Joe’s weekly, lengthy, but funny LOST review. (You’ll like it)
Greeting fellow LOST junkies. After watching (and re-watching) last night’s episode, ‘Dead is Dead,’ I hope you guys now realize why I haven’t given out many A’s this season. That’s because I’m reserving my A’s for shows like this. This episode isn’t just an A; this baby was a Fucking A.
You know what makes for great LOST? Great one on one battles. In the history of this show, we’ve seen some fantastic Jack vs. Sawyer moments; we’ve witnessed some excellent Jack vs. Locke, and Ben vs. Sayid, etc. Last week we were even treated to a brand new standard; Hurley vs. Miles. For my money however, nothing compares to Locke vs. Ben. Those two go together like a hunk of Dharma cheese and a box of Dharma wine. Classic and deee-licious!
Hair Like a Young Debarge
The events open with a youngish, dashing, and virile Charles Widmore riding up on his trusty steed; his magnificent head of hair heroically flowing behind, fire in his veins, and barely able to control himself as he confronts the man who appears to have been a thorn in side for years now ‘ the ageless wonder, Richard Alpert.
There must be some sort of uneasy alliance between Ben’s two mutual friends, because they both seem to hold positions of power on the island, and it would appear as if the division of that power is similar to a Church and State separation; spiritual Richard, on Jacob’s side ‘ church, and the passionate Widmore falling into the state’s camp. When Richard tells Widmore the decision to save Lil Ben came directly from Jacob, Widmore suspects a lie, but political decorum dictates he must acquiesce. That doesn’t mean he has to like it though.
Widmore storms into the tent where Lil Ben is recovering from a bullet to his heart, ummmm, I mean, a bullet on the exact opposite side of his heart. Surprisingly Widmore shows the pint-sized Dharma rebel a fair amount of compassion, which lead me to believe perhaps there were some happy times between the two bitter rivals. Perhaps for a time Lil Ben even looked to the charismatic Brit as a surrogate father, only to have their relationship soiled every time step daddy asked Ben to go out and murder a newborn.
How Can You Tell When Ben is Lying (in the shadow of the statue)
The trickiest part of believing Ben is you know he’s likely to throw in a tiny lie mixed in with his regular out and out lies, but he’s also, from time to time, been know to pepper his statements with a hint of truth. Every now and then, the guy will even go 4 or 5 sentences without fibbing, so how can you tell when he’s on the level?
I believed him when he woke up to smiling Johnny Locke ‘ The Serene Inquisitor. I believed Ben believed Locke would be brought back to life, AND that Ben was genuinely surprised to witness that miracle. I believe it, because I have been preaching Ben’s flawed good guy approach of bringing Locke back to the island. I admit I thought Ben strangled Locke for more sacred reasons, but come on ‘ Locke was contemplating his final living moments in archetypal crucifix pose above a kneeling Ben Linus. Michelangelo couldn’t have painted a picture with more religious overtones.
It turns out Ben just needed some key pieces of information, and then he figured he would have a hard time ‘talking (Locke) into hanging himself again.’ There were no suicide clauses preventing Locke from returning to the Land of the Living. Ben simply choked out Locke for the sake of expedience.
Are you kidding me? Ben’s people don’t have a name for what the LOSTies call ‘The Monster?’ I’m betting at least one of his people thought of calling a monster made out of smoke something along the lines of say’Smoke Monster, Monster Made of Smoke, or Smokie. I’m just saying.
They Don’t Look Like Ben’s Friends. Do They Have Mutual Friends?
So what’s in that crate Ilana and her henchmen are hovering around? Whatever it is, I bet Ben has a suspicion, just like I assume he suspects Ilana and her crew were sent to greet Ben by his old father figure.
Speaking of Widmore again, I realize he sent Ben and Ethan to kill Danielle Rousseau, and her infant daughter, but did he also command Ben to look like an effeminate Fred Flintstone?
