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March 2, 2009 |

By Daniel Carlson | Lost Recaps | March 2, 2009 |

“The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham” is one of those just completely engaging and relentlessly fun “Lost” episodes, the kind that remind you all over again that when this show is running at full steam, it’s the best pop/sci-fi/action/
mystery/whatever series on the air. Written by producers/creators Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof and directed by Jack Bender, the seventh episode of the fifth season hit all the right buttons, offering up those moments of excited recognition only possible when you decide to tell a crazily epic story out of order. The episode lived up to its title, filling in big portions of John Locke’s time between leaving the island and his subsequent death, but it also did a fabulous job setting up future plotlines, and it did it with the casual power that comes by dropping the viewer into the middle of scenes and demanding they keep up. It was perfect.

The episode opens in darkness, with Caesar, the guy who spoke to Jack at the airport, investigating an office that looks like it hasn’t been used in a while. Even for “Lost,” this is a pretty sizeable in medias res kickoff to an episode, and it only gets deeper. He turns on a desk lamp and begins shuffling through papers and drawers, looking for anything and everything. He grabs a flashlight and sees an old copy of Life magazine from 1954 with photos of exploding hydrogen bombs. He breaks open a filing cabinet and begins rifling through a folder, finding a hand-drawn map of the island complete with DHARMA logos — it’s the one Faraday had — as well as a sketch detailing the interlocking effects of real and imaginary time and space on certain events. He glances over and sees a small shotgun affixed to the underside of the desk, and he stuffs it in his bag just as a woman enters the room: It’s Ilana, last seen escorting Sayid through the airport and guarding him on the plane. He tells her he hasn’t found anything, so she asks what he was so furtively putting in his pack. He digs in it and comes up with the flashlight, tossing it to her. They’ve clearly been there long enough to have developed a working relationship built on distrust; maybe they’ve known each other a long time. Maybe they’re in love! Anyway: She tells him, “We’ve found someone. A man.” Caesar, pretty freaked out by this turn of events, asks her to repeat herself. Ilana says that someone was out scouting the land and found a guy just standing in the water. “He’s wearing a suit,” she adds. The narrative is building speed already, because you know they have to be talking about John Locke, and they have no idea who or why or what he is, and yet we do. Outside, walking along a shore near the jungle, Caesar asks if anybody recognizes the man, but Ilana says no, and that whoever he is, he didn’t come with them. As they walk, a fuselage comes into a view, and pretty soon they pass under the wing of a giant plane that’s crashed on an island but seems to be in pretty decent shape; at any rate, it wasn’t torn in half like Oceanic 815. “How do we know he isn’t one of the ones who disappeared?” Caesar asks, and Ilana says, “He’s not. He wasn’t on the plane.” They reach a campfire on the beach, where scattered survivors are standing amid pieces of wreckage and looking at a figure wrapped in an Ajira Airways blanket. Caesar hunkers down in front of the figure and introduces himself, asking for the man’s name. The camera tracks around as the man pulls back the blanket — which for some reason he’s been wearing like a Jedi — and reveals himself to be none other than John Locke himself, once dead, now alive, and no doubt possessed of some serious knowledge about the island and his purpose. Yep: Locke is alive.

The next morning, Locke is standing barefoot in the surf, staring out across the water at a chunk of land that may or may not be connected to the one he’s on. (It’s not.) Ilana walks up and offers him a mango for breakfast, saying they found a tree nearby. Locke points a thumb over his shoulder and asks, “Are those your boats?” Up by the treeline are two outrigger canoes, looking an awful lot like the ones Locke and the castaways came across on their trip to the Orchid. Ilana says the boats aren’t theirs, and were already there when they arrived. There used to be three, but “the pilot and some woman” made off with one. She’s probably referring to Lapidus and Sun, who were probably raptured midair with Jack and the rest. Locke asks her if she has a passenger list, but she says he’ll have to talk to Caesar, who it appears has put himself in charge of his own band of survivors. Locke bites into his mango with a mix of joy and relief, as if he didn’t quite buy until that moment the fact that he was alive. Ilana says that no one remembers Locke being on the plane, and he coyly says he doesn’t remember being on it either, though he does remember “a lot.” Ilana wants to know if that includes why he’s dressed up so nice, and Locke says he doesn’t know the answer but can make a guess. “I think this suit is what they were gonna bury me in,” he tells her, adding, “You asked what I remember. I remember dying.” Understandably confused, she shakes her head and walks away as Locke deals with his memories.

