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Lost Theories Galore: Whether Benjamin Linus Lives or Dies

If you haven’t already noticed, this season of Lost mirrors the show’s second season. One unfortunate resemblance: Some episodes are heavy on possibly unnecessary background information at the expense of action or revelations. But in ones like this, including last week’s, the writers usually leave us a nice piece of candy in hopes that, like Hansel and Gretel, we will continue to follow their trail. The shooting and possible death of young Ben Linus has been like an Everlasting Gobstopper for fans. We turned to our favorite online Oracles to see what the show’s future might hold, and found two distinct camps of theorists.

Ben Lives
• The Island needs Ben, so it won’t let him die at this early point in his life. Also, no one on Lost is dead until there’s empirical evidence. John Locke has survived a couple of gunshots, so why can’t Ben? [DocArzt]

• It’s obvious that young Ben won’t die, but since “whatever happened, happened,” this event most likely has a lot to do with Ben’s future actions, including possibly arranging the murder of Sayid’s wife Nadia. Also, since young Ben thinks Sayid is a Hostile, maybe he’ll be a little more pro-DHARMA now. [TV Squad]

• Despite Sayid’s effort to spare his friends death in the future, Ben has to survive the shooting, meaning this incident will certainly contribute to turning him into the monster he later becomes. [Watcher/Chicago Tribune]

• Ben will survive the gunshot wound and, worse, soon find out about Sayid, the Oceanic survivors, and his future as an evil leader. He will then do everything he can to avoid that future, but DHARMA will manipulate him into following that path so he doesn’t create a paradox that negates all of reality. Of course, this only makes sense if the past can’t be altered. [EW]

• Ben made Sayid his personal killing assistant with the sole purpose of preparing him to kill his younger self in 1977. Who knows why, but it would make sense that this event will have serious repercussions that impact the future in a way that fits into Ben’s master plan. [Dark UFO]

• We’ll soon learn that Ben has been trying to break the time loop that deposits Jack and company back in the past so that he can destabilize history to his liking. In the meantime, while it’s plausible that Jack will save young Ben, it makes even more sense that Juliet will be the operating doctor. [EYE M SICK]

• Because of the “no paradox” rule that the producers harp on in interviews, Ben has to survive being shot. So forget about all of his future dirty deeds being wiped from the timeline. If anything, the experience might drive him into “bug-eyed megalomania” faster than before. [Lost Blog/Filmfodder]

Ben Dies
• Young Ben did appear to be barely breathing as Sayid ran off into the jungle, so let’s assume for a moment that he dies right then and there. Leave it to the writers to deal with what that means for present-day adult Ben, but his death as a child would help to explain why the Island that Lapidus and Sun experience seems to have had an alternate history from the one we’re familiar with. And don’t forget, Eloise Hawking said the results of their return could be “unpredictable” if not handled properly. [Zap2it]

• Ben really is dead from Sayid’s gunfire, but the Others will do something to resurrect him. If he does live, it’s going to be a huge problem that he heard Sayid talking to Jin. [Magic Lamp]

• It seems likely that Lost will show us that the past can be changed, which would explain why Ben and Hawking were so freaked out about the O6 returning to the Island. So if the past can be changed and young Ben was killed, we’re either going to see adult Ben start to vanish à la Back to the Future, or he will just die and a new series of events will begin to unfurl. [Long Live Locke]

• Without knowing Lost’s time-travel rules, it’s useless to speculate on what this all means. And yet, is it possible that Ben’s been dead all this time and is just another Christian Shephard–type being that exists among the living? [Buddy TV]

Photo: Courtesy of ABC