'Lost': Following the leaders of The Others
Here's a question that I've attempted to address before, but it's worth looking at again. Courtesy of reader DCMeads, in regard to Charles Widmore's time as leader of The Others:
But did Widdy ever really rule the Island?Charles Widmore as the Matt Cassel of the Island? Sure, works for me!
Clearly '54 Widdy acted like he was in charge but supplicated to [Alpert]'s final authority in "Jughead". Renaissance Widdy showed his muscle while taking down Kate and Jack in "The Variable" while Ellie, still in control, used her brain. Finally Ben one-ups him in "Dead is Dead" and the so-called leader is soon on the midnight sub to England. He may have been the quarterback after Ellie went mainland but he always seemed second string on the Island.
But let's actually separate "Others' leader" from "Island ruler" off the top, here. The latter is not only different from the former, but a false title that is fool's gold. One cannot ever rule the Island. Trying to rule it means you've failed in understanding what the Island's purpose actually is. It's not a place to own; it's a place to share. This is why I theorized that Hurley's so important to the show's endgame: that guys gives away everything. Possession's not his bag, baby.
Around the time that "Jughead" originally aired, I questioned if there always had to be, by necessity/rule, a true leader of the Others. In other words, Richard Alpert was DCMeads' version of an interim leader in the absence of a "true" one selected through the still very mysterious, very long process. In that episode, Richard responds to Locke's claim that he's the leader of The Others by saying, "Look, I... certainly don't want to contradict myself, but... we have a very specific process for selecting our leadership, and it starts at a very, very young age."
If so, perhaps Eloise and Charles still qualify. After all, we don't know how they came to the Island, how long they had been there, and if indeed they were born there. Maybe there's a maternity ward in The Temple and Richard stares at them all the way he stared at a newborn baby Locke. (If so, can we start calling him McEyeliner, in honor of "Grey's Anatomy?") But given the fact that every iteration of Others consists of another stage of Jacob's so-called "progress," perhaps we have to move past the idea of an ideal Others leader and realize that, in fact, all of them have been inherently flawed.
We can safely call them flawed for one primary reason: Richard Alpert is still alive. As I posited in these two entries, Richard's purpose is to find the person that can satisfy Jacob's end goal. Until he finds him or her, he's doomed to stay ageless. As such, since he's still alive, he's not yet found the true Island heir. By extension, none of the Others' leaders have been their heir, and what logically follows is that all of the leaders throughout Other's history have come up short in one way or another.
So rather than judge Eloise, Charles, and Ben in terms of each other, perhaps we should be comparing them to what the ideal leader would be. All three have shown attachments that compromise their leadership (Eloise to Daniel, Ben to Annie/Alex, Charles to the Island and perhaps Scrooge McDuck-esque levels of cash). Season 6 may be less about what the primary players hold onto, and more about what they are willing to let go. Only then can progress end, Richard die, and the Others finally find a leader worth having. The leader won't rule them; that leader will set them free.
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