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The Man Who Killed Me: John Locke (and Jeremy Bentham) Encounter the Face of Evil on "Lost"

I don't know about you but I couldn't sleep last night as my mind is still reeling after yet another neck-snapping plot twist from Team Darlton.

I'm speaking, of course, of last night's episode of Lost ("The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham"), written by Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, which filled in a lot of the blanks about just what happened to John Locke between his leaving the island and his corpse's return trip.

Bookended by scenes of Locke with the survivors of Ajira Airways Flight 316 on the Hydra Island, this week's episode delves into several ongoing mysteries and answers some lingering questions about Locke's choice of pseudonym, the exit strategy from the island, Matthew Abaddon, Walt, and more.

Let's discuss.

The Plane. I was glad that we did learn this episode that the Ajira Airways flight carrying the Oceanic Six and Benjamin Linus DID crash, after all. While the members of the Oceanic Six were seemingly pulled from the timestream and dumped on the island in the same 1970s period as Jin and the other castaways, the rest of the passengers didn't fare so well as the plane crashes on Hydra Island... which explains why Juliet and the castaways didn't see another signs of a crash on the island itself. (Sneaky, Darlton!)

As Caesar (Sleeper Cell's Saïd Taghmaoui) and Ilana (Rome's Zuleikha Robinson) rifle through the contents of the Hydra Station--including finding a 1954 Time magazine about the Hydrogen tests in the South Pacific (the same date as the US military photograph that Eloise Hawking has in the Lamp Post) and a secreted gunshot under the desk, Locke sits on the beach in a black cloak. I'm glad to see that John was resurrected once he returned to the island; apparently, the island still does have a plan for him and it needs him alive... if the Ajira survivors keep him that way for long. After all, having a creepy bald man tell you that he died and knows who killed him (and that he's been to this island before) doesn't engender a lot of sympathy from a group of people desperate for escape from this accursed place.

Frank. Just how coincidental is it that the plane just happens to crash on a section of Hydra Island where there are a bunch of boats just waiting for them. (Hmmm.) Even more curious: that Frank Lapidus doesn't travel back in time with the members of the Oceanic Six but remains in the present-day time frame and manages to land the plane with a minimum of casualties.

The Woman. Which brings me to my next question: just why does Frank immediately take the passenger manifest list and head out in one of said boats with a mysterious woman? And, even more intriguingly (and this is what kept me up half the night): just who is The Woman? Theories off the top of my head include the mysterious woman glimpsed in the scenes for next week's episode ("LaFleur") who held at gunpoint with a sack over her head, Sun (who has yet to be seen in either timeframe), or someone who wasn't even on the plane altogether. If the boats had been placed in the right location for the crash, who's to say that there wasn't someone waiting to greet the plane, who has need of both Frank Lapidus and the passenger manifest? After all, the Others don't like uninvited guests on the island and we've seen that their modus operandi involves getting detailed lists of passengers straightaway.

Exit Route. Very interesting that Locke's donkey-wheel trip from the island involves the exact same trajectory as Ben's, depositing him in the middle of the Tunisian desert. The fact that the exit route isn't random explains quite a lot about this particular section of the world... and why Charlotte Staples Lewis would have encountered the remains of a Dharma-branded polar bear in the middle of the desert. Which leads me to wonder: did someone previously need to turn the wheel in order to move the island but opt not to take the escape route themselves? Did they instead hook up the bear to the donkey wheel and stand back in order to remain on the island? If so, who was smart enough to employ that trickery and why?

Knowing just where Locke would appear, Widmore was clever enough to employ cameras so he would get a heads up about whoever left the island and was therefore able to save Locke's life after he appeared in the desert and was immobilized. Widmore claims that he was "exiled" from the island so either took the same route himself off the island or knows that it is the exit point from the cavern underneath the Orchid Station. (The dichotomy of someone entering a well--representing water--and exiting through a desert isn't lost on me.)

Jeremy Bentham. How fantastic was the scene between Charles Widmore and Locke when Widmore gives him the Canadian passport for Jeremy Bentham and says that since Locke's parents clearly had a sense of humor about his name, he'll have one as well and give him the name of another British philosopher? It's the first time that Darlton are so precisely tongue-in-cheek about the fanciful names on the series and state outright that the choice of pseudonym was intentional rather than accidental. Brilliant.

Locke. As predicted, Locke does spring back to life once he returns to the island... and is once again able to walk. The shot of him cloaked in black, staring out into the night sky, filled me with dread for a second, until he pulled back the hood... and then ate a mango the following morning. I loved the fact that back in the "real world," Locke was again confined to a wheelchair and forced to suffer the pity and contempt of everyone around him.