Cut to Locke in the frozen chamber of the time wheel, leg busted and doing his best to yank the wheel back into place. Christian bids him farewell as the light swallows him, and the next thing he knows, he’s flat on his back in the Tunisian desert. This is where Ben went after moving the island last season, but whereas he had a beating stick and the ability to kill passersby to escape, Locke has a compound fracture and can barely move, and it’s a wonder he hasn’t gone into shock. Locke rolls to his side and pukes, apparently suffering form hibernation sickness that will pass in time, and maybe 50 feet away he notices a video camera set on a telephone pole. The camera’s trained right on the spot Locke landed. He yells out to the camera, begging for help from anyone who might be watching, and after a couple of attempts to move, he gives up and lays there into the night. By the time the stars are out, Locke is shaking from cold and pain. He raises his head to see a small pickup barreling down the dirt road toward him, packed with dudes waving machine guns. The truck screeches to a stop as the men hop out and pick up Locke — whose busted leg must be in just whole other worlds of pain at this point — and place him in the bed of the truck (which at least has a bedliner) before peeling out. They arrive after sunrise at a ratty field hospital, where Locke frantically asks what the hell is going on as he’s carted in and placed in an empty bed. A doctor grabs some pills and a glass of water, telling John to swallow them, after which Locke looks around and sees Matthew Abaddon standing across the way, staring at him like a damn demon. Locke again asks where he is, but the doctor merely places a piece of wood in his mouth, secures it with a strap around his head, and tells him to bite down, all but insuring that whatever happens next will not be pleasant. And it isn’t. The doc sprinkles some kind of powder on Locke’s leg and begins to dab the area as Locke cries in pain and tries to fight it. Locke shakes his head in a wordless plea as the doctor grabs the busted leg and snaps it back into place with a horrible crunch, after which Locke finally and deservedly passes out. Poor guy.

Locke wakes up at night to hear someone calling his name: It’s Charles Widmore, sitting at his bedside like this is the most natural thing in the world. Locke’s leg is wrapped in a cast and suspended. “It’s nice to see you again, John,” Widmore says as he tells Locke that they met when the older man was just 17. So Widmore does indeed remember Locke, and knew all about him when pursuing the island. This and other revelations will come tumbling out in the episode, which goes a long way toward filling in certain parts of the characters’ backstories. When Widmore introduces himself by name, Locke’s eyes widen in surprise in recognition, emotions that only grow when Widmore asks, “How long has it been for you since we first met, since you walked into our camp and you spoke to Richard?” Locke confesses that it’s only been four days. Widmore also reveals that the camera in the desert was his, and that it was trained on that spot because it’s “the exit” and that Widmore feared Ben would trick Locke into leaving the island, as he did to Widmore. “I was their leader,” Widmore says, and when Locke asks if he means the Others, Widmore replies, “They’re not ‘Others’ to me. They’re my people.” Widmore and the Others — it’s just easier to use that word — “protected” the island for more than 30 years, but then Ben exiled Widmore just as Widmore assumes happened to Locke. Locke volunteers that he left of his own accord, and it doesn’t take long for Widmore to guess Locke’s real motive for leaving: To find and recruit those who left and bring them back for some as yet unknown purpose. Widmore warns Locke that three years have passed since his friends left the island, and that they’ve returned to their normal lives while maintaining their cover story about being the Oceanic Six. He even hands Locke a newspaper advertising the heroic return to civilization of the castaways. (Widmore apparently travels with any props needed to make a persuasive argument.) Locke repeats that he has to “bring them back,” and Widmore pledges to help Locke get the job done in any way he can. Locke’s rightfully suspicious of Widmore’s motive, but when he asks what the angle is, Widmore responds, “There’s a war coming, John. And if you’re not back on the island when it happens, the wrong side is going to win.” What does he have planned? Does he really want Locke on his side, or does he merely want Locke on the island because that will somehow give Widmore the upper hand against Ben?

