Ben sets off with Locke to fulfill the reason he came back to the island, but along the way he learns just how much Locke has changed.

Written by Brian K. Vaughan & Elizabeth Sarnoff
Directed by Stephen Williams

Flashback

In 1977, a middle-aged man we’ve never seen before rides into the Others’ camp. Angry, he walks up to Richard Alpert and asks what he’s done with young Ben. They argue over Richard’s actions — healing Ben by taking him inside the Temple, as we saw in last week’s episode — and Richard puts an end to the discussion by telling this man that “Jacob wanted it done. The island chooses who the island chooses, you know that.”

The middle-aged man goes inside an adjacent tent to visit ailing Ben. Young Ben remembers nothing of his ordeal, and the man explains that he is among friends, and they’ll be taking care of him. Ben tells the man that he doesn’t want to go back to the Dharma Initiative and his father, he wants to stay here. He can’t stay here, but the man points out that just because he’s not living with here, doesn’t mean he’s not one of them. “You should be dead, but this island saved your life,” the man says. He asks Ben’s name, and then tells him his own: Charles Widmore.

Years later, after the Purge and Ben’s joining up with the Others, Ben and a younger teenage boy watch a manmade shelter on the beach at night. The teenage boy asks Ben if he wants him to do it, and Ben tells the boy to “shut up and stay here,” calling him by name: Ethan. Ben approaches the makeshift shelter and finds young Danielle Rousseau inside — sometime after she’s given birth to baby Alex. He holds Danielle at gunpoint, and she accuses him of being “the one who infected us.” He takes Alex, over Danielle’s protests, saying, “If you want your child to live, every time you hear whispers, you run the other way.” He tells her he’ll kill her if she tries to follow him.

Later that same night, Ben returns to the Others’ camp with baby Alex in his arms. A much older and recognizable Charles Widmore is there, sitting beside Richard Alpert at a campfire. Widmore asks if Ben did it. Ben says there was a complication. Widmore reminds him that his orders were to kill the woman, aka Danielle. Ben says that Danielle is no threat to them, and protests the fact that Widmore didn’t tell him that Danielle had a child. Widmore says Ben should have killed them both, that it’s what’s best for the protection of the island. Ben is outraged at the thought of killing a child, and tells Widmore that if Alex being dead is what Jacob wants, then Widmore will have to do it himself. His bluff seemingly called, Widmore walks away from the camp, alone. Ben makes eye contact with Richard, who’s observed this entire exchange with great interest.

Years later, one day adult Ben is pushing little Alex on a swingset outside their house at the Barracks. Richard approaches and says the sub is about to depart, but Ben “doesn’t have to see him off.” Ben says that he does. At the dock, Charles Widmore is being escorted by two armed Others to the submarine, his hands bound. Ben approaches, says he’s come to tell Widmore goodbye. Widmore fires back that that’s not true, Ben came to gloat. Ben says, “Don’t act as if I wanted this. You brought this on yourself. You left the island regularly. You had a daughter with an outsider. You broke the rules.” Widmore asks what makes Ben think he deserves to take what’s his (referring to the leadership of the Others). Ben replies that he won’t be selfish, that he’ll sacrifice anything to protect the island. Widmore points out that Ben refused to sacrifice Alex for the good of the island, and Ben argues that it was Widmore who wanted Alex dead, not the island. Widmore says that one day Ben will be standing where he’s standing now, being banished, and unable to fight the inevitable. “I’ll be seeing you, boy,” is his farewell.

In 2007, at the pier in Los Angeles the morning of the day the Oceanic 6 return to the island, Ben phones Widmore and tells him he’s going back to the island today. Widmore says the island won’t let him, that he’s spent almost twenty years trying do the same thing, unsuccessfully. Ben says that where Widmore failed, he will succeed. He just has one thing left to do — kill Penny. He says he’s looking at Our Mutual Friend right now, which is the name of the boat Penny is on. Widmore says, “You wouldn’t dare,” but Ben hangs up on him.

Ben approaches the boat, but Desmond, unloading groceries from a nearby car, spots him and demands to know what he’s doing here. Ben spins and shoots him, and Desmond falls to the ground. Penny sees the whole thing, and calls out to Desmond in a panic, moving toward him from the boat. Before she can get down to the pier, Ben stops her, holding a gun on her. He apologizes that she’s gotten caught up in this thing between him and her father, who he calls “a really terrible human being.” Ben says he’s here because Widmore killed his daughter. Penny tells him that she and her father have no relationship whatsoever, and her son Charlie appears, climbing up to the boat’s deck from below. Penny frantically tells him to go back inside, then begs Ben not to hurt the boy. Ben, seeing the boy for the first time, hesitates and then lowers his gun. He’s not going to kill any of them. Desmond suddenly tackles him, and beats the living snot out of him. Ben’s gun falls in the water early on, and then at the end, Desmond throws Ben into the water, too.

