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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Lost 5x07: The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham

The life of Jeremy Bentham played out, for the most part, as we expected. He got off the island, went about the business of trying to convince the Oceanic Six to come back to the island, and ultimately dying. Sure, there were some surprises along the way: Widmore, claiming to be the good guy, set Locke up with the Bentham identity and provided Abaddon to chauffeur him on his mission, Locke discovers Helen has died and he and Jack share a charged scene.

But the death of Bentham was the big surprise of the evening, as Ben continues to shock us and keep things murky by strangling Locke to death moments after talking him off the ledge, so to speak. In addition to giving us the origin of Bentham, this episode further managed to blur the lines drawn in the sand by Widmore and Ben. If they are the players in a game for control of the island, with Jack and the others as the pieces, then who do we want to see win? If there's a war coming, which man is on the right side of it?

Ben murdering Locke did far more to make me rethink the assumption that Widmore is the bad guy in this scenario than his protestations of innocence to Locke at the beginning did. Widmore claimed that as leader of the Others he peacefully kept the island hidden for thirty years; attacking the US soldiers in 1954 and casually snapping the neck of his fellow Other casts doubt on his claim. He also maintained that the actions of Keamy last season were necessary to remove Ben from the island and cement Locke's ascension, yet Keamy was given orders to kill everyone on the island. While it's certainly possible that Keamy was overzealous in his interpretation of the orders, Widmore is still responsible for his actions, having hired him in the first place.

While Ben did murder Locke, it is entirely possible it was done at the urging of the island; perhaps a suicide would invalidate the power of the island to resurrect him; perhaps Locke was destined to die at Ben's hand for some mysterious reason and Ben was playing his role. The mention of Ms. Hawking seemed to set off Ben, yet if the events of "316" take place within a few days of Locke's murder, it would seem that at this point, Ben was already in contact with Hawking. And Ben did seem genuinely saddened as he said goodbye to Locke at the door of his hotel.

Then again, perhaps neither Ben nor Widmore are the "good guys." Both believe they are working in the island's best interests, but perhaps both are so far removed from the island's counsel that neither truly are. After all, despite actively working against one another, Ben and Widmore both wanted the same thing in this episode: for Locke to bring back the Oceanic Six. Perhaps the "good guy" is the island itself, and through Jacob/Christian, it's trying to protect itself from both men. There are times the island seems to be working against Widmore (the island getting moved so that Widmore can't find it) but also times when it's clear that Ben's actions aren't 100% in synch with what the island wants (Christian's assertion that Ben wasn't supposed to turn the wheel).

If the entire series can be seen as a chess match between two players for control of the island, perhaps its not a matter of Ben vs. Widmore, but rather the island against Ben AND Widmore, with the two men merely fighting over who gets to move the pieces.

Favorite Bits:
“Your parents had a sense of humor when they named you, so why can’t I?”

The emotionally charged scene between Jack and Locke. One of the best of the numerous confrontations between the two.

Tidbits of Note:
One of the Life magazines that Caesar sees at the beginning is entitled "“Color Pictures of the Hydrogen Test" and seems new (or at least, not 55 years old).


The boats amongst the 316ers were the same ones Sawyer and Company found near the 815ers abandoned camp in "The Little Prince."

Locke staring out across the water from the beach at the beginning recalls his similar position in the pilot episode. He also told a complete stranger (Illana) a big secret (he was dead, but now isn't) just like he told Walt that he could miraculously walk on the island shortly after the 815 crash.

Locke, obviously, arrived prone and vomiting at the same spot in Tunisia and in the same state that Ben did after moving the island (as seen in "The Shape of Things to Come"). It seems that since Widmore learned Ben was off the island, he's installed a surveillance system to watch that spot for other island evacuees.

It's been 4 days since Locke last saw Widmore, in 1954.

Bentham's passport is Candian and lists his birth place as New York, which explains why his obit said as much. For whatever reason, Canada is strongly associated with the Others. Ethan Rom said he was from Canada in the first season, and in the third season, Ben had told everyone that the two women manning the Looking Glass station were on assignment in Canada.


Bentham's passport lists his birthday as February 15, 1948, 8 years earlier than his actual birthday in 1956.

The philosopher Jeremy Bentham's beliefs were more or less the polar opposite of John Locke's, hence Widmore's comment regarding Locke's pseudonym.

