Lost – ‘Dead is Dead’ – 5.12

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Earlier this season, I gave Lost co-creator JJ Abrams’ new show, Fringe, a two episode try-out. I was a huge X-Files fan and, of course, really dig Abrams’ myth-building skills (as evidenced by my devotion to this property) – so this show seemed right in my wheel house. Well, two episodes in and I couldn’t hack it. It felt like someone jammed my chocolate X-Files into their CSI peant butter and instead of it being a fresh, delectable treat it was one of those moldy movie theater snacks that a dollar theater will keep in the concessions case for 5 years past its Born On Date.

How’s that for an image? Well, I speak from experience, having the extreme misfortune of biting into a Reeses that had turned white during some midday matinee of Backdraft back at that old Cameo Theater in South Weymouth, MA sometime round high school graduation. Yeah, a long time ago and yet that bitter taste has never left me.

Maybe it’s hyperbole, but a show that looked like a sure fire hit for my sensibilities just left me cold.

Then, this past winter, as I was looking for something to keep me entertained, I decided to give Fringe a second shot. After all – I SHOULD LIKE THIS. Once again, I got two episodes in and bailed.

Well, this past week came news that has piqued my interest yet again. It appears that Abrams has tapped his Star Trek connections and nailed legendary Leonard Nimoy for that show’s Alvar Hanso – i.e. Their Man Behind The Curtain – their Big Bad Mystery Guy, William Bell. Essentially, he’s the crux to that show’s core mythology. And while one part of me wants to jump on board and see Nimoy carve a new iconic character (assuming Fringe lingers – which based on its decent ratings, is actually a good possibility) – the other part of me thinks that Abrams botched it.

Nimoy should be Jacob!!!

Heroes got Sulu. Fringe got Spock. We damn well better not get Chekov!!!

All right – enough of this side trip. Let’s get Lost.

1.   Speaking of Men Behind the Curtain, after a few weeks of tying loose ends and some decent character development, we returned to the good old fashioned myth making that showrunners Damon Linderlof and Carleton Cuse are so adept at by returning to that bug-eyed bastard Ben and his ever-coiling deceptions and misdeeds. This was a great episode, co-written by the genius Brian K. Vaughan, that vividly painted a few major pieces of the evolving mosaic as well as provided some tantalyzing hints to the true nature of one of the show’s more fascinating characters. No – not Ben.

2.   Locke!!! I’ve got a new theory that just hit me this morning as I was sweating alongside the oldies (let me tell ya’ fellas – If you’re single and seeking the Elder Cougar Crowd, there’s no better meat market than the YMCA ’round 9:00 a.m. EST). Fortunately, I made sure my wedding bling gleamed nice and bright to ward off any old crows, and in my solitude, I was able to reflect. Anyway, more on Locke in a bit.

3.   Back to He Who Shall Remain Eyelash-Less. Geez – you’d think after all those years of bunking in Richard’s little Fort Wilderness, that dude would have shared some guyliner to accentuate Ben’s peepers. Or at least, spared him that unfortante page boy that the studio stylist slapped on his cabeza. Next week, I want Ben with a fauxhawk.

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4.   So, we got a lot of info on Ben and his relationship with Alex in this episode. For starters, in an episode that absolutely pinballed back and forth with Ben’s deceptive deeds (he played so many sides, I think at one point he was actually betting against himself) – we found that Ben did indeed have a heart. In fact, this called into question an issue we debated earlier this season regarding Charles Widemore and Ben. In that Locke-centric episode, we saw the current day Widemore confront Locke about the need to strike down the demon Ben from this world. Charles spoke a good game and I really started to see him as a sympathetic character. Last night’s episode acts as the Yin to that Yang, with Widemore coming across as a truly evil bastard and Ben showing some semblance of humanity in his past. Afterall – he may have done a host of nefarious things but he’s no baby killer.

5.   In that scene where Ben ambushes Danielle in her hut, he left her with a curious warning. Before sparing her life and spoiling the baby, he tells her that if she ever hears whispers – that she must run for her life, or something along those lines. In an episode brimming with allusions to the will of the island, I think it’s clear that the whispers are something indigenous to the island. They are not “The Others” whispering in the trees and also not Smokey. Instead, I think it’s tied directly to Jacob or his true nature – the true inhabitants of the island for whom The Others slave so tirelessly to protect.

