Monday, December 03, 2007

Ben's Long Con?

In Three Minutes Tom, Pickett and Alex pick up Michael a few hours from the Swan. They're dressed in their seabilly rags and they take Michael to a place where they can engage in their stage craft--trick shooting and magic torches. The reason for the stagecraft is explained by Alex. He's just delivering a message. He has to scare your friends to do it.

Until this most recent viewing of this episode I thought the point of all this was that the Others needed Michael because something had come up with Walt. In fact I've posted on this blog and other places that leaving Michael for dead with the raft was a mistake by the Others since it turned out they needed him and his blood after all.

But I was wrong. They didn't need Michael to help with Walt. They needed Michael to bring Jack, Kate and Sawyer to Ben. Ben tells us this in Expose.

Juliet: So, what, we just grab all 3 of them...Ford and Austen too.
Ben: No, they need to come to us.
Juliet: And how do we make that happen?
Ben: Michael of course.

All this stagecraft from mysterious instant messaging in the Swan to the seabilly rags to Yurt Village to wearing Michael down for a week in Yurt Village and allowing him to see Walt was all done only to get Jack to Ben. Ben getting caught threw a monkey wrench in the plan, but still, they managed to work around it. Questioning Michael about Walt was a total red herring. They didn't need Michael's blood. They didn't need answers only Walt's father would have. They only needed an out of his mind father freeing the Other to anger Jack enough to come after him.

Is this even why they took Walt in the first place? That doesn't seem quite right because how was Jack supposed to know he should trek across the Island to rescue Walt? It still seems to me they left Michael, Sawyer and Jin for dead. But maybe it was part of the con. Maybe that's why what Walt evidenced in his testing was more than they had bargained for since they were only bargaining for surgery? Bilocation and Island communion -- they were just a bonus.


Lost 2010 said...

The only problem with the idea that they needed Michael to bring J,K, and S to them is that he already had.

They grabbed Kate right after he was captured. Jack and Sawyer (with Locke) were there for the magic show.

Why not just hang onto J,K, and S while they already had them? Was a part of the con, the idea that Jack needed to feel he'd gotten Kate into this mess? Or is Locke just such an island force that having him there would have ruined the whole thing?

memphish said...

See that's always bothered me too L2010. That's why I think this was in fact a long con. They couldn't just take K,J and S and send back Locke. For some reason, one I think has to do with Ben wanting Jack to want to do the surgery as opposed to being forced to do the surgery, Ben says to Juliet that J,K and S need to "come to them." Ben's con breaks up first when he gets caught in a net (not a euphamism Sawyer) and then when his tumor turned out to be more aggressive than he'd thought. Unlike Sawyer's long cons, we didn't get to see Ben's play out all the way.

We could speculate endlessly what it would have looked like. I think part of it involved a revelation that unlike what Michael thought they were not slow, stupid hillbillies but were civilized science-minded individuals like Jack himself. I think they also wanted to show Jack that Kate picked Sawyer, not him, so that Jack had that emotional reason to leave the people he'd led up until then.

That the plan seems unnecessarily complicated at times I think also indicates this is a long con as opposed to mere short-term need filling. I guess in part it's driven by Ben's boredom and his over-estimation of his people-manipulating skills.

hatchling23 said...

I agree that for whatever reason Ben needed Jack to "want" to do the surgery as opposed to him being forced to do it under duress.

All the mind games to manipulate Jack, tempting him with cheeseburgers, letting him see Kate and James, Juliette flirting with him, etc... was just to get jack to agree to do something voluntarily.

What still bothers me is Tom saying that Jack is not on Jacob's list. What is the point of the list?

Why and How does Ben get a tumor that only Jack can fix?

Clearly Jack is important to Ben but doesn't the island know that ultimatly Jack will be the one who betray's the island and makes the call to the freighter?

I also was a little confused by the mobisode that showed Juliette telling Michael that Ben is a very important man to them. While not saying that he is their leader, it still told Michael that Ben was a perfect bargaining chip to use as a trade for Walt.

I wonder what Walt will make appear "out of the box" in season 4 that will affect the freighter people.

Sorry, I'm rambling...


capcom said...

