Lost – ‘The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham’ – 5.7


I always try to lead with some non-sequitor (or at least, something that isn’t a direct commentary on the actual show content) so we’ll go with this. I’m really digging Lost’s placement on the schedule. Wednesday nights at 9:00 p.m. just does a great job of bisecting the week for me. I find myself beginning each work week with a slight spring in my step, knowing a new installment is only a few short days away and then by the time I’ve soaked it all in – it’s almost the weekend again.

Now, what will I do when the show departs the airwaves in May 2010. Maybe adopt Bromance as my personal savior. And with that, I apply a hearty pat on the back for knowing that I have zero knowledge of when THAT show even airs. Yeah, next May I’m going to have to light a candle. (sniffle).

With that said, on with the show. Let’s get Lost.

1.   At the risk of sounding like that broken record that heralded the start of this season, I’ve got to say it again. Loose ends are dwindling. Once again, we were served up an episode that tied a lot of connections and applied a little more color to the overall mosaic.  The big picture is really starting to take form.


2.   ‘The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham’ did just that – it gave us all we needed to know about what Locke did following his self-imposed exile from the island. For starters, we learned where that name came from. This is one of those chicken and the egg things. I’ll explain. Two years ago, following the Season 3 finale which saw a depressed Jack clutching a tattered obit, eagle-eyed obsessives examined screen caps of the episode with all the fervor of a Zapruder film investigation, and pulled out portions of a first and last name of the deceased – ‘Jer…entham’. So, the web was bombarded with a number of guesses. ‘Jerald Lentham’. ‘Jerry Wentham’ And then someone connected the name Jeremy Bentham to a noted philosopher – a stock in trade of Lost names (i.e, John Locke – which Charles Widemore helpfully pointed out last night) and there was the Eureka moment. But, why that name and who the hell was Jeremy Bentham? (again – asked before we knew it was Locke’s alias).

3.   And this is where I start to wonder if the producers knew Locke was in the box at the moment they dreamed up that climax. My guess – absolutely. See, it was a few months prior that they negotiated their deal with ABC to close the show at 6 seasons thus freeing them to etch an end date and sketch the rest of the show’s narrative arc. I think one of their first orders of business was creating a climax that would really change the rules of the show (i.e. Jack had made it off the island) and set the stage for the end game. And for that to happen, Locke was put in a box. So – here’s my toast to the Lost obsessives for picking this one out.

4.   But why the name? Now we know. Charles Widemore gave it to Locke as part of his new identity. The new identity makes sense. Locke is supposed to be dead so he can’t go cruising the world as John Locke. While it’s doubtful his name would raise red flags, an alias seems the safe bet. And, as Widemore said, it was a tip of the cap to another philosopher. The only think that bugs me is when the Oceanic Six would refer to Locke as Bentham in some of last season’s episodes in a bid to retain the secret identity of who was in the box. That just seemed like lazy trickery. In close quarters, they should have called him Locke. But, that’s all in the past.


5.   All right, I’ve gotten way ahead of myself. I actually intended to begin where the episode began, with that mysterious dude Caesar raiding a Dharma station for something. He finds a few files, including a map to the island, which don’t interest him before laying eyes on a sawed-off shotgun. There’s an old rule in cinema. You don’t show a gun unless you intend to have it go off. Funny, how in the same scene, he also briefly paged through an old issue of Life magazine showcasing H-Bomb testing. A shout out to ‘Jughead’ from a few weeks ago. If you recall, I said the same thing back then. Mark my words – by seasons end, the bomb and the shotgun are gonna’ speak.

6.   As for who this dude is, I’m sticking with the theory that he was planted by Widemore. Seeing the Locke/Widemore connection makes that more plausible. Sure, he pretends he doesn’t know Locke but if he works for Widemore, I’m sure this guy has a very good poker face. Although, the last shot of the episode dashes my theory a bit. I’m not sure he would keep the conniving Ben confined to an unguarded hospital bed. So, I don’t know.