Some time later — maybe the next day, maybe longer — Locke and Widmore are sitting outside the hospital going over the paperwork for Locke’s new secret identity. Locke asks why Widmore’s made the passport out for the name Jeremy Bentham, and Widmore responds that the man was a British philosopher, adding, “Your parents had a sense of humor when they named you, so why can’t I?” This is another sly little moment where the series gives a nod to the viewer and signals that some mysteries aren’t going to be that mysterious. Widmore sets up Locke with a fat stack of cash and an international cell phone that will reach Widmore just by dialing 2-3, as well as a dossier on the whereabouts of the Oceanic Six. Finding a photo of Sayid on a construction site, Locke asks with some surprise if Widmore’s been watching all of them. Widmore says yes, he has, because he’s “deeply invested in the future of the island,” though he cautions Locke not to mention Widmore’s involvement when talking to his friends because they’ll have been biased by Ben. Locke points out that Widmore could be the one lying, but Widmore replies, “I haven’t tried to kill you. Would you say the same for him?” In addition to being this week’s Blatant Foreshadowing, Widmore makes a good point. But he also neglects to mention that manipulating someone and using them for your own nefarious purposes, while not as bad as outright killing them, still isn’t that nice. Locke reminds Widmore that the old man had sent a freighter to the island stuffed with C-4, but Widmore maintains it was just to get rid of Ben so that Locke could step up to lead. Locke isn’t quite buying it, even when Widmore tells him that he’s special. Abaddon pulls up in a dusty Range Rover as Widmore stands, but Locke isn’t done: He wants to know why Richard said he would have to die to bring his friends back. Widmore says he has no idea why Richard would say that, but that he doesn’t intend to let it happen. Abaddon strides up and shakes Locke’s hand, and Widmore says Abaddon will take Locke wherever he needs to go. There’s a wonderful moment of denied recognition when the men meet, as neither one wants to come right out and speak about how they met years ago when Locke was hospitalized after being pushed out a window by his psychotic father. As Widmore helps Locke to his feet, Abaddon fetches a wheelchair from the back of the SUV. There’s such a tragic symmetry to Locke’s being confined once again to a wheelchair as he tries to wrangle his destiny.

So Locke and Abaddon go puttering along like this is the most natural thing in the world: A man who’s nearly died several times and is now being ferried around by the mysterious figure from his past who spoke so knowingly about the man’s future. Abaddon starts rambling away about how he can provide whatever Locke needs, including info on anyone from his past, but Locke asks Abaddon not to talk any more. Abaddon chews this over and looks like he’s considering punching Locke right in the solar plexus, but instead says, “You got it. But we’re almost at the airport, so you’re gonna at least have to tell me where we’re going first.” Locke leans in and says, “Santo Domingo.” Cut to the Dominican Republic, where Sayid is working for a charity group called Build Our World and is actually in pretty much the exact same position he was in in Widmore’s photo. Weird. Sayid, who by now has picked up conversational Spanish, talks with a fellow worker but is interrupted by a third party who tells him he has a visitor. Looking down, Sayid sees Locke sitting in his wheelchair, waving politely. The two men talk, and though on one level there’s no tension in how the conversation will turn out — we already know Sayid will refuse to return to the island — it’s still the first in a series of solid moments that do as much to color the relationships between Locke and the other castaways as they do to actually forward any narrative. These are still good details to be getting, is what I’m saying.

As Locke fruitlessly attempts to persuade Sayid to return to the island, Sayid maintains that he just spent two years being manipulated by Ben into doing what he thought was necessary to protect those left behind. He asks who’s manipulating Locke, a cutting question that gets right to the heart of Locke’s eager and often foolish personality. He’s a man who wants to believe so badly that he tends to forfeit reason or planning. Locke says he’s out there of his own accord, which is true, but he of course omits being bankrolled and encouraged by Widmore. Locke says Sayid should know “deep down in (his) heart” that leaving the island was the wrong idea, but Sayid says it was only by leaving the island that he could have nine sweet months of wedded bliss with Nadia. He reveals that Nadia was murdered, and Locke doesn’t know where to go with that, looking genuinely taken aback and a little saddened. Sayid, whose time in the jungle has somehow helped him refine his amateur psychology, asks, “Why do you really need to go back? Is it just because you have nowhere else to go?” Locke decided to take his Legos and go play at home. He wheels back and tells Sayid that he’ll be at the Westerfield Hotel in L.A. under the name of Jeremy Bentham. But Sayid, naturally, is committed to his nonprofit work, telling Locke he’s welcome back in the DR any time he wants to do some “real good.” And like that, the first of Locke’s inevitably unsuccessful visits comes to a close.

