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Call It a Crisis of Leadership

“Lost: The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham” (S5/E7) Recap / Daniel Carlson

TV Reviews | March 2, 2009 | Comments (34)

“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.

Pajiba Love 03/02/09 | Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience


Are we sure that the rest of the Ajira 316 survivors aren't also in the past? I don't recall seeing any indication of what time period they were in, but it doesn't make sense to me that Kate, Jack and Hurley would travel back, and Sun (if that is the woman Frank left with, of which I'm not convinced) wouldn't.

I'm also not convinced that Walt is out of the picture; the creators have already shown how so many little pieces of the story fit together, and to toss in some kid with powers and then forget about him doesn't ring true. They'll have a use for him yet.

Is it just me, or is Ben so darned...cute when he's dressed up? I just want to give his evil little cheeks a pinch and ruffle his hair.

Posted by: DeadBessie at March 2, 2009 2:56 PM

Wait - how do we know the plane crashed in 2007?

Posted by: Kolby at March 2, 2009 2:57 PM

I also like how Hurley is completely cool about a dead Locke dropping by for a visit, but a live Locke scares the shit out of him.

Oh yeah, it's No Cussing Week, right? Yeah. Fuck that shit.

Posted by: DeadBessie at March 2, 2009 2:59 PM

Sweet recap, Carlson. I find myself like Locke - I want to know who the good guys are so I can root for them - but at the same time I know that it's not a question of "good" so I just ride the roller coaster. My friend asked me the other night, "Do you even understand what's going on with Lost? I can't watch it anymore because I'm so confused." I said that yes, I did know, to a certain point, what they were doing, but that on the bigger questions I'm willing to roll with it and see where they take the show. If I spent all my time looking for answers I'd miss the bigger picture.

Side note: Terry O'Quinn does not get the recognition he deserves. Guy's a fantastic actor. He does emotion like nobody's business.

Posted by: Nicole at March 2, 2009 3:00 PM

Great recap, Dan. This was such a good episode. Someone really needs to make a "Benjamin Linus will choke a bitch!" t-shirt. Walt did say that Locke visited him when when he went to see Hurley. I'm glad that they didn't completely forget about his character just because he's huge as shit now. I'm guessing that the smaller island is also in the same time as the larger island. If not then there won't be an immediate reunion for Sun and Jin once her and Lapidus get over there if she is the woman with him. The only person missing now is Sayid and the it was a shame that his manlocks were restrained this episode.

Posted by: jM at March 2, 2009 3:03 PM

Wait - how do we know the plane crashed in 2007?

It's three years later. Technically, if they went down in September 2004 and spent 100 days on the island before the rescue, I think that would put them into January 2005 making the plane crash early 2008 if it's a full three years. Or, it could be the the second crash happens three years after the first. Is the date of the second crash explicitly given away somewhere? (Hawking's coordinates, boarding passes, etc.)

Posted by: Nicole at March 2, 2009 3:04 PM

Why didn't anyone tell me Brian K. Vaughn was writing for Lost. I'm just now trying to catch up with it and all I can think is how awesome it is that the guy behind "Y" is working on Lost.
And when their Nerd Powers Combine: I get giddy like a schoolgirl.

Posted by: Optimus Rhyme at March 2, 2009 3:14 PM

Nicole - yeah, but how do we know that the plane didn't crash in the 70s, like the rest of the Losties (Jack, Kate, Hurley)?

Posted by: Kolby at March 2, 2009 3:20 PM


Posted by: Sarah at March 2, 2009 3:21 PM

great recap Daniel! this episode was amazing--and i'm not even a Locke fan. he just seems way to naive considering all the stuff he's been through but i'm willing to wait and see if it all makes sense in the end. i do think that Terry O'Quinn is fabulous in the role though. Locke really didn't seem to try very hard to get the O6 to return to the island. he's the leader of the Others now so he needs to learn how to lie like an Other. even Juliet can manipulate people like a pro--but maybe that comes with Other training, just like learning Latin--and Locke has been too busy being unstuck in time for Others 101.