Now

In the infirmary on Hydra island, Locke wakes Ben up, welcoming him back to “the land of the living.” Ben is flabbergasted that Locke is alive, yet he tells Locke he always believed this would happen, that the island would save Locke. Locke asks why Ben was trying to leave Hydra island for the main island, and Ben says that he broke the rules in coming back, so he has to go be judged. Locke asks, “Judged by who?” Ben says that his people don’t have a word for it, but that John calls it “the monster.”

On Hydra beach, Ilana greets Ben as she and some of the others are unloading a very large steel crate. Ben asks what’s inside, but she won’t say, brushing the question off. Ben walks away and is approached by Caesar, who asks how he’s doing. Locke stands behind them in the distance, at the shoreline, and Caesar asks Ben about Locke, telling Ben that Locke said that Ben killed him. Ben denies it, making Locke out to be a “dangerously deranged” local who was on the island already, and not on the plane. Caesar shows Ben his gun (which he procured from the Hydra station back in “The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham”) and tells him that he’s got Ben’s back.

Later, Ben searches the office inside the Hydra station, and locates a framed picture of himself and Alex from happier times, which he takes out of the frame and keeps. Locke enters and realizes that this was Ben’s old office. He’s surprised at how “corporate” it is, feeling that this isn’t in keeping with the Others’ style. Impatient, Ben asks why Locke is really here, and Locke replies, “Well Ben, I was hoping you and I could talk about the elephant in the room.” Ben claims that his murdering Locke was the only way to get Locke back to the island. He reminds him that Locke failed to get the Oceanic 6 back together and convince them to return, so the only way to accomplish that was by Locke’s death. Locke asks that if he meant for Locke to die the whole time, then why did he stop him from hanging himself. Ben says that Locke had critical information that would have died with him, and after that, Ben “just didn’t have time to talk you back into hanging yourself.” He claims that his plan worked, that Locke’s back and so are the Oceanic 6, although he doesn’t know where they are just now. He concludes that he did what he did because it was in the best interests of the island. Locke smiles after Ben’s long-winded and exasperated explanation, and says, “I was just hoping for an apology.” He says he’s decided to help Ben accomplish his goal — he’s going with him to the main island, and he’s going to help Ben to be judged by the monster.

On the beach, the two of them make to take another of the three outrigger canoes across to the main island. But Caesar tries to stop them, saying they’re not going anywhere and Locke is going to tell him how he knows so much about the island. When Locke refuses, Caesar goes to pull his gun, but Ben has it in his hands and shoots Caesar dead! He tosses the gun to Locke and quips, “Consider that my apology.”

Later, the outrigger carrying Ben and Locke arrives at the Dock on the main island, and Locke notices that another boat is already there. Ben tells him about what happened with Sun and Frank, and Locke asks if it was Sun that hurt Ben’s arm. Ben says no, that was someone else. To which Locke replies, “You just make friends everywhere you go, don’t you.” Ben says that in his experience, friends can be more dangerous than enemies. Locke asks if that’s why he shot and killed Caesar when the man was unarmed. Ben explains that Caesar was unarmed because he stole the gun — the same gun Caesar was going to kill Locke with, and “we couldn’t let that happen.” “No sense in me dying twice, right?” asks Locke. “You’re welcome,” replies Ben.

Locke asks if they’re headed for Ben’s old house, and Ben says yes, that that’s the only place he can summon the monster. Locke asserts that Ben is lying about his reasons for wanting to be judged. It’s not because Ben broke the rules, Locke says, because Ben doesn’t care about rules of any kind. Rather, Ben wants to be judged for killing his own daughter. Ben has no reply.

At night, at the Barracks, Locke asks whose idea it was for the Others to move into the Barracks from the jungle, insinuating that it was Ben’s idea. Ben asks if Locke disapproves, to which Locke replies that it “just doesn’t seem like something the island would want.” “You don’t have the first idea what this island wants,” Ben shoots back. Locke looks him dead in the eye and calmly asks, smiling, “Are you sure about that?”

