I intended to talk about both Ben and Widmore but I had a surprising amount to say about Widmore so we’ll leave it at that.
I enjoy arguing for the “other side”. When I see people assuming one thing I like to argue the other side, not because I believe it, just to add to the discussion. I tend to think that most people believe that Widmore is evil. We’re obviously meant to question that assumption all the time. But in general we see these him do more “evil” acts rather than “good” acts. Let’s try to look at the big picture though.
Season 3 – Desmond
Widmore first appeared in “Flashes Before Your Eyes” and in that episode he looked quite heartless. He opposed a very well liked character, Desmond, and denied his love because Desmond was poor. That’s what appeared to happen. We don’t really know if something else happened there. Did Widmore know that Desmond was going to end up on the island for years? Was he simply protecting his daughter from heart-break? It’s possible. From there we can surmise that all of Widmore’s subsequent actions against Desmond were motivated by similar reasons. Maybe he set up the sailing race so that Desmond would enter and get to The Island. The odd thing about this is that when Desmond comes back to Widmore in “Jughead“, Widmore doesn’t seem to hate Desmond at all, his only concern is Penny’s safety. So now that he knows that Desmond fulfilled his mission on the island he might approve of him.
Desmond has really skewed our perception of Widmore, most of us love Desmond and when we see Widmore being cruel to him we automatically get our backs up. But is it possible that Widmore is evil towards Desmond but good towards the world? Should we ignore all of the Widmore scenes involving Desmond? If you were to trying to find the good in Widmore’s actions that would be a good place to start.
Season 4 – The Freighter
In season 4 Widmore’s bad-assery really shone forth. Not only did he hire a questionable crew to find and possibly disable the island, he also beat up a blindfolded man, on camera and he might have even dug up a Thai graveyard. This stuff is a lot harder to excuse. If he had just hired Miles, Daniel, Charlotte and Frank then it would have been OK to find the island. But he also hired the questionably shady Naomi, and the unquestionably evil Keamy. And even after all that we still don’t really know what they all hoped to accomplish on the island. They found it, than was fine, what were they planning to do to it? Sure they were going to kidnap Ben, but that couldn’t have been the full extent of Widmore’s plans. The Secondary Protocol is a big hint. All that we really know about it is that it sent Keamy to The Orchid. Did the Secondary Protocol involve moving the island? I find it more likely that it was simple a way of disabling The Orchid so that Ben couldn’t move the island.
But that’s not all that happened in Season 4. Widmore still has a lot to answer for. If Keamy went completely rogue then Widmore is morally in the clear (for some stuff). Keamy came up with the idea of torching the island, and killing Alex, and rigging the dead man’s switch. So all that we have so far is that Widmore might not have the best hiring criteria. This doesn’t explain why he loaded so much C4 onto the Freighter. And what about the fake Oceanic 815? Mr. Friendly showed Michael proof that Widmore organized all of that, it’s possible that it was all faked but let’s assume that it wasn’t. It’s possible that Widmore set all of that up to protect the island. Having people searching for the survivors might lead them to The Island. He might have been protecting it.
When Ben met with Widmore in his penthouse he said that The Island was his, I find nothing wrong with this statement. It’s neither evil nor good, we don’t know the kind of role he held on the island before he left, so in all probability he was a leader of sorts and his desire to go back is understandable.
Season 5 – Getting back
Season 5 has thrown the Widmore, evil vs. good discussion for a loop. When he demanded respect from Sun at the airport I was quick to condemn him, that was completely uncalled for. Whether that was his evil showing through or just some kind of character flaw I don’t know. Either way that scene was odd.
Then he showed up in the past as a murderous Hostile with way too much confidence and ambition. This leads to the obvious question of who’s side is he on. When we find out that he’s from The Hostiles then the love-loss between Ben and Widmore seems more confusing. Perhaps Widmore gets to the top of the ladder in The Other’s camp at some point. It seems more likely that he gets to the top of the ladder in the Dharma Initiative though. That would mean that The Purge is a lot more personal for both Ben and Widmore.
He showed up again in “the present” and we found out that he backed Daniel’s research, and cleaned up his mess once his research destroyed a woman’s life. Funding Daniel’s research may have been a futile attempt to change the past, to stop Ben from exiling him, but we don’t know that for sure. As for Widmore’s support of Daniel’s test subject that could be generosity, but at the same time it could just be guilt. Maybe it’s charity in the same way that mobsters and criminals sometimes do nice things for unfortunate people, it doesn’t necessarily excuse them of their crimes.
And most recently he helped Locke. This could have easily been manipulation, but since that’s Ben’s argument I tend to doubt it. Widmore helping Locke and not being pushy made me really want to like him. I’m sure many people feel the same way.
During Locke’s time with Widmore he was told an interesting portion of a story. Widmore told Locke that Ben tricked him into leaving the island. I’ve been saying since we first saw the Frozen Donkey Wheel that Widmore probably turned it first. This “tricking” story seems to fit that. It seems likely that Ben deposed Widmore by getting him to turn the Wheel. The would explain why Widmore helped Locke, he likely felt a kind of kinship towards him.
I think Widmore was an overly ambitious youth, an overprotective father, a possibly sexist business man, and an enemy of Ben. I do not think that he’s evil. I don’t know why he beat up that guy in the alley, or why he had C4 on the Freighter, but I can understand almost everything else about the man.
What do you think?