In my opinion, "Dead Is Dead" just proves this show is one of the finest hours of television. This Ben-centric episode was not only my favorite of Season 5... but may just be my favorite episode of the entire show (well, so far). We were treated to seeing the (all too brief) return of Desmond and Penny, more of Widmore's time on the Island... and some mighty fine acting from Michael Emerson and Terry O'Quinn.
Dear Emmy Voters: It is high time the brilliant Michael Emerson gets the recognition he deserves. Thank you.
Oh, another way I know it's a good episode is when I receive text messages from Lula such as:
- "So good. Loving it."
- "This RULES! So good!"
- "Dude, this is awesome!"
OK, time to get on with this recap. I want to start with Widmore. Charles was not too happy with He of the Heavily-lined Eyes for bringing Lil' Ben into their temple... Widmore didn't care that it was "just a boy" who was dying. But when Alpert said, "Jacob wanted it done... the Island chooses who the Island chooses, you know that", Widmore seemed to accept Lil' Ben would be one of them.
The next time we see Widmore, it's when Ben returns to their camp with the baby Alex. Widmore again shows no love towards kids when he orders Ben to kill Alex. Yeesh, what does this guy have against children?
Widmore's banishment from the Island was an interesting scene. We learn Widmore has been exiled for "breaking the rules" (leaving the Island regularly and having a daughter with an outsider). We know the daughter to be Penny... so this would mean Ellie/Eloise is not Penny's mother. Unless... Ellie/Eloise was also banished from the Island at some point prior to this, and is therefore considered to be an "outsider".
The last we see of Widmore in this episode is when he's received a phone call from Ben, who is at the marina in Los Angeles. Ben tells Widmore he's going back to the Island, but first he's going to kill Widmore's daughter.
Which leads me to Desmond and Penny! I was euphoric to see my favorite couple... yet anxious at the same time, afraid of what was going to happen...
Seriously, this scene was hard for me to watch...
I had to keep my hand over my mouth, lest my screams of "No! No! Nnnooooooo!!!!" wake up my sleeping children.
Before Ben can off Penny, Little Charlie appears:
Now, I do think Ben wouldn't have gone through with his plans to kill Penny. But he does hesitate, and we get to see that it was Des who beat the living daylights out of Ben.
So we've seen Ben refuse to kill Danielle and Baby Alex... and then he can't (or won't) kill Penny because of Little Charlie... who knew Badass Ben was a big ol' softie when it comes to moms and kids?
I'm going to touch base on what went down with Sun and Lapidus before moving onto the meat of the episode (i.e, Ben, Locke and Smokey).
What I found interesting about this whole scene was that Ben did not know Jack, Kate, Hurley, et al. were in the Dharma Initiative...
...but later he does remember he was healed by the Temple as a kid. Hmmm...
Lapidus is all, "peace out, crazy sauce... I'm not sticking around here with a murderer and a dead guy" and leaves to go back to the Hydra. When he gets there, Lapidus is told by a Red Shirt that Ilana and three others have found guns and have taken over. When Lapidus confronts Ilana (who is wrestling with the same crate we saw earlier in the episode), she asks him "What lies in the shadow of the statue?"
Marshallette-turned-bounty-hunter-chick say what?!
"What lies in the shadow of the statue?" has to be some sort of riddle/password. Unfortunately for Lapidus, he doesn't know the answer, so this earns him a rifle-butt to the head.
Ilana tells the other guy with her to "get everyone else, tell them it's time"... get who else? And "it's time" for what? There's more to Ilana than we first thought. Who is she really working for? What is in the crate?
One more thing about Ilana and her cronies... I think it's safe to guess these are the ones who were in the outrigger, chasing Locke, Sawyer, Juliet and the other time-trippers back in episode 4 ("The Little Prince).
Alright, it's time for the main course (also known as why Michael Emerson deserves an Emmy).
When Ben wakes to find none other than "I-used-to-be-dead" Locke staring him down, he is obviously surprised.
Locke calls Ben out on this, and Ben covers for his look of utter disbelief by saying "it's one thing to believe it John... it's another thing to see it". Then Ben admits the reason he was trying to make it over to the main island was to be judged by... "the monster".
Ben is a master spinner of tales... do we believe Ben knew Locke would come back?
The scene with Ben and Caesar on the beach, discussing Locke... I thought this was Ben, doing what he does best. Lying, scheming... manipulating Caesar into doubting what Locke has told him about Ben...
Caesar tells Ben "I got your back" and shows he's packing heat (by means of a sawed-off shotgun).
Later, when Locke finds Ben in hopes to "talk about the elephant in the room"... the fact that it was Ben who killed Locke. Ben's explanation is that Locke had failed to convince the O6 to come back to the island, and that he had to stop Locke from killing himself because Locke had information that would have died with him. Once Ben had the critical info... "well, I just didn't have the time to talk you back into hanging yourself" ...oy, the eye roll Ben does before delivering this line is brilliant! Ben goes on to say he did what he did because it was "in the best interest of the island".
Locke's reply to this was one of the best lines of the episode: "I was just hoping for an apology."
I can honestly say that what happened next... I totally did not see coming! Locke and Ben are trying to take a canoe over to the main island when they are stopped by Caesar. Ben has already planted doubts about Locke in Caesar's mind... so Caesar goes to grab his gun, but...
BAM! Ben shoots Caesar then says to Locke: "Consider that your apology."
No one else has a problem with Ben and Locke taking the canoe... so they're on their merry way to the main island.
It's after they dock at the main island that Locke says he believes Ben is lying about being judged for coming back to the Island after he'd left (which was against the rules)... but rather Ben wants to be judged for killing his daughter.
Which brings us to Ben's judgement day. Ben does summon Smokey... but the monster doesn't show. So Locke decides they have to go to it, and he knows just where to go. Into the jungle they trek, finally ending up at the temple.
In the underground chamber Ben has fallen into, we see hieroglyphics all over the walls, including one very important mural:
I had chills watching the rest of the episode unfold... Smokey rises out of a grate in front of Ben, swirling around him. Ben then sees memories of Alex... from taking her from Danielle, to Alex's death at the hands of Keamy.
Smokey then leaves, but reappears in the form of Alex. Ben apologizes to "Alex", finally admitting it was all his fault. "Alex" doesn't disagree with this... then brings out her/its own inner-Ninja on Ben by pinning him to a column. "Alex" tells Ben she/it knows Ben is planning on killing Locke again but he better think twice about doing so. In fact, "Alex" wants Ben to promise he will follow Locke's orders, otherwise she/Smokey will destroy him. Ben swears he will follow Locke and "Alex" disappears.
The result of Ben's judgement: "It let me live."
For now, Ben... you live, for now. BWAHAHAHAHAHA!
Sorry, I got carried away...
OK, everyone... what did you think of this episode? What questions did this episode leave you pondering?