How was Ben so chummy with Hawking, when she seems to also be connected to Widmore? Whose side is she on? Why didn’t Widmore find out Ben was working with Hawking, and intercede? Who is the good guy, is it Widmore or Linus – or neither? Here are my theories.
The Hawking Enigma – Whose Side is She On?
One of the brain rattlers for me was this: if Widmore sent Desmond to Hawking, probably knows Locke was heading for Hawking – and Ben was subsequently pretty chummy with Hawking, then whose side is she on? Then it occurred to me – maybe she doesn’t have a horse in either race.
If you take away all of Mrs. Hawking’s familial connections and other patented LOST story-telling gobbility gook, the only thing we really know about her for sure is this: she, like Abaddon, is someone who gets people to where they are going – in particular, the island. As demonstrated in the case of Desmond, in Flashes Before Your Eyes, she is particularly assertive when it comes to guiding people back to the island that have somehow lost their way and are on the verge of committing a temporal offense.
This description of Hawking’s role in the LOST universe is easy to take as fact because it is all that remains when we distill away all of the unnecessary information mucking up her involvement in the story. She provided a slight nudge to Desmond, direction to Ben and Oceanic Six, and had a long list of alternative routes ready to go for anyone else who might cross her path.
On the speculative end of things, we could assume that Hawking would help anyone get back to the island, and probably already has. After all, getting the Oceanic 6 back to the island involved the use of all that machinery in the Lamppost station – should we assume that Widmore’s freighter merely stumbled upon the island, or got really good directions at an oil platform?
Being the only one with a complete understanding of the mechanics of finding the island takes her off the target list, but Ms. Hawking could still be manipulated much in the way of Dicken’s Signalman – haunted by phantoms of past missteps that eventually resulting in the wrong twist of the tracks.
Ben. He always has a plan
When Ben left the island, he knew there was a way to come back. Was his motivation to protect the island as he claims? Hell no. Ben was motivated by the still fresh rage he felt watching his daughter die on New Otherton’s lawn. Want a nice visual comparison for the glee he emitted while he choked out John Locke? Take a look at the knifing of Keamy. He knew there were risks – the risk that he wouldn’t make it back to the island – but if there is one thing we know about Ben it is that he is absolutely confident in his ability to manipulate people.
Somehow Ben has convinced Locke that he is dealing with Jacob, when he is not. It’s possible that Christian was resurrected when 815 crashed, just like Locke, and that Ben has been using him on the promise that he can reunite him with Jack. Locke, through multiple twists of fate and time, winds up thinking part of his purpose is to leave the island, spreads that same message to Alpert and company, and ultimately leaves the island under his own will. Ben’s long con is complete. John, who can testify that Ben can no longer speak with Jacob, is no longer a problem – and the others have no leader possibly paving the way for Ben’s return to ‘the way it was.’
On the off-island side of his scheme, Ben is locked in a tight battle with Widmore. Using Sayid to knock out his operatives, fueling his ghost status along the way. With no other way to flush Ben out, Widmore is ready to work with anyone – even a potential heir to his coveted position within the others.
Why Was Widmore Helping John Locke?
If Widmore had not told John Locke to return to the island, would he have eventually run into Mrs. Hawking? Or Brother Campbell? Or Jill the Butcher? Maybe. Since one of the themes of LOST seems to be people putting their own interests before the safety and happiness of others, perhaps Widmore’s helping hand had little to do with helping Locke at all. What could his ultimate purpose have been? Maybe it was to find Ben.
If my perception of Ben’s motivations are correct, Widmore is no doubt aware of his plans and aims to stop him. The game between Widmore and Ben is one with mortal consequences: kill or be killed. Having been bested by Ben’s guerilla tactics, Widmore turns to a plan with a little more finesse – something more akin to his competitors tactics. He embraces a mutual foe, John Locke.
The placement of Widmore’s right hand man Matthew with Locke could have had aims well beyond helping John round up his island vagabonds. It could have Widmore’s aim that Locke would eventually flush out Ben Linus, bringing him into Matthew’s crosshairs. A plan that ultimately failed. With their apparent foresight, the path connecting the Oceanic 6 must have been prime hunting grounds for either man.
Who is more desperate?
When it comes to exploiting Ms. Hawking’s indifference, why couldn’t either one of the men make it back to the island? Why the game? Here are a few possibilities.
Perhaps in his ill-fated attempt to conquer the island, Widmore has used up his one ticket. Hawking may have shut the door on Widmore. This possibility fits very well with the theme of characters living with the consequences of bad decisions.
On Ben’s side of things, perhaps it was proximity. Since he left the island at nearly the same time as the Oceanic 6, they would need to be together to make the trip. Hawking was perfectly willing to help him, but the variables were working against him. The consequence of his action was that he was now inextricably tied to the lives of those six.
Or, it’s completely something else.