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Dead Is Dead Recap

April 9, 2009
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“Dead Is Dead” is the twelfth episode of Season 5 of Lost and the ninety-eighth produced hour of the series as a whole. Ben, Locke, and Sun travel to the Temple so that Ben may be judged by the monster. In flashbacks, the origins of Ben and Widmore‘s troubled relationship is revealed. It was originally broadcast on April 8, 2009.

1. How many half-truths, obfuscations, and outright lies did Linus lay on us this episode? Part of the brilliance of Michael Emerson’s performance is that it’s hard to really know, and it forces you take a stand and make an interpretation that just might be totally incorrect. Here is mine: ”Dead is Dead” was the story of how one of Ben’s most ambitious fibs backfired big-time on him. His downfall began the moment he awoke in the Hydra Station and found Locke sitting by his cot sporting yet another one of his classic Season 5 grins. Hiya. Remember me? The guy you strangled to death? Yeah, that didn’t really work… Ben told Locke that he knew his Island magic would bring him back. The surprise etched all over his face certainly suggested otherwise, but silver-tongued Ben explained it away by evoking his Doubting Thomas Sunday school lesson from ”316:” ”Because it’s one thing to believe it,” he said, ”but it’s another thing to see it.” Then Ben told Locke that he had broken the rules by returning to The Island and claimed that he had a desire to be judged by Smokey. (”We don’t even have a word for it,” Ben clarified, ”but I believe you call it ‘The Monster.”’)

2. At the risk of impugning Ben’s honesty… oh, wait, that’s impossible. Anyway, my theory is that Ben really was totally shocked to see Locke alive again (Alex’s line ”I know you’re already planning to kill him again” would seem to confirm that Ben wanted Locke dead dead, not temp dead), and I think he was trying to buy himself some time with Locke by dropping an idea that he knew would capture Locke’s imagination: The prospect of The Island giving Ben cosmic comeuppance.

3. Charles Widmore, circa 1977: A cool fantasy hero stud saddled with atrocious hair. I asked my wife what he looked like to her. Response: ”A mushroom.” Widmore was pissed that Richard had brought Young Ben to The Temple. Richard neutralized him with four words: ”Jacob wanted it done.” This is pretty significant: We now know this unseen entity has held sway over The Others since at least 1977. Why did the mention of ”Jacob” shut Widmore up? Probably because he felt threatened. It’s been suggested that Jacob likes to play favorites, so Widmore probably realized right away that Ben represented a rival. You know what they say: Keep your friends close — and your future replacements closer.

4. One of the episode’s blockbuster revelations was that Charles Widmore had ordered Ben to kill Rousseau shortly after her arrival on The Island. Perhaps it was a leadership evaluation, akin to how Locke had been challenged by Ben and Alpert to murder his father back in Season 3. (Was Ben being assessed to fill Eloise ”Ellie” Hawking’s shoes? After all, she was mysteriously MIA from all the flashbacks.) Anyway, arriving at Rousseau’s tent, Ben discovered that the frazzled Frenchie had given birth to a child. Suddenly, all of his snakey heartlessness slithered away. Behold Ben’s Achilles’ Heel: Moms. Which makes sense. His own Bad Daddy had pumped him full of guilt for his mother’s death during childbirth. Mamas are the line that this Locke-killing, Dharma-purging fiend just can’t cross.

5. Yes, Widmore played the jerk in this drama. Yet we must ask ourselves: Was he correct? It all depends on if you think everything that has happened during the Ben era of The Island was supposed to happen. And for now, I am taken with the notion that it wasn’t. Benjamin Linus was a stop-gap for John Locke who outlived his usefulness, a mistake that won’t go away, and his ongoing struggle to remain essential to The Island’s story (if not simply survive) has created history that deviates from destiny. We know, of course, that Fate can correct an altered course, but either its repair job is following a long-term, slow-developing plan, or Survivor Ben, cockroach resilient, has been outwitting, outplaying, and outlasting Fate at every turn.

