Lost: Dead is Dead
(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?
- 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.