7.   Where he is, though, I am absolutely certain of. Locke and his new band of merry men are not on the island we think they are. As evidenced by the Dharma logo on that file Caesar was flipping through, they were in The Hydra – which is the holding tank that Jack was stuck in during Season 2 – on the second island. There had been a lot of Internet speculation that the plane would land on the supposed runway that exists on that island (it you remember when Kate and Sawyer were incarcerated, they were made to do manual labor by Ben). Many people speculated he was building a runway and then the uber-obsessives went on a flight of fancy last week blabbering on and on about how the runway was built by Ben because he knew that somewhere in the future, that second plane would need to land on the island. Thankfully, the first few moments of this episode sent these crackpot theories into a tailspin as Frank apparently pulled a Captain Sullenberger and brought that thing down on the foliage in one piece.

8.   It was through Caesar that we learned Jack and company mysteriously vanished from the plane. In a flash of light, they were gone. So, we have evidence of two warps happening. The plane hit the window and made it onto the island but Jack and company were whisked to the past. My guess is this has to do with the island needing the core Oceanic group together and with Sawyer and company hanging with the Dharma group circa 1970ish, they were sent back to be reunited. So why not Locke? Probably because he was dead.

9.   Was being the operative term. I love the fact that they don’t play coy with this. Locke died. We saw it. He knows it. And now he’s reborn – found standing in water (more savior imagery) – and happily chatting up his miracle to the doubting Thomas’ around him. The only thing that’s worrisome is Walt’s premonition that he has seen Locke, surrounded by people that want to hurt him. At the start of this episode, Locke did find himself surrounded but the group did not appear violent. So, what does Caesar to do to incite that? More to come.

10.   Off island, we returned to Tunisia – where Locke was deposited in the same sandy stretch that Ben woke up in last season after leaving the island. This time, Locke catches a surveillance camera trained on that very site – which as Widemore explains, is the exit spot. So, he’s keeping watch for the next person to come along – or more specifically, for the inevitable to happen. For Ben to trick Locke off island just as he had done to Widemore years earlier. Now, I don’t know which one of the liars to believe. If anything, Widemore does have a better poker face as his tale seemed sincere whereas that bug-eyed bastard Ben makes me want to strangle him with an extension cord every time I lay eyes upon him. And, aside from Widemore’s meddling in Desmond’s affairs, we’ve never actually seen Widemore perpetuate any dirty work. All of Widemore’s transgressions have been filtered through Ben. So what is it? Is Widemore really just trying to reclaim his role as the once and future king or was he cast off for good reason?

11.   I’m gonna’ stake my claim to this theory. Both Widemore and Ben are bad and Locke is the true savior for the island. Widemore and Ben are like two brothers squabbling over their Dad’s fortune – neither one the proper heir. I think at the end of it all, Locke does indeed achieve his destiny and Widemore/Ben cancel each other out.

12.   In fact, Widemore prophesized it best. “There’s a war coming John. And you need to be on that island.”

13.   So, just as we begin to learn a little more about the mysterious Matthew Abbadon, he’s taken out by Ben so that the actor, Lance Reddick, doesn’t have to keep jetting back and forth from the Lost and Fringe sets. Abbadon was first seen last season, prepping Naomi (the freighter operative) about their mission to the island and the roles that Miles, Daniel, Charlotte and Frank were recruited to play. He then popped up in Hurley’s asylum with some cryptic warnings and finally appeared in Locke’s flashback as the orderly who helped him following his paralysis. As he put it, “I get people to where they need to go.” In essence, he is Destiny’s cruise director.


14.   I don’t have a lot to say about the various visits Locke made. This was done to give us some back story on his travels – including tying up the Walt loose end. Abbadon said what we were all thinking – “that boy has gotten big.” There’s another plus for the 3 year leap ahead. It helpfully explains Walt’s growth spurt.

15.   I thought it was interesting seeing Jack as he is beginning to unravel. If anything, Locke’s visit pushed him in two directions. First – to seek out the island. Second – straight to that bottle of pills, although Jack had that nasty beard beginning to invade his mug so maybe he was already deep into the pills to dull that nagging ache gnawing away inside – the itch the island desperately wanted him to scratch.


16.   In the end, it all leads to Locke’s fateful last night on Earth – in a seedy, fleabag motel where he scribbled that last gesture to Jack before fastening the noose. Now, the big question posed here is why did Ben stop Locke from killing himself only to wait a few beats and murder him, himself. I think this follows religious doctrine. I think if Locke had killed himself, then he would have been tainted and refused admission back to the island. In last week’s episode, Christian tells Locke that he must die (not kill himself) – “That’s why it’s called sacrifice, John.”

