I thought the latest Lost
episode, "The Life And Death Of Jeremy Bentham,"
was one of the best of the season. Locke has always been my favorite character, and this was all Locke all the time. (Still, that doesn't mean every Locke-centric episode works--he's often best driving the story without being at the center). I did fear that since we would have almost no "present" time story, this episode would be frustrating, not moving the main story along. But it had plenty of drama and a fair amount of action as it filled in the backstory. (Some complain we already know what happened, but even though we know Locke contacted the Oceanic 6, we don't know how he did it.)
Lately, I've watched a few reruns of Lost
from the first season and I was reminded of why I liked Locke in the first place--he was a seeker, sure, but also a badass who knew how to get things done. Since season 2 I've often wondered if the show isn't losing track of that Locke, since he's always being played, and sometimes comes across as pathetic. It's his character--even his father conned him, and it looks like Ben and Widmore want to use him, too. But every now and then, you want to see the guy in charge, rather than a lost soul, sad and confused. We got to see a bit of that guy in this episode--mostly on the Hyrda island with Lost
newbies--and otherwise, at least he was the old seeker. Terry O'Quinn did a great job with both the power and the pain. Perhaps it's time for another Emmy.
The show didn't waste any time showing Locke reborn--it was pre-credits. But is this the same Locke? He arrived on the Island like Christian Shephard, who seems ghostlike (couldn't even help Locke up), so is Locke the same? But we did see Locke eat a mango. Is this a new Locke? (Same with Starbuck on BSG
.) Guess we'll find out. I think he might be in trouble soon, since Walt seemed to foresee the people on the island going against him. (Does Ben have anything to do with that?)
Anyway, even as questions were being answered, motivations were very unclear. Both Widmore and Ben worked with Locke, but were they both manipulating him for their own purposes or for the good of the island? (This question is true for all the Losties--Desmond thinks they're just pawns in a game, and he may be right, though I'd have to think even then they'll rise above that station, or what's the point of the show? By the way, I was disappointed last week when Desmond gave Eloise Daniel's message. It should have been important, since Daniel made a big deal about it, and it sent Desmond on a quest, but Eloise acted like she already knew what she had to do.)
Widmore. What is he doing? For most of the show, he's been the bad guy. Now he saves Locke and gives him useful information. Is it possible he's on the side of good? Is he doing what's best for Locke? It's hard to believe he's not just another manipulator. We know too much about his past to think much of him. He was the ruthless soldier for the Others back in the 1950s who'd as soon cut off Juliet's hand as look at her. Did the appearance (and disappearance) of Locke change him? We know Alpert was following Locke from birth, but now it looks like Widmore has been following him a fairly long time as well. Did Alpert and Widmore discuss Locke, or are they working independently. And we know he's at odds with Ben, but what did happen to get him off the island?
What makes it hardest to accept Widmore as a good guy is his freighter mercenaries. He said they were there to capture Linus, but they had no compunction about killing anyone who got in their way, even Ben's adopted daughter, whom he apparently promised to leave alone. Would they have killed Locke, intentionally or by accident, or were they protecting him?
Widmore says a war is coming. (Jack planned a war in season 2 but nothing came of it.) I don't doubt him, though what sort of war, and what the sides are we don't know. He needs Locke one way or another (dead, perhaps), but we're not sure how. I get the feeling this war is what the show is ultimately about--it's presumably over the Island, but what would that mean? We know the Others will fight fanatically for the Island (is it because they're infected with Rousseau's "disease"), but is just the Island at stake, or a lot more.
(A couple notes: 1. When Widmore showed Locke the dossiers he'd compiled on the Oceanic 6, a photo of Sayid showed him working on a house. A bit later, when Locke showsd up, Sayid is working on the same house at the same level of completion. I'm happy Sayid is doing good work, but he should speed up a bit. 2. Widmore says he gave Locke the Jeremy Bentham alias as a joke, the same way Locke's parents had named him. This is a nod to the audience, but I think it's a bit too self-conscious, considering half the characters on this show are named after philosophers, authors and scientists--best to leave it alone.)
Then there's Benjamin Linus. He's a liar, a master manipulator, and a cold-blooded killer, but his motivations are even less clear than Widmore's. In the show's shocker, Ben chokes Locke to death. This sure seems to make him a bad guy, after a season or so of suggesting he might be in the right. Can his reputation be salvaged? Probably not, but there is a possibility Ben was doing (or believed he was doing) what the Island wanted, and what Locke needed. I doubt it--it now seems that he's a psycho who does what he has to do to stay in charge (the whole Locke bringing back the Oceanic 6 could have been part of Ben's master plan to get back to the Island while defeating Widmore)--but it's still possible. Now that Ben's killed Locke twice I wonder how he's going to talk his way out of this one. (From the way he said goodbye to Locke, I don't think he figured he'd see him alive again.)
The main question is why Ben killed Locke, after talking him out of suicide. I see four likely possibilities. 1) Ben knows Locke can't get back to the Island if he kills himself, but knows Locke has to die. 2) When he found out Jin was still alive, he knew he could get the Oceanic 6 back to the Island without Locke (or with Locke's corpse, which he needs). 3) When he hears the name Eloise Hawking, he doesn't want Locke to find her, since she's associated with Widmore (through Faraday) and once he makes contact, Locke will shut Ben out of the process. 4) (This is the one I think most likely) Ben lied to Locke when he said he knew Eloise--in fact, this was the information he was looking for, the connection that would get him back to the Island, and once he had that, he didn't need Locke any more, except as a corpse.