Thursday LOST Blogging: Dead is Dead

Spoilers below!

Well this week’s episode, Dead is Dead, was no 316 . . . but it was a significant improvement.  In this Benry-centric episode, not only did we get some interesting and vital parts of Ben’s back story, we also saw some really great interactions between Ben and Locke.  There’s a lot of stuff to unpack, so let’s jump right in, shall we?

RECAP

We open with a man in his 40s (who I recognized instantly, I must say) riding in on horseback to the Others camp.  He’s pissed off, and starts demanding answers from Richard about the boy that he took to the temple.  Richard says that Jacob wanted it, which seems to be a catchall for anything that pisses someone off on this island.  The guy goes into the tent to see Mini-Ben, who does not remember how he was injured. Mini-Ben tells the man that he does not want to go back to Dharmaville, and wants to be one of the Others.  The man smiles and says that just because he’s living in Dharmaville doesn’t mean he can’t be one of them.  Then he introduces himself as Charles Widmore.

Quick aside: can I just say that while I instantly recognized that this guy was supposed to be Widmore, and could see older Widmore in the 17-year-old snotty kid who also turned out to be him in the 50s, these two younger Widmores look absolutley nothing alike?  Okay, cool

Back to adult Ben in the infirmary, with Locke waking him up with cryptic bullshit.  Ben looks surprised momentarily, then starts exclaiming that he knew it all along!  Of course the island was going to resurrect Locke!  He then tells Locke, seemingly apropos of nothing, that he “broke the rules” and came back to the island “to be judged.”  By who?  The smoke monster, of course.

Outside, he converses with Cesar and commences his lying to every single person he speaks to routine, by trying to convince Cesar that Locke is actually an Ethan — someone who was on the island before they got there.  Cesar, being the new Jack and therefore a dumbass, tells Ben not to worry because he has a gun.

Another flashback, and a younger Ben (but not Mini-Ben) is hanging out in the jungle with Mini-Ethan.  The little spawn of Satan suggests that he can go do evil biddings, but Ben insists that it’s his job.  At that point, he goes into a tent, where young Danielle is sleeping, and points a gun at her, telling her not to move.  He picks up baby Alex and begins to take her.  When Danielle protests (in French, interestingly enough, since she hardly speaks a word of French to the Losties), Ben tells her that she’s lucky to be alive, to not follow him if she wants to live, and to run whenever she hears whispers in the jungle if she wants Alex to live.

Ben takes Alex back to the Others camp, and Widmore is very displeased.  He expected Ben to kill Danielle, and Ben points out that Widmore didn’t say that there was a baby.  He asks Widmore if they were supposed to kill the baby too, and before Mini-Ethan can say “Oh, oh! I’ll do it!” Ben hands Alex to Widmore and says that if Jacob really wants the baby dead, he can kill her himself.  Widmore walks away.

Back in the present, Locke wants to talk about the fact that Ben killed him.  Ben gives the same excuse we knew he would all along — that Locke had to die in order to get everyone to come back.  Locke says that really, he just wanted an apology.  Ben looks at him like “wow, have we met?”

Locke says that he wants to help Ben be judged, and they go to get one of the boats off the beach.  Cesar tries to stop them, thinking (as Ben inclines him to believe) that Locke is forcing him to go.  Locke refuses to listen to Cesar, and as Cesar reaches for his gun, Ben shows him that he stole it from him, and shoots Cesar right then and there.  Damn dude, sure Cesar was annoying, but that’s a bit harsh, right?  Ben tells Locke to consider that his apology.

Ben and Locke go back to Ben’s old house to summon the monster.  When they get there, they see someone moving around inside.  Ben goes to investigate, and finds Sun and Frank.  They explain that other 815 survivors were a part of the Dharma initiative, and Ben looks genuinely surprised (but who can really tell?).  They say that they were told to wait there for John Locke, but weren’t holding their breath for a dead man to show up.  Ben tells them to look outside.

After trying and failing to explain to Sun why Locke is alive, Frank says he’s leaving.  But Sun decides to stay after Locke claims he has some ideas on how to find Jin and the others.  But first, Ben has to be judged.  So he goes into his Ben cave to summon the smoke monster — it seems by pulling a plug out of a giant, filthy puddle.  Huh?  After going outside and probably lying to Sun by saying that he had no idea Locke would come back to life, it turns out that the smoke monster doesn’t come.  So, Locke comes around and says they need to go to it.  Ben says he doesn’t know how, but luckily Locke does.

