Oh, Lost, you don't have to apologize to us. Not after giving us yet another epic episode in a season that's shaping up to be the best ever.
By now, all the Lost fans have hashed and rehashed all the details offered up in "Dead is Dead," the Benjamin Linus showcase from Wednesday. And a showcase it was. Michael Emerson has long been one of the cast's greatest strengths, and he proved it yet again, giving Ben additional layers of menace, and surprisingly enough, compassion. The episode was so good not only because we found out the answers to some questions (like what happened with Des and Penny on the dock), but more because it provided a platform for Emerson and Terry O'Quinn to go mano a mano for the better part of an hour. They took a scenario that sounds so ludicrous on the surface ("John Locke is back from the dead and escorting Ben around the island to find a smoke monster in order to be judged for his sins !") and turned it into a master class of acting. Seriously, I would pay to watch these two guys do a community theatre production of Plan 9 From Outer Space.
So what did we learn? A few thoughts, comments, questions and quotes from "Dead is Dead:"
Ben apparently has a soft spot for mothers and children, probably stemming from the fact that his mother died in childbirth and his dad was a complete asshole. He spared Rousseau and baby Alex, whom he (along with a young Ethan) was originally sent to kill by Charles in Charge Widmore back in the day. He also hesitated to murder Penny Widmore, whom he had vowed to kill in vengeance, once he saw young Charlie emerge from the boat's cabin.
Speaking of which, when Desmond went to the local Publix for groceries, I think they asked him "paper, plastic or Kevlar?"
It's interesting what Lil Ben knows. Alpert suggested that he would be wiped clean, yet when he's recovering in the tent, he still knows about The Others and his dad. Is it possible that the only thing he will "forget" is how he got shot and "saved" in the temple?
Like so many of the quotes, you really have to hear them delivered. But I chuckled out loud at "Okay, have a great day."
“I killed him? Really, ‘cause he looks fine to me.”
Another great exchange:
“Well, Ben, I was hoping that you and I could talk about the elephant in the room.”
“I assume you’re referring to the fact that I killed you.”
Or Ben, as if describing why he forgot to pick something up at the store:
“And I just didn’t have time to talk you into hanging yourself.”
I love how they introduced Caesar, making us think that he would be a prominent, ongoing character, only to have Ben blow him away with a shotgun as an "apology" to Locke (this, of course, after Ben himself had planted suspicions to Caesar about Locke in the first place to cover all his bases). Queue up the obligatory, "Et tu, Ben?"
In an eminently quotable episode, this was perhaps my favorite:
Lapidus: “As long as the dead guy says there’s a reason, then I guess everything is gonna be just peachy.”
So it appears the key to summoning Smokey is reaching into filthy hole in the ground, that resembles an Appalachian toilet, and pulling the plug? Could the smoke monster be defeated by some industrial strength Dharma Drano? Also, since the entire Dharma compound was built on top of the Smokey summoning hole, this suggests Dharma knew a great deal more about the mysteries of the island that we've supposed.
We also learned why Charles was banished from the island. Evidently, he broke a lot of the rules, which include frequent trips off island and fathering a child there, too, which we all assume to be Penny. So if the child was fathered off island, I think we can assume that Eloise Hawking is not Penny's mother, so she and Daniel are not siblings.
Has Ben really never seen a "resurrection" on the island before? He knows that it has significant healing powers, from his own personal experiences* as well as those of various island inhabitants (such as Mikhail, who worked for Ben and recovered from some pretty gruesome injuries). Obviously, we can't believe a word out of Ben's mouth, but he did appear to be genuinely stunned to see Locke alive and sitting beside his bed. And he tells Sun, “But never once has it done anything like this. Dead is dead. You don’t get to come back from that. Not even here. So the fact that Jon Locke is walking around this island…scares the living hell out of me.”
*though not a tumor on his spine, which he needed Jack to handle.
Mussolini would be disappointed: “It’s not a train, John. It doesn’t run on a schedule.”
Is there a deeper significance to Alex that I'm forgetting? Why would the "island" want her dead in the first place?
I assume we're meant to believe that there is some connection now between Locke and Smokey. Their appearances and disappearances, and knowledge of how things work, seem too interconnected to be coincidental. And Smokey, while hauntingly in the guise of Alex, also makes sure to let Ben know who is now in charge: “I know. Listen to me you bastard. I know that you’re already planning to kill John again. But I want you to know that if you so much as touch him, I will hunt you down and destroy you. You will listen to every word John Locke says, and you will follow his every word. Do you understand?” How wonderful will it be to see this new dynamic played out by Emerson and O'Quinn?
For those that may have been speculating about alternate timelines, I think we got a pretty good signal that we're not going there, with the Risk board game being left exactly like it was when Hurley and Sawyer were playing before the escape from the island 3 years prior.
Ilana is obviously more than just an agent charged with bringing Sayid to Guam. Her "what lies in the shadow of the statue?" was a code phrase, much like the "what did one snowman say to the other snowman?" from seasons past. But what's in her big honkin' box?
We also got a glimpse of a rather amusing hieroglyph, showing a version of Smokey interacting with Anubis.
At this point, you're either with Lost or hopping off the train. I know some people still want plausible, scientific accuracy and have dreaded the show venturing too far off into mystical and sci-fi hoodoo. But here we are in season 5, with resurrections, ghosts, judgmental smoke monsters and time travel, and to me, the show is even more interesting. What keeps it from being just another entertaining genre piece is the quality of the acting, with Emerson and O'Quinn being a prime example of that in "Dead is Dead."
Next week, it looks like we'll get more backstory from one man comedy machine Miles Straume, and I can't wait.