Maybe there are two sacrifices at work here. By killing Locke, Ben assures Locke’s safe passage to the island while sacrificing his own good standing in the end of this all – having sinned. Or perhaps, the island isn’t above a little murder to further its own gain. Either way, Locke was not meant to take his own life and Ben was driven by the island to intervene.

I have no doubt that Locke did need to die in order to be reborn. We know the island works in mysterious ways and has long reaching arms. This episode was evidence of that. Locke was returned to the mainland with his ability to walk manifest but severely crippled – as if the island were taunting him that it could take it all away if needed.

17.   It obviously needs Locke. And now it’s got him back.

That’s enough for now. Let me know what you guys have.

See you next week for Episode 5.7 – ‘LeFleur’.

[tv 5.0]

Comments now closed (14)

  • Hi all, great write up. Did Ben know how to get back to the island? has that ever really been established? I know he had that passage and passports, etc, but it was mostly Richard that was on and off island.. I think he killed Locke as soon as he got the name Eloise, because he didn’t need him anymore. I like your theory though. But I think the island would have taken Locke back by suicide, natural or murder.

    Here’s my main question: If Widemore knew and followed all of them so well, why the heck wasn’t Widemore on the plane? He had to of known of the flight and its passengers.

    I agree Locke is in the “present” and Jack, Jin & co are in the past, should be interesting.

    Another Q: Did Ben purposely make the time wheel off kilter causing the time jumps? Are time jumps a direct result of the wheel being off kilter therefore the flashes stopped as soon as Locke left? Did the flashes have to happen if the wheel was moved correctly?

    Why the 3 year time gap in Locke’s arrival to Tunisia? I thought they were going to cover what Locke did for three years…why the jump?

    Knowing that Locke was resurrected, it could be that Christian really is Christian with Jacob possessing him somewhat….

    Just realized Eloise was the name of the rat in Faraday’s experiments.

  • Oh, and I love the Jedi look for Locke when first shown on the beach! “These are not the droids you’re looking for.”

  • @Carlos – Good catch on Eloise the rat.

    As for Locke jumping to the present – he did not go back 3 years but he was not exactly current either as he needed time to go around and see all of those guys (which a globetrotting trip would take some time). I think when the island started jumping through time, it caused all kids of issues with “leaving the island” as well. By the passport, it looks like late 2007/early 2008.

    I don’t think Ben specifically caused the wheel to get off kilter but he did say that you had to move the island very carefully. I think he was a bit careless. The island then became like a skipping record player and it took Locke to put the wheel back in place. It didn’t restore time to the current period (hence Sawyer and company being stranded in the time they were left at – the 70’s) but it did stop the brain melting time jumps.

    I was also thinking about Ben’s motive for killing Locke. I’m starting to think you are right – that he killed Locke when he had the info he needed (specifically – the location of Eloise). But, why would he transport Locke back? I think we’ll see that Ben is in for a shock when he confrots Eloise and she says she’ll send him back provided he assembles everyone that left (meaning – Locke included). So, I’m not so sure he knows how to get back once you’ve been “exiled” from the island.

    We do know that there was a more traditional route to the island that was wiped out when Desmond turned the key a few seasons ago. Remember – they had careful waypoints to follow to get there – which is how Ben got to the island, Juliet too, and also how Richard could come and go. When Desmond turned the key – that killed all that. So now it’s a new ballgame and it appears Eloise is the only one who knows how to locate the island using the old fashioned way.

  • I love when Locke eats the piece of fruit. Terry O’Quinn certainly convinced me that it was the best papaya(?) he’d ever eaten.

    This was a good epsiode. Though, it brought back a lot of those feelings about ‘ol Locke and how he’s basically a loser outside of the island.

    We learned that Widemore used to be the leader of the others.

    We learned the island has been intentionally moved before.

    It was nice to see Walt. Its interesting that he’s still having dreams/visions. I wonder if they’re done with him now. I always wanted them to explore that thread more.


    Why did Ben kill Locke? I think the reasons you mentioned were good. i.e. he had to be killed to return to the island, that and it was his death that helped bring the Jack Pack back together, and he also was usefull in serving as a proxy for Jack’s father on the return flight.

