Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Lost Episode Review 5.12, "Dead is Dead"

"The fact that John Locke is walking around this Island scares the hell out of me."

As good as this season has been of late, I do think it's suffered a bit from the lack of Ben, Locke, Desmond and Daniel. And given that a few of the best episodes of the entire series were pretty much all Ben vs. Locke, this one was pretty much guaranteed to be a classic by default.

And while I think it lived up to its hype in general, I kind of wanted a bit more. I also thought the Smokey special effects were a bit weak, didn't you, especially when it came out of the hole ridden slab? I mean, remember how Smokey appeared to Eko in the 23rd Psalm - that was a top notch effect. When he came out of the hole it looked kinda... well, fake and cheesy, I thought. But Ben and Locke were fabulous and we had a lot of holes filled in Ben's past:

1) One of the main areas of contention between Charles and Ben was 1) Ben's decision to let Alex (and Danielle) live and 2) Charles having Penny off-Island with another woman. The former was an odd, rare moment of compassion by Ben that, granted, may not have been motivated entirely by pity, given that he may have coveted Alex to raise as his own.

2) However, it was this act that also caused him to spare Penny's life (which, in turn, may have caused Smokey to spare Ben's).

3) Charles Widmore appears to have been banished shortly after the Purge in 1992, given Alex's age. So did Charles order the Purge himself or was it Ben's idea? Seems strange that Charles would order the catalytic event that ended up with Ben taking control. And it seems Ben was hanging out with the Others quite a bit, pre-Purge, given that he stole Alex (with Ethan, no less) in 1988. Interesting, too, that Danielle would almost certainly have recognized Ben when she captured him and turned him over to Sayid. You would think she would have said something along the lines of "this is the man who stole my daughter."

4) Did Ben really kill Ceasar? Honestly, his character has been kind of Paolo-esque, but WTF? Seems there's a lot more to Ilana than I first thought, eh? Either that or she's gone insane.

5) Ben does not seem to have killed Desmond. In fact, Ben gets his ass kicked by Desmond. I was genuinely (and happily) surprised at the outcome of that scene. And what did Penny mean when she said "my father and I have no relation whatsoever?" Does that mean she's not related to Charles? She's certainly wasn't born on the Island, though. That seems definitive.

6) Ben, in his own words, wasn't supposed to return to the Island. As punishment, it seems that he now has to follow John Locke around like a puppy dog. Good entertainment potential there.

7) Ben seemed to confirm the Others were behind The Whispers. He certainly seemed to know what they were. I always thought they were from a DHARMA remote viewing station that the Others took over, but given that Ben told Danielle this pre-Purge makes me think the Temple might have that ability instead.

The questions this week are going to take a bit more of a philosophical, speculative turn than usual...

Five Questions:

1) Is Jacob really the Island itself?

I've lone thought that Jacob was the "god" of the Island, but Richard (I think) in the very beginning of the episode seemed to insinuate that Jacob and the Island were one and the same. Perhaps this isn't really a new thought, but if Jacob is the Island itself, it seems to make a bit more sense to me, especially in how it seems to communicate through the dead bodies that land on him.

Plus it makes sense that when any of the Others say they're doing things "for Jacob" or that something is "what Jacob wants" is really doing it for the Island itself. It also gives new meaning to several things, like when Jacob told Locke to "help me" and The Discharge (and possibly the Incident). Is that why Jacob needs help? Is he hurt?

I know this is just semantics to an extent, but I think it really changes the way we think about things. Including...

2) So how is Locke alive again?

The Island obviously wanted him alive, but as Ben said "dead is dead." Now of course we've seen Christian, Yemi, Charlie, Claire and Alex all wandering around and talking at various points. Some of these (Yemi, Charlie and Alex) were obviously Smokey taking their form. Claire could very possibly be Smokey as well.

But Christian seems to be something else entirely. If the Island can bring Locke back to life (and it does seem like it's really Locke and not Smokey Locke or Zombie Island Locke), then can the Island do it to anyone else? And obviously the parallels between Locke and Christian can't be dismissed. Both of them came to the Island in a coffin brought by Jack and both are now walking around and acting pretty much like their former selves ("say hi to my son for me"), i.e. not like the Monster pretending to be someone.

