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Benjamin Linus versus Charles Widmore was an ongoing conflict seemingly for the protection and/or control of the Island. This conflict was one of the most central rivalries of Lost. It started in approximately 1988 when Ben kidnapped Alex Rousseau against Charles's orders. The conflict ended with the death of Charles Widmore at the hands of Ben after The Man in Black threatened the life of Penny Widmore.
Both express entitlement to the Island even though both share some history with the Island.
Charles Widmore was on the island at least as early as 1954 (at which time he was 17) ("Jughead"), although he indicates at this time that he already knows the island very well. Ben Linus on the other hand arrived on the Island in 1973. ("The Man Behind the Curtain"),("He's Our You") While the impetus for the conflict is unclear, it appears to relate to their own leadership on the island, which both of them have asserted at one time or another. Charles Widmore claims to have been "fooled" into leaving the island. He also states that he had been "exiled" by Benjamin Linus, although whether or not this was after or before Ben had become the Others' leader is unclear. ("The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham") Miles made the comment to Charlotte that Widmore has been searching for the island for 20 years, if this comment is accurate then Widmore left the island in 1984 or 1985. ("Jughead")
On Island conflict, 1977-2004
There have been numerous conflicts on The Island between Charles and Ben, which have led to the eventual leadership shift from Charles to Ben.
Ben in the Temple (1977)
Richard taking an injured young Ben to the Temple. ("Whatever Happened, Happened")
The first conflict between the Ben and Charles began even before the two met. When Ben was a child during the DHARMA Initiative he was injured, after being shot by Sayid Jarrah in 1977. He was taken to the Others to be healed, and Richard Alpert takes Ben but this is questioned by someone who thinks he should ask Ellie and if Charles finds out..., to which Richard replies that he does not answer to either of them and heals Ben at The Temple. ("Whatever Happened, Happened") This would have caused a conflict and Ben to be viewed as a threat, having an outsider from the DHARMA Initiative be healed in their Temple. Richard also said that Ben would always be "one of us".
Ben's mission to eliminate Rousseau (1988)
"It's not an 'it', it's a child!" ("Dead Is Dead")
Ben and a young Ethan were sent on a mission, by Charles, to kill Rousseau. Ben approached her
beach camp and into her tent while she was sleeping, but surprisingly found a cooing baby in the tent as well. Instead of killing Rousseau he takes baby Alex away from her and shoots the sand to enforce the point that he is serious in taking her. Ben threatens Rousseau to never follow him or come looking for him if she wants her baby to live. When Ben returns, Charles expects that "that woman" has been killed but Ben informs him there were "complications" and that she is "no threat to us, she is insane Charles, besides you didn't tell me she had a child. What was it I supposed to do?" to which Charles replies "Kill it". Widmore explains how everything he has done is to protect the island. Ben stands firm, asking if that [killing a child] is what Jacob wanted, and when Widmore doesn't reply, Ben hands Alex towards him and says "here you do it..." but Alex is left alive. Ben winning the confrontation.
Exile of Widmore (1990's)
"You brought this on yourself...." ("Dead Is Dead")
Sometime after the Purge, Charles Widmore was exiled and escorted to the mainland via the Galaga, the same submarine that had brought Ben to the Island. Ben stated the reason was Charles' leaving the Island frequently and having a daughter with an "outsider". It is implied that Widmore had stopped following Jacob's orders.
Ben then assumed leadership of the Others. In 1996 Charles Widmore purchased the journal of the first mate of the Black Rock, presumably to help try to find the island. He funded Daniel Faraday's research, perhaps as far back as 1994.
Freighter conflict (2004)
Widmore's search for the Island lead him to send a freighter, the Kahana, and mercenaries to take back the Island from Benjamin Linus. Widmore purchased a fake plane and bodies from a mass grave in China; an employee carrying records of this information was killed, presumably by someone working for Ben. ("Some Like It Hoth") This information then made it to Tom Friendly, who showed it to Michael as proof that Widmore was dangerous. Tom convinced Michael to board the freighter as a spy. Michael later attempted to detonate a bomb given to him by the Others. When it failed to explode, Michael was contacted by Ben, who told him that although Widmore deserves to die, the innocent people on the freighter do not. ("Meet Kevin Johnson")
A parachutist from the freighter, Naomi Dorrit, convinced the survivors that she worked for Penny Widmore and that the freighter was looking to rescue Desmond. ("The Brig") Ben's attempts to convince the survivors that the freighter could not be trusted failed, and Jack called the ship and told them to send help so they could be rescued. ("Through the Looking Glass, Part 2") Mercenaries from the freighter, led by Martin Keamy, soon invaded the island, killed Danielle Rousseau and Karl Martin, and captured Ben's daughter Alex. Taking her to the Barracks, Keamy demanded that Ben enter his custody or Alex would die. Ben attempted to bluff that he did not care about Alex, but the attempt failed and Keamy shot Alex in the head. Ben then unleashed the Smoke Monster on the mercenaries, providing a distraction to escape. ("The Shape of Things to Come")
After regrouping, Keamy and the mercenaries returned to the island, where Ben surrendered himself. However, this was part of a trap, and the Others proceeded to kill the mercenaries. Keamy escaped and followed Ben to the Orchid, where Ben fatally stabbed him to death despite knowing that Keamy had a dead man's trigger connected to explosives on the freighter. The ship subsequently exploded, killing Michael and nearly everyone else onboard. Ben then turned the frozen wheel, moving the island and teleporting himself into the Tunisian desert. ("There's No Place Like Home, Part 3") ("The Shape of Things to Come")
Finding the Island (2005-2007)
Ben uses Sayid's grief to further his agenda.