So sure of his mission and purpose, Locke encounters nothing but scorn and derision from the members of the Oceanic Six whom he encounters. And yet after everything--including the murder of Naomi at the end of Season Three--would you really blame the Six for denying his purpose? Kate is particularly cruel to Locke, throwing his obsession back in his face, while Jack doesn't want to have anything to do with Locke... who is again spouting lines about fate when he ends up in Jack's hospital after a car accident that should have killed him (yet doesn't as the island still needs him). Locke does figure out that Christian is Jack's father and sends him a message, a fact that rattles Jack immensely (and could explain his confusion about his father being upstairs in "Through the Looking Glass"). I also loved that Hurley thinks Locke is nothing more than a ghost and freaks out when he realizes that Locke is actually alive and talking to him about going back to the island.

The scorn of the castaways? Yet another trial for Locke, who faces the doubting Saint Thomas everywhere he turns. Locke was mocked and humiliated and told he's no one before the island and even after returning to the mainland, he's told it again: that he's not special, no matter what he might think. He's a crazy, lonely old man who has nothing to live for. It's clear now why the castaways stay away from John's funeral, especially when the newspaper report states that the cause of death was suicide... except it wasn't.

When Richard Alpert told Locke that he would have to die in order to bring the others back, he never said that Locke would have to kill himself. In fact, I thought it highly unusual that Locke would jump to that conclusion from Richard's words but perhaps he felt it was his final test: to extinguish his own life in order to reunite the Oceanic Six and save the world. He was ready (more than ready, really) to take that literal plunge, to sacrifice himself to protect the lives of others. But that's not what Christian had in mind when he talked about sacrifice either. So it's not suicide that does Locke in but the murderous rage of a true Judas Iscariot: Benjamin Linus.

Walt. I am glad that Damon and Carlton chose to include Walt in this episode (and have Matthew Abaddon make a pointed remark about how much Walt has grown) as the failure to include Walt in the return trip to the island has always gotten under my skin since the start of Season Five. After all, Locke would definitely go see Walt, as we've been told numerous times that Walt is also "special" and "important," just like Locke. So is he the future leader of the Others? Perhaps. After all, Walt was "tested" back on the island... and Ben made sure that he was removed from the island in the end. And yet I liked that Locke chose not to involve Walt, saying that he had been through too much already to subject him to another jaunt to the island; it goes a long way to explaining why Walt wasn't on that plane. Their meeting also has another benefit as Walt tells Locke about a prophetic dream he had of Locke, back on the island and wearing a suit, surrounded by people who wished him harm. I'm hoping that Locke takes Walt's warning to heart and pays especially close attention to the Aijira survivors. It's only a matter of time before they turn on him.

Abaddon. I loved the explanation that Matthew Abaddon was employed by Widmore to make sure people get to where they've got to go; it's a metaphysical rationale of his position as Locke's driver back on the mainland. After all, it was Abaddon who made sure Locke was on Oceanic Flight 815: he told Locke about the walkabout when posing as an orderly at the rehabilitation center and ensured that Locke would end up on the island. Which makes me question whether Widmore and Abaddon are as evil as they seem. After all, their actions ensured that Locke WOULD get on the island in order to lead the Others and Abaddon was responsible for putting together the scientific team on the Kahana--a group that included Naomi Dorrit, Miles, Charlotte, Frank Lapidus, and Daniel Faraday--and therefore put them on the island as well. That so many of them have connections to the island (or have been there before) seems to indicate that Widmore wanted them in place for a reason. But I didn't expect that Ben would brutally murder Abaddon in the cemetery, after he took Locke to see Helen's grave. Lost has killed many a character in its time but this one had my jaw on the ground with its simple brutality and explicit surprise.

Widmore. Widmore is quick to point out that he doesn't kill Locke, though he had the opportunity to do so. In fact, he goes to great lengths to make sure that Locke stays alive and has some plausible explanations for why he sent Keamy and the team (along with a freighter rigged with C4) to the island in the first place: to kill Benjamin Linus. If that seems like a bit of overkill, it doesn't hurt to realize that, even with all that manpower, Ben still managed to survive.

So is Widmore good? I wouldn't say that any of the puppet masters on this series could be viewed in terms of black and white, but Widmore does seem to genuinely care about the island (or so he claims) and want to see Locke restored to his rightful place as the leader of the Others. He speaks about his exile from the island (which supports my theory a few weeks back of a civil war among the Others) and his hatred of Ben, who is the wrongful leader of the Others. Ben's usurption of the leaderhood came with blood on his hands and not the careful testing that Richard Alpert refers to... and Ben turned the wheel and moved the island, even though it wasn't his right to do so. If there is a war coming, is it possible then that Widmore, knowing how "important" Locke is, wants him on his side rather than Ben's? And just what is at stake for both sides in this coming war?