Another flashback, and a younger Ben is pushing toddler Alex on the swings of Dharmaville.  Richard comes up and tells Ben that “he’s” leaving, and Ben goes to see him off.  It looks like “he” is Widmore, and he’s in handcuffs, and amazingly enough not pushing the donkey wheel, as he told Locke.  He’s being exiled for regularly leaving the island and having a child with an outsider.  He broke the rules.  Ben says that he’ll be a better leader than Widmore, Widmore says bullshit, and also says that the island really wants Alex dead.  Oh, and someday Ben will be banished, too.

Locke takes Ben to the hole outside the temple, where Danielle’s crew went in and came out all nuts.  Before going in, Ben tells Sun that if she ever gets off the island, tell Desmond Hume that he’s sorry.  We start to really worry that Ben actually did go through with killing Penny, but no dice.

In the flashback, we see Ben calling up Widmore and telling him he’s going back to the island — right after he kills Penny in two seconds.  Widmore protests, but Ben hangs up.  He starts down the dock to the boat where Penny is standing, but when Desmond notices his presence, Ben shoots him.  He arrives at the boat, points the gun at Penny and says “well hello Penny, my name is Benjamin Linus.  Your father is an asshole.  I’m going to explain all of this to you very slowly, even though it won’t matter after I kill you, in order to buy you enough time to earn my sympathies.”  Little Charlie comes out of the boat and calls for his Mommy.  Penny tells him to go back inside and begs Ben not to hurt him, and softened, Ben starts to lower his gun.  Then Des comes up from behind, beats the shit out of him and throws him in the water.

Back on the island, Ben and Locke go down into the hole under the temple.  Ben thanks Locke for showing him the way, but says he can take it from here.  Just then, Ben falls through the floor to a story below.  Locke goes to get a rope or vine to pull him out with, but Ben ventures further.  And after seeing all kinds of cool stuff, he finds the smoke monster.  It comes out, and surrounds him, showing him images of Alex throughout her life, up to and including her death.  The smoke itself then disappears, and Alex appears behind him.  At first, she’s all sweet, but when Ben apologizes she agrees that her death was his fault.  Then she beats him up and tells him that 1) she knows he’s planning to kill John Locke again (duh) 2) he better not and 3) he better follow Locke, too, or she will hunt him down and it won’t be pretty.

She disappears, and Locke starts calling out for Ben again.  He asks what happened and Ben said “it let me live.”

Oh, and at some point, Frank shows back up on the island only to find out that Ilana and some others have found guns and gone nuts.  Frank approaches her and she asks him “what lies in the shadow of the statue?”  When he doesn’t have an answer, she knocks him to the ground, orders him to be tied up, and says that they’re taking him with them.

QUESTIONS

Why is Ben such a misogynistic asshole?  Seriously, the scene with Penny, while I’m thrilled that she lived, just pissed me off so much.  The worst part is that I felt like the writers were actually trying to give him some sense of humanity.  As if I’d be impressed about his “oh sure, I’ll kill a woman like a piece of property because her daddy pissed me off, but I won’t kill a mother!  Geez, there are people involved now!” epiphany.  I imagine that it was supposed to remind him of Alex — as in, he’d already taken a child’s mother away once and didn’t want to do it again.  But still.  Not at all impressed.  In fact, really annoyed.

How did Ben “break the rules”?  Locke is right that Ben really wants to be judged for the death of Alex, but he also told John that he “broke the rules.”  Locke assumes he means by coming back to the island, but that makes no sense — he was essentially claiming that he broke the rules to come back to the island so that he could be judged for breaking the rules by coming back.  So what’s the real deal?

Why was Locke not brainwashed by going into the smoke monster’s lair, liked happened to Danielle’s crew?  Did this already happen to him when the monster tried take him in that (different, yes?) hole?  Or what?  Is he just “special”?

And how did he know where the monster was?  Sure, he had a good indication that it lived underground — but how did he know it was at the temple?  Did being resurrected give him new knowledge about the island?