So the question has to be asked, if Christian is really and truly alive, is Jack responsible for bringing them both back to life? He is a doctor, a saver of lives, - it's pretty much what he's done all is life, right?

3) So now what is Smokey?

Well, he doesn't appear to be Anubis, given that the mural above the holes showed Smokey appearing before Anubis himself. Here's the image from Dark UFO:

Could that be Ammit, as I speculated last week? Smokey's head looks vaguely animal-ish, I suppose. But it's hard to say anything except that he doesn't appear to be Anubis. But perhaps he's not really one of the Egyptian gods, but rather a tool of them? Perhaps he's really just Anubis' way of "judging" people?

But if that's true, then is the Island, and by extension, Jacob, really Anubis, then? Perhaps we'll get this answer when we find out...

4) What lies in the shadow of the statue?

This was the weirdest scene of the entire episode. So is there more to Ilana than what we saw in Sayid's flashback or were she and the others possessed in the same way Danielle's crew was possessed? Is she really an Other?

And what does lie in the shadow of the statue? Does the Smokey tile mean that the statue itself is of Anubis? I think it's a stronger possibility than before, but remember that Anubis is the god of the underworld (where Ben and Locke were exploring). Let's see who's worshipped in the Temple above Anubis first.

I'm also very relieved she didn't kill Frank. :P

5) Where does Locke go from here?

He seems to be getting some instruction now on where to go and what to do (had he ever been to the Temple before, I don't think so). Now he's got a subservient Ben in tow and a Sun who needs to get thirty years into the past. Supposedly Locke's going to help her do that. How? The Orchid again? Or will they finally enter the above ground Temple?

Sadly it looks like we won't get this answer next episode. Fortunately, we get something even better: Miles!


* Did anyone else think the young-ish Charles Widmore didn't look like either of his younger or older counterparts?

* I loved it when Locke walked behind Ben's desk in The Hydra and put his feet up. :)

* Also loved the Risk game still out in Ben's house.

* I liked the method of summoning the Monster with the icky drain.

* The Others' huts looked a lot like the fake huts where the Others kept Michael (the ones Sayid later found)

* Other quote contenders this episode:

"I'm going back to be judged"
"We don't have a name for it, but I believe you call it The Monster"

"If everything you've done has been in the best interest of the Island, then I'm sure the Monster will understand"

"This gentleman and I are taking this boat.
Anyone else have a problem with that?"

"When you hear "The Whispers," run the other way"

"Find Desmond Hume and tell him I'm sorry."

"I did kill Alex"

* Interesting that the Monster's door was in Alex's room

* Young Ben had really nice hair. Charles too. :)


Ben and Locke, Locke and Ben. 4.8/5.0 - it only loses a couple points for some poor Smokey effects and bad casting of the young-ish Charles. Otherwise a terrific episode and it looks like next week we finally get one of Miles! Woo hoo!


Missie said...

I think Ben didn't shoot Penny not because of anything Charles did for him in the past, but rather because he saw Little Charlie (who is also a cute little kid. Poor Aaron.) Perhaps not having his own mother growing up, he doesn't want to be responsible for taking the life of another mother.

Hannah said...

I thought for a while that maybe Mrs. Hawking might be Penny's mom. That would make for an interesting story line of Daniel and Penny being related; but now that we have been told that Windmore had penny with an outsider that theory goes out the window.

I am still unclear as to why Ben has to be such a s**t disturber. Like, telling Cesar one thing then killing him. Seriously wtf?

And the whole Ilana thing? I thought she might have been hired by Ben. But what if she was hired by Windmore? She seems like she might be an extension of the freighter people. Just a guess.

Great post, great episode. :)

I think the guy they cast as Windmore looked kinda like a poor mans Eddie Vedder. But that's just me.

Carly said...