New York: Locke is sitting in the back seat of a black luxury car, Abaddon up front, and they’re keeping an eye on a school building across the street. Locke caves to his curiosity and asks if Abaddon can look up a woman named Helen Norwood, who was living in Los Angeles the last time Locke knew her. “She an old girlfriend of yours?” Abaddon asks. Locke just stares back at him in the rearview mirror, then takes a sip of his coffee. (Locke, man, there’s nothing to be embarrassed about here.) The school bell rings and kids begin pouring out the front door, and Locke asks for help getting out of the car. Across the street, none other than Walt (!) shambles down the steps with his friends as Locke and Abaddon watch him descend. “Boy’s gotten big,” Abaddon says, another mild nod to the fact that the only way the character could even be included on the show now is thanks to time travel. Walt looks up and sees the two men, and Locke smiles and waves the boy over, and since Walt is apparently untroubled by Abaddon’s intimidating presence, he goes right over. Abaddon steps away to give Locke and the boy as Walt comes over and shakes his hand. “Hey, John,” Walt says in a voice almost comically deeper than his last appearance. This visit is actually something of a surprise, since I wasn’t sure if Locke had tried to contact Walt in his quest to bring everyone back to the island. “You don’t seem surprised to see me,” Locke says, which prompts Walt to helpfully explain that he’s been having dreams about Locke in which the older man is on the island, dressed in a suit and surrounded by people who wanted to hurt him. (So, that’s gonna come back.) Walt asks if Locke knows Michael’s whereabouts; he hasn’t heard from his dad in three years and assumes he went back to the island. Locke, sneaky guy that he is, says that he last heard Michael was “on a freighter near the island,” which come on, there’s no way any kid would buy such a weirdly specific brush-off. But Walt does. However, when the boy asks what Locke is doing there, Locke changes course and simply says he wanted to check up on Walt and see how he was doing. They part on good terms, but Abaddon walks up and asks why Locke didn’t try to recruit Walt. “Boy’s been through enough,” Locke replies, and it’s nice that his devotion to the island still leaves room for a little compassion for Walt. (Though really, the producers probably just couldn’t figure out how to use the kid.) Locke adds that he really only has to recruit one of his friends, and the rest will fall in line after that. He cuts off any further dissention or critique with, “I thought you were my driver.” As Abaddon and Locke load up, Ben appears further up the block. He’s apparently been there the whole time, and he looks not at all pleased with what’s happening.

Out in Santa Rosa, Calif., Hurley is enjoying the sunshine at the mental institution, happily painting a watercolor of the Sphinx and assorted camels when Locke wheels up. Locke calls out a greeting, and Hurley shrugs it off, assuming that Locke is dead just like Charlie and Eko and whoever else has been visiting him. Locke tries to convince Hurley that he’s actually alive, but Hurley doesn’t believe him, so he asks a nearby nurse if he is indeed “talking to a dude in a wheelchair.” When she says that yes, he is, Hurley’s eyes widen in panic and he jumps up from the table. Locke runs through his spiel again about going back to the island and how they need everyone and etc., etc., and of course Hurley says no way. Hurley then tells Locke to be cool because they’re being watched, and it’s almost cute how he freaks out when Locke turns around, spots Abaddon, and just says, “Oh, don’t worry. He’s with me.” Hurley tells Locke that Abaddon is “far from okay,” and that he’d shown up to visit Hurley not long after the big man was institutionalized and claimed to work for Oceanic Air. (Back then, Abaddon had asked Hurley, “Are they still alive?” This fits pretty well with his mission to work for Widmore and monitor the Oceanic Six and the status of those they left behind.) Locke tries to get Hurley to listen, but big stupid lug that he is, Hurley just gets up and starts shouting, then plugs his ears and demands to be taken back inside. Apparently, you don’t need to be mentally unstable to be hospitalized at these places, you just have to be easily agitated and possessed of a passion for bad painting and letting your beard go. … I am so there.

