Benjamin Linus, we know you pretty well at this point. Ever since we met Ben, he's always seemingly been both the only person who knows the “truth” and completely full of crap. His greatest strength is his ability to manipulate anyone and everyone to achieve his own ends. Now that much of Ben's history has been filled in, the mystique is gone. He's not the genius leader we may have suspected. He's just a little man, hell-bent on gaining power, often a wolf in sheep's clothing, keeping the 815ers on their toes through riddles and empty promises, all the while hiding the real truth – he's as clueless as they are. Locke and Ben's interactions last night, aside from being very enjoyable on a surface level, represented the final and ultimate power shift in their relationship. Locke now has the upper hand, and Ben is going to have a really hard time getting it back.
Evidence that Ben is a Charlatan:
Despite what he tells Locke, he's genuinely surprised and baffled at Locke's reanimated state.
Sure, he can summon Smokey, but Ben has no clue where to actually find him.
It turns out there was no greater reason for allowing Alex to die. He wasn't protecting the island from doom. It was pure and utter cowardice.
In a moment of refreshing honesty, he admits to Sun that Locke scares the hell out of him now.
The man behind the curtain has finally been exposed, and it makes me love the character of Ben even more. The guy has obvious talents, but he is human. He's a deeply flawed person, a murderer, but he has his standards. Twice last night, we saw Ben unable to kill a person he had set out to. The guy has a heart. It is a swollen, ugly, Machiavellian heart, but it's there. Will the judgment in the temple completely change Ben? For the time being, I suspect it will. But, the old Ben will return eventually, and that's when, I predict, the death of Ben will occur. It may happen in the season finale, it may happen sometime next season.
Watching the promos for last night's episode, I was wary. The temple stuff looked hokey and too sci-fi. Despite myself, I ended up loving it. Brian K. Vaughn, who wrote the episode, deserves a lot of the credit, keeping all the action emotional and dramatic, with the mythology occurring in a wonderfully matter-of-fact manner. The CGI wasn't great, but it's a TV show – it can be forgiven. The flashbacks were utilized to great effect, setting up the emotional climax beautifully. We can now imagine all the other victims of Smokey being judged. I thought about Mr. Eko who, rightfully so, was judged a bit more harshly than Mr. Linus.
Still, given Ben's murderous past, you'd think Smokey would have let loose the guillotine and ended Ben. The fact that Ben is still alive makes me believe he has a purpose to serve still. Maybe that's as Locke's right-hand man, maybe he'll have to sacrifice himself for the good of the island.
This was also a great episode for John Locke. He's a little different than he was before being killed, but I believe him when he says he's the same old Locke. He's just at peace now. He understands. Locke holds the cards, and it's great to see all of his former stress and pain washed away. After a couple of housekeeping episodes, last night's mythology was enthralling. Can't wait for next week.
Oh, and thank goodness Penny is still alive.
-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image Courtesy of FOX)