6. We also found out why Ben boarded Ajira 316 all battered and bloody. He had gone to the marina to fulfill his promise to kill Widmore’s daughter in retaliation for Alex’s death. Classy as always, Ben gave Chuck a jingle to let him know that his runaway child and mother of his never-seen grandson was about to get pumped full of lead. He dropped the name of Desmond’s boat, ”Our Mutual Friend,” named after the Charles Dickens’ novel that housed the love letter that kept the Hatch-trapped Scot going during his darkest days. The book, which I have not read, chronicles the consequences of an inheritance that is ceded to other people after the intended heir goes mysteriously MIA and fails to pick it up — which sounds an awful lot like the theory that Ben somehow usurped the Island destiny originally slated for Locke, a mistake that The Island has been madly trying to correct

7. We saw Ben pop a cap into Desmond. Right? We agree that we did see that? Okay, so a bag of groceries got in the way, but unless Desmond had some bulletproof cans of haggis in that bag, bruthuh should have been dead, or at least severely wounded. What was most interesting about this scene, though, was what we didn’t see — namely, what happened afterward. How did Desmond survive that near-point blank shooting? Did The Island intervene from afar as it did with Jack and Michael’s suicide attempts? How did Ben get fished out of the water? Who fished Ben out of the water? How did his damaged arm get put in that sling? Because Ben was sporting that sling in the episode ”316” when we saw him calling Jack from a pay phone at the marina. Perhaps Desmond pulled him out the drink in order to ask him some ”Why did you do that, bruthuh?” kind of questions — but that would blow a hole in the prevalent fan theory that Desmond is now en route to The Island to finish off Ben in order to protect his family from future attacks. If that’s what Desmond wanted, why didn’t he just make sure Ben was dead at the docks?

8. Ilana — the bounty hunter who was bringing Sayid back to Fiji when he got zapped back to The Island — teamed up with some other toughs on the plane and cracked open a giant steel case full of weapons and staged their takeover of the Ajira Airlines castaways. Looks like somebody came to The Island prepared for a hostile takeover, if not a war — perhaps the very same war Charles Widmore spoke to Locke about. Ilana gave Lapidus a sphinx-like riddle test that made her sound as if she was intimately acquainted with The Island’s ancient mythology. (He flunked, and got hit over the head for his trouble.) No doubt the statue refers to old Four Toe, aka the Egyptian god Anubis. What lies in its shadow? For now, my money is on Jughead. Regardless, I’m hoping upcoming episodes will reveal more about these radicals who have infiltrated The Island via Ajira 316 and what kind of perspective they have on The Island. (Doc Jensen)

9. Locke kept Christian’s shoes.  They showed him taking them in and out of his bag.  They might still have some significance.

10. Locke insists that he’s that same person he was before.  But something has changed.  He “knows” a lot more about the island, and his new perspective is interesting.  “Now you know what it was like to be me.”

11. Richard speaks for Jacob, interesting.  As usual, I wonder why he isn’t in charge.  It seems like Charles doesn’t speak for Jacob though, or else he could have countered Richard’s decision to save Ben.

12. Rewatch that scene with Ilana and Ben in the beginning of this episode.  She’s crazy-and-a-half, and confident.  Dangerous.

13. I think we can guess who the people with the Ajira water bottles, shooting our time-travelers are.  They’re going to be trouble for a while now.  Also It’s safe to assume that this group is going to be the threat to Locke that we heard about from Walt.

14. This could be the answer to the big question.  We saw a very clear carving of Anubis supplicating Smokey.  It seems likely that the Statue is Anubis.  It hasn’t been confirmed, obviously, but showing the god in te show is a pretty obvious tip-off.
The similarities between that carving and Locke’s childhood drawing is obvious.  What that means, I’ll leave for another day.