Fountain of Youth and Wigs
By the way, I don’t care how good an actor Michael Emerson is – and he is ‘ it’s not a tough sell to get an audience to believe the 54 year-old Emerson is actually a 45 year-old Ben, but there’s no way I can suspend my disbelief that Ben is 25 years old in that scene with a 13 year old Ethan. Unless your name is Paul Lynde, a bad wig and an ascot won’t fool anyone into thinking you’re 29 years younger than you are. He’s Benjamin Linus for crying out loud, not Benjamin Button.
The Beginning of the End (But not the end of wigs.)
Ben spares Rousseau’s life because he refuses to kill the mother of a tiny child. Ben’s been son of a mother who died prematurely, and he doesn’t wish that fate on anyone. He returns to camp, baby in his arms and finds Widmore, Richard and the guys hanging around the campfire, eating baked beans, and probably in the middle of a farting contest.
Widmore is incensed. He directed Ben to kill the woman, and Ben spared her life. He assumed Ben would also execute the baby, but Ben stands up to Charles for maybe the first time in young 54 year-old looking 25 year-old life. He dares Widmore to slay the babe. Richard Alpert is both surprised and impressed at Ben’s sudden independence, as well as his invocation of the name Jacob. Richard thinks to himself, Ben’s on my side, Widmore regrets his decision to allow the young whelp to live at all.
The island may have commanded Danielle and Alex’s deaths, but Jacob certainly has not. We are seeing a lot of evidence that what the island wants doesn’t always jive with what Jacob wants.
Widmore wants the baby gone, but doesn’t have the guts to do it himself. Widmore is pissed. Firstly because Ben defied him in front of the group, and secondly Ben brought a girl into the ranks, and you can’t have fart fights in front of a girl. Now Widmore has to hold his gas in. There will be no more gas from The Others until the Purge, but every real man knows that canned gas isn’t nearly as much fun as gas from your can.
Meet the New Boss
Rummaging through the misty water-colored memories in his old office, Ben finally comes across an awkward photo of him and Alex. Really, what two people pose for a camera shot by looking at entirely different directions, and neither one is facing the camera? Maybe Ben is just a little better Photoshop artist than the guy who did the Mrs. Hawking, Brother Campbell photo.
It was a nice and deliberate role reversal by Locke, sneaking into Ben’s old work room, plopping his feet on the desk, and putting Ben on the defensive. Now I do love me some confident Locke, but Locke has a bad habit of getting over-confident at times. And every time Locke gets Ralph Kramden cocky, it always blows up in his face.
Locke is enjoying making Ben squirm, and it looks, from all his smiling, Locke got himself a brand new set of pearly white uppers when he came back to life. Locke decides he’ll accompany Ben to the other island for his judgment, because Locke wants to make sure Ben fulfills his destiny, and because cocky Locke isn’t completely over the small fact that Ben choked him to death with an extension cord.
OMG! They killed Cesar!
In the biggest OMG moment in a show full of OMG moments, Ben, who had gained Cesar’s trust while heaping a huge mound of distrust Locke’s way, not only swiped Cesar’s sawed-off shot gun, but filled the sawed-off runt’s stomach with buckshot before the poor little guy could get in enough lines to qualify for a SAG card. It wasn’t OMG because it changed the face of television. It was OMG because who expected Cesar to be killed off so quickly. (I know – he may not be dead.)
Not only does Ben then rather coolly declare he and ‘the gentleman’ will be taking one of the canoes, not only does he stand there unemotionally and ask the other would-be island marshals if they have a problem with his decision, he also throws the gun to Locke. Locke doesn’t scold Ben; he barely gives him a look of disapproval. Locke has definitely changed since dying. Death can do that to a guy. Locke is way over the appropriateness of killing otherwise innocent people; Locke is on a mission, and the first step of that mission is Judgment Day for Ben.
The Return of Cocky Locke
As they arrive on the shore of the island, Locke asks Ben if Sun hurt his arm, and Ben informs him it was someone else. Ol’ Cocky Locke can barely contain his laughter at hearing that one, and takes yet another opportunity to rub Ben’s nose in it. He takes absolute glee in mentioning Ben has trouble making friends, to which Ben ‘ possibly cryptically retorts, ‘Friends can be significantly more dangerous than enemies.’ Is he referring to Locke, Widmore, Richard, or all three?
