Thursday, February 26, 2009

Deconstructing: Widmore vs Ben

In picture: A very appropriate for this blog black and white contrast shot of Ben (taken from the scene where he confronts Widmore in 4x09)

Thanks to CTS for the 5x07 ep review - next week I've decided I'm back on the payroll for 5x08, which I have no idea about, so here's hoping it's a good one... It'll be nice to do an episode blog again though, having been on Lostpedia sabbatical since 5x05. Now, to the present blog, and we're kicking it up a notch with another deconstruction - which if you don't know is basically where we theorise and ATTEMPT to make some good fact/episode links - giving us an edge on general speculation theories. This week saw less in the way of sickness or electromagnetism (see previous posts), but interestingly more in the way of easter eggs, tis the season I guess. It was nice to see though, considering I don't think there's been many trivia things this Season so far... I mean yes there was Ulysses, but nothing as deep as an obscure TIME magazine copy, etc.

Anyway, enough intro rambling, time to go all binary oppositiony with the assessment of Benjamin Linus and Charles Widmore. I think clearly this episode, albeit uber-choppy (though that's kinda relaxing in a strange viewing way where you get answers), was all about those two men. Which of them is good, which of them is evil - in a non false dichotomy I don't even know what false dichotomy means kind of way. But regardless, this has been something that has been building since Season 4 - is Ben the one who is protecting the Island from the evil Widmore, or is Widmore trying to stop Ben's tyranny? Let's travel back to Season 4 where this opposition truly started.

In a nutshell, Captain Gault argued that Ben and his folk staged the wreckage of Oceanic Flight 815 at the bottom of the ocean. He chillingly commented how someone could find over 300 bodies for such a staged wreckage. However, flash through a couple of episodes, and the opposite is being said - Charles Widmore staged the plane wreckage. Believing Ben's story also has the advantage that Tom had some documental proof it was Widmore, including images of the burial site in... Cambodia (?) where Widmore got the bodies for the wreck. This issue has still yet to be fully solved... though it seems more plausible that it was actually Widmore, considering it's Gault's word versus documental evidence (unless you want to argue the documents' verisimilitude and all that). But still, this doesn't necessarily answer our question - Widmore could have staged the wreckage, and yeah got a load of dead bodies which is royally unseemly, to protect the Island. So, in that sense, is Widmore necessarily the big bad - or is Ben just playing his games?

Moving on to Season 5 and majorly glossing over the whole "I'm gonna kill your daughter thing" (don't wanna get even more sidetracked than usual, sorry), we have this new mystery - why did Ben banish Charles Widmore from the Island? We saw young Widmore, a fully-fledged Other with his people - wonder how far his lineage on the Island goes... This was at a time before Ben arrived, and Widmore leads us to believe that not only was he the Island's leader, but when Ben joined up he tricked Charles into leaving (by turning the wheel? Doubtful considering Ben had to blast open the bunny door to get to that room). Kicking someone else to get power does seem to fit the Linus profile, and manipulating people is kind of Ben's angsty past ridden raison d'etre.

But then again, we have our reasons for believing Ben too. Despite the fact that you can never trust a word he says, should evidently never turn your back to him, and apparently that he has a homocidal trigger command with the words "Eloise Hawking" - he did rightly call the Freighter team for what they really were. If Widmore was a good guy, yeah a mercernary team would be needed to take on Ben's crew... but a) he gave them orders to torch the Island, and b) he told them to kill everyone, which surely would include "his people" as he openly admits to Locke. Consequently, I seem to find myself siding with Ben in an acquiescey kind of way... wow I present a solid conclusion in this post!

Is Widmore telling the truth, and is he in fact a good thing for the Island and the survivors? Is it all just relative? Even if he does "want the Island for himself" like Ben always says - does Widmore necessarily want to do bad things. Sometimes a new leader, whether elected or not, doesn't do incredibly evil deeds on the people (though we can argue morality til Svetlana comes home). I think the main thing we should take away from this is the following: while everyone seems so quick to black and white the Ben vs Widmore issue on the basis of who is pure good and who is pure bad, maybe there are some very deep shades of grey between them. Let us know your thoughts - who do you side with and why?

P.S. Thought I should mention how Alan Dale (who plays Charles Widmore, whom this blog is kinda centered on) has major dissed Lost fans in the past for being too geeky and reading too much into the show... meh... *insert rude snappy comeback about his acting ability here*
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