If you’ve watched Lost (whether you liked the show or not), you know the characters were memorable and well-rounded. The story lines moved quickly, even if every episode seemed to ask more questions than it answered.
One of my favorite aspects was how the people on the island felt like real people. You could feel Charlie’s addiction, how he wanted to be clean and prove himself to Claire, but he couldn’t conquer the demons he battled in a single episode or even a single season. Jack had his own demons, and it takes him all six seasons to slay them.
Of all the characters who have things to overcome, my favorite is Ben Linus. When the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 find him, he claims to be a man who crashed on the island while aboard a hot-air balloon and calls himself Henry Gale. The survivors lock him in an underground bunker, but though they’re sure he’s an Other, the audience isn’t sure.
Ben is a master manipulator. Brought to the island when he was a sweet, innocent boy, you feel for him when his drunk father hits him or neglects him. He only wants love, but his father blames him for his mother’s death.
As an adult, he lies, he cheats, and he twists the emotions of those under him. His one goal on the island is to prove himself to the mysterious Jacob. When it becomes obvious Jacob cares nothing for him or his efforts over the years, Ben sees all the years of sacrifice and pain as empty and useless.
His lowest point comes when his daughter Alex dies. When a gunman has a gun to her head, Ben calls out, “She’s a pawn, nothing more. She means nothing to me.” But instead of Alex being set free, she’s killed in front of him. He has no one to blame but himself.
He orchestrates Locke’s death, kills an entire village of people, and refuses to let anyone off the island. Alex is responsible for sorrow and suffering, but at the beginning of the show, he justifies it by claiming he was special. He did all that Jacob required.
After Alex’s death, he changes for the worse. He grows more jealous of Locke’s special connection with the island and seeks revenge on those who he thinks would harm the island.
There are too many spoilers to talk about the last season, but by the end of the fifth season, Ben is as low as it’s possible to go. During the final season, he finds redemption. In the end, instead of constantly fighting against and trying to kill the last survivors of Oceanic 815, you see him come alongside them. You see his growth and despite the terrible crimes and horrific actions he’s taken for over five seasons, you can’t help but cheer for him.
In the end, you can almost see the man he could have grown up to be if he’d grow up as a normal boy without a drunken father and the influence of the Others. Ben Linus is a well-written villain, one who shows that no true villain is 100% evil. Even at his most wicked, he still loved his daughter. He wanted to please Jacob and did what he thought was best for the island. His growth through all six seasons is gradual; he has setbacks; he has to learn some lessons more than once. Ben begins the show as a lying, distrustful man and ends as a person to depend on, a man you can trust to support you and rely on.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Carol Starkley lives with her husband, three daughters, and numerous pets. She likes to read, write, bake, and dabble with the clarinet. She also infrequently blogs.