Next: “Dead Is Dead” (Episode 5×12)

In terms of character drama, tight writing, memorable performances, and the general art of quality television, “Dead Is Dead” was not the strongest episode of Season 5. But who are we kidding, this was a Ben episode with the smoke monster. With a token mention of the whispers, even. For the mystery and mythology of “LOST,” this week’s episode was a feast. It filled in a few blanks: we see how Alex was taken, we see the exile of Widmore, we see why Ben preempted a suicide with murder, and we see what went down at the dock. And it definitely laid the groundwork for the future: the “smoke monster” is the ultimate judge (and can conjure corporeal people) and it wants Locke to succeed, but Ilana has been “activated,” or something, and something big is afoot.

Doing things in service of the island, and what the island wants, were definitely the themes of the day. Was Alex supposed to live or die? Ben’s sparing Danielle and taking Alex seemed to be the right and compassionate thing (the same compassion that gave him pause on the dock, long enough to let Desmond get the jump on him). Yet if Alex was supposed to live, and Ben caused her death, you’d think the smoke monster would have judged Ben more harshly. Given that Charles Widmore, at his exile, calls Alex’s survival into question, I like the idea that perhaps Alex was always fated to die on the island. Hence Ben only prolonged the inevitable before she reached the end of her path.

But then again, if Alex was fated to die, why does Ben say her death broke “the rules”? And that Widmore was the one who broke them? After all, one of the personal epiphanies Ben apparently has in this episode was that he, not Widmore, killed Alex.

Speaking of “rules,” apparently Widmore’s leaving the island regularly and fathering a child with an outsider is grounds for exile. Who’s the “outsider”? If “Ellie” is Eloise Hawking, she’s an insider, and the mother of Daniel Faraday. So the child is Penny, and the outsider is… someone else. Have we met Penny’s mother somewhere, and just don’t know it?

I like that we see more hints that Ben’s reign as leader of the Others was not all that great, in the island’s eyes. Way back in Season 3, Alpert tells Locke that many of the Others are frustrated with Ben for getting distracted from their greater purpose. Tonight, we hear more of the same. Locke smirks at Ben for leading his people from behind a desk. And Locke also lectures Ben for moving the Others from the jungle to the cozy domestic comforts of Othersville, something the island wouldn’t like. Basically he got distracted by the trappings of “modern life,” and lost touch with the “native” way.

Ben’s knack for lying while sounding completely earnest is deliciously confounding. When he’s seeding Caesar’s mind with doubt about Locke, you’re cursing him, yet at the same time cheering for him for being so good at being bad. The question is, was he surprised to see Locke alive again or not? Jen and I think he was genuinely shocked, and for now we’ll believe him when he tells Sun that “dead is dead,” and that seeing Locke resurrected truly does scare him.

Is future Ben really surprised to see the photo of Jack, Kate, and Hurley in the Dharma Initiative? We haven’t seen young Ben interact with them, but the only way he’d truly not know they were there is if he doesn’t get returned to the Dharma Initiative until after our friends have left. I wouldn’t think the Others would hold onto Ben so long, so that would suggest something happens soon to break up the “Class of 1977.”

It was good to see the return of Confident Locke. I’m somewhat with Ben, though, in questioning how quickly he came to know everything and be so sure of himself. I guess coming back from the dead can do that. But Locke has waffled so many times between resolute and unsure. Is Ben truly going to follow him now? Or, more to the point, could we stomach seeing Ben rattling Locke to his core one more time?

So what lies ahead for Locke? “Reuniting Sun and Jin” would seem to be the next thing on his to-do list. Is that task one of the things that Ghost Alex had in mind when she told Ben to follow Locke’s every word? Or is there a bigger job ahead? I like the idea that, somehow, reuniting Sun and Jin is actually more important than anyone can imagine, that whatever it entails is entwined with Locke’s greater destiny. I just haven’t figured out how.

And obviously Ilana and friends and their mysterious crate will stand between Locke and Ben and Frank and Sun and whatever they have to do.

