LOST Recap: Season 5, Episode 12: “Dead Is Dead”

10 04 2009

Well, was that a doozy of an episode or what?  Sorry to those of you that watch LOST for the character development: this one was for the fans of the mythology, no question.  A ton of little tidbits of info: a few answers, sprinkled in with a few new mysteries to be solved.  No doubt, the pieces are starting to come together.  But the writers are also still throwing us a few curveballs as we wind down to LOST’s final cliffhanger.  There’s much to discuss!  So let’s get to it!

“The island chooses who the island chooses”

Interesting relationship that Richard and Widmore have.  It seems as though Widmore is calling the shots, but that Richard is allowed to trump him if he mentions Jacob, or the island’s wishes.  But what intrigues me even more is Widmore’s seeming singular focus on whatever he’s doing on the island.  He doesn’t want to save Ben, and only succumbs when Richard forces his hand.  He’s also quite unapologetic with respect to his desire to kill Danielle and Alex.  I’ll get more in depth on that topic in a bit, but the thing to keep in mind here is this question: in the upcoming “war”, is Widmore a good guy, or a bad guy?

“What’s in the crate?”

What indeed?  At this point we don’t recognize the significance, but it’s safe to say that Ilana’s main reason for getting on Flight 316  didn’t have anything to do with Sayid.  It was about getting herself to the island.  The question then becomes, who is she aligning herself with?  Did Eloise clue her in on Flight 316?  Is she working with Ben?  Did Widmore send her?  Could it be Widmore himself in the crate?  Or is she with another group entirely?  Her apparent knowledge of the island adds a whole new layer to the story.  Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be enough evidence to make a real educated guess as to her true intentions.  But if I had to go out on a limb right now, I’d say she’s a Widmore plant, and that Widmore himself may be in that crate, waiting to jump out when the time is right.

“Don’t worry my friend, I have your back.”

Well now, isn’t that high comedy?  A guy named Cesar telling someone that he has their back…do you think the writers were telling us something there about his fate in the next scene?  The writers are definitely not choosing the names of the characters in the show randomly…

Ben and Ethan raid Danielle’s camp

benandethan

Interesting that both Ben and Ethan are undercover Others at this point.  We always knew that Ben was, but clearly Ethan was turned at a young age as well…maybe by Ben himself?  Either way, Ben is shown at an early age to be taken out of his game when he confronts a mother and her child.  While there’s no doubt that this has ties to the reason why the Others are so obsessed with children and the fertility problem on the island, the big thing that I’m taking out of this is Ben’s demeanor.  He’s clearly been incredibly traumatized by his childhood, especially losing his mother mere minutes after he was born.  If he’s put into a situation in which he has to rob a child of his or her mother, he simply loses all focus and cannot carry out his original intentions. 

“Every time you hear whispers, you run the other way.”

Whoa, was that line from out in left field or what?  Is Ben trying to stop her from ever finding Alex again, or is he trying to protect her in some way?  Despite the fact that I think that Ben lies almost as much as he breathes, I really think he’s trying to help Danielle here.  He has an overwhelming level of empathy for the mother/child relationship, and while he knows he’s in for trouble by not fulfilling his task, he can’t help but to give Danielle a fighting chance.  Of course, I also wouldn’t be surprised if I’m completely wrong, and he’s just messing with her mind.  But what we do know is that this Ben knows exactly what those whispers are, and their intention.  Somehow, I’m led to believe that the Others have control of them somehow, and are using them to manipulate actions on the island.

“I was hoping that you and I could talk about the elephant in the room”

So…do you believe anything that Ben says here about his reasoning concerning Locke’s death?  He seems to change his story multiple times in the episode.  One thing I do think I believe him about is his reasoning for stopping Locke from killing himself…and then strangling him moments later.  He needed key info…namely, who Locke was going to see to put the Flight 316 plan in motion, and where she was hiding out.  Once he knew that, it was imperative that Locke die as the island demanded, but the hanging was clearly not going to happen.  Ben had to do the dirty work himself.

“Consider that my apology”

benshootscesar

Damn!  Ben’s one cold bastard, isn’t he?  He shoots Cesar with his own gun, effectively “stabbing him in the back”.  Yep, I definitely just wrote that.  And you know the writers wanted us to draw that conclusion as well.  But what’ s interesting is how Ben uses this moment to become subserviant to Locke.  He’s following Locke around like a little lost puppy dog…maybe he’s coming to the realization that the island wants him to be the leader, and the island is going to get what it wants, one way or the other.

