Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Episode 5.12 "Dead is Dead" thoughts

Wow. Is it me or does Lost feel like a completely different show each episode? In a good way, I mean. I think it's because each episode focuses on a different character. Maybe if you watched all the Ben-centric episodes in a row they would feel like they all had a cohesive tone. Same for all the Locke episodes, Jack, etc. Which is kinda neat. Luckily, this was a Ben episode, and that’s always a good thing. Ok, here goes. Brace yourself, it’s a long one. A lot freaking happened this episode.

CHARLES WIDMORE RIDES A HORSE, LIKES TO CAMP: This was a great opening scene. Apparently the producers have gotten a new actor to play middle-aged Charles Widmore (around 20 years older than than the young Widmore we met in the episode Jughead.) He rides up to Richard in an old-looking Others camp. This is interesting, because it means that at one point the Others lived like this until pasty nerd Ben took over as leader and suggested they move into the nice air conditioned yellow houses and eat hamburgers. I guess at that point they switched from wearing those 70s Tatooine outfits to wearing normal clothes that they found in Dharma closets. It's interesting that Ben decided to have them wear their traditional Others garb when they attacked the Losties in Seasons 1 & 2. I guess they were a bit tougher looking that way. Also, I like how Richard has lived through eternity and worn so many clothes in his life that he's finally decided he’s going to stick with one purple long sleeve shirt he got at Nordstrom’s.

CHARLES WIDMORE IS MAD ABOUT YOUNG BEN: But Richard says: “Jacob wanted it done.” And “The island chooses who the island chooses.” I guess we kind of already knew this, but it looks like Jacob and the Island are one and the same. And, from the beginning of their relationship, Ben has been a threat to Widmore’s leadership, just by existing and being favored by Jacob. Widmore tells Ben that he will go back and live with the Dharma folks, but still be an Other. An undercover Other.

BEN WAKES UP SHOCKED: And, for the record, Ben TOTALLY had no idea that Locke would come back to life. That’s my vote, anyway. First, Ben looks really shocked and quickly lies to keep Locke from smothering him with a pillow. Then, later in the episode, Ben’s guilt is made even more clear when he tells Sun that in the history of the island “dead is dead” and no one has ever come back. That means he knew. Anyway, Ben tells Locke he’s there to be judged by the thing that his people “don’t have a name for”. Really? They never gave it a name or thought to say, “the smoke thingee?” Or “that thing that kills us sometimes”? Weird. Maybe it’s like how Jewish people are never supposed to say the name of the Lord out loud, as a sign of reverence. Or maybe the Others aren't very creative.

BEN ON THE BEACH: So, somehow Locke and Ben get from this tense conversation about murder to a pleasant stroll on the beach. Seems like they’d have to iron a few things out first, but whatever. Ben walks by Ilana “Boots” Newbie and Some Burly New Guy and asks what's in their silver crate. "Just something we're trying to get moved," she says. Hmm. What’s in there? I don’t know. More on these weirdos in a bit, when we get to their other strange scene...

BEN, MEET CEASAR: Ben meets Ceasar and starts to poison him against Locke, I guess as a back-up way to kill Locke again if he needs it. Really, Ben? You shot Locke and left him for dead in a pit of bodies, and he came back. Then, you strangled him to death, had a funeral and embalmed him, and he came back. You’re still going to try to kill him? Really? Also, don’t forget that John was a miracle baby. He was born three months early (!) after his mom got hit by a mysterious car. I bet we later find out that Ben was somehow driving the car back in 1956. Either way, Ben seems to be back to his old Locke-killing hi jinks here.

BEN STEALS DANIELLE’S BABY: But Ben was supposed to just go and kill her as an assignment from Widmore. My guess is that Widmore thought that Ben didn’t have it in him and was trying to discredit Ben in front of the other Others. I’m sure there’s been talk in the Others camp about how Jacob saved Ben’s life for a reason, and Widmore’s been fighting for control ever since. I think once Ben sees the baby he sees it as a way to disobey Widmore in front of the Others and get away with it. I think he's already planning in his mind to use the baby to challenge Widmore openly. Ben is certainly a schemer. But I do think he starts to care for Alex after a while.

AH, A YOUNG MOP-HEADED ETHAN: Young Ethan is at Ben’s side outside of Danielle’s tent and asks several times if Ben wants him to kill the lady for him. Creepy Ethan. I guess Ethan’s presence means he’s already defected from the Dharma Initiative. But when does this scene take place? Danielle arrived on the island in 1988, 7 months pregnant. And the baby looks a couple of months old in this scene so I would say this is in 1989 sometime. The purge occurred in 1992, according to Lostpedia, so I’m assuming Ben recruited Ethan while he was still living among the Dharma folks. Ben did say in the episode Through the Looking Glass that he wasn’t the only one to defect from Dharma to the Others.

