It’s been said many times before and fans of Lost aren’t afraid to repeat the words: “This is the best villain on television.” In the case of Lost, that villain is Benjamin Linus. Ever since we were introduced to the deadly, sprite character in Season 2 – then named Henry Gale, he of the balloon that crash landed on the Island – we have been an audience for his several attempts to manipulate the Losties and anyone else that gets in his way. Last Wednesday, Ben found himself in the other end of his game, and we learned that this has been the case for awhile now.

Ben reveals that he has returned to the Island because he has broken the rules and needs to answer for his past. By past he apparently meant letting his illegitimate daughter die in the hands of the freighter crew. Now Ben must confront the Smoke Monster and hope that it lets him live. This proves to be no easy task for Ben, but John Locke helps alleviate that issue. Once face-to-face with the monster, Ben is presented with a montage of Alex’s life before being nearly choked to death by a manifestation of Alex. All in all, Ben is allowed to live and is instructed to follow every command of Locke.

The shift will be uncomfortable, and a foreshadowing of his discomfort was displayed during flashbacks (though this showed Widmore expressing dissatisfaction with Ben becoming the leader) and when Locke leads him to the temple holding the Smoke Monster – a path that Ben surprisingly is not familiar with despite his knowledge of the Island.

In what constitutes as a major relief for fans of the most legit relationship on Lost, we learn that Ben’s injuries prior to Flight 316 were not a result of Penny’s potential murder. Though, we do find that Ben made every attempt to uphold that impending death. Instead, Ben suffers the injuries when Desmond beats him to a bloody pulp, but only after Ben drops his weapon when he discovers that Penny is the mother of a young boy. This becomes a central theme of “Dead Is Dead” for Ben Linus.

Throughout a number of flashbacks, and the memory of Ben’s tattered youth, Ben is showcased as a man with a heart for children. His kidnapping of Alex had less, if at all, to do with greed or a desire to acquire children and more to do with an inexplicable love and desire for the well-being of a defenseless child. Perhaps, Ben, as a result of his father’s abusive nature, cannot find it in himself to hurt a child. This one redeeming quality embedded in his ruthless character is what drives the Smoke Monster to forgive him of his mistakes and might be the reason we, the audience, should as well.

It brings up another chicken and the egg question. Do the Others take children because children cannot be born on the Island or because Ben wants what he believes is best for them – life with the Others. There is no official time table when children couldn’t suddenly be born on the Island (at the very least, it is after 1977, Ethans’s birth year) but the correlation of Ben’s timing to express an interest in children and the lack of children amongst the Others should not be ignored.

Now, Locke, whether dead or alive, has been crowned the leader by the Smoke Monster. As I mentioned, it will be a difficult transition period for Ben, but one has to wonder if his judgment will bear a drastic change of heart for him. Viewers have often murmured that Ben will likely be cast as a good person by the time Lost runs it’s course and that may very well be true. Is it possible that “Dead Is Dead” is the first step in this transitional period? Or perhaps no transition is necessary and Ben is an honest man. He once proclaimed that he was the good guy. We’ll find out for sure.