6.   Anyway, we see that at some point, Ben and Charles swap places on the hierarchy of things. Richard tips Charles to this early on when he confronts the young, ailing Ben by saying “the island chooses who it chooses”. So, it appears that upon their first introduction, Charles knew that he would eventually be usurped – a feeling that seems to sour their relationship. When Ben confronts Charles as he is being led to his banishment (by sub not frozen donkey wheel) – Ben makes it clear that Charles has done things in disservice to the island and that is why he has been sent away. So, that underscores Ben’s undying proclamations that everything he does, no matter how evil, is done for the island. At least, he seems to believe that.

7.   One last thing about Ben’s encounter with Danielle. He’s got a teenaged Ethan by his side. My guess is that Ethan was spared (or survived) The Purge . We know The Others take a special interest in children (more so than Neverland Ranch), so I wonder if on the day of The Purge, Ben insured that all of the children were diverted from the DHARMA site.

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8.   Capping the flashbacks, we learned the nature of Ben’s present day injuries and as we all suspected, he got them trying to make do on his promise to Charles. And once again, we spied another crack in his harsh facade – with young Charlie causing Ben pause. Enough for Desmond to lay the smackdown and bloody up Ben’s face once again. I am seriously going to start a new drinking game. A beer everytime Ben gets punched. A shot everytime someone busts his nose.

9.   In the present, Ben flip-flopped in his enthusiasm for Locke’s timely ressurection (the Easter Bunny is due any day now). In the immortal words of Bruce Campbell’s Ash “One minute you’re trying to kill me. The next minute you’re trying to kiss me… Blow!”

10.   First Ben is overjoyed with Locke’s return. At the very least, it appears to shake him of that newfound memory he woke with. Seriously, tell me it didn’t look like he woke with the same troubled countenance that Desmond did when he awoke with total recall.

11.   The next minute Ben is manipulating Caesar to pop a cap in the savior.

12.   And then Ben is swooping to Locke’s rescue and taking Caesar out before we could learn what was up with this mysterious dude. I know we thought he was placed on the plane as spy for Charles Widemore but now I think he was just a bad dude who crossed swords with someone worse.

13.   That said, that female Dog the Bounty Hunter (yup, that makes her Bitch the Bounty Hunter) – she appears to have initiated her own Lord of the Flies rebellion and has taken to arming the more thuggish red shirts among her collective. Not good news for Frank. I’m wondering if this is by design or simply another impediment to Locke and crew. And what’s in that case? Don’t tell me little bags of pretzels.

14.   I’ve got an outlandish theory coming up, that I want to close with, so we’ll follow Locke and Ben’s journey to get there. The key to all of this is Locke’s intuition and resurrection. Again, more in a moment.

15.   First, the intuition. Locke sees through Ben’s continued lies and instead of taking him at face value (blind faith is a Locke specialty), Locke calls him out. He’s not there to repent for killing Locke or any of the other 7 Deadly Sins he’s cashed in. Nope – he’s there to seek penance for killing someone he truly cared for – for placing the island’s will and his own survival ahead of his true love. And Locke sees right through Ben and judges him. (Very Important).

16.   Locke and Ben then journey to the Temple, with Locke following his nose right to the source, and insists that Ben head into its bowels to seek out the dog that wouldn’t come when it was called. Why didn’t it arrive when Ben first summoned it? I think it did. 

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17.   In the Temple, Ben spies Egyptian hieroglyphics on everything providing more proof that this island ties into Egyptian mythology. Most notable is that carving above Smokey’s crib – which depicts the Egyptian God Anubis – a shepherd to the Underworld and a judging force in Egyptian mythology (major shout out to Wikipedia for that one). And Ben is judged – shown a litany of his sins in much the same way that Mr. Ecko was judged. When Ecko was judged, he was greeted by his dead bro Yemi who left him with a cryptic, dire warning moments before Smokey arrived and beat down Ecko. This time, Ben receives a visitation from Alex, who immeidately turns on him and offers a second chance and a dire warning. It is watching him and knows that he is trying to betray Locke. And if that comes to pass, unholy retribution appears to be Ben’s fate. And with that warning comes a twist of the screw. Is Ben now fated to be Locke’s dutiful Renfield, in perpetual servitude to an undead master?