Ben. I have to say that I am truly shocked by Ben and the lengths he will go to in order to ensure his endgame, whatever that may be. After several weeks of development that seemingly pointed to Ben as a potential hero (or anti-hero, as the case may be), we're now left to doubt everything the trickster had said once again. Managing to prevent Locke from hanging himself, Ben manages to gain some valuable intelligence. Locke tells him that Jin is still alive on the island and that he made a promise to him to tell Sun not to come back to the island and has his wedding ring as proof of life. Ben only cares about Jin being alive inasmuch as it's a way to get to Sun, to convince her to join his cause.

But Ben seems absolutely SHOCKED when Locke mentions that he has to go see Eloise Hawking. It's clear that, while Ben knows who Hawking is, he either didn't know that Hawking had a means of getting back to the island or doubted that Locke knew how to get back. In any event, it's this moment that triggers Ben to act, strangling Locke with the extension cord and rigging the room to look like a suicide. Ben is careful to wipe everything down but doesn't check Locke's pockets... thus missing the suicide note he left for Jack, the contents of which Ben is later VERY curious about.

In killing Locke, Ben seemingly enables Richard Alpert's words to come true: Locke does have to die in order for the others to come back, something that Ben didn't know. Are Ben's murderous actions going to be his very undoing? It certainly seems that way. Eloise Hawking is very careful to tell Jack--and pointedly not Ben--about the proxy and instructs him to place something of Christian's in Locke's coffin, which Jack does... without telling Ben. Something tells me that Ben will be very surprised to see Locke alive again as I'm wondering whether his mission to bring those who left the island back involved Locke's corpse more than it did Locke himself.

Me, I can't wait for next week.

Next week on Lost ("LaFleur"), Sawyer concocts a lie with some of the other island survivors in order to protect themselves from the mistakes of the past; members of the Oceanic Six arrive on the island; one of the survivors of Ajira Airways Flight 316 is seemingly taken prisoner.

Comments

Anonymous said…
I thought that the woman with the sack on her head was Kate from way back when they were on the dock with the others when Walt and Michael left. I thought it seemed as if Sawyer was with her in a time travel flash. No?
Jace Lacob said…
Anonymous,

The woman in the sack seems to have much lighter hair than Kate. I think it's a bait-and-switch on the part of the producers... and it will turn out not to be Kate but someone else.
The CineManiac said…
I noticed the light hair color, but assumed it was still Kate. But now I'm wondering if it wasn't The Woman who left with Frank.
And because of how Sawyer looked at her (if that's what he was actually looking at) I'm wondering if it's the woman from his past.
It's been so long the details are sketchy but didn't he "love" a woman he pulled cons with that also knew Kate.
I think possibly its this woman.
Anonymous said…
I was thinking that maybe Ben was so surprised/ mad/ murderous that Locke knew about Eloise Hawking was because knowing her was the last card Ben had to play. Since Locke knows about Hawking and therefore can get back to the island himself, Ben will have no further use to them.
Anonymous said…
It was heartbreaking to see Locke back in the "real" world. Jack's comments about Locke being a lonely old man with no importance echoed Locke's co-worker's jeers from way back when he worked at the box factory. And to have Locke back in a wheelchair was brilliant.

Locke has always been one of my favorite characters and his journey has been fascinating. I can't wait to see how Ben reacts when he wakes up and finds that Locke is alive and what that means for Ben's master plans.
Anonymous said…
I could be wrong... but from the trailer for next week it seemed as if Ben and Sun were on the same timeline... we know that the Ajira crash should be somewhat in present day, given the state of the Hydra station. When will everyone be reunited? And how many more red shirts will die off Ajira? Haha!
rockauteur said…
Pretty cool the plane crash-landed on the runway that Kate and Sawyer helped build back in season 3... Neat little trick, that Benjamin Linus.
Anonymous said…
Not sure where you wanted our questions submitted for 'Ben', but here goes:

Assuming that you don't know the eventual outcome of the series/your character, after last night's murder do YOU think Ben is the villain of this story? Or do you think it's still possible his actions may have a justifying motive?

Thanks, Jace. I'm loving your site.
Anonymous said…
@Anonymous Yeah, I'm sure they will kill off most of the Ajira redshirts soon. Not sure why they had so many people crash on the island when they did such a good job culling the # of redshirts from Oceanic. Think Sun is back in time with the others and just Locke and Ben are in present.
Anonymous said…
I didn't even think of that's why the polar bear was in the desert. Great thought, Jace!!! It would definitely explain that though, IMHO. Awesome ep all around. Was crying when Locke was going to kill himself.
The CineManiac said…
Cassidy is the woman I was referring to's name.
Anonymous said…
Jace - My dreams were full of Lost as well! Very thoughtful article and I enjoyed reading it.
Bryan Bennett said…
Fantastic recap as always. Televisionary is becoming my go to place on Thur to read about everything i missed while watching the episode the night before. It's amazing how many little things are built into the show that ends up tying everything together. Nice job Jace.

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