Thursday, April 09, 2009

Lost Season Five: Episode 12

After watching "Dead is Dead" I feel somewhat embarrassed by my praise for last week's episode. As much fun as that was, "Dead is Dead" was a masterclass, mainly by Michael Emerson and Terry O'Quinn. This episode had a little bit of everything we love about Lost; the smoke monster, daddy issues, the leadership struggle between Ben and Locke and even a little bit of Desmond. Let's go through the awesomeness in chronological (whatever that means on Lost) order.

- A bloodied Ben gazes in surprise at a resurrected Locke. That surprise seemed genuine although, in what will be a recurring theme of this post, we can never be sure when Ben is lying. What followed seems to glib to be anything but a lie. Ben tells Locke, with cocksure confidence, that his masterful plan had worked: the only way the Oceanic 6 would have come back to the Island was if Locke died. And somehow Ben knew that Locke would come back to life. But, you might ask, why didn't Ben let Locke commit suicide. Well, he explains, he needed to get the crucial information about Mrs Hawking first.

- I'm going to do a lot of quoting from the brilliant dialogue in this episode. How about when Locke asks Ben about "the elephant in the room."? Ben's reply is delivered perfectly. "Well, I just didn't have time to talk you back into hanging yourself."

- Ben's manipulation of Cesar was also perfectly executed. He planted the seeds of doubt about Locke, swiped his gun and then used it to kill him. The Machiavellian Ben we know and love. Oh and not to forget Locke's one-liner when Ben explains he had to shoot Cesar because he was going to shoot Locke. "No sense in my dying twice, right?"

- Even before the smoke monster, in the guise of Alex, told Ben that he had to follow Locke from now on, the relationship between the two had changed. Before, Locke was the apprentice, trying to learn about leadership and the Island from Ben. He stumbled along the way and was manipulated many times. But his resurrection, and the obvious shock that caused Ben, has changed the equation. For once, it is Ben who is in the dark. See, I don't believe for a second that Ben had come back to be judged by the smoke monster. I think it was just another story meant to stop Locke from exacting his revenge. When Ben put his hand in the water to summon the smoke monster, I think he was just putting on a show that was sure to appeal to a mystic like Locke. But now Locke has more information about the Island than Ben. He knows (probably through Jin) where the smoke monster is and Ben has no choice but to go along.

- We've always considered Ben to be the know-it-all, someone well-versed in the mythology of the Island. I'm now beginning to think he might be a charlatan, something that should have occurred to me before considering the title of the Ben-centric season three episode "The Man Behind the Curtain." There are a lot of things Ben doesn't know: he doesn't know where the smoke monster lives; hell he doesn't even have a name for the thing. He told Sun that he never expected Locke to come back to life, which I happen to believe. He also says that he has no idea how the Losties could end up in 1977, although I think he's lying about that. Although little Ben might not remember who shot him, surely he remembers Le Fleur and the rest.

- Sure, Ben is a monster but this episode did a great job of humanizing him a little bit. Because of the absence of his dead mother, Ben has a weakness. We saw that when he took Alex but didn't kill Rosseau. We saw it in the great scene at the marina , where Charlie's presence saved his mother's live.

- How awesome was Desmond's smackdown of Ben? No question he deserved it, but has there ever been a character in television history who has been physically assaulted as much as Ben?

- When Sun mentioned Christian to Ben, he seemed genuinely startled. Here's a prediction. Christian is on Widmore's side and Ben killed him in Australia. He was ressurected just the way Locke was.

- What we thought was The Temple, is only a entrance meant to keep out people. Which led to another thought. Perhaps The Temple is actually a modern, anti-septic building and stuff like the entrance and the four-toed statue are meant to decieve people into thinking that The Others have been around forever.

- So, what is Ilena upto? I'm sure we're going to be wondering what is in the shadow of the statue for a long time. She must have been lying when she told Sayid she was working for the guy he killed. Who does she work for? Widmore?

- Another great quote: Lapidus saying, "As long as the dead guy says there's a reason, I guess everything's going to be just peachy."

- Eventually, Ben is going to die an ugly, painful death isn't he? There's just no way he can change his character and start following Locke.