A poor man's Eddie Vedder - hahaha!
I agree Hannah, there were some explanations given last night that I just wasn't impressed with. Maybe my expectations are too high.
He did all that with Cesar just to get his gun?
Very disappointed with Smokey, just kind of a let down. His punishment was getting yelled at by Alex? I guess he has to be a follower now instead of a leader, but I think he kinda got off easy, no?
Another thing, I really thought Widmore had to leave the island for something more sinister then just having a kid with someone off the island. That's it? I could understand his hatred of Ben because he was gaining more influence with the Others and he stood up to Widmore as a leader, but aside from being very arrogant, there doesn't seem to be anything "bad" about Widmore necessarily, up until he sent the freighter people to the island who were you know, killers and all.
Also, maybe this is nit picking, but the submarine that people were using to go back and forth from the island, i.e. Richard and Ethan when they recruited Juliet, was only destroyed by Locke after they had been on the island a few months. So when Widmore said to Ben, he couldn't go back to the island anymore because he (Charles) had been looking for a way back for years and couldn't find one, I was kinda confused. I assumed Ben had also been going back and forth all this time too, but wouldn't Charles have known where to find the sub if he was the leader of the Others? Am I missing something? Help me out Jay!
Oh and I took Penny's words as no relationship with her father, like she has no contact with him.

Carly said...

One more thing: ABC, those of us who like Lost do not care about your shows "coming up next" after Lost. We just don't. So quit taking away all of our Lost time with your previews for a show that probably will be canceled after a few weeks anyway.
Just had to vent that out. :)

Jay said...

There's a lot about the Ben/Charles relationship I don't quite get. Obviously, since Charles was able to build up this giant multinational company while he was still leader of the Others (I presume, since he was only kicked off the Island in 1992 or so), he had to have been spending a considerable amount of time off-Island. And when Ben confronted Charles over Alex it really looked like the Others were already thinking about a change. So it might have been a lot of things that built up over time, with Penny simply being a convenient excuse.

The Caesar/Ilana happenings were just bizarre. If Caesar's dead then he was really just a red shirt on the show. OK, fine. I can deal with that. But Ilana's actions felt like an entire personality change to me. Didn't see that one coming at all and it just felt... off, if you know what I mean.

Now Ilana and the rest of them could be moles planted by Widmore, who probably had an inkling of what Ben was up to. But considering we didn't even get a hint of that in her personality up until now, it really didn't feel right. Ilana gives me a very Ana-Lucia vibe right now. :P

Ben totally got let off easy by Smokey - focusing only on Alex was kinda a cheap way of keeping him alive. Had Smokey gone through everything Ben had done in his life, Ben would now be a smudge on the Temple wall. Let's see if he really obeys Locke in future episodes or if he really tries to kill him for the fourth time (first was in the Swan, second was the shooting, third was the hanging).

someGirl said...

I think the Smokey effects were not necessarily cheesy, but different from what we are used to. I don't think what we saw last night was Ben's actual judgment, but rather a stay of execution of sorts. Ben has some fixin' to do, and when he's finished I'm sure we're all gonna see a Yemmi/Ecko-esque end to Ben. Ben has been responsible for the death of a LONG list of people, all which he feels no remorse for killing--Alex is the only person Ben feels any genuine emotion for so it made sense to me that Smokey used her to secure his cooperation.

When I saw Ilana and those other guys around the silver case, I knew something screwy was about to happen. I first thought they were Widmore folk too...but then why wouldn't they have captured Ben right away? Wouldn't they have recognized him??

Hannah, Carly---> Hello ladies!

Anonymous said...

Ben's final line was delivered with an absolutely miserable tone in his voice. I don't think he was "spared" at all - I think that being forced to abdicate the throne is worse than death for him.

Ilana and co, I suspect, are suffering from the sickness jsut like Danielle's team.

And I actually thought the casting for 40-year old Widmore was great. He has the same sort of facial bone structure. it can't be easy to have to pick actors for different period's of a character's life, but I think the casting crew do a pretty good job.

Jay said...

I don't think he was "spared" at all - I think that being forced to abdicate the throne is worse than death for him.

This is very, very true. It will be interesting to see how Ben deals with it in future episodes. Will also be interesting to see if Ben can restrain himself from killing Locke again. :)