Why did the smoke monster let Ben live, but kill Eko?  How the hell does that work?

What “ideas” does he have about finding the rest of their group back in he 70s?  Did Ben really know that Locke would be resurrected?  (I’m guessing yes, but also really unsure.)  Did Ben really not know about the Losties being in the Dharma Initiative? (I’m guessing that no, he didn’t.)

THEORIES

A big question we’re all asking is what the fuck is up with Ilana.  One answer is that she’s just gone nuts based on the fact that someone has killed Cesar.  But where did those guns come from?

My answer (which of course could totally be wrong), is that she’s working for Widmore.

We’ve assumed thus far that Ben is the one who hired to arrest Sayid.  But we’ve seen no real evidence of that.  What if it was Widmore that did it?  Remember, Widmore likely knew that Sayid was working for Ben, and Widmore also wanted everyone to get back to the island.  Ben and Widmore were working for the same goal, but to different ends.  Remember also that Widmore said a “war” was coming — and I’m guessing that he wants some of his people in on that.  I’m betting that Ilana is the new freighter people.  She’s working for Widmore, as are a few others who were on the plane.  And they know stuff about the island.  (The question about the statue couldn’t have been coincidental.)

Lastly, I think most of us had guessed this already, but Alex’s appearance flat out convinced me — the semi-dead people who appear to the alive characters are really just a manifestation of the smoke monster.

Your thoughts?


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38 comments for “Thursday LOST Blogging: Dead is Dead

  1. ninja squirrel
    April 9, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    Hmm, I hadn’t considered that Ilana was working for Widmore and he prepared her for what to do if/when the plane crashed. Although Widmore scoffed at the possibility of Ben actually being able to go back to the island, so who knows?

    I’m thinking that maybe Ilana and some of the other survivors (didn’t one dude say that three of them got guns?) have been infected by the “sickness” that Danielle’s crew got. That might explain the cryptic riddle Lapidus couldn’t answer since it could refer to the statue on the island, and after getting infected, Danielle’s husband was able to explain what the monster was. So maybe getting the sickness means you get more info on the island.

    Oh, and I figured that Danielle spoke French while Ben was stealing Alex because she was so panicked and not thinking clearly, so all she could manage to do was scream in her native language (until finally getting enough of a hold on herself to communicate in English). I mean, if someone’s stealing your baby, it’d probably be pretty hard to remember to communicate effectively in your non-native language.

  2. stef
    April 9, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    re: ben not shooting penny – i think that the situation has more to do with his own “mommy issues.” he hated life with his dad, to the point of being driven to a group of strangers (the “hostiles”), and probably wondered on many occasions how much better his life would probably be were his mother not dead (although his father certainly assisted in this). i think this is why he didn’t kill rousseau when he was supposed to, and also why he didn’t kill penny when that was his initial goal. for what it’s worth….

  3. April 9, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    the semi-dead people who appear to the alive characters are really just a manifestation of the smoke monster.
    Then John Locke is really just a manifestation of the smoke monster. That would explain why he knew where it was and how to find it. Maybe that’s why he had to die so that the smoke could become him and work its will more tangibly on the island.

  4. April 9, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    Ninja — I hadn’t included that theory in the post, because it had already gotten mammoth enough. But yeah, I’d considered that. It’s possible, but it also seems strange that they instantly have a mission — I’m not sure that their being “infected” would do that.

    Stef — yeah, but the fact still remains that Ben only sees women as people once they’re mothers. Granted, he doesn’t seem to see most people as people, but it’s still a highly misogynistic viewpoint, that women are only worth life if they have a kid.

    Rachel — I don’t think so. Locke isn’t semi-dead. He’s alive. Christian, Alex, Eko’s brother (can’t think of his name right now), Claire (we believe), Ana Lucia, Charlie, Libby, etc . . . they’re all actually dead. They can only seemingly converse with and be seen by one (or in Christian’s most recent case, two) people at a time. Locke can interact with the world freely. The others are “undead” to some extent — Locke is actually alive.

  5. April 9, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    I disagree that Ben was lying to Sun about not knowing why Locke came back from the dead, and not expecting it. That seemed like one of the most genuine things Ben said in the episode.

