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“Dead Is Dead”? One Of The Best “Lost” Episodes Ever.

"I have seen the light!!"

"I have seen the light!!"

“The Constant”. “Through The Looking Glass”. “There’s No Place Like Home”. “The Brig”. These are all considered some of the finest episodes of “Lost” every produced. I don’t think I am alone in assuming that “Lost” fans are going to hold “Dead Is Dead” in the same regard as those great shows. “Dead Is Dead” gave us everything we love about this show. Island mythology, character development, surprises, jolts, and, believe it or not, answers to many questions were given to us last night.

When, exactly, did Ben Linus become one of the more intriguing characters on “Lost”? The show is filled with interesting people (other than the New Jack Shephard) but Ben is right there with the best of them. Personally, I feel this is due to the greatness of Michael Emerson. He was so interesting, even back in season two, that I feel his performance alone forced “Lost” writers to incorporate him into the fabric of the story. If there is an episode that will finally win Emerson an Emmy for this character, “Dead Is Dead” is it. Oh…you may want to get a soda or some water…this is a long one.

How about that young-ish Charles Widmore? He rolls up to an Others camp on his royal steed and proceeds to talk junk to Mr. Khaki 1977, Richard Alpert. Pretty ballsy stuff coming from a guy who we can assume was picked by the Island to lead The Others. It’s immediately obvious that Richard is having some second thoughts about Widmore as the boss. Perhaps that is why he went looking for Ben in the first place?

The initial meeting between Ben and Widmore wasn’t that Island-shattering. All it did was establish a time line for their personal history and explain that Ben was sent back to Dharma as an Others operative. The only definitive thing learned here is that Ben has been an Other for about 20 years and it was Sayid’s shooting that caused it. There is an off chance that Widmore began to see the writing on the wall when Richard chose to save Ben and take him to The Temple.

It’s tough to tell how much time had passed when we witnessed Ben abduct Alex from Danielle Rousseau. It seems as though Widmore sent Ben there (along with young Other recruit, Ethan Rom!) to kill Danielle and her newborn baby. It turns out that Ben, in his own way, saved Danielle and Alex. He takes Alex, raises her, and protects her. He told Danielle to run when she heard whispers in the jungle. He was sent to kill them both and instead, he did what he could to help them.

As we know, Ben always has a plan. He may have just taken Alex so he could go back to The Others and present a dilemma for Widmore. When Ben challenged Widmore to kill Alex since he wanted it done, Ben showed the other Others that he was much more noble and kind than their current boss Chucky Widmore. I understand that after Widmore walked into his tent, Ben turned to the Others, held his hand up to Widmore’s tent, and simply stated “Owned.”

Our next trip down memory lane for Ben recalls the day that he finally rid the Island of Charles Widmore. The story got real juicy here because it basically set up the Ben-Widmore feud that would last for what can only assume is over a decade. We learn that Widmore was having some booty calls off Island and had a child with a non-Other…which would make that kid a Muggle right? Oh, you can’t go wrong with Harry Potter humor can you?

Anyway…is this off Island child Penny? One would have to assume it is. Now, many people are under the assumption that Eloise Hawking and Widmore are the parents of Daniel Faraday. We know Eloise is his mom and we know she was on the Island. Did Widmore and Eloise have Daniel on the Island? When did Eloise leave the Island? Does anybody really care about this and you just want to see Kate and Sawyer get semi-nude? These are important questions and, judging from how fast information is being shoveled out, we are going to get our answers very soon.

We also got the foreshadowing of Alex’s eventual death from Widmore. Boy, did Widmore call that one of what? He said that Ben would have to pick the Island or Alex at some point, pretty much because the Island wanted it. So when Keamy killed Alex, he was just unwittingly doing what the Island wanted, 20 years prior? Creepy.

Those flashbacks pretty much get us back to 2008 and we find out how Ben’s face went through the ringer when he got on Ajira 316. It was assumed all along that Ben went to kill Penny, since Desmond was kind enough to let Ben know they were in Los Angeles. Of course, it wouldn’t be enough for Ben to just kill Penny, he has to let Widmore know who is boss. He calls Chucky up and tells him he is about to kill Penny. That is worse than the whole kill the baby-“faced” moment back on the Island.