Notes and Notions:

  • Who is Ilana and company working for? Widmore seems the most likely guess, even though he told Ben there was no way back on the very day Ajira 316 left Los Angeles. If her coded question references “the statue” we’ve seen, it would have to be someone with a deep understanding of the island’s history. Someone who set them up with whatever’s in the crate to do something big.
  • No question the island’s most ancient artifacts are Egyptian in influence, if not origin. The hieroglyphic representation of the smoke monster visiting Anubis was a nice touch. Does this confirm “the statue” was Anubis?
  • We definitely didn’t expect to see Ben shooting Caesar so suddenly. They can’t really be done with him, can they? Jen thinks they are, just to defy our expectations.
  • What’s up with Ilana’s henchmen? Two new guys suddenly get face time and lines? Somehow their introduction seemed more jarring than all the new faces in the Dharma Initiative we saw in the 1970s.
  • The way Ben hesitated upon seeing Charlie on the boat reminded Jen of how Sawyer reacted when he suddenly realized there was a child involved when he was pulling the very first con we’re shown in Season 1. The preservation of young innocents is definitely a theme we’re revisiting, ever since children were taken from the 815 survivors in Season 2.
  • Kudos to the production team for attempting to have a single actor portray the same character across several decades… but Ben’s mid-30s wig tonight was among the worst we’ve seen in a show that’s suffered from a lot of bad wigs (see Jack, Kate, Sun, Boone…).
  • Ben was sent to kill Danielle, but didn’t when he noticed baby Alex. But why take baby Alex? He asks Danielle if she wants her child to live, so I guess he knew things outside the world of the Others weren’t a safe place for an infant. And I guess the whispers were one manifestation of that threat.
  • Keeping track of how many canoes there are and where they end up is becoming a fun puzzle game. Three canoes were hidden on Alcatraz. Frank and Sun take one, Ben and Locke take another. Then Frank returns. That’s two canoes on Alcatraz. We know two canoes end up at the old beach camp on the main island eventually… so how do they get there? Frank makes a break for it, Ilana and friends follow, then chase him around in the jungle long enough for the time jumping team to steal one and get shot at? And keep in mind, that time jumping team includes a Locke, but not the resurrected Locke of Ajira 316. My head hurts.

What did you think? Please comment below, e-mail us at lost@hawaiiup.com, or call the LostLine at (808) 356-0127 by noon on Friday, April 10.

176 Responses to “Next: “Dead Is Dead” (Episode 5×12)”

  1. drak?

    I guess what we perceive ourelves to be doing is not always exactly what we’re doing (or where or when we perceive ourselves to be?). Just kidding, dude.

  2. toga says:

    I think Ilana is working for the reformed dharma inititave (seen at comic-con).

    She pondered a riddle to Frank, Just like Desmond did to Locke, and Kelvin to Desmond. Kelvin was the last Dharman left on the island.

    We also saw at comic-con that Daniel Faraday was making a video with Peirre Chang for our present. Possibly for Dharma HQ in Ana Arbor.

    Perhaps Dharma sent some people and big metal case filled with fancy Dharma tech to help those trapped in 1977?

    Also I think the guitar case Hurley brought on Ajira 316 is filled with snack cakes, thats what i would bring. =]

  3. Alex from Greece says:

    My theory is that the metal box contains an improved “magic box” device, that will be used to create a space/time teleport gate of some sort. Thus, enabling Widmore & Crew to retake the island in season 6.

    Thanks Ryan&Jen for making the Lost Experience® even more exciting!

  4. Summertime says:

    I heard someone say on another podcast that the Smokey “drain” is a Cerberus Vent.
    Makes sense to me.

    And like so many other people have commented, Dharma built that house (where Ben ends up living) right over that chamber?

    I have kind of a far out theory about Charles Widmore. It would also help explain the time issues with his statement of looking for the Island for almost 20 years.
    We know he had another life off the Island. How long had he been traveling off Island? He was banished after The Purge, which according to Lostpedia was in 1992. The actress who plays Penny was born in 1974. We assume Charles is Penny’s biological father. That is almost 20 years of having a family off the Island! We don’t know for sure how he, Ben, Richard, Tom, etc., traveled off the Island. Some say by sub or by whatever vessel the ’54 soldiers used to get Jughead to the Island. And I guess it is feasible there was an “Others sub” in addition to the DHARMA sub (The Others wouldn’t have taken over the DHARMA sub until after The Purge). I can buy that. But I think there is another way. A faster way. A secret way. One we haven’t seen yet. It could even be the Magic Box!? Maybe however the traveling off Island works has nothing to do with the traveler knowing where the Island is physically.
    What if Widmore started trying to find the Island years before he was banished? Like in the 70’s. DHARMA time. Widmore is a very successful business man. Did spending so much time in the “real world” cause him to become greedy and he decided to use the Island for financial gain? It wouldn’t surprise me. According to Lostpedia, Widmore Industries is connected to Hanso Foundation, which is connected to DHARMA.

