The Wife:

I think this episode has officially put asunder any fears that Ben’s childhood accident with a man named Sayid and the barrel of his gun were in some way rewriting the island’s history. Alpert does indeed take Ben into the temple to be healed, and he lives, but a slightly older young Charles Widmore (who, despite the fact that it’s 1977, confusingly rides around the island on a horse in chain mail and sports a haircut popular with medieval knights) informs the boy that he must return to Dharmaville.


“Just because you’re living with them, doesn’t mean you can’t be one of us.” – Charles Widmore


Now, what we do not know of Ben’s past was how he reintegrated into Dharmaville and his life among them as a young spy. In short, we are not yet told the events of The Purge, for the next time we see Ben, he’s been sent on assignment by Widmore to kill Rousseau. And, for some reason, he’s had to bring pubescent Ethan along with him. Ethan seems eager to prove his mettle in the hierarchy of the Others, but Ben won’t let him do the killing. Only, Ben won’t let himself do the killing either, not when he hears the cries of the girl who will become his daughter. Instead, he fires a shot to make it sound like he’s gone through with the execution, but takes baby Alex in his arms and warns Rousseau:


“If you want your child to live, every time you hear whispers, you run the other way.”


Widmore is not pleased that Ben has failed to follow orders, sparing both mother and child. He questions that the death of an innocent could possibly be what Jacob wanted and tells Widmore that if it were so, he should kill the baby himself. Widmore merely walks away, leaving Alex to grow up in Ben’s care.

So, ABC only posted three shots for this episode, and theyre all close-ups of Ben. Heres what Ben looks like, for those who are unaware of the creepy power of his eyes.

So, ABC only posted three shots for this episode, and they're all close-ups of Ben. Here's what Ben looks like, for those who are unaware of the creepy power of his eyes.

For as much of a terrible human being Ben Linus is, he actually seems like a pretty good daddy. I mean, it’s not like a kid could get into too much trouble in New Otherton (providing she followed the rules and didn’t go starting wars with other people on the island or pissing off Smoke Monsters), but Ben apparently takes a lot of time out of his day to make sure that Alex has someone to push her on the swing as high as she wants to go. It only makes sense, though, that he would try to be a good father, knowing how shitty his own was and how hard it is to grow up without a mother.

He does take time away from Alex, though, to see Charles Widmore off when he is banished from the island, post-Purge. But what did Widmore do to deserve his expulsion from freaky island paradise? Ben tosses out his litany of sins as he says goodbye, chiefly that Widmore broke the rules: he left the island and returned multiple times, and he had a child with an outsider. These things are not allowed. Widmore threatens that, one day, Alex will die, if that’s what the island wants, and that Ben, too, will be standing in Widmore’s shoes, banished. “You cannot fight the inevitable,” he warns. Here’s my question about leaving the island: folks other than Widmore and Ben have done so and returned safely. I’m thinking primarily of Mr. Friendly, who seemed to return with no problem. And Alpert can do that pretty much any time he wants to with no consequence. I think it’s easy to argue that Alpert has powers outside of those of a normal human, but what of Friendly? Is there simply a limit on the number of times you can leave and return that Widmore exceeded? Or is there something to the fact that Widmore and Ben are chosen leaders, thus, it really is against the rules for them to leave? Frankly, I’m not really sure.

But this threat haunts Ben when he, too, finds himself expelled from the island after the death of his daughter and turning of the frozen donkey wheel. And he makes sure that he calls Widmore to gloat on the day he organizes the O6 to return, giddily proclaiming that he’s going back to the island and he’s going to make sure that Widmore experiences the very thing Ben experienced in the death of his child is also felt by Widmore. This was a very intense scene, even though I knew in my heart that the proceeding act of child-murder didn’t fall through the minute Ben realized that a young child would go motherless if he pulled the trigger. I knew Ben wouldn’t be able to kill Penny when he saw little Charlie. And, sure enough, even though he knocks out Desmond by shooting him in the groceries (not a metaphor; Ben really shot Des’ grocery bag), and points his gun at beautiful Penelope aboard Our Mutual Friend, he just can’t go through with it, and allows Desmond to beat the shit out of him, covering him in the bruises and cuts we saw him board Ajira 316 with, and toss poor Ben Linus in the water.

And heres what Ben looks like with blood on his face.

And here's what Ben looks like with blood on his face.