i think that 316 crashed in 2007 or 2008 but Hurley, Kate, and Jack were raptured to meet up with the rest of the 815 survivors. we don't know where Sun and Sayid ended up, but since all of the O6 weren't on the plane--as far as we know--then Mrs. Hawkings' prediction that things would be unpredictable could mean that the O6 ended up in different times, at least for now. i think that 316 is in 2007/2008 mainly because there would be no need for the O6 to get raptured out if they were all going to end up in the same time--plus it looked like they were raptured out at night and they landed on the island during the day (at it looked like the flashes the rest of the 815 survivors experienced) and i think we're supposed to assume that 316 crashed at night like they were supposed to. also, the Hydra station seemed to be deserted and it looked like Jin was a Dharma member in the 70s or 80s while Dharma was still around.

i also think that Caesar and/or Ilana are working for Widmore. i still don't understand why Widmore didn't go back to the island--unless he can't be on the island at the same time Ben is there--since he knew where to find Mrs. Hawking and she knew how to get back to the island.

Ben would know Mrs. Hawking if she is Ellie and she was still an Other after the Purge, which is when Ben joined the Others full-time. maybe Ben just needed to know how to find Mrs. Hawking and once he had that information he didn't need Locke any more--or maybe he realized that Locke really did need to die so they could all get back to the island. i'm starting to get brain pretzel again...

Posted by: pq at March 2, 2009 3:29 PM

Kolbs - I'm assuming that 316 would have to crash in the present day since the passengers (minus the O6) haven't been to the island until now and therefore can't be all timey-wimey yet. Could be I'm completely wrong, which is why I love this show.

Posted by: Nicole at March 2, 2009 3:34 PM

Love the recap, but I disagree about the episode. I thought it was the worst one this season. Still good, but a letdown from earlier episodes. Most of the episode was spent rehashing things we knew (nobody wanted to go back to the island) and I didn't think that it advanced the characters or exposed unknown motivations to any great extent. It did set up future stories though, and the murder scene was excellent.

I also wonder if we should assume that Sun went off with Lapidus. It would be more logical if all the O5 flashed off the plane onto the main island while the rest crash landed on the Hydra island. The other woman could be someone besides Sun.

And I am hoping for my brain's sake that they are ALL in the 1970's as has been suggested here in the comments.

Posted by: ed newman at March 2, 2009 3:35 PM

I agree that we have no idea what time frame Locke and company have crashed into. The timing off-island doesn't necessarily correlate to that on-island.

I'm wondering if the war Widmore alluded to is "The Purge". I'm also anxious to see if Ben runds into his father again - if the Sawyer gang is back in the time of Dharma.

Terry O'Quinn is genius. Every time there's a Locke-based episode, I just want to adopt him.

Posted by: Cindy at March 2, 2009 3:36 PM

My interpretation of Mrs. Hawking's comments about the travelers having approximately a 36 hour window to find the island is that landing on the island during that window would put them (hopefully) on island time. If the island is skipping around in time and has currently landed in the 1970s, my assumption is that the Locke gang landed in the same time (if the experiment worked correctly).

Posted by: Cindy at March 2, 2009 3:48 PM

i also think that Caesar and/or Ilana are working for Widmore.

I disagree. I think they're working for Ben.

Posted by: Cindy at March 2, 2009 3:50 PM

I think the condition of the Dharma station (Hydra, right?) indicates the plane is in 2007. If they went down in the 70s there would be people working at Hydra. That's just my theory though, it could easily go either way at this point. The bigger mystery is why the hell Sun didn't jump out of the plane with the rest of the survivors (that's assuming she was the chick that Frank left with).

Posted by: the_wakeful at March 2, 2009 3:56 PM

*(and it looked like the flashes the rest of the 815 survivors experienced)* i really need to quit commenting at work. i was also going to say that Jin could've flashed with the van if he was driving during a flash--and maybe the O6 coming back to the island fixed the flashes and brought everyone to the present, but that would be really convenient.

i love reading all the comments and theories y'all have. i'm more than a little obsessed with this show.

Cindy, i was under the impression that the 815 survivors were unstuck in time, but the island is on it's normal timeline--whatever that may be. the Others didn't flash with Locke the first time, so it seems like the island kept going forward without the 815ers. i do wonder about Cindy, the children, and the other 815 Others though. are they skipping around or did their admission into the Others protect them from the flashes?