    I think it’s a lot more likely that Ben was lying to Locke. After all, he sees Locke as a potential competitor (and has seen him that way from the beginning, really). Sun is inconsequential to him now that she’s played her role and helped him get back to the island (possibly sexist that she’s absurdly wealthy and one of the most powerful people in Korea now that she took over her father’s company, or perhaps just a sign that Ben doesn’t care for anything outside of the island). Smokey/Alex confirmed that when it said that it knew Ben was going to try and kill Locke again.

    Great episode, and Brian K. Vaughn did not dissapoint with the script. There was some great punctuation ending many of the scenes (Locke outside waiving at the two peering at him, Ben’s line “It let me live.”) Fantastic stuff.

  6. April 9, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    Locke also seems to be “stuck” moving around the island by conventional means. Boat, walking, etc. Christian and the other just appear and disappear.

  7. Mins
    April 9, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    hi, i’ve a few questions:
    so, why did the island want Alex dead? and danielle?
    also, i thought danielle said she never saw the OThers, only heard whispers.
    then when she captured ben (Henry gale episode) why didn’t she tell jack,etc
    that he stole Alex? or she didn’t recognize him?
    When Ben was captured as henry gale, he told Locke “I came looking for you” (?)
    What about “the list” that used to be talked about so much?

  8. April 9, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    also, i thought danielle said she never saw the OThers, only heard whispers.
    then when she captured ben (Henry gale episode) why didn’t she tell jack,etc
    that he stole Alex? or she didn’t recognize him?

    Ooooooh, crap. Plot hole, plot hole!

    When Ben was captured as henry gale, he told Locke “I came looking for you” (?)

    Well he could have been lying. But Ben did know who Locke was. First of all, they had files on everyone. Secondly, Richard had been trying to get Locke to come to the island since he was a child.

    What about “the list” that used to be talked about so much?

    What about it?

  9. April 9, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    This episode was weirdly maudlin. I always assumed that the Others stole Alex because they’d started having baby problems, and they’d jump at the chance to get a young person into the group. But it’s because Ben looooooves babies? WTF? I could believe that he grew to love Alex over time, but I’m having trouble believing that he was naturally sympathetic toward a random infant. Furthermore, that was the fakest baby I have ever seen on network television. Seriously, could it have been more plastic?

    Ben’s smoke monster confrontation was lame. I liked Eko’s because the flashes from his past were mysterious and quick. Ben was plopped down in front of This Is Your Life. And I really do not need to keep seeing a sixteen-year-old girl get shot in the head so her father can ~*~experience emotional growth~*~.

  10. April 9, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    Yeah, I was honestly expecting a bit more from the smoke monster confrontation.

  11. April 9, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    I kept wondering if maybe Locke was the black smoke monster or the daughter or something – just because it was so conveniently timed that as soon as the daughter disappeared, John was rushing back with the rope. Probably not but who knows.

  12. herong
    April 9, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    Ew. I totally hated the smoke monster thing. It was way too literal and it brought the worst out in Ben’s acting. (Who can act against a CGI thing anyway?) I thought that Alex coming back should have been waaaaaayyyy creepier than it actually was, but I completely agree that the smoke monster controls/manifests the dead people. And I second Locke not being dead. And I third Ilana being employed by Widmore. She obviously knows more than a random plane-crashee.

  13. UnHinged Hips
    April 9, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    Eh, I don’t think Ben has an especially soft spot for mothers. He’s not been particularly considerate to Sun or Claire/Kate. The times he’s held himself back from his usual asshattery have been when there are *children* present- even having mini-ethan hang back could be part of that.

    The whole “You killed my daughter now I will kill yours” crap kept reminding me of why the story of Job from the Bible irritated me so much.

  14. Laura
    April 9, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    I also disliked the smoke monster bit.

    I had a completely different take on Ben stealing Alex than Hot Tramp.

    Throughout the episode, we got to see Ben struggle to cover his ignorance. I think that this has been happening all along, at least to some degree. Ben was pretty impulsive these last few episodes. Some people might attribute it to all the shit he has been through recently, but the scene with baby Alex made me think.

