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'Lost': Are you a Ben person or a Widmore person?

March 21, 2008 |  9:26 am

Ben1 It was the last "Lost" we're going to see for over a month, so it was necessary that they give us something major in this week's episode to discuss for the coming "Lost"-less weeks. What we got wasn't a new point of discussion so much as a further clarification of a debate that's been brewing all season: Who's the good guy in all of this, Benjamin Linus or Charles Widmore?

At long last, we finally learned what happened to Michael after he left the island at the end of Season Two and ended up on Widmore's freighter. Ben gave us official confirmation of the identity of his spy on the boat -- Michael -- and the evidence in favor of and against Benjamin's sincerity as a force for good continued to mount.

It would seem, at first, that Widmore is definitely the bad guy here. He did everything he could to foul up Desmond and Penelope's happy relationship and we've seen video footage of him beating one of Ben's men senseless. But if we've learned anything by now, it's that first appearances are never what they seem on "Lost." And if you really think about it, the most damning evidence against Widmore -- that the freighter people's orders are to kill everyone on the island after they capture Ben -- comes from Ben himself, a known and frequent liar.

At the same time, our allegiance with Ben has grown over time. We've been with the guy for a couple of seasons now, and despite his creepy and manipulative behavior, it's possible that he really is trying to keep everyone on the island safe from harm. He's certainly trying to keep the island safe from harm. In last season's finale, he could have had Sayid, Jin and Bernard killed, but he didn't. He was only trying to manipulate Jack. And in the latest episode, he could have had Michael blow up the freighter with everyone aboard, but he didn't. Instead he set up a spring-loaded message inside the bomb that would made one of Batman's villain's proud, followed by an admonition to Michael that he would never order him to kill innocent people on the boat. So he's not a coldblooded killer. At least we think so...

What then are we to make of the episode's conclusion? It ended with the brutal shooting of two semi-major characters, the crazed Frenchwoman, Rousseau and Ben's adopted daughter's boyfriend, Karl. It certainly looked like they were both dead, but are they? Only the island knows for sure. As for who shot them, we'll have to wait until at least April to discover the identity of the shooter, but it doesn't look good for Ben. He gave a very telling look when he saw Karl with his hands all over Alex, but was this just the look of a disapproving dad, or is Ben a killer after all? Though the evidence in hand seems stacked against Ben, I don't think he's behind the shooting. We just don't have enough information on that incident yet to make a final decision.

In Ben's defense, we got a different side of the story regarding the faked plane crash footage from his own man, Tom. The freighter captain had claimed that Ben was behind it, but Tom had photographs and documents that appeared to back up his claim that Widmore was actually the one who had put the plane and the bodies down at the bottom of the ocean. Could it be that the always-lying Others are telling the truth on this?

As for Michael, it appears that his post-island life is going no better than it did for Jack or Hurley. We see him living alone in a New York rat-hole, estranged from his son and suicidal. But Ben's man Tom appears to him and reveals that Michael will never be able to kill himself, no matter how hard he tries. It's an assertion that's proved true in subsequent scenes as Michael tries to shoot himself in the head, only to have the gun jam on him. It's the island, Tom claims. The island won't let him kill himself because he still has work to do. We've heard a similar assertion from Hurley earlier this season, when he told Jack the island was calling to them, asking them to return to it.

Robbed of his chance at an easy out, he agrees to work for Ben, sneaking aboard Widmore's island-bound freighter to kill everyone aboard before they capture Ben. It's a plan that is put to a premature end when Sayid, acting a bit irrationally given everything he's witnessed on the boat, exposes Michael to the captain. I have no doubt that it's this bit of foolishness that will lead Sayid to work as a killer for Ben after he leaves the island. But does that mean that Michael's return from "Lost" will be short-lived? We'll have to wait until April to find out.

--Patrick Day

(Photo courtesy ABC)