    What did DHARMA know about the Island before they arrived there? It seems like they knew quite a bit. Dharmaville built over the Smokey Chamber. The “exotic matter”. They knew about Smokey if they built the sonic fence. Where did they get all this knowledge about the Island?

    Anyone see any major issues/inconsistencies with this?

    I like what ZoneCity said about Widmore marrying into the Hanso family!

    cat- I really enjoy your great comments.

    I like what someone else posted about Ilana and her big metal box coming to start the “War” Widmore was referring to. Great thought!

    A couple people have mentioned Locke and the shoes. Does he know they are Christian’s shoes? He seemed to be taking great care with them.

    Toga – I have also been wondering about the comi-con video and ‘reconstituting” DHARMA. There has to be something to that and the recruiting stuff that was going on on-line.

    Love your podcasts Ryan and Jen!

  5. Amber from L.A. says:

    So the Smoke Monster is a glorified toilet that drains from Ben’s house…?

  6. Stefani from Mass says:

    Hurley will take the sub back to the Grahman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood to see Star Wars and pack his guitar case with Hasbro Action Figures – so when he returns to present day, he can have Sawyer’s action figure fight with the real Jabba the Hutt!

    On another note – never having transported a coffin myself, could the big metal box hold a coffin? I didn’t see any writing on the side (like ‘Ann Arbor’ or ‘Science Dept’ or ‘Explosive’), though I wonder if there’s something like that inside… but we haven’t seen Locke’s coffin yet either. And, Cesar was told that Ben killed Locke, but no one questioned or proved it as of yet. Ideas?

  7. Greg from Minnesota says:

    So I am not sure this has been mentioned yet, but what exactly was Locke up to while Ben was summoning Smokey? Smokey never showed up and Locke pops out of the woods. Seems to me that something more was going on there.

  8. Joel from Australia says:

    (sorry, but havent read these comments. Not enough time in the day!)

    Ideas/Possibilities
    1- Ben choosing not to kill Rousseau and/or her baby… could that have caused no more babies to be born onto the island. Perhaps some foreign virus (considering dharma people woulda been given injections upon initiation)

    2- Now that time-loop is a given on this show, how possible could it be that Desmond’s child charlie of 2007 is Charlie Pace, the adult charlie that crashed onto the island. It would require baby charlie to have travel back in time and be seperated from his parents.

    3- The fact the flame didnt go out when Alex was conjured seems quite significant… pushing the point that Alex and Smokie were two different entities

    4- The show is starting to imply a stronger connection between smokey and Locke… they’re never in the same shot. I dont know what to make of this, but certainly Locke never was, or never will be, smokey.

    Good show, only started listening this season though. Keep it up.

  9. Joel from Australia says:

    The infertility on the island could also just be a result of something big like the purge… but it’d be nice to think its Bens fault.

  10. ACM in New York says:

    Simple question and it goes back to ‘Whatever Happened, Happened’. Does Claire’s mom have a glass eye? Sure seemed like it to me.

  11. carmel says:

    wasn’t the podcast supposed to be up already?

  12. josie says:

    i am a little late but i was not at all impressed by this episode…. it was weak, predictable and corny … what was with that wizard of oz ben dream thing?

  13. Spinoza says:

    Great episode.

    Ben’s character gets some development, it weakens his ominous nature a bit and makes him more human. He is struggling to get back in control and, even though he’s a villain, it’s sad to see him out of sorts.

    I’ve been hearing a lot of dismay with Ben’s development. Ben is such a good villain, that he works as being totally evil (which usually comes off as caricature). Making him more human is disorienting to him and us, in the long run I think it will be worth it for the story.