A light comes on inside Ben’s old house, in what used to be Alex’s room. Locke coolly suggests that Ben go check it out. Ben enters the house, finds it in disarray. Sawyer and Hurley’s board game from before Keamy’s attack is still on the table. He walks back to Alex’s room, where the lights are on, and finds… Sun! And Frank, too. He asks what they’re doing there, and Frank shows him the Dharma portrait from 1977, which includes Jack, Kate, and Hurley. Ben can’t believe it, that they’re back in the 70s, but Sun can’t believe he didn’t already know this. Sun explains that a man named Christian told them to come here and wait, that if Sun ever wanted to see Jin again, that she would wait right here for John Locke. Frank remarks that that doesn’t seem too likely since Locke is dead. Ben tells them to look outside the window, where they spot Locke, waving at them.

A little while later, in the living room of the house, John has just told Sun his story about how he woke up on the island alive again. She says that it’s impossible, and Locke says he doesn’t know how it happened, but there has to be a reason for it. Frank speaks up and tries to convince Sun to return to the airplane with him, and try to fix the radio. Locke tells Sun that if she leaves, she’ll never find Jin. “I’m all the help you need,” he says confidently. Sun asks if he knows how to find their friends that are stuck in the past, and Locke nods, saying he has some ideas. Frank says he’s leaving with or without Sun, and she chooses to remain here, so he leaves. Sun is ready to get started, asking how they’re going to find Jin. Locke says that Ben has something to do first, and that he should get to it.

Ben goes to the secret door in his closet and pushes it open. He lights a lantern and descends a set of stairs down to a small tunnel that he has to crawl through. On the other side is a tiny room with a mud puddle at the bottom. Ben reaches into the puddle and pulls some kind of switch that we can’t see. The water drains completely, revealing a small hole in the ground. “I’ll be outside,” Ben says, and leaves the way he came.

Sun sits on a bench outside Ben’s house as he exits to await the monster. Ben asks where Locke went, and she says “he said he had something to do.” Ben seems stunned to hear this, and asks what it was. Sun replies that she didn’t ask. Sun says that Jack must’ve lied about Locke being dead, because it’s the only explanation. Ben is adamant that Locke was dead and Jack didn’t lie. Sun seems to realize that Ben had a hand in what happened to Locke, and accuses him of knowing that Locke would be resurrected if he was brought back here. In a moment of vulnerability, Ben admits he had no idea this would happen. He tells her he’s seen the island do all sorts of miraculous things, like heal the sick, but never once has he seen it do anything as big as raise the dead. “Dead is dead,” he tells her. “You don’t get to come back from that. Not even here.” And the fact that Locke is alive and walking around this island terrifies Ben, because he doesn’t understand it.

A sound in the woods halts their conversation, and Ben warns Sun that she should go inside the house, because something’s about to come out of the jungle that he can’t control. But the trees part and it’s just Locke, returning from wherever he went. He asks if anything’s happened yet, but Ben replies that “it hasn’t shown up yet.” Locke points out that the last time Ben summoned it, they didn’t have to wait this long. He says that if the monster isn’t coming to them, then they’ll have to go to it. Ben replies that it doesn’t work that way, that he doesn’t know anything about where the monster is all the time, only how to summon it here. Locke turns to him and says that he does know exactly where it is. Once again, Ben is astounded at the picture that’s coming into focus: Locke is a very changed man.

A few minutes later, Locke tells Sun that it’s weird for him too, being back from the dead and not knowing how or why. But he assures her he’s the same man he’s always been. Ben says he’s ready to proceed, and Locke leads the way.

Much later, deep in the jungle, Ben asks John how he knows where he’s going. Locke replies that he “just knows.” Ben wants to know how that happened — bitterly asking if gained information gradually or was it all of a sudden? Locke rounds on him and says, “You don’t like this, do you? Having to ask questions that you don’t know the answers to. Blindly following someone in the hopes that they’ll lead you to what you’re looking for.” “No, John,” Ben replies. “I don’t like it at all.” “Well,” says Locke. “Now you know what it was like to be me.”

