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October 4, 2015

Lost: Dead is Dead

by Jonathan Toomey, posted Apr 9th 2009 8:08AM

Michael Emerson as Ben Linus on ABC's 'Lost.'(S05E12) "Well... John, we don't even have a word for it. But I believe you call it 'the monster'" - Ben

Wow, I'm not quite sure where to begin. This wasn't one of the best episodes of Lost (for lack of a better term, it was safe), but I walked away from it feeling enlightened. It's not often that Lost leaves you with more answers than questions.

That being said, I still have a ton of f%#k&$g questions.

For the most part, Ben's flashbacks played out exactly as we expected. When he kidnapped Alex as a baby from Rousseau, that was it - he kidnapped a baby. Nothing special. It's worth mentioning that at that point, it was still 1988 (possibly 1989), which means The Purge was still three or four years off (1992). Ben had already recruited young Ethan to help him at this point though. Makes you wonder if something happens to Ethan and he gets thrown into the Temple too? If not, why was he so willing to help Ben and more importantly, why were Widmore and Richard OK with Ethan helping Ben?

The other big question answered via flashback was the result of Ben's day at the pier. Did he in fact make good on his promise to Charles to kill Penny? As we all expected, no. He floundered with his gun and Desmond ended up kicking the crap out of Ben. Why he hesitated is the key - before he put a bullet in Penny, young Charlie Hume (or is it Widmore?) wandered up onto the ship's deck. Turns out Ben really does have a heart. Can't kill a mother with her son watching.

The issue with Ben having a heart is essential to the episode. We saw younger versions of Widmore for the first time since "Jughead" and it became clear that his tenure as the leader of the Others was characterized by a "my way or the highway" mentality. He frequently questioned Richard and Charles didn't like it when people disobeyed them - like when Ben was supposed to kill Danielle and Alex and instead he let them both live and took the baby.

I think Widmore's words haunted Ben at this point. Ben claimed that Charles wanted the baby dead, not the island. Widmore simply questioned Ben if he was sure. I'm not saying that the island didn't already have a god-like like aura surrounding it, but this certainly added to it. Think of religious beliefs at their base level, sort of like game theory - believe in God or don't. With the possibility of God existing, it's in your best interest to cultivate a belief. If he doesn't exist, no harm done. But if he does, you'll be better off. Apply that to the island and despite the fact that Ben really had grown to love Alex as his own daughter, I think Ben had been questioning his decision to leave Alex alive right up until Keamy put a bullet in her head.

One of the big things to take away from all this is how Ben and Charles mirrors Locke and Ben. When we saw Ben fully take power (1992? 1993? They were in the barracks, so it was post-Purge.) and send Charles home via submarine, he said Charles broke the rules. He left the island frequently and fathered Penny with an outsider years ago. Widmore continued to claim he always had the island's best interest in mind. Ben went all holier-than-thou on Widmore and said he'd never make the same mistakes. Years later, look at him. Ben is just as bad, if not worse than Widmore, and Locke is the new Ben, endlessly questioning the man he'll replace.

In 2007, when Ben finally made it to The Temple (he seemed genuinely scared) to be judged, he survived the experience. The only memories that Smokey threw at Ben were of Alex. But Ben lived, suggesting that the island did actually want Alex dead. The one thing Ben hasn't atoned for though? Refusing the give up the crown. Smokey took the form of Alex and made it clear that Ben now answers to Locke. So the question is how readily will Ben do that? Or is he willing to continue pushing it and do what Alex/Smokey already knew Ben was going to do - try and kill John ... again?

More thoughts...

  • I was so angry when Lapidus left Sun, Ben, and Locke to head back to the other Ajira survivors on Hydra island. It felt like he was being set aside since he didn't fit into the plan. Then he got back! What the hell happened?!? Illana and the other survivors seemed possessed, just like Lacombe, Brennan, and Robert were after their trip inside the Temple. All of a sudden they have a plan. Or is this just a direct response to finding Caesar's (guess he wasn't as important as we all thought) body and all they know is that Frank has been gone a while? What was with "what lies in the shadow of the statue" though? That sounded awfully "I'm possessed"-ish.
  • Assuming that Hawking knew that both Ben and Charles had broken the rules, why was she willing to help Ben and not Charles? And speaking of Hawking, when/how/why did she leave the island?
  • If "everything that happened, happened" then why doesn't Ben remember any of the 815'ers being in DHARMA in 1977? We know he forgot about Sayid shooting him thanks to the Temple, but why wouldn't he remember the others? The guy is a master bullshitter, but he seemed genuinely taken back when Sun showed him the picture.
  • Eko's death makes a lot more sense now.
  • Ben's "dead is dead" line came across as being very serious. So is Locke not really alive? Is he more like whatever Christian Shepherd is now? This would explain how John suddenly just knows stuff, like how Smokey lives in the Temple.

Speaking of Smokey, at least we know what it is now - flush the cave toilet and your reward is a visit from the floating smoke turd. OK, not really, but what was up with that summoning process? Anyway, next week we're getting some background on Miles - info that presumably was meant to be included in season four had the writer's strike not happened. Here's the official description:

"Some Like It Hoth" - Suspicions about a possible breach intensify after Ben is taken from the infirmary, and a reluctant Miles is forced to work with Hurley when he's asked to deliver an important package to a top Dharma official, on "Lost," WEDNESDAY, APRIL 15 (9:00-10:02 p.m., ET) on ABC.

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Sorry to go off-topic, but I am new to the show. I rented the first four seasons through netflix, and got season 5 episode 1 on the web. Abc.com doesn't have season 5 episodes 2-9 and I was wondering if someone knows how to watch them online. (on a legit site). I have tried Hulu.com and in2TV.com, with no luck. Any help would be greatly appreciated, I need to catch up so I can watch it fresh on Wednesdays.