In current island time, it’s the Locke and Linus Comedy Hour as the two men trek to the temple, where Ben claims he wants to be judged because, as he told Widmore on the day he was banished, he broke the rules. Every one of Locke’s lines in this episode is delivered so superbly, edged with a knowing glint in the eye and an undertone of, “I know what you’re up to, you little shit.” In the interactions of these two chosen men, I thought, when the fuck is Michael Emerson going to get a goddamn Emmy for playing Ben? My husband pointed out that it was Terry O’Quinn as Locke who stole it from him in season three, but I think O’Quinn deserves that statue as much as Emerson. They’re amazing actors, and the tensions in their line readings in this episode were equally spectacular. I mean, really, how much better does it get than this?:

Locke: Well, Ben, I was hoping we could talk about the elephant in the room.
Ben: I assume you’re referring to the fact that I killed you.

Ben tells Locke that he needed critical information from John that would have died with him and after he got it . . .

“Well, I just didn’t have time to talk you back into hanging yourself.” – Ben

Locke jokes that he was just looking for an apology, but agrees to lead Ben to the Smoke Monster for judgment. But Locke knows that Ben isn’t exactly atoning for breaking the rules. Now kind of a demi-god, Locke knows that the thing Ben needs to be judged for is letting his daughter die.


“If everything you’ve done is in the best interest of the island, then I’m sure the monster will understand.” – Locke


The new regime at the beach isn’t too keen on letting Ben and Locke leave, though, so Ben steals Cesar’s gun and shoots him, delivering to Locke what I think is the funniest line of the night’s Locke and Linus Comedy Hour:

“Consider that my apology.”


On their way to the temple, they stop in New Otherton and catch up with Sun and Lapidis. Sun shows them the picture from Dharmaville 1977, and Ben claims he doesn’t remember the castaways being there, but Sun still heads off with Locke and Ben, hoping that John Locke can lead her back to her husband, while Lapidis heads back to the beach and gets dragged into Ilana’s scheme to find out what lies in the shadow of the statue. If Ben doesn’t remember the castaways as part of his childhood, is this because their existence in his mind was erased with the knowledge of the events leading up to his childhood death? And are they gone by the time he returns to Dharmaville as a spy? Or should I assume that, as always, Ben is unreliable? He lies about lots of things, so why not this?

And heres what Ben looks like when hes just said something way intense.

And here's what Ben looks like when he's just said something way intense.

After a failed attempt to summon Smokey from the hidden cesspool under his home, Locke leads Ben to the temple and they descend into its underbelly via the hole where Montard lost his arm. As they enter the sacred lair, Ben admits to Locke that he does need to atone for letting Alex die, an act that he allowed to happen and therefore committed. Locke allows Ben to head off on his own after this confession, and lo, Ben falls through the floor into Smokey’s true lair. He wanders through the cuneform-filled room (in my limited knowledge of Egyptian orthography, I saw no recognizable hieroglyphics) and finds Smokey’s altar, which illustrates the monster being called by Anubis. Smoke spills out around Ben and engulfs him in a tornado-like swirl, beautifully recapitulating the twister scene in The Wizard of Oz and reminding us of the man we once knew as Henry Gale, who came to the island on a hot air balloon. Smokey shows him the images of his past – everything we saw in his history narrative – and Ben must watch his daughter die again.

This scene was really moving for me, and it was beautiful to watch Michael Emerson’s crazy eyes well with tears when Alex falls dead before him once again. But Smokey’s judgment is limited to this display of images, and he rolls away, leaving Ben alone. And, more importantly, alive. Then Alex appears, and Ben begs her for forgiveness, after which she proceeds to strangle him and demand that he follow John Locke and do whatever he says. And so Ben concedes his former power and lets John hand him the rope, both symbolic and literal, to pull him from the darkness of Smokey’s lair.

Gorgeous, moving and well-written final scene, Lost writers. Ben’s fall into Smokey’s lair recalls John’s fall into the well, and using the rope as a transfer of power between the two men was a stroke of genius. Terrific performances in this one by both O’Quinn and Emerson, and I hope the Emmy committee recognizes that this year and gives Emerson what he deserves.

The Husband:

Penny and little Charlie are not dead, and I win.

Who else wins? The viewers. I may need to give myself some distance from this ep, but I think it’s in the top ten Lost episodes of all time. Disagree?

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