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Charles Widmore is a fictional character on the ABC television series Lost, which chronicles the lives of over forty people after their plane crashes on a remote island somewhere in the south Pacific. He is portrayed primarily by Alan Dale as an old man; Tom Connolly and David S. Lee portray him as a young and middle-aged man, respectively. Charles is a member of the island's native population, the Others, and serves as their leader until he is banished from the island. He is the father of Penelope Widmore (Sonya Walger) and Daniel Faraday (Jeremy Davies), although he is estranged from both of them. The character is first introduced in the second season finale as a wealthy industrialist, who disapproves of the relationship between his daughter and Desmond Hume (Henry Ian Cusick). After being mostly depicted in Desmond's flashbacks, his role expanded throughout the fourth season, where he was introduced as one of the primary antagonists of the show. Alan Dale has received praise for his performance, and critics have also responded positively to the mystery surrounding the character.

Character biography

Before exile

Charles Widmore is originally seen as a 17-year-old Other in 1954, where he is captured with one of his people, by James "Sawyer" Ford (Josh Holloway), Juliet Burke (Elizabeth Mitchell), and John Locke (Terry O'Quinn). He communicates in Latin with his associate, which is foiled when Juliet reveals what they're saying, having been similarly educated in Latin as part of her training as a doctor and an Other. When Juliet convinces his associate to bring them to Richard Alpert (Nestor Carbonell), Charles kills the associate and takes off into the jungle. Locke follows him and is held at gunpoint by Charles until Richard orders him to stand down.

In 1977, Ben Linus, at the time a twelve-year-old boy living with the Dharma Initiative, is brought to the Others to be healed. Richard allows the boy to be healed, despite knowing that Charles will not be pleased with his decision, stating that he does not answer to Charles. Charles, who is now the Others' leader, later visits Ben and informs him that he is now an Other, even though he must go back to living with his abusive father at the Dharma Initiative. Sometime after this incident, Charles and Eloise Hawking (Alice Evans) have a child, Daniel Faraday (Jeremy Davies), who is raised off-island.

As he grows older, Charles begins to fall out of favor with the Others. In 1988, he orders the execution of Danielle Rousseau, to be carried out by Ben. Ben is unable to kill Rousseau when he discovers that she has recently given birth. Ben abducts the infant, Alex, without killing Danielle, and returns to the Others. Charles is furious, having expected Ben to kill both Danielle and the child. Ben claims that Charles isn't following Jacob's will, and forces him to back down by insisting he kill Alex personally.

In 1992, following increased conflict between the Others and the Dharma Initiative, the Others purge the island of the Dharma folk by releasing poisonous gas at Dharma's barracks. The Others subsequently move into the barracks. It is during this time that Charles is banished from the island as punishment for repeatedly leaving the island and fathering a child, Penelope "Penny" Widmore (Sonya Walger), with an "outsider." Charles tells Ben, the Others' new leader, that one day he would have to choose between Alex, now his adopted daughter, and the island.

After exile

Charles is opposed to Desmond Hume (Henry Ian Cusick) having a relationship with his daughter. In 1996, Desmond seeks Charles's permission to ask for Penny's hand in marriage. Charles refuses after humiliating Desmond by stating Desmond is not even worthy enough to drink his expensive whiskey. Years later, upon Desmond's release from military prison, Charles confronts him and reveals that he has intercepted every letter Desmond wrote to Penny while in prison, causing Penny to believe Desmond no longer cares for her. Charles offers Desmond a large amount of cash to never have contact with his daughter again; Desmond refuses the money.