And so the game continues, Ben trying to figure out how much power and knowledge this new Locke possesses, Locke smacking down Ben at every turn, until he smugly orders Ben into his daughter’s bedroom.
It’s not a real big reveal that Sun and Lapidus are hiding out there, but it is news to Ben that Christian Shephard is heralding Locke’s arrival. It was interesting to me when Lapidus shows Ben the Dharma Class of ’77 photo that Ben is more surprised to find out Jack, Hurley and Kate were ex-Dharmites rather than the fact that they looked the same in 1977 as they did in 2004. ‘Sure, I can accept they’re time travelers, but I had no idea they were Shriners too.’
Be Seeing You, Boy.
Richard alerts Ben to Widmore’s departure, and Ben stops swinging his darling kidnapped daughter for a proper sendoff. Man, time has ravaged Charles Widmore’s once glorious mane. You know, if this island can cure cancer, heal bullet holes, and bring people back to life, you think it could at least stave off male pattern baldness. Widmore looked like a guy who has a legitimate lawsuit against Sword Medical Hair Transplants.
Widmore is expelled from the island for making too many off-island jaunts (we’re expected to assume that’s how he built his wealth, and also met Penny’s mom. It’s still possible Mrs Hawking is Penny’s mother. The Widmore/Ellie union is still valid since we didn’t see Ellie in this episode. She may have left years ago, and Ben would never have known her, leaving Ben to believe Richard was sexing it up with a non-Other.)
Widmore prophesizes Ben’s very own ultimate island banishment, and Ben is left to wonder and worry for another ten years or so before Widmore finally changed the rules, and had Alex killed.
Eventually, with the help of Ben, Sun manages to wrap her mind around the possibility that Locke has indeed returned from the dead, but Ben hasn’t lied in a few minutes, so he has to throw in that he too was shocked to see John up and about. The exact opposite of what he claimed when he spoke to Locke. I guarantee the next thing out of his mouth was the truth though, ‘John Locke walking around scares the living hell out of me.’ I also enjoyed the foreshadowing statement of not being able to control what is coming out of the jungle, and it turning out to be Locke. I can’t say I was surprised, but it still made me smile.
To The Benmobile
Wow, Ben has the bedroom I’ve always wanted – at least the secret panel revealing a hidden room part. The only thing missing from the Ben Cave was a bust of William Shakespeare, a pair of poles to slide down, and an English butler waiting for me with cookies on a tray. So Ben unclogs the Smoke Monster’s bathtub, and he cautiously awaits his fate.
Locke, tired of waiting, and anxious to see what the island actually thinks of Ben, decides if the monster won’t come to the castaways, than castaways will go to the monster ‘ and oh, by the way, Locke knows the address.
Payback’s a Bitch
Flashback to Ben, nonchalantly sashaying by a boat named, ‘Savage,’ as he strolls down the marina cell phone in hand, and calmly informing Charles Widmore his unlisted number is as small a problem to him as murdering his daughter Penny will be. Ben notifies Widmore he is looking at the ‘Our Mutual Friend;’ the boat Penny is on, which was named after the Dickens story by the same name. The same novel Desmond Hume swore to make his last read before he dies. The same novel Penny placed her love letter in, so Desmond would stop to pause if he ever considered suicide. Ben is getting his revenge, Widmore is left helpless, and Dickens gets another royalty check.
The funny thing about murdering people for Ben is if they’re around their young children, Ben just doesn’t have the heart to go through with it. After he obviously rewrote Inigo Montoya’s speech to fit his own bit of revenge, Little Charlie Hume pops up and ruins Ben’s plans. And just as he’s realizing for the second time in his life he can not separate a child from it’s mother, Desmond, who appeared to be wearing a wig of his own and was shot in the right hand side of his ribcage just seconds before, is on Ben like a wig on an actor; raining left hooks on Ben’s buggy eyes, before dumping him in the harbor like so much Dharma shark chum.
Another ‘by the way,’ I loved the subliminal misdirection before we find out Penny’s fate. As Ben, Locke and Sun are traipsing through the jungle on the way to Smokie’s house, Ben asks Locke a question, and Locke answers, ‘Shoot.’
