still carried around on his conscience, and Smokey just plays upon people’s emotions and guilt. It’s too bad that the “Island as Purgatory” theory was blown out of the water in Season One – because having Smokey basically act as a chance to “go to confession” and atone for the sins on your conscience (and face the consequences) would really tie into a Purgatory theory.
Maybe this is part of the “initiation” into becoming an Other. You face Smokey, and if you apologize for your sins, you are “reborn” as an Other – a person with a clear mind and cleansed spirit. Once you face this trial once, you never have to worry about Smokey again – which is why he would have attacked our Survivors right after they landed, but would leave the Others alone on the Island.
At least that’s my best theory for now. All we know is that Smokey has been around on the Island for seemingly as long as the Island has existed, as evidenced by the hieroglyphics that adorn his grate under the temple. He’s also able to be “summoned” by draining a pool of water inside a secret passage inside the Dharma Barracks… huh?
Think about that for a second. Did Dharma intentionally build their Barracks on top of an ancient passageway to Smokey’s doorbell without knowing it? Or did they do it intentionally as a way to “study” Smokey? Doesn’t this kinda seem like building a house on top of an Indian Burial Ground? You’re just asking for trouble! Or was it just a coincidence that Dharma built their houses there, and once the Others moved in they added the secret passage and tunnel? It just seems a little odd. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a huge deal, even if it’s a mistake on the writer’s part – I’d rather have them provide satisfying answers to the “big questions” on the show rather than worry about minor details like this… even if we’ve been over-analyzing those minor details for the past five years.
As for the Dharma Class Photos that Christian showed to Sun, now that we’ve confirmed that those photos were hanging in the very buildings that Ben and Juliet were living for years and years of their lives, I have a very hard time believing that they didn’t “know” about our Survivors. I’d be willing to accept that they didn’t intently study each person in each picture, but wouldn’t you think that AFTER our Survivors crashed on the Island and they began gathering dossiers for each of the, someone would have walked by those pictures and been like “Uh, remember that guy I spent all day researching? He’s in this picture from 1977!”
Even if the writers want to wipe Young Ben’s memory in 1977 with a hokey plot device, this would still explain why Ben was always outsmarting our Survivors… and prove that Juliet knows more than she is letting on. I’m sticking with this theory!
With that, I think I’m done.
I should note, I know that some people have been complaining about some of these minor storyline inconsistencies, thinking that they are signs that the writers really aren’t as smart as we thought they were all along. I still have faith, and am fully willing to give the writers the remaining twenty-two episodes to tell their story. But I will say that if they let me down in the end, I might just have to go back and “re-write” the ending of Lost – which of course, I would post on the Blog. I always talked about doing this for Alias, but I think for Lost maybe I’ll actually follow through on it. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.