Ben goes to the marina, gets surprised by a grocery carrying Desmond, whips out a pistol, and takes a shot at Des. This is right about when my heart stopped. We hadn’t seen Desmond in what feels like forever and he gets plugged like that? I honestly thought he was dead, right then and there.

Ben walks up to Penny and tells her what’s up. He flat out tells her that he is going to kill her because her father is a “bad man” that killed his daughter. That’s when, for the second time in “Dead Is Dead”, a Ben murder is subsided due to a child. Once Desmond and Penny’s son, Charlie (brilliance), appeared, Ben hesitated and gave Desmond, who was not mortally wounded, an opportunity to act. He pounces on Ben and pounds his face a few times before chucking Ben into the water.

Now that we have caught Ben up, we can get to the true intrigue from “Dead Is Dead”. Was there a moment on the Island between Ben and Locke that wasn’t tense? From the initial explanation of why Ben killed John to the very end, it was an impressive display from the most impressive actors on the entire show. Sure, Jorge Garcia nails Hurley and Josh Holloway is great as Sawyer, but Michael Emerson and Terry O’Quinn are the real deal. It feels like the entire reason these two actors got into acting was to play these characters.

Ben is one slick SOB. Is he lying about his reason for killing John? Probably. He killed Locke because he had what he needed from him. I don’t think he expected John to come back to life at all…well, maybe a little. Ben wants to get back to his people and go right back to being in charge.

Ben and John decide to leave the tiny island and paddle back to the main Island. One of the Ajira newbies, Caesar, tries to stop them. Well…he picked the wrong crazy man to try and throw his weight around on. When he reached for his shotgun, well, it turns out that Ben relieved him of it and blows him sky high. This was a fairly shocking shooting and it happened so fast that my eyes about bugged out of my skull. I’m reading that people are questioning whether or not Caesar is dead. I am going with a big yes. He may not be “Island dead” though…if you know what I mean…

The reason that Ben needs to get back to the Island is for judgment. From what I understand, Judge Joe Brown is an Other. I kid. No, Ben needs to be judged by the monster, which the Others don’t have a name for either. For quite some time, the general consensus has been that Smokey has been judging people. It did so when it killed Mr. Eko and it definitely scanned Juliet. Why did it kill Mr. Eko and not Juliet? Well, there is definitely confirmation on that answer…which I will get to shortly.

Locke and Ben get back to the big Island and go to New Otherton. There, they run into Sun and Frank Lapidus. Sun and Frank tell Ben that they were told by Christian to stay put until John Locke showed up. This is just another crotch kick to Ben because it means that Island wants Locke to help these people out, not him. Frank tells Sun that he is going back to the plane, with or without her. Sun stays because Locke tells her that he can help her find Jin.

After Ben wipes his tears away because the Island has hurt his feelings, he goes into his James Bond secret room to summon Smokey. The first of many Egyptian hieroglyphics of the night are seen on the walls of the room that Ben goes to. Ben crouches down, reaches into a muddy puddle of water, and appears to open up some sort of drain. He then says to the drain, “I’ll be outside.”

Needless to say…this is completely freaking awesome. At this point of the night, I am wide eyed, mouth open, in complete and total wonderment. Rarely do I go on and on about how amazing the show is because, hey, I’m writing about it every week…obviously I think “Lost” is badass. Last night had me completely floored.

Ben goes outside to wait for Smokey to beat the hell out of him but Smokey doesn’t show. Instead, Locke tells Ben they are going to go to the monster…because he knows where it is. Again, Ben is punched in the groin. To make matters worse, Locke is toying with him. Normally, I hate it when things are spelled out for the audience but it was cool when Locke told Ben how much it sucks to be going somewhere and not know where that place was or why you were going there. Trust me, “Lost” fans get the sweet, delicious irony.

Locke, Ben, and Sun get to the wall that guards the Others’ Temple. Instead of going around the wall, Locke says they are going underground. F’ing a man…could it get any awesomer? More awesome? Doesn’t matter, it’s totally awesome. I could watch Locke and Ben go toe to toe like this for an hour every night. Locke tells Ben that they aren’t going around the wall, they are going under it.