    He totally just saw the kid, then acted. He didn’t seem to have a “plan” in mind. Even when he got back to Other/Hostilecamp, he didn’t seem as self-assured as I have usually seen him. BUT, he did manage to take the situation and turn it to his advantage, by using the “then YOU kill her” thing to challenge Widmore for Leadership. It was so much posturing. And he won that moment; Widmore walked away. This totally turned the Others to his side, and probably was one in a series of steps to his ascension.

    I think this also explains the question of “Why did you move back to Dharmaville?” I think Ben wanted to go there to “reclaim” his childhood, innocence, whatever, and only justified it later.

    It seems that Ben is as impulsive (if not more so) than many people on the Island, and that he is just better at covering his tracks, using his situation to his advantage, and manipulating people.

    Also, his wig! I have no explanation for his haaairrr.

    And I didn’t think that Ben didn’t shoot Penny with Charlie there fully because of Alex. That might have been part of it. I think Ben also maybe identified with the kid, envious of his innocence/not fucked-up life and his having a mom (this also ties into my theories on his impulse to move to Dharmaville) and this was definitely another example where his impulsiveness got him into trouble (Satisfying trouble! I wanted Des to punch him more) which he then used for his own advantage later (tiiiny amounts of sympathy from the Six at seeing him all injured, or at least his arm in a sling put them off guard.) I totally thought he almost looked like “now how can I kidnap that one…” though.

    So in conclusion, I like Ben as a character even less, now. Instead of a lying liar with a plan, he is just a lying liar who is a spoiled child, doing what he wants and getting away with it, making people’s lives suck in the process.

  15. B
    April 9, 2009 at 6:06 pm

    I have a different take on the mother/child thing. I think this might be the beginning of a resolution to the mystery of why children are so important. In the earlier seasons it was a huge mystery why the others stole children, why Walt was special, etc. There was definitely something mysterious about kids. Now we have the kid thing coming up a lot again- Kate, Juliet and Sawyer all insisted on saving Ben because he was just a child, and now Ben gets all weird whenever kids are involved. I think they are going somewhere with this.

  16. April 9, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    but Alex’s appearance flat out convinced me — the semi-dead people who appear to the alive characters are really just a manifestation of the smoke monster.
    Yeah I totally agree with that. It does make me think that maybe we might see the return of some more of the supposedly gone.

  17. soren renner
    April 9, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    Theory: the smoke monster did not come when Ben summoned it because it wasn’t in the temple at the time. It had an errand on the smaller island where the plane landed: driving Ilana et al insane. So it was not at home that evening.

  18. wall-flower
    April 9, 2009 at 10:29 pm

    Why is Ben such a misogynistic asshole?
    Uh, because the creators and writers hate women.

    Why did the smoke monster let Ben live, but kill Eko?
    Uh, because Ben is white and Eko was black.

    Dudes, I LOVE this show, do not get me wrong, but the show hates women and people of color. I can still enjoy it, but they just keep making it more and more obvious. The recent deaths of Charlotte and (if he’s dead) Cesar continue to confirm it — why do they bother introducing new female and/or nonwhite characters just to kill them? Strange as it might sound, even though Locke is still my favorite character, his murder of Naomi is something I cannot get over, and Ben’s killing of Cesar brought back the memory again. Yes, Ben has killed a lot of people, but it’s usually for a reason — the murders of Naomi and Cesar were so unnecessary and thoughtless — there were no questions asked, no making sure of anything.

    At least Miles is still alive (and apparently the focus of next week, yay!)… for now.

  19. groovybroad
    April 9, 2009 at 10:58 pm

    Eko killed Naomi? I thog Locke threw a knife into her back? Oh well…

    Cara, you stated:
    “Locke isn’t semi-dead. He’s alive. Christian, Alex, Eko’s brother (can’t think of his name right now), Claire (we believe), Ana Lucia, Charlie, Libby, etc . . . they’re all actually dead. They can only seemingly converse with and be seen by one (or in Christian’s most recent case, two) people at a time. Locke can interact with the world freely. The others are “undead” to some extent — Locke is actually alive.”

    So…what distinguishes a person from semi-dead to actually dead?
    And Locke is the only one out of all of them who is alive?
    It can’t be because he didn’t die on the island…because neither did Christian.

    And here:
    “Alex’s appearance flat out convinced me — the semi-dead people who appear to the alive characters are really just a manifestation of the smoke monster.”

