figuring out the timeline
I see one important tidbit from Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham that seems to have been overlooked thus far in the discussions here, and that is Widmore telling Locke that it was BEN who exiled him from the island. Reason tells me that Widmore had to be off the island by the late 60’s (he has at least one child off the island in Penny who has to be about 40…and we presume he founded the Dharma Initiative about 1970, right?). On the other hand, Ben does not purge Dharma and take over leadership of the Others until the late 80’s/early 90’s….so did Widmore stick around until the purge? If so, how did he father off-island children? OR did future Ben, post 316 crash, find a 1960’s Richard Alpert like Locke did and declare his leadership, banishing then-leader Widmore, only to flash away again? This could explain Richard’s approaching Ben as a child as he does Locke…but in this case, who led the Others between Widmore’s banishment and the Purge?