Wow. This part of the story always makes my head spin. If this really was a specific lonnnnng con of Ben's, it certainly required numerous contingency plans and supplemental moves along the way. If so, Ben didn't do too badly in the end, concerning his ultimate desired scenario and outcome, i.e., his operation. But he must have been certainly sweating bullets along the way.

In addition is one thing that I would like to say to Ben though, "If you knew so much about Jack's "Mr.Helpy-Helperton" nature...WHY DIDN'T YOU JUST ASK???!! :o)

Lost 2010 said...

I guess I never understood quite where that scene with Juliet and Ben fit into the overall story. I had the impression they were already holding Michael when that happened, but I probably jumped to that conclusion based on the dialogue.

Lost 2010 said...
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memphish said...

Ben getting a tumor in the 1st place is of course very puzzling. Maybe his use of Jack to fix it is an attempt to avoid his fate, and the freighter people are course correction.

Paula Abdul Alhazred said...

I think the Others did definitely want Walt, for the same reasons they wanted young Ben. And I also think the blood testing/questioning of Michael was genuine. The Others got in over their heads with Walt, and something's amidst that we're not really seeing yet.

I'm pretty sure you're right that Ben picked Michael because Michael was hysterical over Walt's kidnapping. He knew Michael would be easy to manipulate. I actually think Ben's plan is more simple than it seems. It's just that it was complicated by things such as Ben being kidnapped by Rousseau, Colleen's death, and Jack finding out about the tumor too early. Ben and the Others were forced to improvise, while still trying to get their goal of making Jack want to save Ben.

memphish said...

That's perfectly plausible PAA, but then why didn't they take Jack, Kate and Sawyer at The Line?

maven said...

Besides the "normal" way of doing things -- just being nice from the beginning and asking Jack to help with Ben's surgery (which wouldn't make a very good show) -- maybe J, S, and K were not taken at The Line because all their hatred and anger would be directed at the Others. With Michael set up to be the one who delivers them to the Others, J,S, and K's anger could be split somewhat. I know this is kind of lame...just a thought.

Paula Abdul Alhazred said...

I don't think they were taken at the Line because Ben hadn't really figured out exactly how to manipulate Jack. They had only just obtained Michael. It was too soon.

capcom said...

Hmmm, diverted anger, interesting Maven.

Yeah, I know that just asking would have been too easy for the story. But how about an explanation for it? Juliet says, "Why do we have to trick him, why can't we just ask?" and Ben says, "Because........" :o)

memphish said...
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memphish said...

Lost 2010, Sorry it took me this long to get back to the point about the timing of Ben and Juliet in the Pearl. According to Lostpedia it is the day BEFORE Michael goes nuts and leaves the Swan in search of Walt.

I like that idea Maven that Ben was trying to split Jack's anger. I think you're right. I think Ben wanted to say to Jack at some point, "So you want to go back to a group where the people are willing to kill and deceive each other in order to achieve their own personal goals?"

And back to the thing with Jacob's list. Not only is it strange that Jack isn't on it given that Ben needs his skills, but who revealed this list to Pickett and Tom? Does Jacob talk to someone other than Ben? It seems like this is information Ben would have kept to himself given the circumstances.

Amused2bHere said...

Look at it this way...

When they grabbed Walt, they got Michael to come after them. Locke, Jack, Kate, Sawyer came after Michael. If they then grabbed J,K, and S, Locke would go back to camp and bring more rescuers. (Which eventually did happen, when Hurley got back and reported what happened, a rescue party was formed). But the Others were not ready for an immediate conflict, and Jack would have been even more adamant about not doing the surgery. So they waited.

And I agree, it was too soon after grabbing Michael. They were not prepared to capture the rest. They needed to work their plan first.

memphish said...

Great points everyone. But the more I think about it, the more I think they took Walt just because he was a kid and they thought they could make him "one of them." When they found out he had powers akin to Ben's, Ben came up with this scheme to get Jack and get rid of Walt who like Locke is a threat to his power on the Island.

Paula Abdul Alhazred said...

On the other hand, Memphish, they do seem to want children that are "special." They'd probably be on the lookout for the next Ben, as Ben won't live forever. But if Walt could do more than just talk to Jacob, if Walt can do some of the same things as Jacob, then that's a problem.