    I think Ben was forgiven because he was only judged for what he feels that he did was wrong. All his other crimes were not really crimes in his mind, and therefore he was not judged for them. It was only his guilt for what happened to Alex that made it a ‘crime’, and it was his total acceptance of responsibility (his submission) that absolved him. I don’t recall Eko being as humble in the face of judgment.

    Random Prediction: Hurley is secretly in Dharma 2.0

  14. christy in TX says:

    Wow! I just listened to the Podcast and had a total Horshack moment (Oh! Oh! OOOHHH!!! Mr Kotter! Mr Kotter!)
    The topic of possible connections between Widmore and Ellie, and the mention of the Ilana group possibly being connected to Dharma made me think that perhaps Ellie IS with Dharma. I mean, we see her in a Dharma station in California. Perhaps SHE switched to Dharma (or even helped establish them) and perhaps she made the arrangements for Ilana and her crew to be on the island. We know she knew exactly when they could go to the island, and she knew that Faraday passed along a message that he needed help. She may have known days in advance of her meeting with Ben. And she may have been planning on a group returning for even longer.
    If Dharma/Hanso relations are still in play, they would be running the one station (to our knowledge) that is easily accessible. It did not seem to have any type of security or fortification. It may have been the first one built since it is the one used to find the island, and maybe Widmore does not realize that is the purpose of Ellie being there (I just can’t figure out when she would have got there, since Faraday thought she was at Oxford at the time he saw Desmond in the hatch and his last contact with her could have been just before he boarded the freighter in 2004 – unless she is not Faraday’s Mom, which is still not known for certain)
    Anyway, Widmore sent Desmond there, and I can’t remember who sent Locke to her – was that Christian or Widmore?
    Anyway, food for thought.
    Mrs. Hawking could have been behind Ilana’s group and she likely knows what lies in the shadow of the statue.

  15. Bonita (from Atlanta) says:

    Hey guys, just listened to the podcast and I think that maybe the unhappy reviews could be related to the fact that some mysteries were solved or confirmed. Mystery is what keeps us in love afterall, so I predict many will lose the bloom in the future.

    A quick question. If Smokey is indeed the Great Judge then I wonder what the original pilot of 815 did? Wasn’t he sucked up by the monster on the pilot?

    Also loved the reminder that this is a serial.

    counting down until Wednesday!

  16. Regarding the judgment of Ben, simply killing people (such as Cesar or Roussaeu in this episode) and other conventional crimes may not violate the rules per se as set down in the book of laws. In fact, such actions may be precisely want the island wants or at least that’s what we’re told by Widmore and Ben. Recall when Juliet was tried at the Hydra. It wasn’t for murder. She could have dropped Kate or Sawyer and that would have been viewed merely as collateral damage. It was for killing Pickett, one of “us.”

    As said above, Mr. Eko refused to repent which distinguished his fate from Ben’s.

    I see Ben’s repeated beatings as Fate trying to send him a message. Ben continues to try to change the outcome of events (Widmore warns him to accept the inevitable) and this is Fate’s way of trying to beat him into submission. But Ben will not yield, hopefully to forge a better future than the unnamed one at the termination of this current loop. Thus making him “good” in his own mind.

    @Christy. Let’s connect the dots. Widmore Industries have taken over Hanso and by extension the DI. Ms. Hawking is close to Brother Campbell at Desmond’s monastery, linked to Widmore by the exclusive vinatages they provide him, but perhaps serving as a religious arm to his organization, much in the same way that the princes of Europe tried to control and exploit the Vatican in their global game of risk. Ms. Hawking is currently positioned at similar church which is also a DI station.

    Widmore and Hawking appear to be working together, and perhaps always have been since they once seemed to jointly rule the island. In this case, it wouldn’t be much of a stretch for Widmore to know about 316, that it would be in the right place at the right time with the proper cargo, and for him to get his team on board as well.

  17. christy in TX says:

    @Rich in Cleveland, I did not know Widmore Industries took over Hanso/DI. I guess if that is the case, their objectives are now Widmore’s objectives and one in the same, perhaps Wid/Han/DI vs. Richard Alpert & Others is the ‘war’, but I still don’t understand if Widmore’s folks are from 316 with the cargo wouldn’t Ilana know Ben Widmore (when mentioned by Sayid) and recognize him, like the freighter folks? He did let Widmore know he was going on the flight, and Mrs. Hawking did not keep the flight information from Ben.
    @Bonita – yes, the pilot, which was supposed to be Lapidus, was killed by Smokey in short order. I wonder why no one from the tailies ever met him/it? Maybe they did and I already forgot about it.
    I agree, I am already anxious to see what the scoop with Miles is. Can’t wait to get the story on that!