OK, LOCKE RULES AGAIN: It was nice to see Locke back in form. I like how he continually questioned Ben’s leadership style. He asks him why he led the Others from a corporate looking office. And why he leaves the Others' camps for the yellow Dharma houses. And he certainly implies that Ben hasn't always put the Island before his own interests. He also is back to being the Locke that has a purpose, that cares about people’s safety and even has his old sense of humor back. All it took was dying. Again.

BEN SHOOTS CAESAR: I’m not sure why. Seems there were other ways to go about it. But Caesar did claim to be the new leader of the group. And he did ask to learn all about the island. Maybe Ben just didn’t like him? Or just wanted to prove to Locke that he was being loyal? I dunno. But it was shocking. I was sure there was more to come from Caesar. But I guess not. Turns out he was just inquisitive.

LOCKE HAS SOME IDEAS: Locke tells Sun if he wants to see Jin again, she’ll have to stay with him. And he has some ideas how to accomplish that. I wonder what those ideas are? How much does Locke know now that he’s Super Locke?

HOW TO SUMMON THE MONSTER: Apparently, you flush a toilet. Behind a secret closet. Did the Dharma folks know about this hidden door/water closet combo? Weird.

WIDMORE IS BANISHED: So, I guess it wasn’t spinning the frozen wheel that causes Widmore to leave the island. He's escorted off in a submarine. Ben accuses Widmore of breaking the rules by leaving the island regularly and having a daughter with an outsider. (Which most likely means that Ellie the Other is NOT Penny’s mom.) Maybe on top of those offenses was the current state of his hair. Ben says he’ll sacrifice anything to save the island and Widmore counters by saying he didn’t sacrifice Alex. Ben says the island didn’t want that. And that appears to be true, because of Ben’s later confrontation with angry dead Alex in the temple basement. Widmore’s last line before getting in the sub is “I’ll be seeing you”, which has got to be a subtle reference to the classic British sci fi show The Prisoner, a show from which Lost borrows heavily. In The Prisoner, all the characters lived on an island, and those people that were part of the island’s inner circle always said “Be seeing you” to each other. On a side note, that show also ruled.

SUN DOESN’T ASK: Um, Locke is Sun’s only hope to find Jin, and when he walks off into the woods to “do something” she doesn’t ask what it is? At least that’s what she tells Ben. Maybe she thought he was going to the bathroom…? But what did Locke do? Again, how much does Locke know now? How does he know about the temple? He says “I just know.” I think maybe he knows about the hole in the ground because he was almost pulled into a hole in the ground back in season 1. If you remember, even then, he wanted to go in the hole and Jack wouldn’t let him. Was that hole near this temple? Or maybe Locke’s just got super island powers now.

THE TEMPLE: We learned a little more about it this episode. Ben says that the part that we’ve seen is a wall around the temple. The temple is a half mile away and the wall was to keep people from ever seeing it. So Ben’s people built the wall? I guess they know about hieroglyphics. Can Ben read them?

DESMOND VS. BEN VS. PENNY: So, Ben shoots Desmond, then almost kills Penny. But the sight of young Charlie stops him. I have to think we’re meant to assume that young Charlie reminds him of Alex. When he sees Penny’s little Charlie it was just like that moment when he walked into Danielle’s tent set on murder then saw the baby and changed his mind. A few seconds of delay on Ben’s part equals several minutes of Desmond’s fist on his face and a broken arm. Yay for Desmond.

WHAT LIES IN THE SHADOW OF THE STATUE??? Ok, then there’s the scene that was totally weird. Frank washes up on shore and meets up with some guy wearing a red shirt (which probably means he’ll die later, see this link if you’re not up on your Star Trek references.) Red shirt guy tells Frank that Ilana and her buddies have found some guns and have taken charge. Oddly, as Frank walks up to them, they appear to be fastening sticks to their mysterious silver trunk in order to carry it (much like the way you would carry the Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament, or in the Raiders of the Lost Ark.) Frank asks them what’s going on, and they reply, like anyone would when caught fastening bamboo to a silver casket: “What lies in the shadow of the statue?” This appears to be some kind of code phrase so they can know who’s on their side or who’s not. Frank has no idea what they're saying, so he's knocked unconscious. Then Ilana says “Get everyone else, tell them it’s time. Tie him up, he’s coming with us.”. Wha? There are more of their people? Where are they going? I think the fact that the phrase includes the words “the statue” means that these folks are probably Others. Right? Maybe? Which would mean that Ilana’s story to Sayid about being a bounty hunter was just a story. The question now is… are they Others that are loyal to Widmore or are they working for Ben? Maybe they’re bringing the “war” to the island that Widmore was talking about to Locke? Or, did Ben actually know them when he was talking to them earlier in the episode on the beach? I thought so, when I re watched it. They at least know who he is. But it looked almost like they were pretending not to know each other. Ben and Ilana even smiled a little bit after their conversation. Check this pic:

I dunno. It's too early to say exactly, but obviously something is up.