Widmore tells Locke he can be reached by dialing 23 on the phone he provides.

Widmore refers to Ben as "Benjamin" something know one else, that I can recall, does.

Walt seems to sense Locke's presence before he sees him, and is having dreams about Locke. He now refers to Locke as "John" whereas on the island, he was always "Mr. Locke." Abbadon has adopted Walt's former nomenclature for Locke.

Hurley was painting a picture of a sphinx. When Abbadon visited him in the season four premiere, it was igloos.

In the scene with Locke and Jack in the hospital, we see the early beginnings of Beardo Jack. He also seems to be drunk/hepped up on pills.


It seems Locke's assertion that Christian is alive is what pushed Jack over the edge, after having seen visions of him off the island.

Locke bought the extension cord with which he intended to hang himself from Angels Hardware.

There are some goofy time elements in the story as presented. There must be a span of time between Locke and Jack's meeting in the hospital and Locke's death: we see the beginnings of Jack's massive beard, and even if it grows fast, we know from the first flash forward that Jack spends "every Friday" flying over the pacific trying to get back to the island, but it seems unlikely that the amount of time between Locke's death and the events of "316" is any greater than a week, meaning that when Locke dies, Jack should be in full on Beardo-flying-over-the-Pacific mode. Yet when Ben tells Locke that Jack bought a ticket from LA to Sydney and back, the implication is that Jack is just starting his attempts to get back to the island. The moment works in showing that Locke got through to Jack, but suggests that Locke was dead for at least several weeks before his obituary appeared. Even if his body was embalmed and preserved by Ben and his off-island crew, what took the obituary so long to appear?

Locke, Caesar, Illana and the other survivors of 316 appear to be on Alcatraz 2.0, the small island off the main island where Jack, Sawyer and Kate were held at the beginning of season three, and home of the Hydra Station. Caesar at one point leafs through some maps, including a barebones version of the one Ben gives Rousseau to guide Alex to the temple in season four. Perhaps Frank managed to land flight 316 on the runway Sawyer and Kate were building in season three (assuming they are in 2007).

Questions:
How long as it been since Flight 316 crashed? Caesar and Illana seemed fairly comfortable rooting around the Hydra Station.

Why did Caesar hide the gun from Illana?

DID the plane crash? It seemed relatively intact on the beach.


Where did Frank go? What woman did he leave with? Sun? Where are they going?

Where did the 316ers find the catamarans? Were they part of the Hydra station's supplies?

Are Locke and the 316ers in the same time as Jack, Hurley, Kate and Jin?

Why didn't Locke, Ben and Frank vanish along with Jack, Hurley, and Kate? Where are Sayid and Sun?

Why was Widmore so captivated by his encounter with Locke in 1954? Relatively speaking, the two didn't interact THAT much, or at least, that significantly.

Was Penny born on the island? The timeline as given by Widmore to Locke would suggest it's likely she was (or else Widmore is considerably older than he seems, or she is adopted, or her mother left the island without Widmore).

Is that maybe why there's a problem with pregnant women on the island? Did Widmore truly get tricked by Ben into leaving with Penny, and the island punished Ben for his trickery by making it impossible for his people to give birth? Is that why Ben was so insistent on fixing the problem, because it proved the island wasn't happy with his ascension as leader?

How true was everything Widmore told Locke? Was Widmore the Other's leader? Was he tricked off the island by Ben, or is that his skewed take on the event?

Is Helen really dead, or his her tombstone a smaller version of the faked 815 crash site?


In the season four finale, the Oceanic Six went out of their way to refer to Locke as Bentham, even amongst themselves, and it seemed odd, in retrospect, that they wouldn't use his real name. Now it's even odder, as the only person we saw Locke give the Bentham name to was Sayid. He never told Walt that name, yet when Walt visited Hurley last season he referred to Locke as Bentham. Do we just chalk it up to creative license (since the creators wanted to keep Locke's placement in the casket a secret) or were there other visits between Bentham and the Six we haven't seen yet that make it clear why they used his pseudonym so universally?


On that subject, why did the Bentham obituary mention a teenage son? What in Locke's surroundings at the hotel would lead anyone to believe he had a teenage son?

Did Ben really shoot Abbadon? It makes sense that he did, and while he did admit as much, when was the last time Ben admitted anything that was 100% true?

Next Week:
Reunions aplenty, it seems. But the question still remains: when the hell are they?

2 comments:

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