    So…if semi-dead people are just manifestations of the smoke monster…
    then would Hurley be able to see one of them OFF the island, i.e Ana Lucia? Smoke Monster doesn’t apply then.

  20. groovybroad
    April 9, 2009 at 11:00 pm

    ooo, I completely misread that part of wall-flower’s post about Locke killing Naomi. My bad.

  21. Paul
    April 9, 2009 at 11:58 pm

    @wall-flower:

    Didn’t Michael kill a latina and a white girl? Sure, he’s not exactly a character that gets (or deserves, really) a lot of sympathy, but still. Didn’t the show depict Kate as a strong woman and one deserving of our empathy for killing her abusive stepfather? Hasn’t Sayid, an Iraqi, shown himself to be a very effective killer-for-hire, blowing away a bunch of Widmore’s (white, mainly) employees? Hasn’t Ilana, the mysterious, ethnically ambiguous, woman, proven herself to be incredibly dangerous – capturing Sayid, knocking Lapidus cold… has zero hesitation to take control.

    Oh, and yeah, the smoke monster has killed a lot of people, and it’s black…

    The point is: really? does the show really hate women and minorities? REALLY?

  22. April 10, 2009 at 8:08 am

    The point is: really? does the show really hate women and minorities? REALLY?

    Well there is a LOST Vagina Curse. As I’ve previously discussed. And I think the show reinforces gender roles far more than it subverts them.

    And the guy who played Michael on the show, Harold Perrineau, believed that the show “has a problem with black people.” I mean, they did basically make Michael as boring a possible and killed of Eko even though he was really interesting.

    So…what distinguishes a person from semi-dead to actually dead?

    I believe it’s been explained? A semi-dead person can talk to individual people, appear to deliver messages, etc. A dead person you can’t and we just never see again, i.e. Nikki and Paolo (thank god), Shannon, all of the people who died in the crash, etc. Like, you know, dead people in the real world.

    So…if semi-dead people are just manifestations of the smoke monster…
    then would Hurley be able to see one of them OFF the island, i.e Ana Lucia? Smoke Monster doesn’t apply then.

    I don’t believe that this is necessarily the case. The island clearly has off island powers — it kept Michael from killing himself, after all — we just don’t know what they all are yet.

  23. April 10, 2009 at 10:18 am

    I thought it was pretty good episode overall. I too am glad Penny did not get killed. I am not sure about the smoke monster. I am really interested in how they are going to explain that.

  24. wall-flower
    April 10, 2009 at 11:03 am

    The point is: really? does the show really hate women and minorities? REALLY?
    Yes. From reading your questions, I finally gathered that what you seem to be suggesting is that being a killer equals having power, which in itself is a bit of a problem, imho. Also, there’s more than one way to depict a character in a negative, stereotypical way. In making my statement, I’m also considering the relative importance of the characters. Yes, this is an ensemble show where there are many characters who people care about for varying reasons and to varying degrees. But who does the show itself (and the other characters) present as the main characters/leaders? Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Locke, and (as the main antagonist) Ben. All white, and 4 men to 1 woman. In addition, Kate has never been seriously considered a leader; she just happens to be involved in the power dynamics between Jack and Sawyer. It’s been stated on this very blog that Sayid would have made an excellent leader, but he was never even considered — the white people just call him up when they need someone to do the dirty work of torturing/killing.

    Allow me to address the questions one by one:

    Didn’t Michael kill a latina and a white girl? Sure, he’s not exactly a character that gets (or deserves, really) a lot of sympathy, but still.
    Ok, so first off, two women got shot, so two women, one of them a minority, dead. (I don’t want to hear about their drunk driving convinction; I have a hard time believing tv actors aren’t always getting into trouble for things and having it covered up or forgotten if the show/network cares to do so — look at Alec Baldwin, for instance.) Isn’t it a little convenient that Michael, a black man, is the first real traitor on the show, that he was the first to use deadly violence against “his” people, for selfish purposes?

    Didn’t the show depict Kate as a strong woman and one deserving of our empathy for killing her abusive stepfather?
    Yes, though it’s telling that you use the past tense here — she WAS depicted as a strong woman. I liked her character at first, but she’s been completely emptied out. I liked some of the early eps with her, when she killed her stepfather to protect her mother, or when she helped Claire find out what happened to her when she was kidnapped. If the show had continued to give her something to DO, that would have been nice. But since then she’s been little more than love interest/mommy.