    Did Ben know about Hawking before Locke told him?

    Where did Lapidus and I’m presuming Sun go with the boats?

    Who made the boats?

    What time did Ajira crash on the island?

    Are the Ajira survivors in the same time period as the rest of people on the main island?

  • @Ed Thanks. It was your posts that told me the rat’s name in the first place though! Good point on Ben confronting Eloise and her potential ultimatum. We haven’t seen all that and he probably was given the ultimatum. I mean, he left him for dead, for the authorities to find. Then he probably went to see Eloise and then had to go acquire the body and find Jack & co. As far as why Ben brought him back, Eloise made him and maybe he didn’t know he’d be resurrected? Or care if he was. He probably, as he always does, has answers for Locke once he has to face him again. He was just so callous with the kill, and did not seem like that he thought Locke would be seen again. And I’m still on Widemore- why wouldn’t he have gotten on the plane?? @prfkttear- good point on Locke and the loser stuff, it did bring that back…Did Ben know about Hawking is a big question, I think no and once he found out is why he killed him. Desire and or need to bring him back has to do after the fact. I dont think the Ajira survivors are in the same time, but they are on another island…they could be in the same time…Who made the boats is another good question…we’ll see..

  • I don’t think that Locke is just a loser on the mainland – I think he’s susceptible to ‘the con’ on or off the island. It’s his nature, and nature doesn’t ever change fully. I think much like he was played by his father when his kidney was taken, I think he’s getting played by both Widemore and Ben – each one is using Locke like a naive pawn in their end-game for the island. Heck, even the island/Jacob/Christian are pushing him around in directions, like a chess piece being lined up to be taken by the King (or Queen, maybe 😉 )

  • My question is who was the woman that Frank left with on the third boat. Why would it be Sun? Why would she (and Ben for that matter) crash with the plane and Hurley, Kate and Jack be removed from the plane by the light? I can see the theory of why Locke was there since he was dead at the time. Also, where is Syaid? The woman who Locke was talking to was the one that had Sayid in cutody, correct? So she is at the crash site, but he appears not to be.

    I also think Ben killed Locke when he heard Eloise’s name. It is strange because on one hand he tells him he is important and not hang himself and then he kills him. After he cleans up he says goodbye like he is never going to see him again. Then why bring his body on the plane. Jack had already committed to going back and Ben was the one who told him to take Locke with them. You wonder if Ben will be expecting Locke there when he wakes up or will be surprised? It is so hard to tell what his angle is.

    Also, Eloise seem not to like Ben. Her comment when asked if he was telling the truth as “probably not”. So it seem weird that she is helping him. Although she seems to think there is a greater good to getting everyone back to the island and has to put up with Ben as he is the one gathering the folks to go back. A necessary evil.

    I also wonder why Widemore would put a proxy on the plan and not go back himself? If that person Caeser even works for Widemore…I agree Ed, Ben would be either dead or at least tied up if he knew who he was.

    On a comedy note and the reason I like Hurley…when he thinks Locke is dead because he has been seeing and talking to Charlie and Ecko and asks the nurse am I talking to dude in a wheelchair right now?

  • @Joe On Locke, definitely. Not trying to dis the guy, just that it reminded us of some of those flashbacks. Awesome character really.

  • First – Locke has been my favorite character since the first season episode, Walkabout, when we got the twist that he was paralyzed and could now walk. My take is that Locke has been meant for great things but his inate nature to doubt himself (pre-island) and his Daddy issues coupled with abandonment his entire life have conspired to keep him from achieving that greatness. Remember, we saw Richard Alpert present at Locke’s birth and then Richard appraoched him as young boy with a series of tests (a la the way the Dhali Lama is chosen). Locke has always been this island’s leader. He just needed to chase all these ghosts that haunt him. Essentially, his life has been one GIANT test. Bottom line – Terry O’Quinn is the man. What a role!!!

    On Ben – He definitely knew of Eloise Hawking but did not know she was in LA. I think that was new info to Ben.

    On Widemore – He says he was theleader of the Others but that’s his story. I’m sure Ben has a different tale to tell. Personally, I think they are both liars aiming to manipulate Locke to their own ends and I think in the end, Locke stays with the island and those two fall by the wayside.

