Last night's episode might just be the best so far, but it also had the absolute worst scene in the show's history when Ben was enveloped by a smokey This Is Your Life, Passions style.
Seriously, the CGI was almost like a Tom & Jerry cartoon.
So Ben woke up and was shocked to see that Locke was sitting there, alive and well (or at least appearing to be).
He knew he was in deep shit, and that Locke would likely be pissed that Ben murdered him. He told Ben that he returned to the Island to be "judged" by "the monster" for "breaking the rules," the rules being that he left the Island and returned anyway.
However, Locke has risen to have more knowledge than he had before his death, about the Island and about Ben's intentions. Ben was most likely lying to Locke about this whole judgment thing, and Locke called him on his bluff. He insisted on bringing Ben to the smoke monster. He told Ben that his story about the breaking the rules was a lie, saying, "I don't think you care about rules." He surmised that Ben needed to be judged for killing his daughter Alex, by letting Widmore's hired mercenaries shoot her.
I liked that we finally got to see that post-Purge, adult Ben isn't all bad. We found out that he's a softie for mothers and children. It makes sense that he didn't follow through with his intentions to kill either Rousseau or Penny when he found out that they had children. All of the pain in his life stems from the fact that he grew up motherless. He couldn't put another child through that. Although he did take Alex away from hers. But he did so because he felt that was the safest option for the newborn.
In fact, I tend to believe that Ben feels as though it's his duty in life to be the protector of children. We saw him, as a Hostile, with Ethan. Did he protect other Dharma kids from the Purge?
Also, after Flight 815 crashed, and he gave orders to Goodwin and Ethan to infiltrate their camps and "make lists," the first people he extracted and brought to the Others' camp were children and a pregnant woman. Instead of being an evil kidnapper, I think he was making sure to keep children out of the line of fire.
When Ben first brought Alex back to the Hostiles, Widmore was furious that he didn't kill Rousseau as ordered. He then told Ben to kill the infant.
Ben refused to do it. But, curiously, Widmore wouldn't kill her either. About four or five years later, we see that the Hostiles are living in the old Dharma barracks and appear to be happy. At this time, Widmore is being escorted toward a submarine, while in handcuffs. He is being banished for "breaking the rules" by leaving the Island multiple times and fathering a child (Penny) with an outsider.
Ben tells Widmore that he believes he'll be a better leader, because he would sacrifice anything for the good of the Island. But Widmore points out to Ben that he wouldn't sacrifice Alex, and that if the Island wants her dead, she'll be dead. So did the Island really want Alex dead as an infant? Had it given to Ben the same test that God gave Abraham when he ordered him to sacrifice his son Isaac? Abraham was willing to do what God wanted, and was rewarded handsomely for his faith, and got to keep his son alive, to boot.
Perhaps Ben wasn't supposed to be judged for killing Alex, but instead, be judged for not being willing to sacrifice her in the first place. Maybe if he had been willing to make that sacrifice initially, the Island would've let her live. Perhaps her dying the second time around was a punishment for not obeying orders.
Right before he left, Widmore said, "You'll finally realize that you cannot fight the inevitable." OK, this sounds too much like the Losties favored time travel explanation of "What happened, happened." So if the past cannot be changed, and you can't fight the inevitable, does that mean that you can't change the future either?
If that's the case, then all of Ben's and Widmore's power struggles seem pointless, because when it comes down to it, no one is in control of anything.
And speaking of Widmore, I totally still think that Ilana is working for him, that she was hired by Widmore to arrest Sayid, and that she was placed on that plane to carry out another mercenary mission with some other planted passengers, which may or may not include Caesar. They were even supplied with a giant box of weapons in the cargo section.
She pulled a gun on Captain Frank and asked, "What lies in the shadow of the statue?"
It seemed like a sphinx-like riddle that would allow him to gain entrance into their circle of ass kickers, which is appropriate, given that the four-toed statue to which she's probably referring is thought to be an Anubis, the god that protects the dead from the afterlife.
Speaking of the dead, did Locke really come back from the dead the as the same exact man, as he claimed to Sun? His new-found arrogance would suggest not. But I did love when he plopped his feet up on Ben's old desk.
One new piece of information Locke received in his reincarnation was where the smoke monster lives, and how to take Ben there. He also knew that Ben needed to go in the hole beneath the decoy temple to truly access it.
Ben recalls that "this is where they took me" when he was cured. I thought he wasn't going to remember any of that. And who did he mean by "they"? Kate and Sawyer? Or Richard and his people?
Interestingly, I think that Ben's past reveals that he has so much in common with Kate and Sawyer. They all have/had fucked up relationships with their dads, which makes them all sensitive to the welfare of children. (Remember how Sawyer backed out of a con one time because he saw that the marks had a child?) Furthermore, Kate and Ben have both raised children that weren't theirs. And all three of them are experienced con artists and liars.
It kind of goes to show that you never really know a person, unless you are privy to their flashback episodes. But it also is indicative of the theories of existentialism on this show. There's the theory that each person is their own island, and we are all alone in the world. But then there's the theory that we're all connected somehow. And lastly, there's the theory that we are all alone in this world, and that shared experience of being alone is what connects us to each other. Oh, right, and also there's "live together, die alone."
So, anyway, we finally got to see the inside of this thing. There were hieroglyphics all over the place.
And what looked to be a really important one at the semi-altar.
According to Lostpedia, the big one has something to do with "summons" or "invoke."
Then the smoke monster came out of that grate or vent or whatever. I always felt like the credit card/cash register sound was a hint at what the smoke monster is. It's taking inventory of the situation. It's reviewing records of both past and future. And then ultimately, it corrects what is fucking up the equation by swallowing people, and subtracting them from the situation.
But that didn't happen to Ben. Instead, it took the form of his dead daughter Alex, and scared the shit out of him, as way to get him to obey Locke as his new leader. And while he may not like that he is no longer the head honcho, Ben seemed to at least be happy when he said, "It let me live."
Guess who else was allowed to live. Desmond! How did a carton of milk manage to save Desmond from Ben's bullet?
Is he unable to be harmed, the same way that Michael was, because the Island "isn't finished with him yet"?
And how awesome was it when he kicked Ben's ass?
The name of Desmond and Penny's boat is "Our Mutual Friend." That was also the name of the Charles Dickens book that Desmond was saving to read right before he died. Penny had taped a love note in his copy.
Our Mutual Friend was written chapter by chapter on a monthly basis, published in newspapers. There's a debate over whether this complex tale was very carefully thought out before hand, or pulled out of his ass at the last minute, as he went along. Kinda like the debate over the storyline of Lost.
But Lost viewers are just like Ben, Widmore and Locke—and more recently, Jack. All parties have blindly signed on for the Island's crazy plans, time travel, hieroglyphics, and whispers, hoping in the end, that it all makes sense. Seriously, watching this show is a leap of faith.