Sun suggests they keep moving, and Ben says that he knows now where they’re going, because they’re almost there. It’s the same place he was brought as a child, it’s where the island healed him, he says. Locke says that Ben better hope it’s just as generous this time around. They arrive at the Temple and Sun asks what it is. Ben identifies it not as the Temple, but as a wall they built around the Temple to keep outsiders from ever seeing it. The real Temple is about half a mile beyond the wall. Locke says they’re not going into the Temple — they’re going under it — pointing at the same hole beneath the walls that Danielle Rousseau’s compatriots once climbed down into. Ben hesitates, then asks Sun that should she ever leave the island again, to find Desmond Hume and “tell him I’m sorry.” Sorry for what, she asks. “You’ll know,” says Ben, surprisingly emotional. And with that, he descends into the hole.

On Hydra island, Frank returns in his outrigger. A redshirt runs up and tells him that Ilana and three others have found guns, and they’re saying that they’re in charge now. Frank quickly finds them, Ilana still standing over her giant silver crate, and he asks what’s going on. Ilana pulls her gun on him and without preamble, asks a most unexpected question: “What lies in the shadow of the statue?” He has no idea what she’s talking about, so she knocks him out with the butt of her rifle. She orders her cohort to get everyone else and “tell them it’s time.” And to tie Frank up, because they’re taking him along.

Under the Temple, Locke lights torches for himself and Ben, and the two of them proceed through tunnels of underground ruins. (Sun apparently stayed outside.) Ben admits that Locke was right about why he needs to be judged — it was his actions that killed Alex, and he needs to answer for it. He tells Locke thank you for showing the way, but he can take it from here. He says he’ll meet Locke outside if he lives, and then the ground promptly gives way beneath him and he falls a good dozen feet or so into a large chamber. Locke yells down that he’ll find something to get Ben out, and leaves.

Ben stands to his feet, in awe of his surroundings. It’s a very large chamber, with symmetrical pillars throughout that are engraved with hieroglyphs. A particularly important looking panel full of hieroglyphs on the wall attracts his attention, and he studies it for a moment before noticing a square panel beneath it that’s filled with dozens of small holes, like an ancient grate. His torch suddenly goes out, and the smoke monster emerges through those holes, which seems to be some kind of vent for the monster. The black smoke surrounds him completely, flashing and sparking just as when it’s read the memories of other people in the past. Right before his eyes, it shows him images from his own past, all of which relate to Alex, including her death at Keamy’s hands.

That done, the monster returns to its vent, and his torch lights back up on its own. He turns around — and Alex is there! Or at least, something or someone that looks like Alex. “Daddy?” she says. He’s still feeling overwhelmed from the images the monster showed him, and very emotionally tells her he’s sorry, that it’s all his fault that she died. She replies, “I know,” and suddenly grabs him, shoving him up against a pillar. “I know you’re already planning to kill John again,” she says, turning vicious. “And I want you to know, that if you so much as touch him, I will hunt you down and destroy you. You will listen to every word John Locke says, and you will follow his every word. Do you understand?” He nods, but she’s not satisfied. “Say it! Say you’ll follow him!” she screams in his face. “Yes, I’ll follow him. I swear,” he replies. And Alex vanishes.

From the hole above, Locke returns, calling out that he’s found something for Ben to use to climb out. When Ben comes into view, Locke asks what happened. Utterly shellshocked and staring at Locke with new eyes, Ben says, “It let me live.”

  • Because she’d met Ben once before. He was the one who stole Alex from Danielle when she was just a baby.
    Question: Why did Danielle believe that “Henry,” aka Ben, was one of the Others? [2.14]
  • The Others’ leader, Charles Widmore, wanted Danielle and Alex killed (probably as a way of “finishing the job” after the Purge — giving the Others complete dominance on the island), but the man he sent to do the job, Benjamin Linus, refused to kill them. Instead, he saved both their lives by taking Alex and raising her as his own daughter, and warning Danielle to keep her distance from the Others. Though they would be separated, they would both live.
    Question: Why did the Others steal Alex from her mother, Danielle? [1.23]
  • Nothing very exciting. Just a small mud puddle.
    Question: What was behind the ancient door hidden beneath Ben’s house? [4.09]
  • Ben drained the mud puddle.
    Question: What did Ben do behind the door to summon the smoke monster? [4.09]
  • Widmore objected to Ben becoming one of his people, and their rivalry grew as Ben became an adult. Ben had already demonstrated a connection to the island when he saw his dead mother, and he cleverly used his skills as a master manipulator to make Widmore look bad in front of his people. When Widmore left the island regularly to have an affair with a woman living elsewhere and this relationship lead to the birth of a child (the girl who would grow up to become Penelope Widmore), he broke the Others’ rules concerning interaction with outsiders. Widmore was banished from the island forever, and Ben was elevated to the society’s leader.
    Question: Why does Ben have such a bitter rivalry with Widmore? What’s their history? [4.09]
  • He didn’t go willingly. He was taken away by the submarine, banished by his people for having a relationship with an outsider.
    Question: Widmore was once an Other living on the island, so why did he leave the island? [5.03]
  • No, Penny lives, though her husband Desmond was gravely injured during Ben’s attempt.
    Question: Ben’s “loose end” was him seemingly attempting to fulfill his promise to Widmore to kill Penny. Did he succeed in killing her? [5.06]