    Hasn’t Sayid, an Iraqi, shown himself to be a very effective killer-for-hire, blowing away a bunch of Widmore’s (white, mainly) employees?
    Because he was hired by Ben. He was being used by a white man against white men. How is that empowering? Sayid’s portrayal is extemely stereotypical. He is effective as a killer for hire because he is a “natural” killer and little more than that. He was interesting when he also had this romantic side, but we all know that every woman he sleeps with (ACTUALLY sleeps with — this doesn’t count Ilana) dies — the Desmond/Penny reunion (which I loved) was so highly anticipated and explicitly shown, but all we know about Sayid and Nadia is that they got married and she was killed. Why wasn’t this reunion portrayed as just as interesting and important as Desmond and Penny’s? The only thing I will give the show is that, even though he’s a killer, we do care about Sayid, and it is an important step to have an Iraqi character portrayed as someone sympathetic to audiences.

    Hasn’t Ilana, the mysterious, ethnically ambiguous, woman, proven herself to be incredibly dangerous – capturing Sayid, knocking Lapidus cold… has zero hesitation to take control.
    Lost has a longstanding tradition of making their female characters really interesting and strong at first, and then severely undercutting their power and interest. Ilana is way too new a character to decide on yet. Until this week’s episode, I thought Cesar might be an important character, too — and admittedly, he might not really be dead. But the jury is still out.

    I stand by my initial statements. The killing of Eko by the Smoke monster was so entirely unnecessary and so graphically brutal that I will always be bothered by it. I’m not saying white people don’t get killed on the show — duh — but I strongly believe there is a difference in the way those deaths are depicted.

    I love watching the show, though! You can love something and still be disappointed by it. My other favorite show, Buffy, had a terrible track record with the depiction of minorities.

  25. April 10, 2009 at 11:08 am

    I liked this episode a lot – I think Michael Emerson is one of the best actors on the show and plus, there was a lot of Locke-love, and I need Locke-love in these trying times. Smokey’s lair was particularly awesome, I mean, it had Anubis!

    Ooooooh, crap. Plot hole, plot hole!

    I’ve been reading over Danielle’s character biography, and there are a number of inconsistencies in her story. Could be sloppy writing, could point to cognitive lapses, or downright insanity, or to something else.

    I miss Danielle, though. :(

  26. Paul
    April 10, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    I still am not seeing “the writers hate minorities and women.” Should the writers, in order to avoid potentially offending someone, given Michael’s role to a white man? (short answer: no) I actually really liked the character as he was because he did what he thought he needed to in order to protect his son. Granted, that involved a lot of bad stuff, but the point stands. He would have done ANYTHING for his son, and I think that’s something beyond racial considerations.

    Actually, I used the examples of folks getting killed because killing was topical to your post. I’m certainly not saying that there is no bias or prejudice in the show – everybody in the world has some biases and prejudices, after all, but you are suggesting that hate exists here without actually proving it. Bias isn’t the same thing as hate, you know.

    Hate is a word that has been so watered down over the years that it doesn’t even mean anything anymore. I hate going to work. I hate doing my school assignments. I hate pepperoni on my pizza. I hate that guy. The writers hate women.

    Oh, and I would like to visit the question about Ben: Why is he such a misogynistic asshole?

    He’s not actually a misogynist. He is a master manipulator who gets what he wants by lying to people, changing his presentation, omitting or adding information, lying, telling the truth, initiating violence, faking surrender, taking risks that appear more dangerous than they really are, etc etc etc. Basically, he is the quinetssential bullshit artiste – while the liar has to at least respect the truth insofar as he thinks he is saying the opposite, the bullshit artist has no concern for the truth and can use it as well as lies or anything else, as long as he gets what he wants. If Ben plays on gender or racial types, it’s not because he’s prejudiced – he’s too smart and observant for that – he’ll do it as a means to an end and for no other reason. Whether his goal is revenge, control, power, whatever, it doesn’t matter how he gets it as long as he gets it. The problem is that he’s got some mommy and daddy issues and they tend to sometimes get in the way of his otherwise perfect control of himself. He’s not quite as cold blooded as he needs to be, and he still obviously has a few lessons that he hasn’t taken to heart from the Villian’s Handbook.