  18. Maybe I’m wrong about Hanso. I thought they became a Widmore subsidiary, but now I can’t find a source for that. Help?

    Perhaps Ben is not integral to Ilana’s assignment. Maybe what’s in the box will lock the island in place/make it visible. Then Widmore can bring his forces to bear when he’s ready.

    We haven’t seen the true Ilana yet so who knows the extent of her awareness of island-related matters.

  19. Yann says:

    What did Ben do?
    _the purge? according to the continuity of the show, Widmore was in charge and still the boss when it happend. Therefore the only real part Ben took was to take is father away from the rest of the people, spending one last day with him and killed him away from the others so that he didn’t have to see the massacre.
    _Rousseau? Saved her from being killed and send her to the temple to be saved.
    _the losties? Took the ones from the list. Told them to stay away from “a line” and they could whatever they wanted as long as they didn’t interact with them. Took the “boy” because he was special and maybe interesting for the Island. Studied a pregnant woman to check why she could have children. Lied to them because they are not on the list and are not allowed to know what the Island is and do.
    _the others? Allowed them maybe to much liberties (Tom and Ethan were the ones who tried to destroy the raft and to kill Charlie or even killing the guys who stand at the camp while the others went to the radio tower). Focus a lot on the pregnancy and not on the “purpose” of the Island.
    _the mercenaries and the boat? We know Wildmore want to take control over the Island while he has been expeled.

    what he was meant to be judge for:
    _The death of Alex due to him not wanting to leave the Island.
    _Trying to kill Lock due to him not wanting to leave his leader role on the Island.
    _The capture of Jack, Kate and Sawyer due to him not wanting to die and not being a leader on the Island.

    So the real reason he wants to be judged is: If the Island has saved me is for me to be a leader. Was I right to let my daughter (which I should maybe have killed) die or was I right to keep my role as a leader.
    And the answer is: you were right, you do well for the Island BUT John is the leader now and you must help him.

    Love your podcast, hope you find mind my 2cents interesting. Loved to be replied to. (and sorry for the mistakes, I am french as Ceasar (who is not dead! Since when a bullet is enough! ask Mikhail, Charlie hanged, Rose heart stop…and so many others))
    Yann

  20. Yann says:

    i forgot:
    what he was meant to be judge for:
    _Puting Goodwin on a position where he could be killed due to him wanting to be the leader/alpha male to Juliet. It was a cheap trick but he didn’t killed anybody. Ana-Lucia did. And it allowed him to show everyone who was the leader. And it allowed use to see how possessive he is towards what he wants. Juliet and the Island.

  21. Yann says:

    Ok 2 other 2cents (so… 4cents I guess):
    _the drop point of the frozen donkey wheel: Dharma tried to use it once with a polar bear (I guess the “incident” will be the cause). The bear roamed several days/weeks before dying. Therefore a bear was found by Charlotte (working for Widmore, both were looking for the Island) in Tunisia. So Widmore knew the drop point was in Tunisia… but where?
    He employed guys to check the area in case someone used the donkey wheel. Ben did (and I guess Widmore knew he would have to after sending a team to the Island location). He killed the guys on the spot and run away.
    Now Widmore knew where to look so he put a camera on the spot in case someone else used it and then he could use this persone to go back to the Island. And that’s why he found and used John. But Ben killed his guy and John and so he could not use it anymore (he was wrong on that point and Ben knew how to use John even if he was dead).

    Ok another point:
    _Is John the smoke monster/dead. The writers are using the same technique as Josh Weadon’s Buffy. In the show, Giles was last shown nearly beheaded then on the next episodes we see him not touching anything or anyone… which is what the big bad does: use dead people to appear but can’t touch anything.
    So the smoke monster appears only when John is not there… leading use to belive he might be it. But the trueth is not the case. Otherwise why would the smoke monster/Alex tells him not to kill John? If is already dead?