  • What’s in Ilana’s steel crate?
  • How did draining the water out of that tiny hole below Ben’s house summon the smoke monster?
  • Who built the monster-summoning water hole there to begin with?
  • Why would the island let Ben come back, but not Widmore?
  • What’s the answer to the question, “What lies in the shadow of the statue?”
  • Why did Ilana ask this question to Frank? Is it some kind of pass code?

I have to start my analysis by pointing out how much I LOVE LOVE LOVE the new John Locke! He’s holding all the cards, at last. The confident, calm, and cool way that he played off of Ben throughout this entire episode was just too delicious. Poetry in motion. Loved every second of it! Locke’s death and rebirth has left him free of all doubt and hesitation and fear, and it looks like it’s made him the man he was always destined to be. But is he now more than that? Keep reading.

I adored the performances of both Terry O’Quinn (Locke) and Michael Emerson (Ben) throughout this episode. O’Quinn for the aforementioned reasons. Emerson for his measured reactions to Ben’s steadily increasing knowledge that he’s out and Locke is in, as far as the island is concerned. Every time Locke took a step forward in authority, Ben knew that whatever he once had was slipping away from him, right before his eyes. And there was nothing he could do about it.

Man, is Lost kicking on all cylinders this season or what? I know Season 6 and all of its big, ultimate answers are yet to come, but I don’t see how the show’s quality could get any better than what we’ve been treated to this year.

The historic first meeting of Charles Widmore and Benjamin Linus was an interesting thing to see. We also got to witness their last meeting on the island — which was nothing like Widmore told Locke it was, back in “The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham.” In that episode, Widmore told Locke that Ben tricked him into leaving the island, by turning the frozen wheel. That didn’t ring true, even then — the Orchid station above the wheel was still intact from its Dharma Initiative days, and Ben had to blow a hole in the floor, in the present, in order to access the wheel. Obviously, Widmore was lying to Locke, to try and get in his good graces as the island’s chosen one.

Was Ben lying about his reasons for killing Locke? Absolutely! It seems that the Oceanic 6 really did need someone to serve as a proxy for Christian Shephard, and be dead on the plane. But Ben telling Sun that he’s never seen the island do anything so miraculous as resurrect someone from the dead had the ring of truth to it. Add to that Alex’s threats against Ben for “already planning to kill John again,” which to me only reinforces the fact that Ben killing him the first time was for entirely selfish reasons. He wants to be the island’s favored son, he always has. And now, clearly, that person is Locke. Of course he killed him maliciously. Of course he was being selfish — despite his earlier proclamation to Charles Widmore, when Widmore was being banished, that he, Ben, wouldn’t be selfish in his leadership role. It seems that the two of them are more alike than unalike.

Looks like twenty-something Ben and teenage Ethan were buds. Makes sense, since they both became members of the Others after originating as part of the Dharma Initiative. Ethan was even born on the island, as we now know — to Horace and Amy Goodspeed.

Ben’s abduction of Alex wasn’t entirely like Danielle described it. Her story, way back in Season 1, described the Others coming in the night — which they did — and stealing Alex from her. Her words led us to believe that there were multiple Others involved in the abduction, when here we saw that it was Ben acting alone. Didn’t she also say that the plume of black smoke rose on the horizon as an indication that the Others were coming, and that’s how she knew when they were coming for another child at the castaways’? I didn’t see any plume of black smoke during that scene, but maybe I just missed it.

Ben mentioning the Whispers to Danielle, telling her to run the other way whenever she hears them, was an nice little bit of symmetry, because the first episode in which older Danielle Rousseau appeared in Season 1 was the very first time we the viewers ever heard the Whispers. Ben’s remarks here, mentioning the Whispers as something for Danielle to avoid if she wants Alex to live, seems to point to the Whispers as coming from the Others. Another possibility is that the Whispers are the island itself speaking. Either way, while we saw from this episode that Ben doesn’t know everything about the island, he does know what the Whispers are.