Charles spends most of his time since his banishment searching for a way to return to the island. In 2004, Oceanic Airlines Flight 815 crashes on the island and Charles plants fake wreckage of the plane in the Sunda Trenchmarker, so that no one will find out that it really crashed on the island. A couple of months after the crash, Charles hires a team to travel to the island on a freighter, the Kahana. The team consists of scientific personnel — Daniel Faraday, Charlotte Lewis (Rebecca Mader), and Miles Straume (Ken Leung) — and a mercenary team led by Martin Keamy (Kevin Durand). Their primary mission is to capture Ben Linus, with the secondary objective of "torching" the island by killing all of its other inhabitants. Following the mercenaries' failure to capture him, Ben moves the island, forcing him to leave it as well. Charles is subsequently visited by Ben, who claims that he will kill Penny, in retribution for Keamy killing Alex on the island.

In 2007, John Locke, having left the island, is located by Charles, who explains that a war is coming for the island and that Locke must help him ensure that the "wrong side" doesn't win. He enlists the help of his associate Matthew Abaddon (Lance Reddick) to assist Locke in reuniting the "Oceanic Six", six survivors of Flight 815 who also left the island, to bring them back. During this time, Charles also has meetings with Sun-Hwa Kwon (Yunjin Kim), in which they both agree upon the necessity of murdering Ben Linus, and Desmond, who demands Eloise Hawking's address. Charles complies, and asks him to return to hiding and not get involved with the island, for Penny's sake. However, Desmond inadvertently leads Ben to Penny when he visits Eloise (Fionnula Flanagan). He is shot by Ben, who is unable to kill Penny after noticing that she and Desmond have a child. Charles goes to the hospital where Desmond is being treated and speaks with Eloise, though he does not visit his daughter.

Development

The name Widmore is introduced in the twelfth episode of season two, "Fire + Water", where a sign with Widmore Construction appears on the back of a building. The name appears again four episodes later in "The Whole Truth"; Sun's pregnancy test is made by Widmore Laboratories. In the season two finale "Live Together, Die Alone", Charles Widmore and his daughter Penelope are introduced. Alan Dale was a regular on ABC's Ugly Betty, when he was asked to appear on the show. Dale made his first appearance on the show in a single scene of the second season finale "Live Together, Die Alone". Dale's publicist was initially worried that Widmore would become a starring role, meaning it would be hard for Dale to appear in both Lost and Ugly Betty at the same time. In 2008, Dale was asked to return to Oahu, Hawaiimarker, where filming took place, but he was unable due to his commitment to the Monty Python musical Spamalot. He suspected the producers would recast the role or bring in a new character, but much to his surprise, they came to Londonmarker to include Dale in the filming anyway. As of season 5, Widmore has only ever appeared as a guest star. Michael Ausiello of Entertainment Weekly, however, has reported that Dale might be promoted to the show's regular cast in the sixth season.

Reception

Ben Rawson-Jones of Digital Spy wrote that, because of Dale's portrayal, "Widmore is far from the one-dimensional bad guy, as a certain degree of humanity has shone through". Eric Goldman from IGN enjoyed Dale's introduction in "Live Together, Die Alone" but found it "odd" to see Dale in Lost, having been watching The O.C. on DVD, which features Dale as Caleb Nichol. The Chicago Tribune s Maureen Ryan thought it was "cool" to see Alan Dale in this role, and speculated of Widmore's connection to the island.

Many reviewers were unsurprised at the revelation that Widmore sent the freighter to the island. Oscar Dahl of BuddyTV had difficulty taking Widmore seriously, as seeing Dale made him think of Dale's role in The O.C., and he did not find the reveal that Widmore sent the freighter to be a shock. Tim Goodman from the San Francisco Chronicle was also not surprised by the reveal and found it uncompelling. James Poniewozik from Time was hopeful of a more interesting dynamic between Ben and Widmore following the reveal, as Widmore's quest for the island seemed disappointing. The reveal made Jay Glatfelter from The Huffington Post excited to learn Widmore's story.

Dan Kois and Lane Brown of New York magazine were unsure how they felt about Widmore and Ben's meeting in "The Shape of Things to Come". They initially found it "ridiculous" felt it had too much dialogue, but they liked the "canny and confusing" reversal of the clichéd discussions between heroes and villains because they were unsure of who was the villain and who was the hero.

References


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