15. Smokey really seems to have a purpose now.  He is a judge.  Not a novel idea true, but it’s quite provable now.  We’ve seen two of it’s judgements now.  One when the subject repented and the other when he didn’t.  Eko was asked by his brother to repent, and he wouldn’t.  Ben was given the same chance and he clearly did feel badly for his actions and he was spared.  But his ghost, Alex, didn’t leave it at that.  I wonder what Eko’s ghost, Yemi, would have commanded.  If only we could know. (Not Confused Just Lost)

16. So in season 2, the countdown clock rolled over when it got to 0 and we saw Egyptian hieroglyphs, throwing fans into a tizzy. It took less than 24 hours before one of them figured it out by finding the particular grouping in a textbook of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. Then Ben went to summon Old Smokey in “The Shape of Things to Come” and he pushed open a door covered in them. Just before turning the wheel, there were more. In this episode, he steps back from the door and I could just hear the fans who have been translating the hieroglyphs either squealing with delight or moaning at all the work they had ahead of them. And then he dropped through the floor and landed in a room covered in them.
But the biggest moment was when he stood in front of the Egyptian drawing of Anubis, the jackal-headed Egyptian God of the Dead, summoning Smokey. I had suggested in an earlier post that perhaps that big statue is Anubis (but its ears are a little short to really be him) but here he is now. In one episode in season 3 (I think it’s “Left Behind”) Juliet rushes through the sonic fence and then Smokey hits it, and as he comes at it he looks like Cerberus, the three-headed dog that guards the gates of Hell in Greek mythology. Now we see he’s connected to Anubis. Anubis was the god of mummification, and rather than being some harbinger of death, which he is not, he was the one who protected the dead. We were discussing last week on the boards the idea that the Others are very caught up in keeping their dead bodies (they ask for Paul’s body… Christian’s body disappears and then he’s walking around… they ask Locke to bring his father’s body to them… Locke is now back from the dead… Amy makes a comment that they need to bury the bodies deeply in the ground). Perhaps they’re bringing them here for Anubis to protect them… or bring them back from the dead. Anubis is often portrayed holding an ankh, which Paul is wearing and Amy takes (and Horace freaks out that she’s kept this token of his).

17. Maybe I’m off-base on this one, but I screamed when Ben and Widmore had their showdown on the dock (not least because I thought those two were electric on screen in “The Shape of Things to Come,” and I’ve been dying for another scene with Emerson and Dale). Ben appears to be in charge now (it’s post-Purge, seeing as Alex is about 8 and the Others are living in New Otherton) and while Charles is hissing that if the island wants Alex dead, she’ll be dead, Ben is countering that he simply broke the rules. Therefore, he believes Widmore is wrong, the island never wanted Alex dead, and rules are rules. You do not go off the island and start a family, you stay on the island.
Now fast-forward to “The Shape of Things to Come,” and Alex is dead. Ben’s first words are, “He changed the rules.” On the dock, he insisted that Widmore broke the rules. We’ve been trying to figure out ever since what Ben meant in that death scene. Could it have been a reference to this one? Maybe it’s showing us that in that scene, Ben is thinking, “How could this happen to me? It was WIDMORE who broke the rules, NOT me, so why is my daughter dead? How could the island really have wanted her dead, when I’ve followed the rules and he broke them?” But why say he CHANGED the rules, not broke the rules? I’m thinking he is really saying that the island didn’t want Alex dead, so Widmore simply sent a vigilante to the island to make it happen. He changed the rules in forcing a death and not letting the island decide who lives and who dies. Rather than Smokey bringing the judgement forth, Widmore did it, thereby changing the rules. (Nik at Nite)

18. Ever since Sun and Frank went back to Othersville a couple of weeks ago, and we got to see the condition the barracks were in, plus the fact that there were apparantly still Dharma photos hanging up, people started to cry alternate timeline. I mean, how else could the barracks look SO different than when we last saw them. The theory was that something must have been changed in the past to cause the difference. But tonight when Ben entered his old house he looked at a Risk board laying on a table, a subtle clue that nothing has changed.
Last season, just before Keamy shot Alex, Hurley, Sawyer, and a few other people were holed up in Ben’s house. While in there, Hurley and Sawyer played a game of risk while having a little snack. As you can see from the images below, the Risk board is still there, just the way they left it more than 3 years before. (Sledgeweb’s Lost…Stuff)

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Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

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