Another week, another mind-melting episode. And, just when you thought it was safe to go back into flashback-land, too. Have I mentioned that I love this show?
Horace in Locke’s dream! Claire with Christian in the cabin! Alpert and Abaddon try to recruit Locke in the past, going all the way back to his “miraculous” birth! Michael still can’t die! Sayid goes back for them on the raft! Desmond stays on the freighter! Keamy & Krew shank the doctor and prepare to rain fire and brimstone on the Island! Hurley actually shares a candy bar with Ben!
It’s enough to keep one completely breathless, and personally, that’s just the way I like it. But that also makes it easy to miss my trademark Little Things. Change was in the air in “Cabin Fever”. Locke finally took up in earnest the role that we’d always suspected was intended for him, and which apparently was meant to be his since his very birth. But a more subtle transformation was being undertaken just outside the cabin, by Ben.
“Hello. My name is Benjamin Linus. You killed my daughter. Prepare to die…or, failing that, to suffer the loss of your own.”
Not that others missed the “passing of the torch” aspect of Ben’s pass on an audience with Jacob (via the proxy of Christian and with “moral support” from Claire), mind you. What they did miss what this means for Ben. This is the beginning of Ben being freed by the Island to do his very best impression of vengeful Spaniard Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride.
This episode completely recontextualizes the events in “The Shape Things to Come”. While Ben was clearly overwhelmed by the killing of Alex, he was still operating as the Leader of the Island…as Jacob’s field-marshal, if you will. And that was how we saw his actions in his recent flash-forward. But now we see that Ben has, at least for now, ceded that position to the new “chosen one”, John Locke, and apparently gone rogue.
Ben can now devote his considerable skills and resources to the time-honored tradition of vendetta. He’s going to take out Widmore’s whole operation with the assistance of his “bag-man”, Sayid, and he’s going to culminate it with the death of Penelope Widmore. (I also think he’s going to be frustrated in this because Sayid will balk at inflicting on his mate, Desmond, the pain he suffered at the loss of his own lifelong love, Nadia, but I digress…)
The question we have to ask ourselves about Ben’s longer-term goals is this: Are his attempts to neutralize Widmore once and for all as a player in the game of the Island part of a larger plan to re-ingratiate himself with the Island/Jacob with a side order of that dish “best served cold”, or will the scope of Ben’s revenge ultimately include targeting the Island itself and the man who replaced him in its affections?
Ben’s acerbic line to Sawyer in “Confirmed Dead” is very telling here: “Yes, on this Island you’re brave, daring, handsome…you’re someone. But if you left with them, back in the real world a low-life scam artist like you could never compete with a first class surgeon.” Ben’s just a somewhat better-educated, better-equipped, and more capable low-life scam artist, but that’s still all he is in the outside world. On the Island, he wasn’t just “someone”, he was the Head Someone In Charge (well, except for Jacob, but who’s counting?). I could easily see him either angling to get that back and displace Locke or else doing his level best to take both the Island and its returned Prodigal Son down.
Still, between that massive demotion and the loss the previous day of his daughter and his home, it’s easy to see why a forgiving guy like Hurley would overlook the fact that Ben’s a manipulative killer–one Hurley now knows to have been instrumental in the mass-murder of the DHARMA Initiative–and still offer Ben half of his Apollo bar.
Hopefully, that candy bar “really satisfied” though, because I can’t imagine that Ben had too many more chances for nutrition between that scene and the finale, in which I surmise we’re going to see him initiate the “jump” we saw him complete in the Sahara in his flash-forward.
Can. Not. Wait! 😀