    As for Frank, Son, Sayid, etc… I think these are little teases to things we’ll learn in coming episodes. I think this season will build to all parties getting back together in the same timeline.

  • Boats: Aren’t these the same boats the Others would use to get about when in *disguise*? I’m with Ed, they were at the Hydra station and Locke is definitely looking longingly at his island as he eats his mango.

    Walt: My thought was the people surrounding Locke in Walt’s dream are the 316ers. I can’t imagine these people are going to be very happy to find out they are crashed because the Oceanic 5, Ben and Locke needed to get back to the island.

    Who ended up when: I think Frank is with some other girl, maybe that flight attendant, and not Sun. My assumption was that once we saw Ben at the end of the episode, all the Oceanic 5 flashed to the past, so that means Sun and Sayid too, they just didn’t end up in the same location as Kate, Hurley and Jack. I think the 5 of them are connected to Juliet, Jin, Sawyer, etc. in time or because of that pesky Constant thing. Locke might have been disconnected from them because he left separately and/or was dead.

    Sacrifice: I think Locke had to be willing to sacrifice himself, but also because of the religious connections they have already started establishing, he could not kill himself. Ben talked him down to prevent the suicide and then got more info out of him. Having gotten everything he needed, he took care of it straightaway. If he didn’t get everything he needed, I assume he could have waited.

    Ben v. Widemore: I think both are quasi-evil. Both are pretenders to the throne. My thoughts from when we first saw the whiny young Widemore were that he had been chosen as the leader by Richard. He passed the test, but I think he might have been a false leader just like Ben. I agree that Locke is the true leader and the other two just want that back, but they both know they need Locke for something to make that happen. Both are bastards, but Widemore is a bit more charismatic.

    Widemore: I too wondered why he wouldn’t just hop on that flight if he knew it was going to get him back to the island, but that assumes he can/wants to return. Ben left and was able to return, so I think Widemore does not want to go back at this time, but eventually does. He’s probably busy running the show, preparing for this war, on the outside.

    Caesar: Once I saw him tearing thru the papers I figured he was a Widemore employee. He and the marshal would seem to be the leaders of this new tribe and it would now seem obvious that they are the ones that start shooting at Locke, Juliet and company after they stole one of the boats. He seems like bad news and certainly quick on his feet to pull that flashlight instead of the boomstick.

  • thanks for another good LOST recap!! your brain is always a few steps ahead of mine!

  • Ok, I have to say that this was one of the greatest episodes yet this season. Its been quite the roller-coaster ride, and I feel like I’m getting answers thrown at me one after the other. I’m ready to hang out and find out more, and here are a few theories/thoughts I’ve come up with.

    1. Matthew Abbadon: which can also be spelled Abaddon, is roughly translated from the bible as”the angel of the bottomless pit.” I just thought I would throw that out there for everyone to ponder.

    2. When Sun showed up on that dock that night a few episodes ago, she was there as a Widemore employee. I think that after she reunites with Jin (hopefully), that her employment to Mr. Widemore is going to play itself out, or there are going to be serious consequences. The whole who left with Frank thing got me thinking about this… there has to be some end game there. Either Sun will get Ben, or Widemore has instructions for her once she gets back to the island.

    3. I loved the contrast that was played out with Locke this week. When ever you see him in the “real world” he is a cripple, or helpless. He is again back in a wheelchair. I think this is just further evidence that he is destined to be on this island, and that he is also destined for something far more important that we can think of just yet.

    4. I wanted to say that I think the Ben v. Widemore needs to be expanded to Ben v. Widemore v. Richard. I feel like if Ben was truly evil and the island didn’t need him, Richard would have let him die instead of saving his ass on several occasions. Ben is admittedly done several evil things to many of our island friends, but I think however evil these acts may be, they are a part of a much larger endgame that both Richard and Ben are aware of. Richard seems to be that missing link to everything.

    I feel like if Widemore was really meant to still be on the island, and was going to play a larger role in everything we would have already seen him with Richard. Well at least more than the one time this season we saw them together. He has money and resources yes, but if he was so desperate to get back on the island, he would have been on that plane with the 6. He just would have.

  • Hey Ed:

    What’s up with you and yors? Acting like the “Nerd” perhaps. Hope all is well