Shortly after the destruction of the freighter, Widmore was allegedly visited by Jacob himself. Jacob told Widmore about the Man in Black and how he must be prevented from leaving the Island. He informed Widmore about the candidates and the fact that Desmond's exposure to huge amounts of electromagnetism made him a "failsafe" in the event that the candidates died. Finally, Jacob apparently gave Widmore information on how to return to the Island. This conversation was never shown, although Widmore claims it happened and because his information fills in key holes in Widmore's story, it can be assumed to be truthful. ("What They Died For")
After leaving the Island, Sayid finally reconnected with Nadia but was devastated when she was hit by a car in the crosswalk. The driver happened to be an associate of Charles Widmore, Ishmael Bakir. Sayid, overcome with grief and anger, became a hitman for Ben. Ben found Widmore in London, and told him that he was going to kill Widmore's daughter Penny. During this conversation Widmore told Ben, "That island's mine, Benjamin. It always was. It will be again." ("The Shape of Things to Come").
Ben uses Sayid
Sayid keeps shooting Nadia's killer although there are no more bullets.
Being one of the Oceanic Six, Sayid is in Iraq mourning the death of his wife Nadia and he confronts Ben, whom at first he thinks is a reporter. Ben states that he is in Iraq to find the man who murdered Nadia. Ben lies about how he had gotten off the Island and informs Sayid that the man who killed Nadia works for Charles Widmore. After being lead into a trap, Bakir is shot by Sayid for revenge. Sayid then becomes a hitman for Ben, who supplies Sayid with a list of known Widmore associates, such as Peter Avellino, Elsa and her boss, the economist, and Ivan Andropov. ("The Shape of Things to Come") ("The Economist") ("He's Our You")
Widmore uses Locke
"I am deeply invested in the future of the Island John."
Once off the Island, Locke had a mission to get all of the Oceanic Six back to the Island. ("This Place Is Death"). After turning the wheel and landing in Tunisia with a broken leg, Locke was seen on a surveillance camera put there by Charles Widmore. Widmore then vows to help Locke in his mission; after being asked why, Widmore replied, "Because there is a war coming John, and if you're not back on the Island when that happens, the wrong side is going to win."
Widmore provided John with everything he could need to complete his mission: an alias, Jeremy Bentham, a passport, money, an international phone to use with a code to directly reach him and surveillance knowledge about the Oceanic Six. Charles insisted it was Ben who had been "telling lies" about him and when Locke asked about his honesty Charles replied, "I haven't tried to kill you. Can you say the same for him?" ("The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham")
Although Locke questions his motives, he accepted Charles' help. Matthew Abaddon was then assigned to help Locke, "take you whereever you need to go, and protect you from whomever tries to do you harm." Abaddon had met Locke before, being the one who suggested Locke go on a walkabout that eventually led to him crashing on the Island. ("Cabin Fever").
Abaddon is shot behind the unsuspecting Locke. ("The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham")
After trying and failing to recruit Sayid, Walt, Hugo, Kate and Aaron, Locke visited the grave of his lost love Helen and before leaving the cemetery, Abaddon was shot by Ben. Trying to escape, John got in a car crash and was taken to a hospital where Jack worked, failing to recruit him as well, Locke was about to commit suicide before Ben came in and talked him out of it.
Ben has all the information he needs to get back to the Island.
Ben had been watching the Oceanic Six, "keeping them safe". He stated that it was he who killed Abaddon and it was only a matter of time before Abaddon had killed Locke. Ben argued with Locke that Widmore was just "using him to get to the Island" and "Charles Widmore is the reason why I moved the Island, so that he could never find it again!" Both men had now stated that what they have done, or are doing whatever they can to have Locke lead the Island, not them. After finding out needed information from Locke, Ben killed him and made it look like suicide. ("The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham") Using Locke's death, he was able to get back to the Island on flight 316, taking the Oceanic Six with him. ("316")
Ben confronts Penny
Ben about to kill Penny. ("Dead Is Dead")
Before getting on Ajira flight 316, Ben visited the Long Beach Marina where Desmond and Penny had their boat docked. Seeing Penny on the deck of the boat, he walked towards her. Recognizing Ben, Desmond angrily asked what he is doing there. Ben shot Desmond and continued walking towards a now frantic Penny. Giving a very formal introduction, he apologized in advance, saying "I'm sorry that you're caught up in the middle of this thing but your father--" but is interrupted by Penny explaining how her and her father are estranged. Although shaking, he continues on, "Your father is a really terrible human being, he is responsible for the killing of my daughter, that's why I'm here--" Again Ben is interrupted but this time by Penny's son who comes onto the boat deck. Penny begs for Ben not to hurt her son, and as Ben lowers his gun, he is attacked by Desmond. He is severely beaten and thrown into the marina waters. Penny being left unharmed. ("Dead Is Dead")
Battle for the Island (2007)
Ben and Charles met one final time on the Island when Charles returned to finally take the Island as his own. Widmore, with Zoe alongside him intercepted Richard, Miles, and Ben as they were preparing to leave to destroy the Ajira airplane with a backpack full of C4. Widmore explained that he'd already loaded the plane with explosives. When questioned further, he said that he had been invited back to the island by Jacob himself. Before he could elaborate further, Zoe spotted The Man in Black arriving by outrigger.