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18.   And there it is. “Dead is Dead”. And yet, Locke walks the Earth. In much the same way that Christian, Yemi and Alex all appear to draw breath. That’s not the only thing they have in common. They are all Smokey. Locke is Smokey!!!

19.   And that’s my outlandish theory. I think the writers are very clear. “Dead is Dead“. Ben said he has seen incredible healing occur on the island but never a full-on resurrection. I don’t think Locke is alive anymore than Christian, Yemi, Charlie or Alex. I think Locke is Dead. And the Locke that Ben is traveling with is Smokey manifest. How else would Locke know exactly what was at the core of Ben’s guilt? How else would Locke see through Ben’s continued misdirection and stall tactics and continue to push Ben towards the Temple? How else would Locke know exactly where Smokey was resident? That sequence when Ben calls Smokey is telling. He steps outside expecting the trees to rustle and a freight train to burst forth. Instead, Locke ambles his way out of the foliage. And we sigh, expecting massive spectacle (which would come later). And yet, I think Ben did indeed call Smokey and Smokey showed up right on queue – wearing Christian Shepherd’s penny loafers and Locke’s funeral attire.

20.   Dead is Dead. And Locke is Dead. But it appears – he has a little more living to do.

See you next week for Episode 5.13 – “Some Like it Hoth“.

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Comments now closed (13)

  • Regarding your Locke theory…

    Clearly something is different with Locke…he’s not fearful or anxious anymore. He seems more knowledgeable and determined but without the restlessness he once had. I think that Christian, Alex, Claire are all now “island representatives”, but I thought it interesting when Locke told Sun, “I’m the same man I always was.” I think somehow Locke is different than the rest…

  • Nice theory! I like it…
    I still question why Widemore never got on the plane, especially since they continue to exemplify the innate desire he has always had to return. Also on Widemore, interesting where he arrived at the island at age ~17? And left several years later…Unless his family has money, he did pretty well for himself. Also, regarding last week’s episode, do you remember when Richard said he didn’t care what Charles and Ellie think? Was it actually Ellie that Richard said and if so is that Eleanor Farraday he is referring to??
    So I don’t think Penny is dead, right? Is the bounty hunter chick associated with another group? I wonder…Great episode, great write up.

    Give Fringe a chance; unfortunately, I have to tell you it would be best to see them all although you don’t have to. Half of my great opinions about it are the characters and humor. It’s funny! The banter and relationship that the three principal characters have…good stuff.

  • I like the theory on Locke because I came to that conclusion myself after watching the episode for a while, but since then I have backtracked. The only reason is I don’t see why the Monster would bother appearing as Locke to the other 316ers after they crashed on the other island. Ben wasn’t on the scene at that time and neither was Sun. Was it really to talk to Illana (bounty hunter chick) about how much he liked his mango? Also, could the Monster travel/appear on the other island? No, I think Locke is resurrected. For now. Certainly, our theory about him not being able to commit suicide to be resurrected theory is out the window with Ben’s reveal about the elephant in the room. (Assuming he told the truth.)

    As far as the actual Monster encounter, I thought it was awesome and you really wonder why it is keeping Ben alive when it killed Mr. Eko (not Ecko… he’s not a white douchebag selling urban streetwear and branding baseballs), who seemingly repented a lot more for his past misdeeds than Ben ever has. You have to assume it is because the island still needs Ben for something and he is being used as another tool.

    Interesting comment by Ben about that just being a wall around the temple that “we” built to hide from “people like you” and not the actual temple. That wall is old enough, and seen when he was a boy, that we know he used “we” in the sense of The Others as a group having done so. Also, you have to assume the temple is above ground since Locke said they weren’t going there but below it to see the Monster. Is there some large temple structure we still haven’t seen?