Back in the car, Abaddon tells Locke he needs to “step up his game, or we’re all in serious trouble.” Locke, who’s had enough of getting bossed around, asks just what Abaddon does for Widmore. The man smiles as he kills the engine and turns around to look at Locke. He asks if Locke really wants to go on pretending they don’t know each other, and that Abaddon wasn’t the one who told Locke he needed to go on his walkabout in the first place, which put him on the plane and, thus, the island. Locke takes a moment to meet his eyes, but he admits it: “No, I remember.” Abaddon says his job is to “help people get to where they need to go.” So is he psychic? He seemed to play a key role in picking the science team for the Kahana and insisting that Naomi (remember her?) keep them safe. When he visited Locke years before, he also said he’d been the recipient of a miracle; had he been to the island, or what?

Cut to Kate’s place in L.A., where Locke is once more pleading his case. Kate makes it clear she doesn’t really believe Locke’s claim that everyone they left behind will die if the Six don’t return, and when Locke asks if she cares about them, she pulls a hard left as only happens on TV. Kate asks if Locke has even been in love, adding that she thinks his desperation to stay on the island and now return to it are only because he never loved anyone, which way to overstep your bounds, kiddo. Locke gives her one of those amazingly sad smiles he has, saying, “That’s not true.” Terry O’Quinn is great at making Locke this completely empathetic guy, this sad shell who so wants to fit in and who can access these deep memories of being alone and wandering; for one random instance, there’s the scene in the first season when Locke goes from talking about maps to mentioning how he didn’t have a lot of friends as a kid. There’s never anything too wallowing about it; it’s just damn depressing, but well done. Anyway, Locke tells Kate that he was in love once with a woman named Helen, and that it didn’t work out because he was angry and obsessed. Kate, who just apparently feels like being a raging bitch to a lonely cripple, says, “And look how far you’ve come.” Locke actually almost starts to cry! Damn it, Kate. Outside at the car, Locke asks Abaddon if he had any luck tracking down Helen. Abaddon says she’s in the wind, and that in the past three years she could have moved, or married and changed her name. Locke calls shenanigans on this, saying Abaddon found Sayid in the middle of the jungle and should be able to find Helen no problem. “I need to get to her,” Locke says, and the look and Abaddon’s face — and the telling rumble of thunder in the distance — have already sealed Helen’s fate.

Down in Santa Monica, Abaddon and Locke are standing/sitting before Helen’s grave: She died in April 2006, a year and a half after Locke crashed on the island, of a brain aneurysm. “She loved me,” Locke says, his statement weighted with a sad realization he’s probably only now starting to process. “We could’ve been together.” Abaddon says that’s true, but it wouldn’t have changed anything. “Helen is where she’s supposed to be,” Abaddon says. “As sad as it is, her path led here. And your path — no matter what you did or what you do — your path leads back to the island.” Locke bucks a little at the idea of predestination, and Abaddon asks him about what Richard said regarding the necessity of Locke’s dying, and whether that was an inevitability or a choice. Locke asks how death could possibly be a choice (uh oh), but Abaddon replies, “Hey, I’m just your driver.” A few minutes later, Locke waits in the car while Abaddon loads the wheelchair in the trunk. As he’s closing it up, a muffled shot rings out, spraying blood across the rear window. Abaddon staggers and turns as a second shot breaks the window, which is all Locke needs to get moving. He clambers up into the driver’s seat, banging his busted leg along the way, while Abaddon continues to stagger around like a scarecrow, taking sniper fire. Abaddon falls to the ground, dead, as Locke speeds off and careens into traffic. He runs a red light, gets slammed by two cars and spun around, then loses consciousness.

Locke wakes up in a hospital bed to find Jack Shephard sitting next to him. Jack’s beard is just beginning to thicken, and it looks like he’s still deep in the middle of his phase of going to work drunk and high. Jack wants to know what Locke is doing there, which of course is Locke’s cue to start up again on how everyone needs to go back. Jack laughs at Locke’s invocation of destiny and how it was fate that brought Locke to Jack’s hospital. Jack says that Locke’s wreck happened on the Westside, meaning it was probability, not providence, that brought him to St. Sebastian. Locke says he’s being pursued by someone who wants to kill him in order to stop him from finishing his work, because he’s “important.” Jack tells Locke that these “delusions” that he’s special are just invention, and that Locke is just “a lonely old man that crashed on an island.” It’s great watching the man of science and man of faith square off, knowing what’s going to happen later in the story. As Jack walks away, Locke pulls out the showstopper: “Your father says hello.” Jack turns back as Locke explains that the man who told him how to move the island also told Locke to tell his son hello. (Locke has apparently just now put the race thing together to eliminate Hurley and Sayid from the running, but whatever.) Locke says the man’s name was Christian. Jack is rocked back on his feet, and his voice breaks as he shouts that his father died three years earlier in Australia, and that Jack put him in the coffin. Locke pleads for Jack’s help, saying that Jack is the only one capable of convincing everyone else to go back to the island, but Jack’s heard enough. “It’s over!” he shouts. “We left, and we were never important.” He warns Locke to stay away from everyone, then leaves.

