I’m saying Ben messed up. Not deliberately. Accidentally. Made a mistake. Got caught in a net when he didn’t mean to. I know there are plenty of people that subscribe to the idea of Ben as arch mastermind, so I suppose I’ve got some convincing to do. . .
Working chronologically, this is how I see Ben operating before getting caught in the net. First, he finds out that he has a spine tumor. On an Island where no one gets sick, that’s a heck of a blow. Probably feeling forsaken by Jacob, seeing the writing on the wall for his tenure as Island Chief, he then witnesses a plane crash. Mikhail does his research and discovers that there is, no less, a spinal surgeon on the plane that miraculously survived the crash.
As Ben himself said: “Two days after I found out I had a fatal tumor on my spine, a spinal surgeon fell out of the sky. And if that's not proof of God, I don't know what is.”
So Ben has learned there is a man amongst the survivors that he needs. The smart move would have been for The Others to welcome the survivors into their group right from the start – but since they didn’t do that and instead presented themselves as hostile, Ben needed to employ some manipulation. How was he to do that? Well, Juliet wondered the same thing when the two of them were observing Jack in The Swan from The Pearl.
Juliet: “That him? Shephard?”
Juliet: “He’s cute. Why are we doing this? Shephard will never agree to do the surgery.”
Ben: “No, I can convince him to do it.”
Ben: “Same way I get anybody to do anything. I find out what he’s emotionally invested in, and I exploit it.”
So here’s where things get curious. Roughly four months prior to any of this happening, a man named Henry Gale crash-landed on the Island in a hot air balloon. Not long after, he was killed by The Others and buried. Ben, whatever his part was in all of this, knew about Henry and decided to appropriate his identity. Given that the balloon and ‘wife’s grave’ elements were physically there then it was a good story to use: Ben had evidence if, say, the likes of Sayid and Ana Lucia went looking for it.
(The story would have worked, too, if Sayid hadn’t tenaciously dug the grave up and found the ‘dead wife’ was in fact the real Henry Gale.)
So now we get to the crux of the matter. Armed with a fake name, background story and a plan to integrate into the group, Ben sets off to the Oceanic camp. For me, he’s got everything he needs. He can walk right into the camp pretending to be Henry Gale. Sure, he could expect interrogation, but it would be no worse than what he was actually subjected to anyway.
What was unexpected for Ben was getting accidentally caught in a net. As I believe I have adequately presented, there was no reason for him to deliberately do this. Being left hanging, to be found by Rousseau, provided no guarantee that he would even make it to the camp. For all he knew, Rousseau could have just killed him right there and then.
I remember back in the day a lot of theories surrounded the idea that Rousseau was working in collaboration with Ben. But since then we’ve seen the two of them together; how she found out the truth about Alex and went along with her to what would prove to be her death. Whatever the mysteries are with Rousseau, the idea that she was in league with Ben is way too farfetched for me to tolerate.
And that’s it, basically. That’s my point. Ben made a mistake. Flat out, one hundred per cent did something he didn’t intend. For me, this is absolute proof that Ben is fallible, is prone to error. And, I suppose, my parting shot here is this: If Ben can get caught in a net, can make one mistake, there’s no reason to believe he hasn’t made other mistakes and won’t make more again.