“We had a complication…”

benreturns

The confrontation between Widmore and Ben after he and Ethan are unable to kill Danielle draws parallels to Ben pushing Locke to murder his father.  Perhaps this is Ben’s test…to overcome the circumstances of his youth and to transcend into the person that he was meant to be.  While it’s certainly possible that Widmore is just being a total jerk here, it’s more likely that he’s telling the truth about the island’s desires.  The island is trying to get Ben to overcome his one major “character flaw”…his trauma over his mother’s death.  And Ben has failed his task…at least for now.

“You don’t have the first idea of what this island wants.”

The one thing that is evident about Locke since he’s come back from the dead is that he is now in tune with the island in a way that he only dreamed about before.  Obviously, we don’t yet know about the circumstances of his resurrection, but whatever the process, it’s allowed him a relationship that is almost scary.  In fact, it’s almost to the level of Christian Shepard’s current connection..as if he’s the spokesperson for the island.  I’ll touch on this a bit more coming up.

“He said if I ever wanted to see my husband again, I had to wait here for John Locke.”

bensunandlapidus

While it’s obvious that the island has more in store for Sun than she realizes, the real interesting thing here is Ben’s reaction to the 1977 Dharma photo with the orignal LOSTies in it.  It seems to be one of genuine shock, but I’m not necessarily subscribing to the idea that he didn’t know.  He’s too good at playing with people to take that at face value.  It’ll be interesting to see how that plays itself out.

“The only ones that are here to help us are a murderer and the guy who can’t seem to remember how the hell he got out of a coffin!”

Once again, here’s Locke taking the reins of the island’s wishes…seemingly without any direct information whatsoever.  He tells Sun that she’ll never see Jin again if she goes back to Hydra island with Lapidus.  And he claims to be all the help she needs.  How can he make these claims?  Why does he even want to?  It’s clear that not only does he have a connection to the island, but he’s displaying extreme confidence about it as well.  It leads me to believe that there just might be more going on here than meets the eye…

Ben goes off to summon Smokey

bensummonsthemonster

A couple of things to take away from this scene.  First, remember that this is a Dharma camp we’re visiting here.  As far as we know, they were the ones that built these houses…including the one that is attached to the cave that takes Ben to the smoke monster summoner.  Did they know a little bit more about the island than we’re led to believe?  Or, was this just a communication device of some sort?  Ben clearly says, “I’ll be outside” after he pulls the plug and drains the water from the hole.  We’re led to believe that he’s talking to Smokey, but could it be that he was trying to reach someone else?  Finally, where the heck is Locke during all of this?  Sun tells Ben that he “had something to do”.  Really?  What the heck could he be up to at a time like this?  Why would he choose now to go do it?  I’m telling you, there’s much more to Locke right now than meets the eye.

Ben banishes Widmore

widmoreisexiled

One thng I like about Widmore more than Ben is his lack of subterfuge.  You can clearly tell that he is telling Ben exactly how he feels…no lies, no subtlties, just the cold, hard convictions of his mind.  He truly believes that the island wanted Alex dead.  And this scene was all the convincing I needed to believe it as well.  It defintiely seems as though Ben was meant to be involved and/or responsible for Alex’s death.  And this piece of information may go a long way towards understanding what really happened at the end of the episode.

“Dead is Dead.”

Alright, so here we go again with a different version of Ben’s story.  Now he claims that he had no clue that Locke would come back from the dead if he came back to the island.  And with Locke nowhere in the vicinity, I’m much more inclined to believe him now.  While I think Ben believed that Locke needed to die and come back to the island dead, I don’t think Ben had any expectation that Locke would be resurrected.  Ben knows alot about the island, but this one took him completely by surprise.  This, of course, does a good job of explaining why Ben is following Locke around so willingly.  He’s truly afraid of what might happen to him if he doesn’t…

“I assure you Sun, I’m the same man I’ve always been.”

Well, I’m not one to call Locke a liar, but this line is in direct contradiction with everything we see in this episode.  Locke’s earned a lot of trust with the viewers over the years due to his ability to seemingly always tell the truth, even when he doesn’t know what’s going on.  But our new Locke *is* different, even if it’s only because he’s so in tune with the island.  Despite Locke’s words, I’m not taking anything he does at face value.  In fact, in the very next scene, he admits to “knowing” what’s going on with the island, and taunts Ben’s current predicament: “Now you know what is was like to be me.”  This is not the same Locke.