So it turns out that Ben’s abduction of Alex wasn’t quite the evil thing that we once thought. As always, context is everything. Ben was under orders (from Charles Widmore, no less) to kill Alex’s mother, and he was expected to kill baby Alex, too. And what he did instead was save Alex — and Danielle, to boot. Sure, he did neither of them any favors by keeping Alex away from her mother her entire life. That’s a giant check mark in the “evil” column for Mr. Linus. But Ben definitely loved that little girl, and took on the responsibility of raising her when he was in no way required to. And it’s because of him that Danielle lived as long as she did, too. (Now it’s also because of Ben that both of them were killed. But that was sixteen years later, so we’ll skip that for now.)

Locke’s repeated questions to Ben about the “corporate” nature of the Others under Ben’s leadership, including their appropriating of the Dharma Barracks… Either this was the writers’ way of hinting early on at Locke’s new all-knowing status on the island, or something else is up. Ben clearly integrated everything he learned at the hands of the Dharma Initiative into his leadership style over the Others. Maybe Locke is right, and this is not how the island wants things to be done. Is this a hint of things to come when Locke formally takes over their leadership? Could be.

It seems pretty clear that Widmore probably was lying to Ben about the island and/or Jacob wanting Alex and Danielle dead. The question is, why? What did Widmore get out of giving such an order, other than the opportunity to exercise his power and position as leader of the Others?

We’ve been speculating for weeks that Eloise Hawking, Daniel’s mother, and Charles Widmore, Penny’s father — who were both Others once upon a time — may have at one time had a romantic relationship. Which could make Penny and Daniel siblings. But from Ben’s remark about Widmore having a child with an outsider, it sounds like that’s not the case, because Eloise is most decidedly not an outsider. On the other hand, Hawking not being Penny’s mother doesn’t mean that Widmore isn’t Daniel’s father. (That came out a lot more confusing sounding than it was in my head.) I also wonder, since she is currently off the island just as Widmore is, if that mean she was also banished? And if so, was it for a relationship with an outsider — perhaps the head of that monastery where Desmond once lived? That monk had Hawking’s picture on his desk, after all. Perhaps he’s Daniel’s father.

Rules, rules, rules. Ben talks an awful lot about “the rules,” even though like Locke, I don’t think he really cares all that much about following them. He told Widmore that he broke the rules when Alex was killed. He told Widmore years earlier, as we saw in this episode, that he broke the rules when he had Penny with “an outsider.” And he told Locke that he himself broke the rules when he came back to the island. Are these the rules of the Others and how their society functions? Are they arbitrary ideals that Ben himself is making up as he goes along?

I hope we get some more backstory on Charles Widmore. As his story becomes more and more fleshed out, like Ben, we can see that he’s not entirely evil or entirely good. He’s done terrible things, but he left the island to carry on a love affair with a woman on the mainland, and fathered a child with her, who he still cares about. On the other hand, he’s been unsuccessful for almost twenty years in attempting to get back to the island, while Ben managed to get back just fine, when and how he planned to. I think there’s something more at work here than each man’s aptitude and cleverness. It seems that the island wants to keep Widmore away, while it let Ben return. The question is, why?

Ben became leader of the Others after Widmore was banished. I’d be willing to bet it was Ben’s machinations that caused the Others to find out about Widmore’s off-island family. And again, I feel the need to point out that the story of Ben’s rise to power and Widmore’s leaving the island is nothing whatsoever like what he told to John Locke in Tunisia.

Ben had no reaction when Sun mentioned Christian to him. Does he not know of Christian’s existence? We’ve never witnessed a meeting between the two of them, so I’m going with no.

Pretty ironic of Ben to criticize Kate for pretending to be Aaron’s mother when he did the exact same thing by pretending to be Alex’s father.

I’m not sure what to make of the mud puddle room under Ben’s house. When we first saw Ben go through that door in last season’s “The Shape of Things to Come,” I kind of expected something bigger and badder to be at the end of the tunnel. I also thought that this meant that Ben knew a lot more about the monster than he’d ever copped to. But it turns out, all he really knows is how to summon it. He has no idea what it is, or even where it resides when it’s not out scaring, maiming, or killing people. And what was the deal with the mud puddle? Some kind of elemental signal to the monster to come out and play? Apparently the monster has free will, and can choose whether to comply or not.