    I hate the tease about the marina encounter. We were right about Ben going there for the purpose we thought, but we still don’t know for sure how it turned out. Yes, he got beat up by Desmond as we thought, but he lost the gun in the water and then ended up there himself. Previously we saw him still at the marina and all beaten, but dry and with no sense of urgency. Did Desmond and Penny take off on the boat or by car once Ben was in the water? Was he able to retrieve his gun from the water and carry out his mission? He did ask Sun to find Desmond if she got off-island again and tell him he was sorry, but for what? Did he succeed or was it simply for the attack? Was he genuinely sorry or trying to cover more bases prior to judgment? By the way, what was in that grocery bag to absorb or deflect the bullet? When he dropped it you didn’t see any wound.

    I no longer think Caesar was a Widemore plant, but I do think Ilana was (and probably the guy she was with in the end) and I’m sure she is responsible for the crate. Maybe also the guns because you’d think if they were already on-island then Ben would have grabbed one early on instead of boosting Caesar’s boosted shotty, although they were not modern weapons but more like what we saw Sawyer and Locke’s crew procure in the past from The Others, so maybe they were there somewhere. Her question to Lapidis was telling as well. Something about “what lies in the shadow of the statue” which you have to assume refers to our four-toed friend. She also claimed to Sayid to be working for the family of one of his assassination victims and you’d assume that all of those people were in league with the Widemore organization.

    Finally, as for Widemore himself, exactly how was he getting off island and returning prior to taking out Dharma and using the sub, especially since it was in secret? He couldn’t have used the wheel to go to Tunisia because that was a one way ticket and if there was another way back why hasn’t he used it unless that has been since eliminated? I believe he was trying to manipulate Ben into killing baby Alex so that the island would turn on Ben and preserve his status as the chosen leader.

    @Carlos: I think the Ellie to which he was referring was the young blond girl that took Daniel to the Jughead bomb and yes, turns out to be his mother.

  • I like the Locke theory, just not sure I am completely on board with it yet…if Locke is The Monster now, who was The Monster before? I had noticed the calm countenance of Locke now, no furrowed brow, no slight hyperventilating as he verbally works through his problems, the ever-so-slight whine in his voice…all gone…kind of like a Resurrection of sorts ( I was raised Catholic, ya’ know…I think that particular holiday is coming up). Maybe Ben is now the Doubting Thomas who believes his eyes, but not his spirit. The Egyptians believed in reincarnation, also Jack had to put something of Christian’s in the coffin… Christian…coffin…resurrection…maybe Locke is now Jack’s daddy.

    And last season as evil Ben emerged as a character, I saw Michael Emerson on a talk show saying how he was actually a stand-up comedian…I can only assume that his career in that field may need a miracle to resurrect itself!

  • I’ve been thinking about this all day and now no longer believe that Locke is the monster. But – he is in the fold – along with Christian to serve the island – that is for sure. Ah well – I needed something to keep my mind off Regis.

  • I don’t know if I fully bite into your “Locke is Smokey” theory, but I definitely think there is something different about this Locke, Locke 2.0 if you will. Of course we really haven’t seen enough of him to really say anything yet.

    I’m glad they killed off Caesar! 😉

  • All right. Now I’ve had a night to think about it and I am totally back pedaling on my Locke is Smokey theory. I’ve asked time and time again. Why do you people read this shite? I’m just the man behind the curtain. Smoke and mirrors, people.

    But – there is no question that Locke will play a key role in the island’s design. Remember, he should have been the Chosen One years ago (Richard was present at his birth and later came to him with a test that Locke failed – that’s when he chose the knife and not the compass that Locke would later gift Richard while time traveling). And that set in motion the rise of an impostor – Ben – until the island flexed its muscles and pulled Locke to the island. Of course, Locke deviated once again – journeying off island but not even death could keep him away. And that is why he is back to life. The island needs him and will do anything to keep him alive – including raising him from the dead.

    Now to answer some of the questions above:

    @Carlos: I don’t think Widemore wants to step one foot on that island until he knows its safe to do so. He knows what the island is capable of and certainly knows about the judging force that resides below the temple. My take is that Widemore wants to tame the island before he returns – which is probably a very fool hardy move.

    As for his money, remember – he runs Widemore Industries. Alpert has Mittelos Bioscience. He’s always had an elite air abouot him but I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s used things learned on the island (the unique properties of the island) and found a way to profit from them.

