The Theory

The Theory
(Updated April 27, 2008)
One of the central stories driving the mythology of Lost is like a chess game between Ben and The Universe (the game being played between Ben and Widmore is of secondary importance). Ben is trying to change destiny. The Universe course-corrects him each time. But Ben is smart and determined to win (at any cost). He and the Universe are trying to out-maneuver each other like opponents in a cosmic course-correcting game of chess. Why? Because Ben loves Annie and will not accept it is just “her path” to die.

Ben’s Ability
Ben’s power comes from the island (see the mirror-matter moon theory). The unique electromagnetic nature of the island allows him to “unstick” himself in time and space. For hundreds if not thousands of years, Widmore was the guardian of this power. But Ben has banished Widmore and harnessed the immense power of the island for himself. He uses this power to maneuver his consciousness through time and stay one step ahead of the Universe's course-correcting actions.

Ben’s Motivation
Ben is motivated by love – or, rather, the grief one feels at the loss of love – the fear one has of death. Ben hated life until he met Annie. She was his one bright spot – his true love. They grew up together and promised to be with each other for ever. They even got pregnant and were soon to have a son, but the Universe took Annie away. She died early in her third trimester. Ben is trying to solve the “pregnant women die on the island” problem so his consciousness can take the solution back in time to save her. He believes he can do it, because he’s done it before.

Annie’s Many Deaths
Annie didn’t “only” die in childbirth (just like Charlie didn’t “only” die by being struck by an arrow in his throat). Annie has died many times and Ben has prevented it each time (like Desmond did with Charlie) – and each time the Universe has reacted by killing her a different way – most “recently” by killing Annie her with the pregnancy. That is the move Ben is reacting to now.

The Story

The Story:

Once upon a time there was a magical island – a land connected to this earth, but very different – a land like Narnia, or Wonderland, or Avalon, or Oz. The ancient civilization who lived on this island guarded its powerful secrets from the outside world. But people from the outside world occasionally found their way to the island. And occasionally this meant big trouble.

In the 1960’s, one of these groups came to this island. They called themselves the Dharma initiative and claimed to be experimenting with the island’s “unique properties” for the improvement of the human race. Many of the Dharma recruits sincerely believed they were doing just that. But the people behind Dharma had far sinister motives...


The Cosmic Game of Chess

The Players:

Player #1: The Universe (white)

In chess, the white pieces always move first. In this case, The Universe made the first move -- it killed Annie and Ben's unborn son. All of Ben’s moves were a counter response to this. As Ben said to Michael, "What wouldn't a father do for his son..." (more)

Player #2: Ben (black)

Ben once told Locke, “Help yourself to the chicken… sorry, I ate most of the dark meat myself.” Ben is a liar and a murderer. More importantly, he is trying to change fate – to fight against God/The Universe. While there is nothing intrinsically evil in the color black itself, traditional symbology associates this kind of evil with the color black, so that’s where I’m putting him in this game of chess. Besides, the Universe moved first by killing Annie, and in chess, white always moves first... (more)

Who is Charles Widmore?

What an awesome final scene between Ben and Widmore in last night's 4.9 "The Shape of Things to Come." So what does that mean for my theory? Do I still think that Ben is waging a war against the Universe?


I still think that the biggest most important game is being played between Ben vs. The Universe, because Ben is trying to change fate and save Annie's life. The eventual outcome and the stakes of that game are more important to Ben than anything else (he is even willing to sacrifice his daughter Alex, who he loved as his replacement child when Annie died in childbirth).

The Ben vs. Widmore game is for possession of the island, and that is the source of the power Ben needs to wage his war against the universe. So this is an important game, too.

But who is Widmore? Why was it always his island? How did he know Ben well enough to say "I know you boy -- what you are -- and I know everything you have you took from me." In the war between Dharma and the Hostiles, on what side was Widmore?

I have some guesses here that may or may not pan out, but it sounds to me like there has been a classic "now the student is the teacher" moment between Ben and Widmore, and that would lead me to believe that Widmore was on the side of the Hostiles, not Dharma.

I earlier proposed some speculation about both Widmore and Jacob that I will have to tweak a little, but I think they were pretty close at the time, only now the roll of "teacher" that I enjisioned as Jacob is now filled by Widmore. Here is what I posted earlier -- you will see the tweaks I need to make:

[Young] Ben returned to Dharma and waited. He told no one about his encounter with Richard – no one except for Annie. Ben continued to sneak away from Dharma to meet “the hostiles,” sometimes taking Annie with him.