And speaking of the monster, the “every time it appears we learn something new about it” rule still applied tonight, as we saw the inner workings of its, for lack of a better word, home. And we got confirmation that it can access peoples’ memories. How or why, we have no idea, and I don’t think we’re any closer to knowing just what it is. But that awesome scene in which it completely enveloped Ben was another clear cut sign that the endgame is nearing, the gloves are off, and the answers are on the way. There’s no way the show would have ever attempted something like that in earlier seasons.

At first, Ben seemed to be enjoying the idea that this could really be Alex, perhaps back from the dead like Locke, but by the time she shoved him against the pillar and threatened him, I think he knew who he was really dealing with. It was the monster in human form. We’ve seen it do this before. It appeared to Eko as his brother Yemi. And it gave Ben his marching orders.

But why didn’t it just kill him? It’s shown no hesitation at killing before, and surely Ben deserves death more than others it’s killed. Why did it choose to forgive him, albeit on the condition that he follows Locke’s every instruction to the letter? The answer has to be that the island still has a purpose for Ben.

Like everything else about this show, Smokey’s “vent” was an answer that only led to another question. If this is where the smoke monster comes from when it emerges, then what’s it emerging from, exactly? What’s on the other side of that vent?

I’m still wondering where Locke went and what he “had to do” when he left Ben and Sun at the house, only to reappear moments later. Was he getting orders from Jacob or from the island?  Was he somehow telling the smoke monster to back off and wait for them at the Temple? Was he just taking a leak? What the heck. Though I loved Ben’s startled reaction to Locke’s disappearance. You could practically hear him thinking, “But I’m the one who’s supposed to mysteriously disappear to go do big, important islandy things!” Whatever power and mystique he once had is not only transferring to Locke — it may be a pale imitation compared to what Locke now has — and in that scene, he knew it.

Ilana’s mysterious steel crate has me stymied. It didn’t come from the Hydra station, it was from the plane — there’s a clearly marked Ajira Airways sticker on the side. (And the ID number “AA823,” in case you need your cursed-numbers fix.) And then there’s her question to Frank: “What lies in the shadow of the statue?” What a loaded question! We can infer from this that she’s a lot more than she appears to be, she does not in fact work for Benjamin Linus as Sayid feared, and she knew the plane was coming to this island and intended to come herself. We can also assume that she knows about the island’s special properties. But I’m getting a “sent by someone to the island to perform a certain task” vibe from her and her big steel crate, and not a “I know what I’m doing and have all the answers” vibe. So the obvious candidate for someone to send her to the island would be Charles Widmore. But how would Widmore have known about Ajira’s true destination? (And if he did know, why wouldn’t he have gotten on the plane himself, since he so badly wants to get back? Hey, maybe he’s in the crate! Nah, that doesn’t wash, because we saw him in London on the phone with Ben earlier that same day. There couldn’t have been time for him to get to L.A. prior to Ajira 316’s departure.) Maybe Eloise Hawking told him. The two of them obviously have a history together.

As for the answer to Ilana’s question… I don’t recall seeing anything at the base of the statue. The last time we saw it, from the rear, trees obscured our view of its base. But the first time, when all we saw was a four-toed foot, there didn’t appear to be anything else of significance in the vicinity. And something lying in its “shadow” implies the shadow of the entire statue, which no longer exists in the present. All that’s there is the foot. So apparently we’re meant to believe that something of importance is in the woods near the statue. We know the Orchid wasn’t far from that location, but I don’t think it was in the statue’s shadow, per se…

And what exactly is it “time” for, as she ordered her friend to tell the other Ajira survivors? Not a clue. I am, however, curious about why “three others” are so eagerly following her orders all of a sudden. Who is Ilana, exactly, and what kind of power does she wield?

The fact that they now seem headed for the main island, and Ilana’s Ajira water bottle sitting on top of the crate alongside their guns… All of this adds up to Ilana and her new pals being the ones that shoot at the time-jumping castaways from one canoe to another, as we saw earlier this season.

I’m bigtime relieved that Des and Pen are both alive (even though Desmond got a flesh wound for his trouble), and I have to admit to feeling a bit of righteous justice when Desmond laid the smackdown on Ben. It was the arrival of little Charlie on the scene that changed Ben’s mind, and he definitely halted his intention of killing Penny or anyone else when he saw the little boy. Whatever else Ben may be, he’s not so evil that he’ll kill a child. We saw the same exact thing happen earlier in the episode when Ben first came upon baby Alex; he couldn’t and wouldn’t kill her either.

