Then we had “The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham,” and Locke died.
And then last week, we had “Dead Is Dead,” a title that would suggest even more death, and no one died.
Yes, the writers of “Lost” continue to screw with us. And are you sensing a theme this season? Going in I thought it was “Destiny calls,” but clearly it’s “Blood for Islandula!” (That’s a reference to “Blood for Dracula,” btw… man, I hate explaining my jokes…)
I was tempted to come up with a funny fake title for another death-themed episode, but I don’t think you can top “Dead Is Dead.” Howsabout “The Death and Death of Deathy McDeathington”? No? Okay, back to the recap…
Jokes aside, I really enjoyed “Dead Is Dead.” I would even go so far as to say it’s tied “Namaste” as my favourite episode of the season. The Sawyer/Juliet hook-up is on the top of my list as coolest character-related plot twist. If Ben and Der Smoke Monster had gotten nice and cuddly, I might have seen my way to bumping it to the top spot, but that’s probably not going to happen. Not on goody-goody primetime TV anyway. If “Lost” aired on HBO, I think we could conceivably have seen the Smoke Monster get his own spin-off. I’m thinking “Sex and the Smoke Monster in the City.” He’s a shy, naïve smoke monster who moves to New York to take a job as a junior editor at a major publishing house, and he becomes overwhelmed by the fast-paced lifestyle, the club scene, and, of course, the ladies.
Okay, jokes aside for real now. I think Smokey deserves some serious props for this episode. Up until now, the only thing we really knew about the Monster was that it likes to chase people and taunt Mr. Eko. This was the first time we saw it as a true manifestation of the island, with feelings and motives of its own. Smokey seems set on making sure John Locke realizes his destiny as leader of the Others, and it will go so far as to “destroy” Ben Linus if he gets in the way. I wish I had someone like that getting my back when I was in high school. I would have spent much less time crammed inside my own locker.
By the way, am I the only one breathing a sigh of relief that Ben’s bloodied condition as he boarded the Ajira flight wasn’t as a result of him killing Penny Widmore? Obviously that’s what the writers wanted us to think, but seriously, I couldn’t see them killing her. Nicki and Paulo, yes. The woman who spent three years trying to find her man? Not bloody likely. Speaking of Desmond, I think he should have hung around after dumping Ben in the drink and maybe thrown some chum in the water. You know, draw in some sharks, let them snack on Ben, and then it’s See you in another life, brother.
One of the features of this season, and in this episode especially, is that we’re starting to get more and more of the Others’ back story. Again, we saw a younger version of Charles Widmore, one who looked like he walked out of “Braveheart.” We saw him meet Ben for the first time and later, after Ben refused to follow his orders to kill Rousseau, the first signs of their power struggle for leadership of the Others. We also saw Widmore’s exile from the island and an explanation of “the rules,” that Widmore was being kicked off for regularly leaving the island (but how? the Others didn’t have a sub until they took the one belonging to the Dharma Initiative?) and going so far as to have a child with an outsider (anyone want to place bets on the identity of Penny’s mom?). One thing I was curious about is why Widmore was exiled instead of killed. When Ben visits him in the future, he mentions that he can’t kill Widmore. At the time we assumed this had to do with the mysterious “rules,” but now I’m not so sure.
Ben confirmed that the whispers we’ve been hearing since the start of the show are indeed connected to the Others, telling Rousseau that if she wants her child to live, that every time she hears whispers she better run the other way. So was it a bluff or do the Others have a supernatural sound system set up across the island to keep people at a discreet distance? You decide.
Some other things I liked about this episode:
I enjoyed seeing Ben manipulating Caesar, telling him that maybe Locke wasn’t on the Ajira flight. It reminded me of the way Ethan insinuated himself into the Losties in season 1. Others Infiltration Techniques 101.
Speaking of Caesar, I was thinking the same thing as Locke when he told Caesar that he didn’t like him constantly referring to people as “my friend.” I don’t like people who do that, either, especially when, as in Caesar’s case, they clearly mean the opposite. I wasn’t sorry to see him take a shotgun blast. See you in the reruns, Caesar!
It was nice to see Locke acting for once like he knew what was going on around him, as opposed to the Locke of the last couple of seasons where he bumbled around trying to appease the island and figure out his destiny. Resurrected Locke seems to have more on the ball, demonstrated in part by his knowledge of the location of the temple. I have a feeling we’re going to see more of this preternatural intuition in future episodes.
I also liked Locke asking Ben a question that’s been bugging me for some time. If the Others have always been a live-off-the-land sort of people, then why did they get civilized, dress in clean clothes, and move into the Dharma’s Initiative’s barracks after the Purge? My theory: They were trying to keep up the illusion that the Dharma Initiative was still around so the off-island DI didn’t send in a strike team to exterminate their collective butts.
Oh, and another theory: The reason why the Smoke Monster didn’t come when Ben performed his little drain declogging trick in the secret room? Yes, maybe from a writer’s point of view, this was done so Locke could lead them to the temple, but I’m also thinking it was because only the leader of the Others can summon the monster, and this is yet another sign that Ben is no longer that person. Now if it had been Locke down there with a can of Draino…