“About a half mile from here…we built this wall to keep people like the two of you from ever seeing it.”

atthetemplewall

So…that is not the Temple wall we’ve been seeing all this time, but instead, a facade.  Quite interesting.  I have very little doubt that we’ll get to see the Temple proper some time in the very near future.  But for now, we’ll have to “settle” for Locke forcing Ben into his confrontation with Smokey…

Desmond brings the beat down

benaimsatpenny

OK, so I have to admit…I really thought that Desmond was a goner.  With all of the rumors swirling about a “major-ish” character meeting his or her demise, and Ben firing a shot right into what appeared to be Desmond’s chest, I thought we were done with good ol’ Des.  Of course, I was ecstatic to see otherwise, as Desmond has too much potential to take leave of us just yet.  But it definitely was a major shock to see Ben get blinsided after he let his guard down, and have the crap beat out of him by Mr. Hume.  Of course, now we know why Ben was so bloody back in “316”.  It wasn’t Penny’s blood, or even Desmond’s; it was his own.

One other thing to make note of here: Ben is once again paralyzed when he thinks he’s about to ruin a mother’s relationship with her child.  He simply cannot complete the mission he set himself on.  I think that even if Desmond weren’t there to make sure the killing didn’t happen, I suspect that Penny and little Charlie would have escaped.

“What lies in the shadow of the statue?”

shadowofthestatus

No matter how strange the situation was back on the main island, once Lapidus heard this question, he must have been really wishing he hadn’t left.  Poor Frank has no clue what Ilana’s talking about, and we the viewers are only slightly more clued in.  Certainly, Ilana is talking about the 4-toed statue.  But what lies in the shadow?  The smoke monster?  The temple? Death?  Of course, it’s clearly just a passcode, but it’ll be interesting to know the answer.  And perhaps even more interesting will be *who* knows the answer.  I speculated on Ilana’s alignment earlier, but one thing that seems to be clear…she’s making a beeline for the main island, and I bet her destination is the Temple.

“I did kill Alex…and now I have to answer for that.”

Obviously, the big payoff of the episode is Ben’s confrontation with the smoke monster.  But before I discuss that directly, I want to touch on something.  Does it strike any of you as odd that Locke continues to find ways to be conveniently absent when the smoke monster is summoned/approaching?   With all that went in on this sequence, it’s easy to think that his disappearance (heck, Ben *did* fall into a hole) was happenstance.  But I seriously doubt that it was coincidence.  Locke not only appears to be in tune with the island, but I would venture to guess that he is now *part* of the island in some way.  He doesn’t seem to be around when Christian, the smoke monster, or any “apparition” appears.  I’m going out on a limb a bit here, but it seems to convenient.  I’ve definitely got my eye on Locke and his whereabouts in relation to other island phenomena.

monsterandanubis

In terms of the structure itself that Ben fell into, it’s got the requisite Egyptian markings, as expected.  But what may not have been expected, was a quick glimpse of Anubis, apparently summoning the smoke monster.  It’s almost a given now that the 4-toed statue is indeed Anubis, considering everything we know to date.  Additionally, knowing that Anubis is the Egyptian god of the afterlife, it’s not overly surprising to see him summoning the smoke monster to do his bidding.  The whole thing fits almost *too* well.

4toedstatuebehind

Ben gets judged

You know, when I first read the listing for this episode, I wasn’t convinced that Ben was actually going to go face-to-face with the monster.  After all, it’s one thing to summon something, and it’s another thing entirely to actually confront it.  But thankfully, it wasn’t a head fake, and we actually did get to see Ben get fully enveloped by the smoke monster, and face its judgment.

benandthesmokemonster

I have a little curveball I want to throw you though.  While we don’t know *exactly* what the smoke monster is doing, it certainly appears as though it’s judging its victim’s intentions.  Locke originally came in contact with the monster and was spared.  Later, he came in contact with it and was almost dragged down into its corridors.  Eko first met the smoke monster and escaped unscathed.  later he met it, seemingly unrepentant, and has killed by it.  Of course, we also know the monster killed the pilot in the first episode, and it tried to get to Juliet and Kate unsuccessfully.  Following the pattern, you can make a case that the monster judges a person’s true intentions, and if they are pure in heart, they escape and live to see another day.