Widmore and Zoe hid themselves in the secret room behind Ben's bookcase. After throwing Richard out of the way, the Man in Black asked Ben about Widmore's whereabouts, which Ben revealed after being promised that he would have the island all to himself after the Man in Black escaped. The Man in Black went to the secret room and began to question Widmore and Zoe, but Widmore admonished Zoe for speaking and the Man in Black cut her throat, declaring her to be useless.
The Man in Black then threatened to kill Widmore's daughter Penny once he escapes the island, unless Widmore spoke voluntarily. Widmore agreed at first, afraid for the life of his daughter and having no other alternative. He explained that he brought Desmond back to the island because of his resistance to electromagnetism. He then refused to give up any other information while Ben was listening. The Man in Black then instructed Widmore to whisper the answers in his ear, which he did until Ben shot him repeatedly with a handgun, claiming that he wouldn't get to save his daughter, like Ben didn't get to save his at the hands of Widmore's team of mercenaries. ("What They Died For")
Ben looks in shock as Alex is killed ("The Shape of Things to Come")
Benjamin Linus and Charles Widmore appear to have had a set number of "rules" in the ongoing battle between them. One that has been broken or changed them, included the death of Ben's daughter, Alex caused by Charles. Another rule seems to be that they can not kill one another, which is why the Mercenary team abord the Kahana, hired by Widmore, was ordered to bring Ben back alive. ("The Shape of Things to Come")
The murder of Alex
Alex, moments before her execution by Keamy. ("The Shape of Things to Come")
This is evident in Ben's shocked response to Keamy's execution of his "daughter", Alex. Ben was visibly disturbed at not only her death, but what appeared to be some greater implication of the act. Immediately after she died, Ben said to himself, "He changed the rules". It was later revealed that the "he" was in fact Charles Widmore. ("The Shape of Things to Come") Since Keamy was a mercenary aboard Charles Widmore's freighter, the responsiblity of Alex's death inadvertantly belonged to Charles. This set Ben out for revenge, and a vow to take Charles' daughter, Penelope Hume's life, like Charles did to his. ("The Shape of Things to Come")
Ben's threat to Charles
Ben made an unannounced, late-night visit to Widmore's penthouse as he slept. Ben confronts Widmore and accuses him of changing The Rules, in reference to Alex's death. The conversation also contains hints of prior interactions between Ben and Widmore, as their conversation suggested The Rules govern their actions towards each other. ("The Shape of Things to Come")
"Then I suppose the hunt is on for both of us." ("The Shape of Things to Come")
BEN: Wake up, Charles.
WIDMORE: I wondered when you were gonna show up. I see you've been getting more sun.
BEN: Iraq is lovely this time of year. (pause) When did you start sleeping with a bottle of scotch by the bed?
WIDMORE: When the nightmares started. (pause) Have you come here to kill me, Benjamin?
BEN: We both know I can't do that.
WIDMORE: Then why are you here?
BEN: I'm here, Charles, because you murdered my daughter.
WIDMORE: Don't stand there, looking at me with those horrible eyes of yours and lay the blame for the death of that poor girl on me, when we both know very well I didn't murder her at all, Benjamin. You did.
BEN: No, that's not true.
WIDMORE. Yes, Benjamin, it is. You creep into my bedroom in the dead of night--like a rat--and have the audacity to pretend that you're the victim? (pause) I know who you are, boy. What you are. I know that everything you have you took from me. So... Once again I ask you: Why are you here?
BEN: I'm here, Charles, to tell you that I'm going to kill your daughter. Penelope, is it? And once she's gone... once she's dead... then you'll understand how I feel. And you'll wish you hadn't changed the rules.
WIDMORE: You'll never find her. (pause) That island's mine, Benjamin. It always was. It will be again.
BEN: But you'll never find it.
WIDMORE: Then I suppose the hunt is on for both of us.
BEN : I suppose it is. Sleep tight, Charles.
- For fan theories about these unanswered questions, see: Benjamin Linus vs. Charles Widmore/Theories
- What are the Rules?