April 20 2009 at 12:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Are you guys watching the same show I am? Oh yeah, this has been all about validating ancient Egyptian religion that was a ill thought out as Scientology...

April 14 2009 at 4:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have an interesting theory about the breaking of "the rules" and Ben's statement when Alex was killed.

Ben claims Charles broke the rules, so he had to leave. He also claims that the Charles is wrong in thinking that the island wants Alex dead.

Charles basically (and pretty confidently and calmly) says Ben is wrong, that the island did want Alex dead, and once the island finally kills her Ben will realize he was wrong all along, and will end up in the same situation as Charles.

We know that Ben is an opportunist, and we also see that he had a soft spot for the baby, both of which would compromise his objectivity on "what the island wanted". Ben has lived for many years with a firm belief that he was correct and that he was supposed to banish Charles for breaking the rules and take over as the leader that the island wanted, so it's firmly set in his mind. He's also lived with the challenge made by Charles that "one day Ben will realize the truth", to which he is surely in major denial.

When Alex is shot and we see Ben's reaction, he says "he broke the rules". We've all assumed that statement was about the act of killing Alex breaking some rule in some way, but my thought is maybe the statement is simply him struggling with the denial that Charles was right all along - as if to say "No, Charles broke the rules (by having an off-island life), and I did the right thing. I know it. I did right. This can't be happening - that would mean I've been wrong all along." It would be the unraveling of his very existence as leader of the island and the purpose of his life.

If so, it would make that line a very well done red herring, spinning us all into all sort of theories about what rule Charles broke, when in fact he didn't break any rules and was right all along!

April 14 2009 at 3:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to usernames's comment

Wow, that was alot of words put together in a certain sequence, but I don't understand "the rules" any better than before. I think the problem, as it ALWAYS is with "Lost", is that we have to wait for that very special flashback episode that describes where "the rules" came from, how many there are, etc.

April 15 2009 at 9:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

First of all, why can't I reply to anyone's post previously. I wanted to reply to Tom #52, but couldn't, so now this is going to seem out of context. But my friends and I have had this argument many times, and Tom's #2 point, that time moves slower on the island is NOT correct.

In giving the example of the Red Sox winning the world series, his dates are incorrect. The sox won in 2004, it was the first time they won it since Jack and the others had crashed. The Red Sox did win it again in 2007, but the footage Jack was shown was from the 2004 world series victory.

Next, another reason we know time isn't moving slowly is in the constant, Desmond needed to contact Penny on Christmas, that was 4 months after the crash. Also in that episode there was a calendar with days crossed off, and the year was 2004. So by just these 2 things, that show the outside timeline and the island timeline, time does not move slower on the island.

Just as it has been stated before, there is a 31 minute difference arriving to the island, that hasn't be explained yet, but once on the island, and day is day.

April 13 2009 at 5:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to brenth's comment

You can reply to someone's post, it's just that sometimes it gets loopy and doesn't present the reply properly. Just go back up and hit reply again. For instance, as I'm entering this, just above the box it shows "replying to brenth [Undo]". Just make sure you always see the "replying to" portion.

April 15 2009 at 9:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You know, I don't think it's such a stretch that Ben doesn't remember the Castaways as members of the Dharma Initiative. Thus far, we've seen none of them - save Sayid and perhaps "LaFluer" - play major roles in his childhood. Add to that the fact that it had been many years since he'd likely seen most of them - from whenever they returned to the present or the Purge (whichever came first) to the time they crashed on the island...twelve years? - and it makes sense to me that he might have forgotten the names and faces of two or three people he used to see in passing on a semi-regular basis.

April 12 2009 at 6:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Does anyone have any ideas about what happened to Daniel Faraday? We haven't seen him since Sawyer et al became part of Dharma.

Also, I'm confused about Eloise Hawking; can anyone shed more light on her and her purpose?


April 11 2009 at 3:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Dar's comment

"Also, I'm confused about Eloise Hawking; can anyone shed more light on her and her purpose?"

- It seems that she used to be one of the Others (the young woman, Ellie, we saw in the episode "Jughead"), but for some reason she's now off the island.

- It also seems that she's Daniel Faraday's mother.

Why she left the island and why she became involved in sending the survivors who left back to the island hasn't been explained yet. However, Fionnula Flanagan who plays Ms. Hawking is reportedly supposed to appear in another episode before the end of the season, so maybe we'll get more answers then.

April 11 2009 at 4:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
cress d

"...flush the cave toilet and your reward is a visit from the floating smoke turd...." LOL

April 11 2009 at 1:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm starting to think the Island is artificial, constructed by an ancient civilization. The trees and grass sit on top of some ancient "thing" underground.

Regarding the Atlantis theory: I also think it could bear some resemblance to Mu ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mu_(lost_continent) ).. A civilization (probably in the Pacific) that influenced all other civilizations. The fact that the island moves and can't be found would explain why there's no archeological evidence of this.

Who's to say the Island is even on Earth?

April 11 2009 at 1:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

i have an odd question that comes out of no where!!...i want to know what happened to rose and her husband bernard?? last time i believe i saw them was when the camp got attacked by the flaming arrows!!

can anyone answer?..if so please and thank you!

April 10 2009 at 8:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My explanation of the Ben not knowing Sayid point:

Ben doesn't remember Sayid shooting him in 1977 because it didn't happen yet. The turn of the wheel caused Sayid to travel back in time and shoot him. So in 2005 he didn't recognize Sayid because in the time plane he was not shot. Richard said he would have no memory of being shot by Sayid, not that he wouldn't remember. No memory means to me that it's because it didn't happen. I thought last week that Ben did know that he was shot by Sayid all along. But I think he can't possibly know.

April 10 2009 at 12:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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