THE JUDGEMENT: Ok, so for all the build up about Ben getting judged, the actual judging was a little crazy. Ben falls into a deeper hole and explores a large room. I couldn’t tell what was in the room exactly. A dark hole on one wall seemed to contain a sarcophagus but it was hard to see. I’m sure we’ll have a lot of easter eggs on this one. Ben stares at a drawing on the wall of what looks like our old Egyptian buddy Horus interacting with a smoke monster. Then the monster comes out of its vent in a cool, creepy way and wraps around Ben. I have to say, I’m not a big fan of the flashbacks projected on the wall of smoke. It’s the closest Lost ever comes to a Family Ties style “clips show”. It just feels a little hokey/field of dreamsy. The smoke monster leaves, then angry dead Alex shows up and I was sure for a moment that Ben was a goner. But instead, the monster threatens Ben and makes Ben promise he’ll follow Locke’s every word. Crazy. Ben says the Monster let him live, but he doesn’t look too happy about it. Because now he has to live under someone else’s leadership and that’s kind of a fate worse than death for Ben, I think. Also, on a side note, does this mean the smoke monster’s been judging people all along? I guess so, or maybe sometimes it’s also just protecting the island or whatever’s in the temple? Is the statue located near the temple? And, does something super important lie in the statue’s shadow? The fountain of youth? The tree of life? A picture of Hurley’s buddy from Mr. Cluck’s Chicken Shack? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

THE PREVIEW OF NEXT WEEK’S EPISODE (MILD SPOILERS): So, next week appears to be a Miles-centric episode. And I’m glad about that, I’ve always thought he was interesting and it has taken a long time to get to his story. I’m excited that we’ll learn more about his powers and why he came to the island. Here’s what we saw in the clip: Hurley finds a body in the back of Miles's Dharma van. He asks Miles to admit that he can talk to dead people. Juliet opens a medicine cabinet. Kate looks displeased at someone from a distance. Jack is at a chalkboard with the word “Egyptian” on it twice. Hurley asks “Are you on some kind of secret mission?” Miles approaches a body on a table. Miles walks with Marvin Candle/Pierre Chang who says “Your instructions were to come alone”. Next to the Dharma van, Hurley says to Chang: “I won’t tell anybody about the body”. Miles asks a dead body “Ok, so what really happened.” Chang pushes open a gate covered in vines. Sawyer punches Jack in the face. Hard. Miles is driving the van. Someone runs out in front of him. It’s stupid Radzinsky. Cut to black. There are 5 episodes left this season. The next one is called “Some like it Hoth”. Does that imply anything to you? I hope I don’t have to tell you that Hoth was the ice planet of the Star Wars universe. Is the title a hint that the island will somehow relocate itself to a cold climate? Polar bears, anyone?


Angela said...

Holy crap, this episode was awesome. As Ren so eloquently put it last night, "I am so glad that this episode took a break from the other crew!" No scowling Kate. No whiny Jack. Breath of fresh air. Locke rules. Ben is awesome and horrible at the same time. I love how you never know if he's telling the truth. As Ren also says, "Never trust Ben." You'd think the Losties would have learned this little tidbit by now. But it's hard not to get sucked into his shaky voice and Andrew McCarthy-like stare. Creep-y.

ITA with you about Ben killing Ceasar. That was just weird. Why did Ben waste the time trying to turn Ceasar against Locke, only to kill him ten minutes later??? I was very puzzled by this.

I laughed so hard at "How to summmon the monster...Apparently you flush a toilet." I thought the same thing!!! I will never look at a swirling toilet the same way, ever again.

Yay for Desmond indeed.

You see, it's when Ben pulls stunts like "I can't shoot a woman with a young kid" stuff, that your heart goes out to him. That maybe, deep down, he really is good, but just scared, corrupted, and freaky. Who knows? He's a complex character, and really fun to watch.

One last thing...I have a theory. I think Locke is now "possessed" by the Island. He's a vessel for the "spirit" of the Island. That's why he's now Super Locke. I think it would explain Christian's presence on the Island as well. Maybe the Island needed a dead dude in a coffin on board a crash-bound airplane to inhabit. And they act as sort of a spokesperson for the Island. Whether that possession by the Island is good thing or evil thing remains to be seen, though.

regan said...