Before Locke and Ben go under the wall, Ben has a moment of humanity. He tells Sun that if she ever sees Desmond again, to tell him that he was sorry. Hmm…does Ben know what is about to come or is he genuinely sorry for his actions? Hmmmm….

Before I get to the greatness of what happens next, what happened to Frank? Well, he went back to the plane and got his ass kicked by Illana. She asked him the following question: “What lies in the shadow of the statue?” What the hell? Frank has no idea what she means, so she jacks him and tells her buddies to tie him up because they are taking him somewhere. Where? Who the hell knows and who the hell cares. If your “Lost” pants weren’t going crazy after that, well, you aren’t a real “Lost” fan.

Ben and Locke get under the wall through a giant crack and we get more Egyptian hieroglyphics. Ben then has sunny moment #2…he tells Locke that he knows he was responsible for his daughter Alex’s death. Again…does Ben know what is going to happen to him and is he simply sucking up to Ole Smokey?

Ben falls through the floor into an odd looking chamber. The room is filled with ever wilder looking hieroglyphics, including a huge drawing of what looks like the brief version of the statue that Sawyer, Juliet, et al saw way back in the episode title “LaFleur”. On the floor, there is a strange looking stone panel that is filled with holes. It pretty much looks like the Map Room from “Raiders Of The Lost Ark”. We hear the familiar sound of Smokey and Ben looks exceptionally nervous.

Smokey slowly pours out of the holes in the floor. It starts to whip around Ben in a circle and shows him events from his past. Ben begins to get choked up…and admittedly, so do I. He sees Alex, Widmore, Keamy…everything in his past that he has done in, what he called the “interest of the Island”.

It turns out…that Ben was doing the right thing for the Island. Smokey goes away and Alex appears. Ben apologizes to her and then, Alex lets Ben have it. Smokey knows Ben wants to kill Locke. It puts the kibosh on that and tells Ben to follow John and do exactly as he says.

What does it all mean? It means that the Island let Ben live. I know why, just like I know why it killed Mr. Eko. Mr. Eko was unapologetic when it came time to ask for forgiveness. He made no bones about the fact that he did what he had to do in order to survive. Smokey didn’t like that answer, so he wasted Mr. Eko.

Why let Ben live? He was legitimately protecting the Island and, to further his case, he legitimately is sorry for the decisions he has made. I have always felt that Ben was being truthful when he said he wanted to protect the Island, even though his methods weren’t exactly normal. I think that Ben is being forced to have some kind of awakening. Unfortunately, when the Island makes you have an awakening…it usually means to end up dead.

So what’s next for everyone? Well, I think the next move is to go back to the future…or the past…or something. Regardless, Ben, Locke, and Sun need to get themselves to 1977. It’s either that or they need to get 1977 to 2008. I don’t know for sure…I do know that “Dead Is Dead” is one of my favorite “Lost” episodes of all time.

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  1. jenchic
    April 9, 2009 at 2:20 PM

    I could not agree more!! This was easily the best episode of this season…& in my opinion, it may even be the best one of the entire series!! “The Constant” has always been my #1, but last night may have just knocked that one to the #2 spot.
    Anyway–i’m thinking that 10 years had gone by from the time Young Ben was given to the Others & when he took Alex. My reason? Well, he was given to Captain Khaki in ’77 & Alex got popped when she was 16 in 2005 meaning that she was born in ’87 or ’88 right? so…10 maybe 11 years had gone by & Ben wa in his early 20’s?…maybe.
    And….I totally think that Ilana, Ceasar & those other new cats on island #2 are there for Widmore. Ben “talked to Chuck” (ha!) b4 he shot Des (i screamed like i was the one who had been shot) & told Chuck that he was going back to the island, after he killed Penny. (the entire time ben was walking down the dock i kept saying NO NO NO over & over again!!) My thought here is…Widmore went to Ms.Hawking & got the same info about the Ajira flight & then he rally’d another “Keemy-esque” troupe of scumbags to get on the same flight & go back to the island for him. That’s my thought….OR Ceasar & Co. are w/ Ben. But i can’t defend that idea.
    Greatest. Episode. Ever.
    I could watch the Ben & Locke Show all day!!!

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