And while we’re on that subject, through the jungle they traipse. Sun says nothing, she’s just along to deliver Ben’s heartfelt apology to Desmond, should he not ever have the opportunity himself.
Riddle Me This?
Meanwhile, back at Hydra Island, Lapidus is greeted with a riddle and a rifle butt to the jaw. What lies in the shadow of the statue? Is reminiscent of that old chestnut, what did one snowman say to the other? I doubt my solution is correct, but in three seasons the best answer I could come up for that one is, ‘My balls are freezing.’ I’m not betting too much money on that one though.
So what does lie in the shadow of the statue? I think it’s safe to say the statue is the enormous sculpture of Anubis, the Egyptian God of transporting people to the underworld. What could lie beneath it? Jughead? Smokie’s house? A time travel machine?
What if the answer is ‘darkness,’ or if Smokie himself is the shadow of the statue? I’m not sure of anything but this ‘ my balls really are freezing. I’m writing this in my underwear, and the window is wide open.
We’re Off to See The Monster
And so Locke and Ben make their pilgrimage to the island’s verdict. Ben admits to Locke, that Locke was correct back on the docks. Ben did ‘kill’ Alex. He could have left with Keamy and crew. His life may have been spared, but at least he wouldn’t have been responsible for the death of the one person he ever truly loved. Ben was repentant for his sins, and he owed Locke a thank you for pointing that out before he went down to find out Smokie’s ruling. By being a cocky Locke, John may very well have saved Ben’s life, and I think it’s fair to assume Locke knew this all the time. Locke as it turns out has changed, but I don’t think we’ll be seeing Cocky Locke anymore. I think Locke had to play deliberately obnoxious for Ben to learn his lesson. I think Locke is above petty arrogance now. Now Locke is poised for some big time arrogance.
One more ‘by the way,’ am I the only one who thought the swirling smoke thing looked a little cheesy? I kept expecting Elmira Gulch to peddle her bicycle through the mist and transform into the Wicked Witch.
The smoke headed back down its vent, beneath the cartouche depicting a kneeling Anubis, and a hovering Smoke Monster. The eye of God over Smokie’s shoulder (assuming smoke has shoulders) and a snake beneath Anubis (signifying the underworld.)
Is this the ancient foretelling of the inevitable war, or by Dickens, are these two supernatural creatures actually Mutual Friends?
Uncomfortable Daughter Daddy Moment
No sooner has the smoke cleared than do we get a look at the late great Alex. Am I reading into things too much, or was Alex putting out a creepy Electra complex/teasing Dominatrix thing there? I wasn’t sure if Alex was going to make out with Ben or strangle him.
Ben had to realize this was not actually his beautiful daughter, but a manifestation of sorts, but he still let himself go, and apologized to her visual memory ‘ right before she ruled out making out with her bug-eyed step dad and started choking him instead. She also extracted a verbal promise that Ben would not kill Locke (as he was planning again) but instead he had to pledge his devotion to Locke.
Sure Smokie let Ben live, but will that be ultimately as palatable as being Locke’s bitch for the rest of eternity?
By the way, (Ok, that’s my last ‘by the way.’) I’m thrilled to see this little LOST community of ours building here on Mania. Last week we had almost 100 comments, and I’m hoping we can continue the trend. We have some great minds reading this article; so don’t hesitate to write in with theories, questions or answers. I read the comments daily, constantly updating findings and conversing with the readers. Usually I address every question to the best of my ability, and throw in a few more opinions, and things I saw that I forgot to mention. (Like the Risk board or the fact that Eko wasn’t spared in a similar scene) I promise though, if I don’t get to it, someone in this group will. My advice – read this blog daily.
So until next week, fire up your Hi-Def TV, (Imperative if you’re expecting to make out ancient cartouches.) make sure you hit the record function on your TiVo, (For multiple viewings, and freeze framing purposes immediately after watching the show the first time.) keep your laptop nearby, (You’ll never know when you might need to Google the rough translation of said cartouches.) load up that bong, (For some of us, LOST isn’t our only drug of choice.) and get ready to get LOST.