Good vs. Evil – Charles Widmore


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.

Charles Widmore

Season 3 – Desmond

223-whidmore-011Widmore 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

411-keamy-secondary-protocol-01In 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.

406-mr-whidmoreBut 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

sun-whidmoreSeason 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.

503-mr-widmore-02He 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.

507-mr-widmore-locke-01And 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?

– izi

11 Responses to “Good vs. Evil – Charles Widmore”

  1. 1 Rosie
    March 4, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    I think that Charles Widmore is just as good and evil as Ben. I doubt there is any real difference between the two.

  2. 2 Publicola
    March 11, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    I tend to believe that Widmore has better intent that Ben Linus.

    Since we have met Ben Linus, he has offered our heroes nothing but lies, manipulation, cons and violence. Remember, he kidnaps Claire’s baby; he cons Jack and Locke while being held captive and taunts them that he is smarter than they are; he holds Sawyer and Kate in cages; enslaves them in a work camp; beats Sawyer to a pulp, cons him into believing his heart will explode, he orders the killing of Jin, Bernard and Sayid; he orders the massacre of hundreds of people by chemical warfare; he shoots Locke and leaves him for dead, asks Mikhail to murder Bonnie and Greta, he sets up Goodwin to die because of his obsession with Juliet; he shoots Charlotte; he swears off his adoptive daughter and indirectly causes her violent death; he cons Sayid into becoming a hired gun for reasons that have still not been explained; he strangles John Locke to death; and we are led to believe that he has murdered Penny Widmore. I am certain there are other examples, but let’s face it – Ben Linus is one bad dude.

    All we know of Widmore is indirect, second hand and mere suggestions and innuendo. Yes, he is quite the magnificent bastard to Desmond. However, presume that you are aware (as Ms. Hawking undoubtedly was) that Desmond’s destiny is to go to the Island, and push the button for three years before turning the fail-safe key, would that not be an incentive to treat Desmond so poorly? After all, Matthew Abbaddon explains that Widmore needs people to get to where they ‘need’ to go and enlisted Abbaddon in that effort. His interjection with Penny, both in his office when Desmond asks for her hand in marriage, and thereafter when Desmond is released from military prison, could be Widmore’s (albeit) harsh way of ensuring that Desmond gets to the Island. I always found it strange that Libby just appears to Desmond and offers him a boat. Fate? Perhaps, or more the work of Mr. Widmore, trying desperately to protect the Island and perhaps one day return.

    Widmore’s interaction with Desmond aside, everything else we know is mere suspicion. The Kahana’s mission was to extract Benjamin Linus – by any means necessary. Widmore explains to Locke that Linus is that dangerous. Remember, throughout Season 4, there are many instances of Kahana members offering an alternative explanation to all things evil. Charlotte and Faraday went to the Tempest to shut off the poison gas. Their explanation was that as Ben Linus has used such barbaric warfare in the past, there was no doubt he could employ the method again. Tom tells Michael Dawson that Widmore dug up a Thai graveyard and faked the crash of Ocean 815. However, Captain Gault offers an alternative explanation that it was Ben Linus – and not Mr. Widmore – that faked the plane crash. Tom may not have even known his leader was so vicious. As for Martin Keamy and the mercenaries, they were told that Linus needed to be extracted by any means necessary and that those aiding Ben were dangerous. When Keamy & co. roll up to the Barracks, they see Sawyer, the red shirts, Locke and the others protecting Ben. Indeed, they were all barricaded in Ben’s own house! There is no doubt that Martin was a killer, but was he any less a killer than Ben? After all, Keamy warns Ben that he is wearing the dead man’s trigger, and that any attempt on his life would endanger all those on the Kahana (which, as for Ben’s knowledge included Michael Dawson, Jack, Kate, Sayid, Hurley, and Sawyer), and Ben killed Keamy anyway. To add insult to injury, when Locke pointed out to Ben how by killing Keamy, it meant certain death for the aforementioned heroes, Ben’s reply: “So?”

    Finally, in this fantastic Season in progress, we have seen Widmore cooperate with Desmond and beg him to protect Penny as well as assist in Locke’s recovery and mission to return to the Island. When asked by Locke why Widmore ought to be trusted at all, Widmore’s response was convincingly simple. “I never tried to kill you John … can you say the same thing about him?”

    There is, indeed, a war coming. And I, for one, cannot wait to see which side is which.

  3. March 11, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    I happen to be writing my post about whether Ben is good or evil right now. It has many of the same points that you brought out here. I agree with almost everything you said.
    I’m surprised how close the poll is, right now it’s at 14 for good, and 10 for evil. I thought I was more peruasive than that, haha.
    – izi

  4. 4 Yaicoo
    March 25, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    I’d like to add something here that has been bothering me for a while now, when ben goes to Whidmore’s penthouse it is mentioned something about ben not being able to kill whidmore, or something like that… so id like to question that and see what opinions you lost fans have.

  5. March 25, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    Personally I think it means that they are unable to kill each other. They want to but if they were to try to shoot each other the gun would jam or something. This is similar to how Michael and Jack couldn’t kill themselves. Even if they tried it wouldn’t work.
    I’m not sure what other people think.
    – izi

  6. 6 Linda
    May 18, 2009 at 4:23 am

    Great article, but by now we know that a lot of it isn’t true, such as Widmore being tricked into turning the donkey wheel, unless he happens to come back to the island and meets up with Ben again. And now that we know he’s Farraday’s father, it makes sense that he would fund his research, and it’s possible he funded it without having any idea what it was about.

    What I’m not really understanding though is how they can’t kill each other. Michael couldn’t die, and we’ve seen it happen that something protects them from dying but Farraday said that anyone could die, at any time. What happens at that moment is the present and it’s not the past or the future, anything can happen. What has happened has happened but if you’re in the moment, it’s happening now. So, why couldn’t Michael die? That was HIS present. And Widmore and Ben were in their present as well. Does not make any sense to me why they couldn’t kill each other. My head is spinning.

    • May 19, 2009 at 2:54 pm

      I’ll probably revisit this post over the hiatus. It needs to be updated.
      One of my problems is that I like to be ahead of the curve, I like to guess way before we know even half the pertinent info. Therefore my posts tend to go out of date fast.
      – izi

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March 2009

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