'Dead Is Dead' is one of the most important episodes in the series. I know this. You know this. People who don't watch the show know this. It's one of those episodes which will begin to make sense in the sixth season. It has to be. The final scene alone, with Ben walking underneath The Temple in what seems to be another Temple, has so much in it that I'll advise you, dear readers, to read Doc Jensen's recap of the episode. I do think we saw the four-toed statue carved into the rock facing what has to be the image of the smoke monster. But Doc Jensen will offer interesting theories into that final scene with Ben. And, of course, AS ALWAYS, you must trust in LOST itself because LOST will explain EVERYTHING (well...mostly everything) by May 2010.
With that said, I have a lot to write about this episode. There's no better character to begin with than the man the episode centered around: Benjamin Linus. The episode did a fantastic job of adding layers to an already fantastically layered character. There's no character on television as complex as Benjamin Linus. The added layers involved children and Ben. Ben has a soft spot for children. It's that simple. His soft spot for children is what saves Penny's life. Once he sees little Charlie, he drops the gun. He was supposed to 'exterminate' Danielle but he found Alex, and decided to save her. When Widmore described Alex as an 'it,' Ben responded with: "She's not an 'it,' Charlies. She's a child." My theory of Ben being devastated by a childbirth he experienced, which is actually the story of Ethan, was dashed. But the episode explained why Ben was so focused on children, of fixing the problem of pregnant mothers and their unborn children dying on the Island, of kidnapping children like Zach, Emma, Walt, and Aaron. Yes, I know Juliet said Ethan acted alone but I'll elaborate on my inclusion of Aaron in the list of kidnappings ordered by Ben later on. Ben's soft spot for children helps humanize him but I'm sure I didn't even need to write that sentence. Framing the story around Ben's relationship with Alex and, subsequently, the history with Widmore created a whole picture for this particularly poignant story in Ben's life.
Ben kidnapped Alex because he figured leaving her with Rousseau would result in the child's death. Widmore insists that the Island wanted her dead. In the beginning of the episode, while 12 year old Ben recovers from his gunshot wound, Widmore and Richard have an exchange in which Widmore believes the child was meant to die. A major component of this episode is the idea of what the Island wants. But what, in fact, does the Island want? It seems clear that the fate of Alex was to die on the Island, and Ben simply did what he did not do nineteen years ago: he let Alex die. I write this only because Ben lived to tell the tale of his judgment with the Monster. We've seen what the Monster does to those who are acting against It, as in the case of Mr. Eko. The difference between Eko and Ben's judgment was: Eko pled his case to the Monster's manifestation of Yemi, and the Monster manifested as Alex AFTER the judgment of Ben but It issued a warning to Ben: to follow every word Locke says, and to not kill him. Yes, Locke is important. And I'll be addressing Locke soon. But back to Widmore, Ben, and daughters. The rule Widmore broke, as we know, was killing an Other. Regardless of his banishment, Widmore IS a banished Other. Therefore, the rule still applied. As we saw in 'The Shape of Things To Come,' Ben was absolutely broken, and we saw this in 'Dead Is Dead.' In that season four episode, Ben tells Widmore that he will kill his daughter. We see this in 'Dead Is Dead,' and for the second time, other than the remorse he felt for what he did to Alex, Ben expresses remose to Sun over his attempted murder of Penny. He tells Sun to tell Desmond that he's sorry. Ben says this because he thinks he is going to be punished by death by the Monster, and that's something for Ben. I felt like, unlike his apology to Locke in the Orchid, that he's genuinely sorry for what he did to Desmond. It was all over his face. Speaking of Locke though...
'What's dead is dead,' Ben tells Sun on the porch. And I think Locke is different despite what he says to Sun about being the same. I don't want to say that Locke is like Christian but he is like Christian. They both died, and they both were resurrected on the Island, and by the Island presumably. Ben fears Locke because Locke is special. 'The Man From Tallahasse' is one of the finest LOST episodes produced. There's a particular exchange worth noting. Ben is still wheelchair bound, and they have an exchange about the Island, and being special. Locke, the man once paralyzed but healed by the Island, remarks to Ben that Ben is in a wheelchair and he is not. It is that episode which sets up everything Ben does to Locke in future episodes such as shooting him at the end of 'The Man Behind The Curtain' and killing him, and there should be no confusion of why Ben plans/planned to kill Locke again. Locke is a threat to Ben, and what Ben thinks he is. Ben never believed the words he said to Locke in the Orchid about accepting what the Island wants. Locke will always be a threat. And even more so now because of his resurrection. Ben was also healed by the Island. He doesn't want to lose the communion he had with the Island. To repeat myself: Locke will always be a threat to Ben. But, perhaps, things have changed now that Smokey let Ben live. As for Locke himself, he is in the Island zone. It's awesome. But I don't want to write too much about Locke alone yet. I do want to write this: John Locke is JABOY. Charlie will prove to be right: John Locke will save them all.
As for Ethan and Aaron, I just think Ben ordered Ethan to kidnap Claire in private. Ethan was with Ben before. So, there's not much to it other than Ben is not the most honest person, and it would not be surprising if he AND Ethan acted alone in Claire's abduction. And by Aaron, I mean Claire's abduction because they planned to keep Aaron. So, in essence: kidnapping.
I suppose I'll move on to my other thoughts on 'Dead Is Dead':
--Obviously, Ben was lying to John about his believing and seeing. Ben did not expect Locke to resurrect. Ben is a tricky fellow.
--Lapidus made the wrong decision going back to Alcatraz Island. Walt's dream of Locke being surrounded by people who want to hurt him looks like it will come to be. Ilana's leading a pack to avenge Cesar's death presumably.
--I'm loving Sun again. She's so much cooler searching for Jin. And I love the atmosphere of New Otherton in 2008. It's so cool. I really dig this separation of time. And I wonder what ideas Locke has for finding Jin and the rest of the castaways. Locke will get it done though.
--I'm really glad Penny is not dead, and glad we saw Desmond again. I hope Desmond comes back to the Island again. The entire scene with Ben and Our Mutual Friend (Dickens/Season 2 Finale/Desmond callback!)
--I've got to comment on the name given to the Monster on Radzinky's map. The name is Cerberus: the creature from Greek mythology with an alligator's body and three dog heads. He guarded Hades. Obviously, the Monster is guarding The Temple. However, Cerberus is a name given to the Monster by a character on LOST. It is not an official name for the Smoke Monster. Radzinsky named the Monster Ceberus because of the knowledge of the Monster guarding The Temple. That's all I have to say about that.
--Did not expect Cesar to die so quickly. I figured he'd play more of an important role. Lindelof and Cuse are tricky fellas.
--'Who is the Shadow underneath the statue?' Very interesting. Code word or no?
--I really felt for Rousseau when Ben took Alice. What a character Rousseau is.
--I mine as well write it now: will we learn Amy is an Other? Her son is Ethan after all.
--Widmore was banished for having a child with an outside, breaking the rules. Widmore should've been smarter.
--Richard's awesome. He didn't seem to like Widmore very much. It was more evident this week than last week.
--Overall, I loved the episode. Absolutely terrific. Stephen Williams directed the hell out of this, and Brian K. Vaugh and Elizabeth Sarnoff did a great job with the script.
That's about it for 'Dead Is Dead.' Next week's episode looks awesome. TO THE RANKINGS!
THE OFFICIAL LOST RANKINGS!
An exciting week for the rankings I dare say. STEVE has a new number one. There's movement in both of our rankings. Here's some clarification: For STEVE, characters he doesn't care about begins at 12. Characters I dont care about begins at 16. Enjoy.
AFTER EPISODE 12