Great recap! I'm so glad that you write these because I only get to watch it once (we don't have any of that fancy technology) and I feel like I miss a lot of details.
One thing that I missed: did Locke tell Sun and Lapidus about the time travel craziness that he was stuck in before he left? They told him he was crazy but I couldn't tell if that was just from him not being dead still or if it was both stories. Sun was holding the picture from 1977 with Kate, Jack and Hurley but I missed if it was referenced there.
I agree about Ben killing Ceaser. Totally unexpected and weird. Also, how did Ceaser not notice that a heavy, fairly long gun was missing from his man purse?
Great theory about the people on the plane being Others. I'm sure that some of them got stuck in the real world when Locke blew up the sub and, of course, Ben would look them up and get them on the plane. He's so sneaky.
Locke is my favorite character and I'm so glad that he is finally looking like a leader instead of a crazed, desperate man that no one listens to.
Can't wait for the Miles and Hurley episode next week!

Zach said...

Well done, Wes. I think 20 year-old Ben looked like k.d. Lang and I think Caesar is not dead. I think we are building up to a Tree of Life reveal behind the temple walls and the thing in the silver case is probably not the ark, but man they sure are making it seem like it is. If Illana's buddy's name is Joshua, we will know for sure.


Erin said...

I think 20-yr old Ben looked like pee wee herman.

Wes W. said...

A few things: If Ilana and her crew are working for Ben, then Ben could have killed Caesar because he claimed to be "calling the shots" and he wanted to get him out of the way so Ilana could do their thing. Regan- I like the blown up sub theory as to why all the displaced others had to get on the plane. Also, Caesar could have been working for Widmore and Ben knew about it somehow.

Also, I'm guessing Locke told Sun about his time travel days, but it didn't happen on screen.

Zach - I think the thing in the casket is not the ark, either. But I'm guessing it's some kind of weapon or artifact to cause some kind of damage.

I think Ben is going to be the Gollum of the island. People keep sparing him yet he can't stop being Ben, but maybe in the end it will be good that he stuck around somehow.

Wes W. said...

Also of note is that Ben accuses Widmore of leaving the island often. Which is ironic, because we know that Ben does the same thing (all the passports, money, etc. that Sayid found in Ben's closet.)

Angela said...

I think 20-year old Ben looked just like 45-year old Ben with longer hair. Funny.

Wes W. said...

How old is Ben when he steals Alex? It's 1989. And he looked about 13 in 1977? So, yeah, I guess he's supposed to be about 25 or so. Hmm.

coulter said...

loved this episode because i'm really a john locke fan deep down. he's been my favorite non-hottie since episode 1. it's great to see him back in business! he's the only one with true selfless intentions, as far as i'm concerned. he seems to be in it for the greater mystery.

too bad ceaser got shot. kinda cute.

Anonymous said...

I've been considering two things since watching this episode and reading this page.

1. The Smoke Monster can take the shape of people - we have not seen evidence that John's body is not still in the coffin, nor did we see the Smoke Monster in the same scene with him. John now seems to have supernatural Island knowledge. What I'm suggesting here is, maybe the Smoke Monster has decided to take a more active role in things and has assumed a more permanent role, that of Mr. John Locke. Wouldn't it be cool to have a future Spawn-moment where someone discovers that John is actually still dead? Anyone have any thoughts on this? - I also love John Locke; best character on the show, in my opinion.

2. Ben might have been making nice with Caesar to (a) protect himself at that very moment, and (b) to steal the gun from him.

Wes W. said...

Those are good points. Here's my thoughts:

1. I did notice that John went missing right when the smoke monster appeared. Very suspicious in a Clark Kent/Superman kind of way. But John did keep saying that he was the same old John. So it's hard to say, and certainly left unclear on purpose, i would guess. I think if John had been assimilated by the smoke monster, his coffin would still be empty, though, just like Christian's.

2. I also think that it's possible Caesar was working for Widmore and Ben knew it. Or that he had to shoot him because he had already started to try to turn him against John and was afraid that he would bring that up in front of John.

Beloved of the Lord said...

I'm wondering if the take over from the Ilana's new crew isn't a result of the smoke monster; like what happened to Rousseau's people back in the day. Maybe they are possessed by the smoke monster and the smoke monster IS the shadow of the statue? So what lies within the smoke monster... well, clips of Ben's dead daughter... so maybe I'm wrong :)

Wes W. said...

That's a cool theory. It's possible, I guess, if they found another temple kind of thing or something and decided to explore.