Posted by: pq at March 2, 2009 4:01 PM

Yeah, this was hands down the best episode of the season so far. It was just that exciting and tense and OMG WTF JUST HAPPENED AAH! that makes this show so awesome when it tries.

Great recap, Dan...made my head hurt all over again. In a good way.

Posted by: figgy at March 2, 2009 4:05 PM

I have a message for the writers:

John Locke is not to trust Ben any more. Okay? Ben shot Locke and left him to die in a pit of the corpses of his previous victims. And Locke trusted him after that experience? Not once but twice? NO MORE. Stop doing that. It's infuriatingly stupid.

Posted by: Jerce at March 2, 2009 4:27 PM

When Abaddon got killed I thought "back to Fringe with you Lt. Daniels."

Can the producers put the "Guest Star" credits at the end of the show somehow? I saw the guest credits and knew WAAALLLTTT! would be in the show and when Locke asked Lt. Daniels to look up his ex-girlfriend I knew Leela wouldn't make an appearance.

Posted by: coltaine at March 2, 2009 5:19 PM

Nice verbing of "rapture." And I was starting to like Abaddon, too. He had style. And Ben remains one of my all-time favorite television characters. Anyway, I don't have any theories for this week, I'm just excited to see what will happen next.

Posted by: kelsy at March 2, 2009 5:24 PM

he is my hero,and certainly the best player of all time
Many young girls and hot models on ___Tallloving Co m___ wanna marry a man like him. I did see some supermodels there. I know many guys tired of dating the ordinary, maybe u can meet your special at this superb club :-)

Posted by: gorden at March 2, 2009 5:32 PM

I kinda wonder if 316 is in the seventies and the war that Widmore was alluding to is actually the purge of Dharma (In which Ben and Widmore's power struggle all began) and it's all going to end up being one big loop. Predestination has been a pretty big theme, right? And perhaps all those voices are trying fruitlessly to warn doing things differently. Perhaps the survivors of 815 were only sent back to prevent tearing up the time-space continuum (The ominous warnings) ala Donnie Darko? It would explain why the time shuffle stopped and why everyone who was meant to be there was raptured off the plane and how John Locke has came back to life and Jin managed to survive that explosion. I think Micheal's inability-to-die predicament even hints at this possibility.

Although there's no way they'd have such a bleak resolution. Perhaps the survivors will manage to break out of the cycle? All this speculation makes my head hurt.

Posted by: Paradoxical at March 2, 2009 6:23 PM

Cindy, i was under the impression that the 815 survivors were unstuck in time, but the island is on it's normal timeline--whatever that may be. the Others didn't flash with Locke the first time, so it seems like the island kept going forward without the 815ers. i do wonder about Cindy, the children, and the other 815 Others though. are they skipping around or did their admission into the Others protect them from the flashes?

Every time I try to wrap my brain around what's happening with time, I think my brain gets a bit more fried.
My guess would be that whomever was in existence on the island at the moment it began time-skipping with our gang, is also skipping, provided they were within the physical range of the island (whatever that is). When you say the Others Locke was with didn't skip with him - that's because those particular Others were from a different time (than Locke and Co.).
I think if Cindy and the children were still around, they likely could be skipping as well. Of course, the way things go, maybe they're in a time-protected station we have yet to see.

I kinda wonder if 316 is in the seventies and the war that Widmore was alluding to is actually the purge of Dharma...

I said the exact same thing upthread.

I do believe that all we've seen may have happened before, and that Ben and Widmore may be on some sort of course correction quest - each with his own version of what the course correction would be.

Posted by: Cindy at March 2, 2009 7:19 PM

Of course, the way things go, maybe they're in a time-protected station we have yet to see.

they could be in the Temple--i know Ben tried to send Alex and Rousseau there at one point and i think he sent the Others there when he moved the island, but i can't remember right now. gah--stupid end of the day brain fart--i just know that the Temple is considered a safe place, so that would make sense.

Jerce, Locke trusting Ben actually fits pretty well with the character's track record. Locke continued to trust Ben after Henry Gale said that he didn't push the button in the hatch, which Locke found out wasn't true the hard way. Locke let his dad con him out of a kidney, then out of a relationship before going back yet again to be pushed out of that 8th story window. also, when Locke was in that pot-growing commune the cops approached him because they thought he would be the most susceptible to persuasion. i think the writers are using those scenarios to establish the whole "man of faith" thing--which i think Eko did better--but Locke just comes across as being stupidly gullible. of course, everyone seems to trust Ben to some extent and i don't understand how they can believe anything he says.