We know what happened to Ben after his confrontation with Desmond and Penny; he climbed up onto the pier and called Jack, asking him to pick up Locke’s body, and that he’d meet him at the airport. What we don’t yet know is what happened to Desmond and Penny and little Charlie. They certainly escaped the Wrath of Ben, but what did they do from there? Where did they go? And is Desmond really alright? Ben seemed to think so when he asked Sun to find Des and apologize, but how would he know for sure? He went back to the island that very night. At the very least, Desmond had to get patched up. Any gunshot that’s powerful enough to knock you on your butt has to leave more than just a scratch. I’m still holding out hope that since we know the island isn’t finished with Desmond yet, his destiny will be to live out his days on the island with Penny and Charlie. (I continue to stubbornly root for D&P as the Adam & Eve skeletons, too.)

Ah, those sneaky writers. How about that revelation that what we thought was the Temple is actually just a wall that was built to keep outsiders from seeing or reaching the Temple? So I’m thinking that from all we learned in this ep, that the Temple, which is half a mile inside this Great Wall of the Island that surrounds it, could still be connected to the smoke monster. Only the Others (or maybe just Ben) never quite realized this. Ben never knew that beneath the outer Temple walls is where the monster lives. This would mean that the monster predates everything else on the island, including the Temple (which wouldn’t really be a surprise). Maybe that “monster vent” we saw leads to further inward toward the real Temple. I’m also intrigued by Ben’s labeling the Temple as “our Temple.” That identifies the Temple as the property and construction of the Others, and not of the ancient civilization that once lived on the island and built the four-toed statue. (Which assumes that the Others and that ancient civilization are not one and the same. They very well could be.) Whatever the real Temple is… I’m guessing we won’t get to see it until Season 6.

Speaking of the Temple… The last time we saw both it and the smoke monster, Smokey dragged one of Rousseau’s friends underground and tore off his arm. His friends, sans Danielle, climbed down to rescue him, after which, Danielle found that they’re personalities had all been drastically altered. So much so that she believed them to be infected by some kind of sickness that came from the monster. Yet in this episode, we saw Locke and Ben climb down through the same hole and there was no infection to speak of. Assuming for the moment that Locke’s resurrection-slash-bonding-with-the-island renders him immune, let’s look at what happened to Ben, exactly. He definitely encountered the monster when he went down there, though we’ve no idea if it’s the same kind of encounter that Danielle’s friends underwent. What if it was? What if, when the Frenchmen went down there, they each encountered the smoke monster in the form of someone they knew, and it threatened them and gave them orders to follow, as it did with Ben in the guise of Alex? Could that be why their personalities and behaviors were so changed, from Danielle’s perspective? Taking this question a step further… What if Robert, Danielle’s lover, was instructed to kill Danielle, and that’s why he tried to shoot her? If, by some chance this were true, then that would mean that Widmore was right, and the island really did want both Danielle and Alex to die. Whoa.

As for what that big hieroglyph was and what it meant… I’ll leave that for other more qualified parties to decipher. It certainly looked like Anubis or another Egyptian god though, which some have speculated was the shape the full statue took. There was another figure to the left of the Egyptian figure, which may have been a representation of the monster. Or maybe not. I suppose we’ll find out eventually.

So here’s the Big Question of the Week. Just exactly what is the new John Locke? Is he really just Locke, returned from the dead, and nothing more? Or is he something altogether new and different than the old John Locke? If this is the case, there are numerous candidates for what he could be — he could be a reanimated “ghost” like Christian Shephard, or he could be the smoke monster in human form, just like Alex was. Perhaps the island has even made him ageless, like Richard Alpert. His newfound knowledge of the island’s secrets seems to indicate that by whatever process he was resurrected, the island has infused him with all of the knowledge that he needs to fulfill his long-awaited destiny. Whatever that is. That destiny is surely afoot now that Locke has been reborn with new knowledge and the complete support of the island and the smoke monster’s intention to protect him at all costs. But even Ben didn’t know of the island ever resurrecting anyone before in its history, which makes Locke very, very special. “Dead is dead,” he said. “And you don’t get to come back from that, not even here.” Moments later, Locke assures Sun he’s still “the same man” he always was. Is this the writers winking at us, trying to tell us something? Could be.

My guess: I think he’s been transformed into an avatar for the island, possibly even on equal authority or power to Jacob. Heck, maybe he is Jacob. Who knows.