Sometimes I wonder if LOST would have lost its way if it wasn’t for Benjamin Linus.
Before Ben became part of the series, we had a bunch of intriguing characters who survived a plane wreck but none of them could really be considered a main character of the show. (You could make a strong case that Jack or Locke fit this bill. I would say that the island itself was the main character through the first season and half.)
After Ben was introduced, we saw how everything revolves around him, his decisions, and his actions. All the other characters are responding and reacting to whatever he does. And last night’s episode illustrated this perfectly. We saw how Ben manipulated Sayid into becoming an assassin and how Hurly, Claire, Sawyer and others now rely in him for their lives, and how even the rich and powerful Charles Widmore is simply reacting to whatever Ben does.
But it isn’t the fact that the LOST universe revolves around Ben that makes him a great main character. The writers have shown us enough of his background and human side that we feel sorry for him. We’ve seen enough of his sad childhood and his unloving father that we can’t help but see that maybe part of the reason he’s evil is because, in part, some of his past experiences.
And even though we know he’s very evil and manipulative person, we couldn’t help but feel his shock and sadness when his disavowment of Alex backfired and she was executed. No one really blamed him for turning the smoke monster on the soldiers. And now his quest for revenge in flashforwards doesn’t seem pointless – even if we don’t agree with his actions we can last least see the motivation behind them.
Ben makes LOST tick. And I’m looking forward to (hopefully) two more seasons of this intriguing character.