Some time later, Locke is back at the Westerfield Hotel, which looks a lot trashier than you’d expect from a guy like Widmore. (The neon sign is partially burned out, and only “WESTRFIEL HOTL” are illuminated. Anagram possibilities include “Will of the rest” and “Lost wheel rift.” Feel free to spend the rest of the workday making more!) Locke, beaten down, writes out the suicide note that will eventually make its way to Jack via Mrs. Hawking. He tucks the note into his pocket and trashes the cell phone Widmore gave him. Locke grabs his crutches and gets to his feet, tossing a bag from a hardware store onto the table as he drags it closer to the wall. He pulls out an extension cord and ties one end to the radiator, running the other over a beam he finds after punching out a rotten ceiling tile. He climbs onto the table. There’s an amazing, haunting mood to this scene as Locke silently but visibly debates the choice of death he’d been discussing with Abaddon. Locke ties a makeshift noose into the cord and slips it over his head, crying a little as he steps closer to the edge of the table. He braces himself for the impact, but before he can go through with it, there’s a knock at the door.

It’s Ben. Bad news.

Locke is too startled to answer, so Ben breaks the door in. Locke almost goes through with the suicide anyway, but Ben shouts at him to stop. “How did you find me?” Locke asks. Ben says he’s got a man watching Sayid — watching everyone — and was contacted when Locke turned up. Locke asks a few more time what Ben is doing, even throwing his remaining crutch at the man, and Ben says he’s there to “protect” Locke and the rest of the Oceanic Six. Locke makes an intuitive leap: “You killed Abaddon.” Ben admits the murder, but says he had to do it because it was only “a matter of time” before Abaddon killed Locke, since he worked for Widmore and was “extremely dangerous.” Locke shouts back that Widmore was the one who came to Locke and saved him in the first place, but Ben just says Widmore is using Locke for his own ends. This is a great scene because it drives home just how little Locke and the others know about Ben, Widmore, and their personal history and epic struggle for the island. The notion of good guys and bad guys doesn’t make sense in their world, and though the castaways keep attempting to ally themselves with the more moral force, the point is that there isn’t one. Ben and Widmore aren’t simple villains; they’re self-serving and driven, and that makes them unclassifiable. And Locke, as always, is so pathetically caught in the middle, so desperate for answers and a sense of purpose, that he believes whoever he talked to last. Ben says that Widmore is the reason he moved the island, so Locke could take over and lead and that Widmore would never find it again. “John, you have no idea how important you are,” Ben says, and Locke can barely stomach the words. Locke says he couldn’t convince any of the Six to return, but Ben says that Jack booked a ticket from L.A. to Sydney that returns in the morning, meaning that whatever Locke said to him must’ve done the trick. (Or who knows, maybe Jack is just doing his own suicidal round-trip thing to try and impress Kate.) Ben drops to his knees, begging Locke to come down from the table. Ben unties the cord from the radiator as he helps a crying, ruined Locke get down. Locke sits on the edge of the table and weeps into his hands, but his moment of emotional redemption is also horribly tense from a storytelling standpoint, since, well, he has to die — soon — and no longer looks to be suicidal. What’s going to happen becomes sickly clear as he talks to Ben.

When Ben suggests they visit Sun, Locke says he can’t because of the promise he made to Jin, and he mostly ignored Ben’s surprise as he pulls out Jin’s wedding ring and holds it up as the proof he’s meant to give Sun implying her husband’s death. “A promise is a promise,” Ben says with utter lack of conviction. Locke pulls the noose from his head and actually thanks Ben for his help as he puts an arm under Locke and gets him to his wheelchair. Ben says he’s confident he and Locke can get everything done if they get the Six all in the same place, though he doesn’t know what to do after that. Locke, sensing no need to hide anything, tells Ben about Eloise Hawking, who’s right there in L.A. and is supposed to be able to get them all back to the island. Ben freezes and calmly asks Locke if he’s sure about that name. “Yeah, why?” Locke asks. “Do you know her?” Ben, who’s been winding up the extension cord, says only, “Yes, John, I know her,” as he walks up and quickly wraps the cord around Locke’s neck. Locke’s hands go up as he struggles for air or purchase, but Ben twists him out of the chair, shoving him down into the bed as he strangles the life out of him. Locke slides to the floor as he continues to fight, but Ben keeps pulling on the cord, and before long, Locke’s eyes and face go slack and he slumps to the ground. And with that, Ben Linus has killed John Locke.