Richard introduced Ben to Jacob Widmore, the leader of “the hostiles.’ Jacob Widmore was a great man – a powerful man – a kind and forgiving man. He became a second father to Ben. Ben loved and respected him and was especially in awe of his great power.

Jacob Widmore gained his power from the mysterious Jacob and from the island itself but shared its power and secrets with only a select few who had proven themselves worthy. He taught them to “unstick” themselves in time and space, but warned them of the hazards that would come if they tried to leave the island. Ben wanted to learn these secrets and prove himself worthy, but again, he was told he would have to be patient and wait.

Jacob Widmore was in tune with the Universe, with God, and was a staunch protector of fate. He was very concerned about Dharma’s sinister attempts to exploit the power of the island, but he was confident that their efforts would eventually fail. He had seen the future – he knew what Dharma was trying to do – and he knew that their own chemical experimentations would shortly be used against them.

On the prescribed day at the prescribed time, Ben and Annie and a few other Dharma defectors assisted “the hostiles” in their purge against Dharma. The purge was successful and the connection between Dharma and the outside world was severed. The island had been saved from the outside world, once again.

After the Dharma purge, life on the island returned to normal – a peaceful, idyllic bliss. Ben and Annie were married, but then tragedy struck. Annie had a terrible accident and was killed. Ben was grief stricken. He appealed to Jacob Widmore
to use his great power to go back in time and save Annie from her fate, but Jacob
Widmore refused.

“It wouldn’t matter,” he explained to Ben. “If you saved her from that death another would soon follow. The Universe has a way of course-correcting. That is simply Annie’s path. You cannot change it – not even with all the power this
island could give you.”

But Ben refused to accept it. He delved more deeply into his studies of the island. He began to recruit others – people who wanted more than what Jacob Widmore and the island were offering – people like Richard and Tom who wanted to experience life off the island – a benefit allowed only to the few elect who had been found worthy to be taught all the secrets of the island.

These elect people had proven themselves worthy and been taught by Jacob Widmore to “unstick’ themselves in time and space and to transcend their very natures. They became part of the island, and when “unsticking” themselves in time and space would manifest themselves as black smoke-like creatures with amazing power and ability. Ben wanted this power and ability for himself, so he went along doing all he needed to be deemed worthy, to become one of the elect – and eventually he was rewarded.

Once he learned the secrets of the island, however, Ben tricked Jacob Widmore and imprisoned [or expelled him from the island making it impossible for him to return] him. Ben could not simply kill Widmore, because Widmore -- as he had done for many of his followers -- had taught Ben the secrets of time and space, and had made himself Ben's constant. If Ben killed his constant, he would lose the control he had over time and space and would eventually "short circuit."

When Jacob Widmore did not return to his people, Ben spread the word that Jacob Widmore had lost favor with the universe Jacob– that he had lost favor with God. He began to speak of Jacob Widmore as a man who was neither kind nor forgiving.

Jacob Widmore had been lost, but not permanently. He could still be redeemed if his followers gathered together and worked for a common goal.

And Ben – as the new custodian of the island’s powers – could still communicate with the mysterious Jacob, so he could show his people the way to reclaim him from his tragic fate.

This was the lie Ben used to assume his power.

He also taught his chosen supporters secrets that Jacob Widmore had safeguarded and reserved for the elect. This included making himself the "constant" for
people like Richard and Tom who wanted to travel off the island. Ben made these
things possible for them, and thus secured their loyalty.

But most importantly, once Ben assumed control, he used his new power to go back and save Annie from her original cause of death. But sure enough, when one death was avoided, the universe course-corrected and another death followed.

Still, each time Ben found a way to avoid it and postpone it. He used the lie about Jacob Widmore to recruit others to assist him in his efforts, and thus developed a powerful network of followers, both on and off the island, who could help him with any task he assigned.

Not all Jacob Widmore's people accepted Ben. Some of the elect abandoned the island, and set about working against Ben in their attempt to free Jacob Widmore.

So what is the relationship between Widmore and Jacob? Is Jacob Yoda to Widmore's Obi-Wan to Ben's Anakin? Is Widmore actually Jacob -- a piece of soul trapped on the island some quantum-ghost state? Does Widmore see the island in his nightmares? Did Widmore originally get to the island on the Black Rock? So many interesting questions. What a great episode. I absolutely loved it!
Just one final thing to say:

Yoda – Obi-wan –Anakin Jacob – Widmore – Ben

The White Pieces

Click on a name for more info:

Jacob - He is the recognized leader of the others. They believe he has immense power... (more).

