Spooky, funny, and featuring a hairpiece scarier than Jacob, this Ben-centric episode satisfied and confused in equal parts, sketching in the Widmore-Ben history and giving us a clue as to how we're to judge the morality of the Hostiles. Which seems to go something like this:
GOOD Others (Richard) heal children while stealing their innocence. BAD Others (Widmore) assassinate them. And completely weird, abused-as-children, murderous-yet-paternal, chaotic-neutral, best-character-on-the-show Others adopt them by force, threaten their biological mothers with guns, revel in swinging them in a playground, grieve over their deaths, and then waver in their revenge plans when faced with a toddler.
Ben's not much of a hero, but he can babysit anytime.
Shaggy Widmore struts through the tents of Hostilia to confront Richard about his having saved Boy Ben. "Jacob wanted it done," Richard argues. "The Island chooses who the Island chooses."
An exasperated Widmore fakes niceness during a visit to Boy Ben. When Ben begs to stay, Widmore tells him, "Just because you live among them doesn't mean you can't be one of us."
Flash-forward. Gazing in amazement at the Living Locke, Ben crows, "I knew that this would happen!" Locke asks why he looks so surprised and Ben feints: "It's one thing to believe it, another to see it!" Why is Ben back? To be judged. By the monster. Alrighty.
The Island: The Ballad of Ben and Widmore (and Locke)
On the beach, Ben noses around some big crate, but Ilana's coy. Caesar asks how Ben feels ("like I was hit with an oar, but I'll live") and Ben performs one of his Otherly mind games, first ducking questions about killing Locke ("he looks alive to me!"), then insinuating that Locke is a nut-job infiltrator. Caesar flashes a gun and the two form a Survivor-style alliance.
Flashback! "Do you want me to do it?" says child Ethan to bad-wig Ben. No, Ben will handle it — and oh God, he's in Rousseau's tent, with a gun, stealing baby Alex! Poor addled Rousseau accuses Ben of infecting her people. "Do you want your baby to live?" Ben asks, then threatens to kill her and adds: "Every time you hear whispers, run the other way."
In the present, Ben is gazing at a photo of Alex when Locke arrives to discuss the elephant in the room. "I assume you're referring to the fact that I killed you?" says Ben, who tap dances explanations: A dead Locke was the only way back, and in the best interests of the Island! And sure, he killed him, but Locke had info, and once he'd spilled it, Ben didn't have time to talk him back into killing himself. Geez, says Locke, I was just looking for an apology.
Nonetheless, Locke agrees to help Ben get judged.
Locke and Ben try to grab a boat, angering Caesar. But when Caesar reaches for his gun, Ben has it. And shoots it, at Caesar, and takes the boat. "Consider that my apology." Ben and Locke 2gether 4ever?
On the way to Lost Island, Ben exposits on the Sun-and-Lapidus subplot. There's ironic banter about frenemies and John dying twice. Also, Locke thinks Ben's lying: He doesn't care about breaking rules, but does want to be judged, for killing his daughter. It's all very In Therapy: Special Victims Unit.
Anyway, flashback, when Ben arrives in Hostilia with the stolen baby, Widmore is furious. Ben was supposed to "exterminate" Rousseau and "it," too. Ben hands the baby to Widmore: "You do it." Widmore doesn't, but is unmoved by adorable fat cheeks, making it clear he is a MONSTER.
Locke Lostpedia-ishly wonders how the Others went from tents to houses? Ben's coy, and then we see Ben's house, with someone in Alex's room. Spooky, but it's just Sun and Lapidus. The two show Ben the Dharma orientation picture and explain that creepy Christian told Sun that if she ever wanted to see her husband again, she should wait for John Locke! Crazy, right? Ben points out the window.
Lapidus is frazzled and near shirtless with confusion, and when Locke says he has "some ideas" of how to find Jin, Lapidus leaves, and is it just us, or is there wild sexual tension between Lapidus and Sun? Anyway, Ben enters his chamber of suits, passports, and monsters, drains the reservoir water, bugs his eyes, and says, "I'll be outside."
Ah, sad flashback to Ben and little Alex, giggling on a swing set. Widmore's leaving the Island after a power struggle: Ben says Widmore broke rules, had a child with an outsider, whereas Ben would do "anything for the Island." He wouldn't sacrifice Alex, Charles points out. If the Island wants her dead, she'll be dead. "I'll be seeing you, boy," sneers Snidely Widmore.
While Locke's away, Sun tries to retcon his deadness. Ben assures her Locke WAS dead, though he's working a fresh angle now — "Dead is dead, you don't get to come back from that, even here. So the fact that John Locke is walking around this Island scares the living hell out of me." Oh, and get inside, because something is about to come out of this jungle Ben can't control. Oh, it's just Locke. Irony! Possible lies! After bickering over the monster — Ben only knows how to summon it, Locke knows where it is — the trio leaves.
Flashback! Benjamin and Widmore on the phone, at the marina. Ben taunts Widmore that he's killing Penny then hangs up.
Smug Locke, prickly Ben, and oddly-okay-with-detours Sun head toward the Temple, with Ben and Locke debating mysterious knowledge and how difficult it is to be dependent on someone else's coy distribution of said knowledge.
Aaaaand we're at the Temple. Though they're not going in it, they're going to go under it. But before Ben does so, he asks Sun to apologize to Desmond. For what? He'll know. Yikes.
Flashback to the marina, where Ben shoots Desmond, then confronts Penelope. She explains that she has no relationship with her father, he says her father is a really terrible human being, and then toddler Charlie appears. "Go back inside, babe," Penny warbles, begging Ben not to hurt her son, and as Ben lowers his gun, Desmond attacks him (can no one shoot to kill??), then tosses him into the water with a gush of blood.
On the Island, a dude approaches Lapidus, tells him Ilana and two others have seized control. Ilana confronts Lapidus with guns and riddles — "What lies in the shadow of the statue!?" — and although he has no idea WTF she's talking about, she smacks him and says to tie him up, it's time.
Locke and Ben, with torches, beneath the Temple. Ben admits he let his daughter die and moves toward judgment, falling through the ceiling in the process. As Locke goes for help, Ben torch reads hieroglyphs, until he's standing before an Egyptian picture of something that will surely be explained by a community of people all over the world and then smoke seeps eerily around his ankles.
Ben sees painful memories: baby Alex, the swing set, Alex begging. The smoke retreats, his torch re-lights — and suddenly Alex is there, looking not at all like she could possibly be the real Alex. "Oh Alex, it was all my fault," Ben says, teary, relieved, confused. "I know," says Smokey-in-the-cruel-form-of-Alex, and then she shoves him against a wall, demands he not kill Locke as planned and that instead he follow, follow, follow John Locke.
When Locke sends a vine down, he asks what happened. "It let me live," says Ben, looking deeply screwed up and maybe kinda worshipful. Is this how Scientology began?
What We Know Now
• Ben let Alex die because he believed that the Island wanted her to live.
• Someone off the Island is Penelope's mom.
• Smokey and Locke 2gether 4ever.
The Wha? Factor
• Who rescued Ben after Desmond attacked him? A mermaid?? We hope it's a mermaid.
• What happened to Widmore's "Ben tricked me into leaving" story?
• While the Island is judging people, couldn't it give Ben a harder time about stealing a baby from its mother? Also, genocide? Maybe the Island has bigger fish (or polar bears) to fry.