- And to bring this post to a close, Ben's final line. "It let me live." He made it sound like a death sentence, the control-freak now reduced to being a follower. Ben certainly doesn't feel like he was spared. Given how guilty he feels over his role in Alex's death, and that he now has to obey Locke, Ben will consider his fate to be worse than being mauled by Ol' Smokey.


supe said...

you know with all the hype around this episode i was imagining a scenario where the smoke monster chucks up the spirit of mr ecko from out the smoky depths of its gut or something? then i read desmond's back and kicks ass - so i was like: what, desmond beats the crap out of the smoke monster??

but, i certainly wasn't disappointed with this episode either. 'twas absolutely brilliant.

never, ever underestimate john locke ben!

and you know what, i predicted ben got beaten up by desmond at that dock area - in this post.

am i clever or am i clever? watch out bubs, i may just john locke you, friend!

speaking of friends - why kill ceasar so early on? how disappointing?

the smoke monster was far too easy on ben, no broken bones or guts hanging out; damn!
but then i suppose desmond was kind enough to do that for us. God bless you brutha.

oh.. and how many different faces will we see of charles effin widmore? when i first saw the younger version of him speaking with baby-ish ben, i automatically thought he was desmond's father. until i learned of the name. but then father-in-law is pretty close.

bubs said...

Supe: It might be fun at the end of the season to tally up everyones' prediction and see who was best. Your count will probably go up after the next episode, which is Miles-centric, when I wouldn't be surprised if we find out that he is Dr Chang's son.

I would have been devastated if Ben killed Penny, but at least that would have given Desmond a reason to come back to the Island and hunt down Ben. Now I don't see him appearing regularly, which really sucks.

Oh, and I just watched the episode for a second time. It gets better with repeat viewing. One Michael Emerson facial expression is equal to Matthew Fox's entire repertoire.

Kalsoom said...

Such a brilliant episode! Despite the awful hair piece Ben wore in the flashbacks, I really agree the episode did an amazing job humanizing Ben and providing more insight into his character. It also helped explain a bit more of the Widmore-Ben dynamic/history.

The dialogue and exchanges between Locke and Ben was just fantastic, particularly in seeing how sure Locke was about himself and how unsure Ben was.

One theory that was brought up in the discussion threads that I found kind of interesting: is Locke now Jacob - and is "Jacob" code for the island/smoke monster? It seemed kind of interesting that just as Locke went to go "fish Ben" out the monster appeared, and the minute the monster disappeared, Locke re-appeared.

Even if Locke isn't Jacob (post-death), I still think there is a connection between Jacob-smoke monster-Island = particularly its ability to conjure the dead, to hold people accountable for their actions, and to pass statements/sentences that you have no choice but to follow.

Kalsoom said...

Very interested to learn more about Miles next week, he's been the most mysterious character and the "Sixth Sense" thing he's got going for him is too good not to learn more about.

bubs said...

Yeah, the hairpiece was really distracting and Ben's face is so worldly and worn that it didn't make him look younger. I've also read the John as Smokey theory but it seems a bit too outlandish, even for Lost.And he's unlikely to be Jacob given that he saw him in the cabin in season three.

How about this as a connection between Island-Jacob-Smoke Monster: Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

supe said...

''Island-Jacob-Smoke Monster: Father, Son and Holy Ghost.''

how eerie! but it sounds like a pretty interesting possibility, given all the biblical references being thrown in lately.

definitely bubs, it'll be interesting rounding up all our predictions at the close of the season. hopefully it'll be a full 22-23 episode one.

about desmond. dude, this is lost. him and his entire khandan may just wash up on the island any day now. i'm open minded like that.

kalsoom; definitely agree with you there about how this episode humanised ben, which was what made this episode stand out from every other episode.
i'd love to see what we can learn of miles now. we know so little of him, yet he's so cool it hurts.

bubs said...

Supe: There are going to be 17 episodes and then 17 for the last season. So 22 more before Lost ends. But the shorter seasons have made the show a lot better, every episode matters and we don't dwell on dull and unimportant stuff.

supe said...

pssst! the actor who plays charles widmore also played a small part in khuda kay liye.
so there you a little trivia for you there folks!

only 17 episodes and the next season will be the last: oh crap!
this is the kind of news i was trying to avoid for ages. kind of sounds like a death knell. sniff. right, i need to stop being such a big baby.

supe said...

okay i'm feeling a little bit foolish right now. i did my research (this time) and it isn't the same guy. they do look alike though. you have to hand me that, no?

aargh! whatever, just ignore my comment above about the actor who plays widmore.