  22. Ben ordered Bonnie & Greta down in the looking glass to be killed.

    He sent Ryan and his “10 best” to raid the beach camp with orders to “kill anyone stupid enough to get in the way.” He gave the order to execute Jin following the capture of the 3 shooters. (It’s interesting to ponder why he selected Jin. Did he know he couldn’t select Sayid because he still had to return to 1977 so that whatever happened would happen?)

    He also killed Keamy knowing full well it would trip the dead man’s trigger killing anyone on the freighter. Jin made it off somehow, but not Michael and other non-essential personnel.

  23. Aaron from Harrisburg says:

    Wow—Yet another great episode. This is my first time on this site though I listen to the podcast every week. I am sorry i this has been discussed already but I wanted to through my thoughts into this whole timeline with Widmore’s exile. I think this is something that they were hinting at last season with the continual reference to the bearing of 325 when leaving the island. My guess is that 325 is a neutral time shift exit/entry point and any deviation from this bearing will move you forward or backwards in time. This is why the Dr. from the freighter showed up before his death and the Faraday’s rocket was late. They were not on this bearing. The others could know the exact bearing to take in order to travel to whenever in time they need. This means that while Widmore was exiled after the purge sometime in the 90’s, they could have droped him off in the 80’s where he was able to built his fortune, raise Penny and begin looking for the island again.

    This could also be why it “appears” that Richard Alpert is able to leave the island before the purge and acquisition of the submarine. While it is after the purge on the island, they are taking the sub back in time to see baby Lock, young Lock, etc.

    OK, now I’m on a roll because if this is the case, then Ben could have also gone back in time and driven the car that hit Lock’s mother and almost killed Lock. Oh my head hurts.

  24. Yann says:

    Ben ordered Bonnie & Greta down in the looking glass to be killed.
    _yes but why? So that nobody could know that the transmissions were jammed and the sub can go anywhere. Keeping everyone in check on the Island. We know Ben had autorities issues at that time. Killing the girls meant not having to explain about the Looking Glass to anybody, making sure the jamming would not be cut. So why? Protecting the Island from the freighter.

    He sent Ryan and his “10 best” to raid the beach camp with orders to “kill anyone stupid enough to get in the way.” He gave the order to execute Jin following the capture of the 3 shooters. (It’s interesting to ponder why he selected Jin. Did he know he couldn’t select Sayid because he still had to return to 1977 so that whatever happened would happen?)
    _Wrong. The order was to shoot in the sand! Tom said it! And the “kill anybody…” is just an emphase toward his daughter better not acting against his orders.

    He also killed Keamy knowing full well it would trip the dead man’s trigger killing anyone on the freighter. Jin made it off somehow, but not Michael and other non-essential personnel.
    _Waw he killed the guy who killed his daughter… yeah he sure is an evil monster! And he considered the people on the boat being a nuisance to the Island.

    So? Any comment?

  25. ARTCHEMICAL says:

    I have begun to change my mind that the island is good, or is some crucible of self discovery… or that the smoke monster is just in its judgments. It seems more like a kid burning ants with a magnifying glass. nothing is getting better. Mister Echo shouldn’t have died. Ben on the other hand totally should have.

    I vaguely remember an episode of Star Trek The Next Generation where they encounter an entity that can manifest the crew’s thoughts, but the entity turns out to be the equivalent of a 4 year old kid. It’s just f*ing with them. I think that is the nature of the island.

    it wants the people to come back because it wants to keep playing, like Elmira, squeezing and loving and cuddling her puppy to death.

    but it can’t ultimately be that, right? No dark finales on network TV. Unless they go for it and pull a Twin Peaks and leave us in the proverbial Black Lodge forever with our dopplegangers hopelessly waiting for a happy ending.

    I’ll be hoping for that….

  26. Carol says:

    Does anybody remember if Mikhael was in any of the island flashes this season? I just watched “enter 77” and “par Avion” After Sayid, Kate and Locke captured Mickael (eye patch guy, can’t spell his name), they were all walking to “otherton” to find Jack and Mikhael was mouthing off and Kate said “you don’t know us” and Mikhael gave Kate’s and Sayid’s full names, he said to Locke something like “you are John Locke, you look familiar, I feel like I have met you before but I am not sure,that was…” and then he got cut off.

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