Black and white. Always been a subtle element within Lost right back from the time Locke held up two backgammon pieces to Walt and told him: “Two sides. One is light. One is dark.” And with the episode Meet Kevin Johnson that distinction between opposites was presented for our consideration, with Ben and Michael. Yes, there is the crass black and white parallel (Ben’s white, Mike’s black!) but the real parallel concerns the lengths a father will go to for their child. To state the matter plainly: Either Ben and Michael have both proven they will murder other people to protect their child, or Ben really is a “good guy”, and as such is the other side, the white to Michael’s black.
Ben – “I don’t blame you, Michael. We did have your boy. What wouldn’t a man do for his son?”
The episode was, I think, pushing the possibility that Ben was responsible for the ambush on Alex, Danielle and Karl. Contrasting what Michael did for Walt against what Ben might have done for Alex. We know Ben is protective of Alex, that he apparently had Karl locked in a cage and then brainwashed in Room 23 purely because of his relationship with her. Ben later said his actions were an over-reaction. If that was an over-reaction, then what do you call murder? He saw Alex and Karl, with their arms around one another, gazing at baby Aaron and, knowing pregnancy is a death sentence on the Island perhaps he decided to remove the possibility completely? (He's already made sly mention to Karl about "sleeping with my daughter" during the episode Confirmed Dead.) He has pure motive.
But let’s hold on here. Because I believe Ben really is the white to Michael’s black in this instance. Whilst the episode did suggest that Ben sent Alex, Danielle and Karl on their way to an ambush he had somehow set up, I don’t think that was the way of it. The matter of how he would set up the ambush in the first place is hard to imagine. The fact that it would have been an Other shooting Karl dead is tough to comprehend (they’d just shoot one of their own like that? not sticking to their ‘eye for an eye’ justice code?). And Danielle had been wandering the Island for 16 years, untouched and unbothered by The Others, then at the drop of a hat they put a bullet in her? Doesn’t make sense. I always liked to believe Danielle had purpose, that there was a reason for her being left alone and alive, so I hope she isn’t actually dead.
“I’m Ben’s daughter!” Alex yelled in surrender. She wouldn’t need to announce who she was if she thought it was The Others. She believes it’s The Freighter people, and she announces herself to ensure her value to them is understood. And I think Alex is right. I think the shooter(s) is/are from The Freighter, possibly dropped onto the Island by Frank (remember how he nipped away in his helicopter in the previous episode?). This being true, it means Alex will be delivered into enemy hands and, suddenly, Ben will be the father forced to question how far he is willing to go to protect his child. Oh the irony.
Tellingly, if this is the case, it means Ben has made his first major mistake. The all-knowing mastermind’s first mis-step. Perhaps this is how he will eventually wind up off-Island, using Sayid as his assassinating puppet. Maybe Ben will surrender the Island for the sake of his daughter. Maybe those are the lengths he, as a father, will go to. Alongside this, I think we witnessed part of the reason Sayid will be humbled enough to come to work for Ben in the future; he instantly gave Michael up as a traitor upon learning he was working for Ben. Oh, the irony! Perhaps he should have thought less with his heart?
Frustratingly we were never shown how Michael and Walt got themselves back to New York after leaving the Island on that tiny boat, but we know they managed to do it very discreetly and that somewhere along the way Michael told Walt about shooting Ana Lucia and Libby. A very disappointed Walt therefore turned his back on Michael, and Michael was driven, literally, to suicide. Bad news for suicidal Island-elopers is that there’s an Island force that stops you from killing yourself.
That the Island has some kind of a will does, at first, seem kind of silly. It’s certainly hard to comprehend scientifically. However, it can be reconciled with the idea of a grand design – of purpose on a large scale. The passengers of Oceanic 815, with their criss-crossing lives and chequered destiny’s all slot into this large, Lost puzzle. Only at the end will the design make sense. Only at the end will a force that can stop a gun from firing be seen as cosmically viable in the Lost universe. The same way, when Jack was about to leap off a bridge during Through The Looking Glass, a car crash occurred to appeal to his innate urge to save people and stop his suicidal act.
Or maybe, for the men of science amongst us, the reason there was a car crash on a bridge was because the driver lost concentration due to staring at Jack about to jump off the side. And the reason Michael’s gun didn’t fire was because Tom took it off him and disabled the firing pin without Michael noticing. The beauty of Lost is you can believe on a level you are happy to invest in; whatever works for you.
Ben must surely have reasons for selecting Michael for The Freighter task. Since his own people can come and go from the Island with ease, and have the wherewithal to generate fake passports and get a place on The Freighter, any Other could have done it. Instead, Tom was sent over at great lengths to ensure Michael was the one. Again, this makes sense. Ben’s repeated insistence has been to never let people leave the Island. I’m willing to bet that in flashforwards, Ben, whilst working to thwart Widmore, will also be angling to get the Oceanic 6 back to the Island also.
Widmore was further presented as the ultimate nemesis of Ben’s. Another black to his white, if you like. Frank Lapidus remarked to Kevin Johnson/Michael Dawson that Widmore, the owner of The Freighter, believes that the wreck of Oceanic 815 was a fake, unaware of the fact that Widmore believed as much because he put it there! (Once again: oh the irony!)
Using the corpses of Thais to populate as passengers, this should hopefully, once and for all, silence the lunatic fringe that believe Oceanic 815 was cloned, or sent into a different time dimension. The real plane crashed. The other plane was faked so that people would stop looking for the real one and, in doing so, potentially discover the Island that Widmore wants all to himself. It’s that simple. The existence of the Oceanic 6 doesn’t contradict the faked wreckage; all 324 passengers were assumed dead and no bodies were actually recovered. No one actually went down and counted all the bodies; all 324 were assumed dead. It’s that simple.
All of this information was relayed by Tom. Since his “You’re not my type” comment to Kate in the locker room during A Tale Of Two Cities we’ve all known he was probably gay. Arturo was living confirmation. Poor Arturo wasn’t to know that, mere weeks later, big Tom would be on his knees on a beach where a con man known as Sawyer shoots him dead. But Tom wasn’t the only person back from the dead in this episode.
Was Libby a pure manifestation of Michael’s guilt haunting him, conjured from his sub-conscious? Or evidence of this Island force existing around Michael, reminding him of the debt he owes and his need to save his fellow Oceanic passengers? Believe whatever you want, on whatever level you’re prepared to invest in. Either way, Michael’s purpose is not yet complete. “I’m here to die,” he remarked to Sayid. ‘NOT YET’ flagged up the little note in unmistakable black letters on white paper when he attempted to do just that.
It’s a message that could have come straight from the Island itself. Not yet, Kevin Johnson. Not yet, Michael Dawson. The Island needs you. It would seem, given the inherent misery and guilt the Oceanic 6 have been shown to be riddled with, once you’re a part of the Island you’re never quite complete without it, and it’s never quite complete without you.
Hurley – “I don't think we did the right thing, Jack. I think it wants us to come back. . . And it’s going to do everything it can. . .” (Hurley to Jack, Season 4, Episode 1: The Beginning Of The End)