Locke’s shadow against the wall as he hangs from the ceiling is pretty grisly, but that’s the only way to make the suicide look real. It’s not long before Ben has also begun the process of wiping down the room for prints, moving quickly around the bed and windows with a bottle of disinfectant and a towel. He pockets Jin’s ring, looks around to check his work, and casts one last glance up at Locke. “I’ll miss you, John,” he says, and there’s a frightening tenderness in his voice; he really means it, and actually regrets having killed Locke. With that, he closes the door and leaves.

Back on the island, night has fallen. Caesar is in the office leafing through a folder bearing the Hydra Station logo, meaning he and the rest of Ajira 316 are on the smaller, secondary island where Jack, Kate, and Sawyer were held captive at the beginning of Season Three and where the DHARMA folks got up to their wacky medical experimenting. Locke walks in and tells him how the symbol belongs to the DHARMA Initiative, and he knows this and more because he’s spent more than a hundred days on the island. “So when we crashed, you were already here?” Caesar asks, to which Locke replies, “No, I … I left.” Caesar asks how long ago Locke left, but Locke sighs and doesn’t even try to make it work, saying, “The timing would just confuse you.” (No kidding.) Locke also isn’t able to say how he came to be back on the island. Caesar says, “I have a mystery, too.” He tells Locke that he’d been sitting next to a “really bug guy with curly hair” on the plane, and how the plane started shaking badly before a bright light and big noise came out of nowhere, after which the big and several other passengers were gone. Locke’s poker face apparently didn’t make the resurrection trip, because he’s looked alternately surprised and thrilled to hear this little story. Caesar asks if Locke can shed some light on what happened, and Locke says he can now probably figure out how he came to be on the island, though he’ll need to find his friends first, which means checking a passenger list. Caesar says the pilot took the list when he bolted, but that everyone’s accounted for except for those who disappeared and “the people who got hurt.” Locke pauses at this, so Caesar leads him to a makeshift sickbay where a few wounded people are lying on cots under some genuinely eerie flickering lights. Locke spots a figure curled up on the corner bunk and walks over to him. “You know him?” Caesar asks. “Yeah,” Locke says. “He’s the man who killed me.” Laying there in the bed, either asleep or unconscious, is a bloodied but very much alive Benjamin Linus.

And that’s the episode, and what a rock-solid one it was. Tons of info about Locke — who is easily one of the best characters on the show — and his brief journey to recruit the Six, but even more exciting are the new avenues opened up with a new batch of supporting characters and additional mysteries about what’s happening on the island(s). For starters: Jack, Kate, and Hurley are back in what looks to be the 1970s, given the shinyness of Jin’s DHARMA van. But Locke, Ben, and Lapidus ended up in 2007 with the rest of Ajira 316, along with whatever woman (Sun?) took off in a canoe with Lapidus. Why the split? How can they be reconciled? Also, what is Caesar looking for in the Hydra office? He’s almost suspiciously curious about some of that stuff, and the way he stashed the gun from Ilana is a risky sign. Plus how did Faraday’s map get down there? And why did Ajira 316 crash in the first place, if the Six were just going to get raptured off the plane? At what point will some of the Ajira survivors take the outriggers over the main island, leaving behind the water bottle that Sawyer et al. found/will find? What exactly is going to happen with this “war” between, one assumes, Ben and Widmore? What happened between Ben and Widmore the first time around that made Ben “exile” the older man? And holy hell, why did Ben kill Locke at the mention of Eloise Hawking? According to the show’s rules, you can’t beat fate, so Locke would have had to die somehow, but why did Ben murder him? And seriously, did Abaddon really have to die, too? I liked that guy.

Daniel Carlson is the managing editor of Pajiba and a low-level employee at a Hollywood industry magazine. You can visit his blog, Slowly Going Bald.

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