    As for last week’s episode, Alpert said he doesn’t answer to Widemore and Ellie (which is, indeed, Eloise Hawking – who we know is Faraday’s Mom). Which makes me wonder if Mrs. Hawking was booted from the island at some point too?

    And this Nimoy casting has piqued my interest. I just threw Fringe in my DVR queue again. 3rd times a charm?

    @Sean – Alex clearly told Ben that he WILL listen to everything Locke says and DO everything he is told. I think Ben is being kept alive because he is needed to help Locke along his path.

    I think there is indeed, an above ground structure. I wouldn’t be surprised if it is minimal by design – with the large, ancient wall obscuring what is on the other side. I bet we see it in the Finale and maybe catch a full glimpse of Jacob. The rumor is that Jacob plays a big role in the finale – at least, there is a rumor out there that Jacob has been cast for this season and next.

    Good theory on Widemore’s motivation. As for how did Widemore get off island – I think he used the sub. Their issue was what he did off island. Essentially – he seemed to be placing his interests above the island’s and that was his greatest crime.

    That “What Lies in the Shadow of the Statue” line was intriguing. And, could it be taken two ways. The literal interpretation as in what rests where the statue’s shadow falls and then on another level – what “lies” (mistruths”). Sort of a dual meaning – i.e. What Lies Beneath.

  • @Ed- I took the ” What lies…” as a password kind of thing, like ” What’s the frequency, Kenneth?”- or am I dating myself again? When Ben couldn’t answer, then Alex was free to put the hurt on her adopted-but-denied-her daddy!
    I’ll bet Locke knows!

  • @Ed: I thought when Ben was booting Widemore he charged him with “secretly” leaving and returning to/from the island for years. How could he do that secretly if on the sub and also, the sub seems to take a long time between trips — unless those were the Dharma only days — and wouldn’t they notice him being gone for long periods. Also, given Penny’s age, he’d have to have been coming and going prior to having access to the sub post-purge.

    @Aunt Sharon: I later came to the same thought. I think the line is in fact a password given to sleeper operatives on the plane and since Frank couldn’t answer he got the rifle butt to the face.

  • Good episode. I found the fact that Ethan was with Ben when took Alex interesting. Not to mention he was sent to kill Russo and then didn’t when he saw the baby. She must have delievered by herself! I could see why she went crazy. It was interesting as you say that Ben showed some heart when he wouldn’t kill the baby and told Widemore to do it. Back to Ethan and timeframe which they were in when they took Alex. Ethan looked to be a young a teenager. He also seemed pretty gung ho to “do it” as he said, which I assume meant to kill Russo. But I think this before the purge of the Dhamra folks. I think this because they appear to not have moved into Dharmaville and were still in the woods. So that would mean that Ethan became an other before the purge. I am thinking when Ben goes back to the Dharma folks that he befriends/recruits him. Also, when they show Ben with an older Alex pushing her on the swing they do appear to be living in Dharmaville.

    I sill am somewhat confused by the time travel stuff as Ben either remembered, or maybe he was just told, that he was taken to the Temple to be healed. But he went on his path to leader of the Others before syaid came back and shot him, how would he remember that unless he was remembering for the first time when Locke brought him to the Temple.

    Speaking of Locke I hadn’t thought of Locke as being the monster, and sounds like you and everyone has kind of back off that, but he is definitely enlightened somehow. He is controlling Ben as Ben once controlled him and basically tells him that. He said something along the line of now you know how I felt following you not knowing why…

    As for Desmond, I thought he winged him in the right shoulder, when he shot him. He appeared that Desmond landed his most punshing blows with his left hand. So maybe he was a little hurt but was able to rally to kick the crap out of him. I wouldn’t think Ben was able to rally and kill Penny after that… but I am sure Desmond didn’t just sit there and left him float away either…

  • thanks! guess it helped I included Farraday in my previous post. Eleanor!?

    My biggest interest is what will Ben remember and how did it change him. Previous to his near death GSW, we know he met with Richard but we don’t actually know how he joined them later. So for all we know, things are happening as they already did.

    Back to Locke, I still like the theory. But if he is truly just resurrected, I would simply chalk up to newly gained confidence.