‘Lost’ recap: We obsess over ‘Dead Is Dead’
Truly, is there such a thing as a bad Ben-centric “Lost” episode?
As usual, the writers and Michael Emerson gave Ben the perfect blend of cold-blooded nastiness and heartfelt sympathy.
We still can’t figure this guy out, and boy, can he still surprise us.
Is he a cutthroat killer?
Absolutely. Just ask Caesar. (And no, I did not in ANY WAY see that one coming, but more on that later.)
But does Ben also get all choked up by a widdle baby?
You betcha. We’ve all been wondering if there’s a line Ben won’t cross, and unbelieveably, this is it.
He’s got a soft spot for little kids and their mommies. Go figure.
Want to talk about more?
Well, unplug the smoke monster’s drain (eeew, by the way) and get ready to be judged…
LINUS VS. WIDMORE
We got a little more info about the clash between Ben and Charles and … oh, who am I kidding?
PENNY’S ALIVE! HOORAY! Ben didn’t kill her after all! Thank God, because the Penny-Desmond love story is truly the show’s heart and soul.
As we suspected, before his island return, Ben did go to the marina to murder Charles’ daughter in grand retribution for Alex’s death.
But what changed his mind? None other than a glimpse of wee Charlie Hume.
Once Ben caught sight of that towheaded tot, his thirst for revenge got shaky. And that gave Desmond – whose grocery bag was apparently made of Kevlar – time to give ol’ Ben a beatdown. Des is the one who gave Ben those injuries before he boarded Ajira 316.
As we also learned, it’s not the first time Ben’s given a mother and child a pass. Back in the day – the late 1980s actually, judging from his 11- or 12-year-old accomplice, Ethan Rom – Ben was dispatched to kill a young Danielle Rousseau.
Why, we don’t know. But Ben couldn’t go through with it once he saw baby Alex. Instead, he steals Alex: Not the nicest of moves – especially since that’s what drove Danielle cukoo-crazy – but we got the sense he thought this was for Alex’s own good.
(I did have one major quibble with these scenes: Were the producers insane to think we’d buy Michael Emerson as a guy in his mid-20s? He’s good, but no one’s that good. Plus, that black wig they slapped on him did him no favors. He looked like Paul “Pee Wee Herman” Reubens in 1999’s truly terrible “Mystery Men.” See below.)
Anyway, Alex’s kidnapping also set the stage for Ben’s usurpation of Charles as leader of the Others. He challenged Charles to kill Alex himself – since Charles claims that’s what the island wanted – and he didn’t, or couldn’t, follow through.
We later saw Charles exiled – in what looked like a post-Purge era, since the Others were now living in the Dharma barracks – because he’d broken the rules.
It seems that Charles developed the illegal habit of leaving the island regularly (except doesn’t Richard and Ethan do exactly that later on?), and he had a daughter with “an outsider.” We presume that daughter is Penny; no word yet on her mum.
Charles leaves with a warning: One day, Ben will have to choose between the island and Alex. Of course, that prediction comes true.
BEN AND OL’ SMOKEY
It was so good to see the smoke monster and Alex again, wasn’t it? Even if they only appeared to judge Ben – and put him in his proper place in the island hierarchy.
Ben seems to have been telling the truth when he told Locke that he came back to the island to be judged – for Alex’s death, as it turns out. Was he forgiven? Didn’t seem like it from what Ghost Alex said. Then again, Smokey didn’t kill him either.
(Guess the island chose itself over Alex, too. This fits into the course-correction time-travel rules, too: Ben may have stalled Alex’s death when he refused to kill her as a baby, but he was still responsible for her murder later on.)
Ghost Alex got rough with Ben, though, informing him that she knows he’s already plotting to kill Locke again. She threatens to “destroy” him, unless he follows Locke as the Others’ head honcho.
This scene was remininscent of Smokey’s Season 3 confrontation with Mr. Eko. The monster appeared to Eko as his brother, Yemi, but when Eko refused to confess to any sins, the pissed-off puff of smoke threw him around like a rag doll.
And how about all those neat ways to summon the monster? Pull a plug on a bathtub drain? Vaporize through a subway grate?
BEN BOWS TO LOCKE
Ben revealed the reason he killed Locke off the island: It was a shortcut to death. The Ajira 316 window was closing fast, and once Locke had given up the info on Eloise Hawking, Ben didn’t have time to talk Locke into putting that noose around his neck again.
But did he really believe that the island would resurrect Locke? My guess is no: He thought he’d bamboozle his way into taking over again. But the island tricked the trickster.
And even before Smokey insisted that Ben bow down to Locke, it seemed like the two had already switched places. Ben seemed genuinely unsure of where Smokey’s lair was, and doesn’t Locke seem passively all-knowing, much like Ben has in seasons past? He’s got all the answers now, or at least a pretty good idea of how to figure them out.
He didn’t even get upset when Ben blew Caesar away. Guess he really needed that apology.
This episode offered more evidence that Caesar and Ilanna are 316 ringers.
I’ve pointed out before that they were both oddly calm about the plane crash and the strange island goings-on. They also seem to know way too much about the island, like where they can immediately get their hands on a stash of guns. But who hired them?
Anyhoo, now that Caesar is gone – and wow, what a red herring! I thought he’d stick around awhile longer – Ilanna looks to be the one in charge of the new group of castaways.
What did any of you make of her question to Frank? She said, “What lies in the shadow of the statue?”
Should we assume she means the four-toed statue?
Speaking of, I hope you caught that hieroglyphic in the Temple where Ben met the smoke monster. It was of Smokey standing before the figure of Anubis, the Egyptian god of the afterlife. (And most “Lost” analysts believe that the complete four-toed statue was of Anubis.)
Ilanna’s question is also reminiscent of the snowman joke that Desmond asked Locke (and the previous Hatch resident, Kelvin, asked Desmond) when wondering if he was his replacement to push the button.
Is she part of Dharma? Is Dharma still in operation?
Let’s tackle a few issues that this episode raised, shall we?
• A young/er Charles Widmore tells young Ben that he’ll always be one of them, but he must go back to the Dharma Initiative. Is that why older Ben is so alarmed when Frank and Sun show him the 1977 Dharma class photo? Will his interaction with the back to the future Losties change some kind of master plan?
• Off-island Widmore reminds Ben that he’s been searching for the island for almost 20 years. But if he was exiled post-Purge, which happened in 1992, how is that possible? Relevant, a continuity error or just a turn of phrase (16 years is close enough)?
• How did Ethan survive the Dharma Purge? Did anyone else? Does that explain what happened to Ben’s childhood friend, Annie? Did Ben move all the Dharma kids to safety before exterminating the adults?
• Is Ellie (or Eleanor Hawking) still on the island when Widmore is exiled? If so, what happened to her when Ben took over as Leader? If not, where did she go? Was her son, Daniel, born on the island or off?
• What happened the rest of the Losties after the freighter mercenaries came? Ben’s house was exactly as he left it, as referenced by the abandoned game of Risk that Sawyer, Hurley and Locke were playing back then. The O6ers got off the island; Sawyer, Juliet, etc. got sucked into 1977 Dharma. Once again, where – or when? – did Rose, Benard and everyone else go?
• What did Locke do in the jungle when he left Sun and Ben at the barracks for a bit?
Theorize away in the comments section below! And as always, tune in here next week to analyze next week’s episode, “Some Like It Hoth,” when we’ll discover a bit more about Miles…
And is that title a “Star Wars” reference? The classic flick came out in 1977: Maybe Dharma will have a movie night!
(Photos courtesy of ABC and Gannett Photo Network)