Monday, April 2, 2018

Lost - The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham



**** / ****
With Cuse and Lindelof writing and Jack Bender directing, The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham was certainly an important episode crammed full of vital information, as well as, a major story arc for John Locke. He is off the island, locates each adult of the Oceanic Six (for the exception of Sun who he promised Jin he wouldn’t try to convince to return), tries to convince them to return to the island because they weren’t supposed to leave, and finds out the fate of former girlfriend, Helen.

I don’t think it is by accident Locke must once again sit in the wheelchair, as “fate would have it” suffering a broken leg when he fell in the well during a time hiccup. The fate of Abaddon, Charles Widmore’s “aid” (he makes sure people get where they need to be), is decided thanks to Ben, following covertly. Ben also turns on Locke [yet again], strangling him with a cord, telling his dead body hanging from the ceiling in the dilapidated LA hotel, Westerfield, that he’ll miss him.

This is such a trend that I must admit annoys the shit out of me. Ben continues to just manipulate and influence others as he sees fit. With Widmore meeting Locke in Tunisia after the island wheel sends him off-island there, this episode does offer an alternative to what Ben has been proclaiming…Charles Widmore might not be the villain as he’s been so painted.

Seriously, look at Ben’s actions. All of the lies and use of force, the lack of empathy for the many victims and his own shifts in character; Ben has constantly been a questionable character. Yet Ben almost always gets what he wants, even if he suffers his share of beatings, bloody wounds, and bruises. I always never fail to be amused at how Cuse and Lindelof find ways to once again batter Ben’s face…I think during Ben’s tenure on the show he has spent more time on screen with a bloody face than without.

Even as this is Locke’s central episode, in the back of my mind I knew Ben was loose off-island as well, lurking about, in the mix. Abaddon learns that the hard way. Widmore tells Locke in a conversation in Tunisia that he spent decades as a leader on the island (of the “others”, although they were just people to him), sent off thanks to Ben [who naturally turned on him, too]. Widmore, I must admit, is convincing. But Ben can be, too, as he has shown time and again despite all he has done to Jack, Locke, etc. He gets back on the island, Ben does.

Getting off of Ben for a little bit, Locke tries and fails over and over as Abaddon takes him where he needs to go (to places such as Santo Domingo, where Sayid is helping to build houses and shelters for the needy, LA where Kate will not leave behind Aaron or return to the island but does listen to Locke talk about Helen, Santa Rosa where Hurley considers him a delusion until a nurse tells him otherwise but still rejecting him due to his insistence towards a return, and eventually back in LA due to a car wreck when shots fired into his car results in a trip to the hospital where Jack receives him less than hospitably), hoping to recruit those who left the island.

With each failure, Locke is frustrated with Abaddon’s comments towards his inability to get through to any of them. It isn’t for a lack of trying, but Jack really lands some verbal blows in the hospital regarding how he could not be special, perhaps just an old, lonely man. Ouch. Jack, at this point, is a broken man. Kate just won’t listen to Locke, thinking of not only Aaron but the challenges faced getting off the island. But she asks him if he ever loved anyone, and Locke responds with a yes. That is a great moment for Locke who has the opportunity to visit Helen, just not expecting to be taken to her grave where Abaddon reveals to him that she died of a brain aneurysm.











My two favorite scenes include Locke at the beginning of the episode, back on the island, looking out into the ocean…in a suit no less. The image of a small fire on the island with plane survivors (Caesar (Saïd Taghmaoui), seemingly one of the leaders along with Ilana (Zuleikha Robinson), the officer who had Sayid arrested) with Locke revealing himself from under a cloak as if a Jedi Master. Looking out into the ocean though, after Ilana brings him a mango, realizing he’s still alive despite Ben killing him; this is just GREAT. I love his barely kept joy. It was like when he got his legs back. A gift to him, a life after death; Locke could only take in the extraordinary situation. A resurrection where his eyes opened back on the island when there really wasn’t anything left anywhere else, Locke is back where he truly belongs it seems. To cap it all off, not far from where he ended up is Ben sleeping among a group of wounded folks on the island. Imagine Ben’s surprise when he awakens to Locke, once again alive and well. The other favorite scene involved Locke visiting Walt outside his school in New York City. Walt has grown up since the plane washed up on the island. He’s doing well and asks Locke about his father. Locke just tells him that last he heard, Michael was on the freighter. Walt mentions a dream about Locke in a suit on the island with those around him a danger to him…nice bit of foreshadowing considering Locke is indeed surrounded by new faces on the island. Just Locke seeing Walt years later after their friendship blossomed early in the first season, away from the island, with all that drama in the past; this is a substantial encounter. I guess, for me, it is the culmination of so much that has happened, and because of a magical wheel on an island that seems to move, Locke is able to see Walt in NYC…just saying that aloud, I’m taken back to when Hurley describes his island experiences to his mom. Walt doesn’t seem all that surprised and Locke gets to talk with him perhaps one last, final time.

Locke with the cord around his neck, talked down by Ben, only for him to end up strangling him to death; I think anyone who has watched the show up until this episode could see that coming. Once Locke informed him of Sun and showed him Jin’s ring, the results were never in doubt. Widmore providing Locke with files on all Oceanic island returnees and promising to help him succeed in returning to the island because “a great war is coming” certainly alters our perception of him, even as his ulterior motives could still be sinister. But when you have Ben acting as he does while Widmore appears less and less as he’s been reputed (although his treatment of Desmond would indicate otherwise), it is easy to be convinced to support one side over another.

That the alias, Jeremy Bentham, was a Widmore gift, including his funding of the trips to the Oceanic Six, says a lot about his wanting Locke to succeed.

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