Posted by: pq at March 2, 2009 7:51 PM

Something to help pinpoint the time period: A few episodes ago, we saw Locke, Sawyer, etc. at the abandoned, run-down 815 beach camp. This means it was "after" the O6 were rescued and Ben turned the wheel (January '05).

They found the boat (maybe the third that Frank and presumably Sun took? Maybe one of the other two) with the Ajira water bottle. This means that the boat arrived with the water bottles "after" Janary '05.

Although it's possible that the Ajira people crashed in the 70s and the boat and water bottle somehow ended up on the beach 30 years later, it seems less likely. And although this only indicates that they're some point in time after January '05, my money is on the plane not time traveling at all, but simply crashing in 2008 like 815 did in 2004.

Side note: Remember when Sawyer and Kate were imprisoned on the small island and had to do hard labor? Remember what Juliet told them they were building? A runway. That giant commercial airliner looked awfully intact for a jungle landing. Just saying.

Posted by: wrion at March 2, 2009 8:44 PM

And although this only indicates that they're some point in time after January '05, my money is on the plane not time traveling at all, but simply crashing in 2008 like 815 did in 2004.

Could be both. Could be the plane "crashed" in the current off-island year, and "landed" in the current on-island year - which may be two different times?

Posted by: Cindy at March 2, 2009 10:10 PM

I'm just sort of trying to figure this out in my head - out loud. It would seem too crazily complicated to have the separate groups in separate times, with no way to find each other. Then again, Mrs. Hawking told Jack that just getting on the plane wasn't all there was to getting back. If they aren't all in the same time period, I can't imagine how they'll all find each other again. I guess the temple could be neutral ground in time. Or perhaps Richard and/or Ben know the secret to getting to a particular time.

Posted by: Cindy at March 2, 2009 10:15 PM

Nice Return of the Jedi reference up there, Carlson. Although, I don't think Han Solo puked from hibernation sickness...being blind and missing sexy slave Leia was bad enough, but puking would've just been insult to injury

Posted by: ASterisk at March 3, 2009 8:41 AM

Sarah--hon, the only thing lamer than posting "first!" on a comment thread is to do it when you're not actually first.

I assumed Locke was puking from having his bones splintered and sticking out of his skin.

I still like to think that the Six were at least raptured off to the same time period together, otherwise it gets too confusing. I know Hawking said the results would be unpredictable, but then that just seems like an excuse to have any damn thing happen for no reason whatsoever.

I hadn't thought about the condition of the Dharma station that the 316 survivors found--it definitely suggests a later time period than that of the Six. Maybe Ben and Locke wound up in the "current" time period because they weren't supposed to come back? Didn't someone say that whoever moved the island couldn't come back?

Posted by: DeadBessie at March 3, 2009 10:55 AM

I assumed Locke was puking from having his bones splintered and sticking out of his skin.

When Ben did the Tunisia trip, he was shown spitting out similar milky substance.

And of course, Ben said that whomever moved the island couldn't return - but as we know, Ben rarely speaks the truth.

Posted by: Cindy at March 3, 2009 11:07 AM

Didn't someone say that whoever moved the island couldn't come back?

Excellent point, and I have a feeling it's going to come into play later.

Posted by: Nicole at March 3, 2009 12:50 PM

Can't read comments till later
Abaddon may be Walt, they didn't talk and both call him Mr. Locke (at least Walt did on the Island).
Ben had to kill Locke. Richard said he had to die, not commit suicide, and Michael couldn't kill himself anyways, no matter how many times he tried.

Posted by: Stew at March 4, 2009 6:32 AM

Side note: Terry O'Quinn does not get the recognition he deserves. Guy's a fantastic actor. He does emotion like nobody's business.

Posted by: Nicole at March 2, 2009 3:00 PM

Ohh i remember when he played Peter Watts in Millenium. I miss that show.....

Posted by: the black rider at March 5, 2009 11:16 AM

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