Desmond - Desmond is a key figure in this theory. Through his storyline, we have learned about time traveling consciousness... (more)

Locke - John will prove to be the key figure in the overthrow of Benjamin Linus... (more)

Charles Widmore - This may seem a little out of place, as Widmore is generally considered to be a "bad guy." So why would he be fighting on the side of the Universe alongside recognized heros such as Jacob, Desmond, and Locke (especially given his brutal mistreatment of Desmond)? (more)

Penny Widmore - Penny told Desmond that "with enough money and determination, you can find anyone." She has searched relentlessly for her lost love... (more)

Ms. Hawking - Ms. Hawking is an extremely important character to the show. Through her, we have been given our clearest glimpse into the course-correcting workings of the universe... (more)

Brother Campbell - Brother Campbell, like Ms. Hawking, is a follower of Jacob who left the island when Ben rose to power. He is working to ensure that Desmond follows the destiny that has been laid out for him... (more)

Kelvin Inman - Kelvin found Desmond on the beach and brought him into the Swan station. He ensured that Desmond would miss pushing the button on the right day at the right time in order to bring Oceanic 815 to the island... (more)

Walt - Walt is a 'special" kid with a psychic connection to the universe. His abilities made him especially important to Ben, so he arranged for Walt to be kidnapped. While he was with the others, he was able to communicate with people in a variety of unconventional ways.. (more)

Boone/Charlie/Libby/Christian - Each of these people have died, yet their "spirits" have returned and visited people to assist them along their destined path... (more)

The Black Pieces

Click on a name for more info:

Richard - Is one of the most key people in Ben's rise to power. He was with "the hostiles" when Dharma was in their heyday. (more)

Tom - Is one of Ben's most trusted agent. He carries out his assignments with skill and ruthless efficiency. (more)

Mikhail - Another loyal follower of Ben, he manned the flame station and was in charge of all intelligence gathering activities. (more)

Juliet - Juliet is a very important person to Ben. She is a fertility miracle-worker. She can create life where life is not supposed to exist. This means that she can find a solution to the 'pregnant women die on the island' problem -- a solution Ben can take back in time to save his beloved Annie... (more)

Harper - Harper was/is a psychiatrist for "the Others." While we don't know a lot about her, we do know that Ben has used her to communicate certain messages to people... (more)

Michael - Ben is using Michael the way he is using everyone. Michael has shown himself to be a man who will do anything for his son, Walt... (more)

Sayid - Sayid was a torturer for the Iraqi republican guard. He was one of the passengers of Ocean 815. He ultimately has a role to play in Ben's eventual overthrow... (more)

Jin - Jin was a stongman who "delivered messages" for father-in-law and Korean mob-boss Mr. Paik. He was one of the passengers of Ocean 815 who crashed on the island and ultimately has a role to play in Ben's eventual overthrow... (more)

Jack - Jack Shephard is an important piece in this game. He is a strong leader and can rally people to either support Ben or to fight against Ben... (more)

Kate/Hurley/Aaron/Claire - Each of these people are connected to the Oceanic 6. Three of them has left the island. One of them has not... (more)


Mr. Friendly’s proof (the Widmore File)

Remember in episode 4.5 when Ben had Locke open his safe and pull out a video tape with Widmore on it? Wasn’t that just a little too convenient, that this tape just happened to be sitting there in Ben’s safe at the exact moment Ben needed it? The same sort of thing happened in episode 4.7 with Michael and Mr. Friendly... (more)

The Man from Tallahassee

When Locke was in Ben's bedroom closet with a gun to Alex's head, Ben told Richard to "get the man from Tallahassee." Although this was not code for "there's a man in my closet with a gun to my daughter's head" it was a clue to Richard that it was time to make a move against John Locke -- a move that they had previously prepared due to their advanced foresight... (more)

Time Travel vs. Life Travel

I think it is important to clearly define these terms. When we say “time travel” we traditionally think of a person being able to go backwards or forward to any point in time and to any place on the earth. Marty McFly can go back to the future in his De Lorean. Bill and Ted can collect famous history dudes in their flying phone booth. But that is not the kind of “time travel” we have seen so far on Lost. Lost's version isn’t really “time travel” in that traditional sense. It is more like “life travel.”

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