But what if that’s *not* what Smokey is doing?  As part of Ben’s past unfolded in this episode, we came to see a man that truly loved his daughter, and tried to keep her safe.  But towards the end of Alex’s life, Ben went a different route.  First, he sent her to to imminent danger with her mother and Karl (in which both of them were killed).  Then, when Keamy presented him with a clear choice, he opted for safety as opposed to his daughter’s life.  So…is repentance enough to escape the wrath of the smoke monster?  Perhaps that’s all it is.  But my theory goes just a little bit differently.  I think it’s at least a possibility that Smokey is not judging a person’s nature or level of repentance, but instead, whether or not they have done, or will do, the island’s bidding.

I equate the entire Ben/Alex situation with Locke and his father.  Ben declared that the island wanted Locke to kill his dad, because not doing so would continue to hinder Locke’s growth as a human being.  He’d always have that bit of his past dragging him down, influencing his decisions for years and years into the future.  But if he killed him…well, then he could overcome that anchor to his thoughts and actions.  He could become whatever it was he needed to be.  Now, apply that logic to Ben.  His mother died minutes after he was born, and now that situation hangs around his neck like a dog collar.  When he’s ordered to kill Danielle, he can’t…because that issue still dominates his psyche.  The island knows this.  That’s why the island sent him on the quest in the first place.  But perhaps, now that he “allowed” Alex to die willingly, he has fulfilled the island’s wishes.  Now, when he comes to be judged by the monster, he “passes”…because Alex is dead.  Maybe the island doesn’t give a crap if he’s repentant; maybe the island cares if he does what he’s supposed to do.  That’s a bit out in left field, but I think it still fits without knowing the exact intent of the monster.

Apparition Alex puts Ben in his place

alexscoldsben

I love the last few moments of the episode.  While we can’t say that the apparitions and the smoke monster are one in the same, we can certainly say that they’re attached at the hip.  You often see one right before or after the other.  And this case is no different.  Ben has to be doing a major exhale after escaping the clutches of the monster, but his relief is short-lived.  Right after that encounter, he faces off with Alex’s ghost, who’s got him all kids of figured out.  “I will hunt you down and destroy you” is the warning that Ben receives, if he doesn’t follow the man he’s already tried to kill twice.  Locke is now officially running the show, as demanded by the island, and Ben has no choice but to follow his lead.

Post-episode questions

  1. What are Locke’s next steps?  How is he going to help Sun find Jin?
  2. Is Ben really going to follow Locke unconditionally?
  3. What the heck is Ilana and her crew up to?  What’s the answer to their riddle, and who knows it?
  4. Why did Ben tell Danielle to avoid the whispers?  Was it to sabotage her, or to help her?
  5. How are Smokey and the apparitions related?  Are they actually one in the same?

That’s all for this week, thanks for visiting!

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2 responses

10 04 2009
loststreaming

Awesome pictures!

11 04 2009
Brad

Thanks for another great posting, Hablo! It’s always stimulating. First, I want to send kudos to the makeup dept for transforming Ben (Alex-napping) and Charles (the exile) to their younger self. Very nice.

I want take a step back for a sec and speculate on the big picture. It seems everyone who came back has a specific reason, and needs to complete a task or quest. I think all of this is the island’s way of getting them in sync with its will. Once this is achieved for all the main warriors, they will be adequately prepared to fight the “war” that’s coming.

1. I think Locke’s purpose for now is to help everyone else achieve their individual goals. This helps him establish their trust and further tunes him in with the island. As for finding Jin, I’ll make a wild guess that they don’t go back to 1977, but instead discover that old man Jin is alive and well somewhere on the island. Admittedly not the greatest outcome for their plight, but a reuinion nonetheless.

2. He might appear to follow Locke, but I think he’ll be looking for angles to manipulate things to his benefit as they go. It’s interesting that even though Ben’s always been a treacherous liar, we’ve become attached to the character. My first thought was that I don’t want Ben to change and just blindly follow Locke. What would be the fun in that??

3. Ilana might have been tasked by Widmore to bring the body of Sayid’s victim (the one she mentioned when she “arrested” him) to the island in order to bring him back to life — Widmore’s preparing his own army as well!

4. Not sure…I don’t think he wants her to die, but he also doesn’t want her to bother them.

5. The Monster looks like it sort of puts people in a bit of a hypnotic state. I think the apparitions are hallucinations suggested by the subject’s experience and state of mind.

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