    If he’d been smart, he’d have put several rounds into Des, and dropped Penny, AND the kid as quickly as possible with no talking and just getting it done. It would have been absolutely shocking, sure, and disgusting, but what happened in Dead is Dead is just as bad because his actions were most definitely deliberate and he fully intended to kill. In a way, it’s worse than what Kearney did to Alex – because he at least gave someone a choice in the matter.

    But he hesistated, and look what happenes every time Ben hesitates? Something goes wrong. Was is because he doesn’t look at women as people until they have a child, or was it because he couldn’t bring himself to kill a kid? Probably the latter, judging from his actions in this episode.

    Anyway, done posting for now… see y’all next week. (I was going to say, “you guys” but… well, there it is.)

  27. April 10, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    Paul, most of your comment is filled with such bullshit that does not belong on this blog that I’m not even going to respond to your supposed “gender and racial analysis.”

    I will only say that killing Penny didn’t mean he had to kill the kid by any means. Why would he have? That doesn’t even make sense.

    Then again, I’m talking to someone who thinks that because Ben is a master manipulator, he can’t possibly be a misogynist. When, funnily enough in my experiences as a woman, the master manipulators are in fact the biggest misogynists.

  28. April 10, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    he Desmond/Penny reunion (which I loved) was so highly anticipated and explicitly shown, but all we know about Sayid and Nadia is that they got married and she was killed. Why wasn’t this reunion portrayed as just as interesting and important as Desmond and Penny’s?

    This is an absolutely excellent point, and one that I had not previously considered. But it’s so true. The first instinct is to put forth a rebuttal with “but no! Penny played a bigger role for Des than Nadia did for Sayid!” But this is quite simply just not true in any significant sense. We had the Sayid and Nadia episode; we had an episode that was all about the things that Sayid did to try to find Nadia again; we found out that he was on the plane that crashed in the first place because he was looking for her. Didn’t he at one point even have that picture he carried around of her, like Des did of Penny? There was slightly more Des/Penny story line, but not enough to account for the severe discrepancy.

    The Des/Penny scene on the freighter was one of the most tear-jerking moments in the show’s history. But Sayid and Nadia deserved the same.

  29. April 10, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    And the guy who played Michael on the show, Harold Perrineau, believed that the show “has a problem with black people.” I mean, they did basically make Michael as boring a possible and

    I am not sure I agree with Perrineau though. I don’t think it was his race that gave them problems…they wrote the character into a corner. Walt’s obsessive Dad got old because it killed any development of the father son story. You need Walt to be there for that. I agree with Harold that Michael was handled badly-but I don’t agree it was out of a “problem” with black people.

    killed of Eko even though he was really interesting.

    Here, the actor who played Eko-Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje- has stated he asked to be released from his contract for personal reasons (including the death of his parents). If you do not know if an actor will ever return…you have limited options to explain where he went to. I hated Eko’s death though. I wish Adewale had not asked to leave, as I am pretty confident he would still be around today. The writers clearly liked the character and gave him some real meat.

  30. April 10, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    Yeah-I think you’re right about Ilana. We figured that the question about the statue was a codeword that only Widmore’s people would know. I think it ties together pretty well because how else would she know that Sayid killed one of Widmore’s guys?

    As far as Ben surviving the monster though Echo didn’t-I think they just had to find a way to kill him off because Akinnuoye-Agbaje was ready to move on from the show. If they can explain the why for that crappy episode, the writers have some serious chops.

    As far as Ilana going insane because of the smoke monster-doubtful. So far the only people who had “the sickness” contracted it in that temple.

    I’m not quite buying the “Ben as misogynistic ass-hole” idea. First and foremeost he is an ass-hole. The misogyny is mingled with a whole host of other “mis-“es. He’s just as much misandronous as misogynist. He’s a misanthrope. He hates everyone.

    I agree with Stef’s analysis of Ben’s hesitation to kill Penny after realizing she was a mother. He liked his mother, hated his father. If Penny would have been a man, he would have killed him regardless because, from his point of view, the kid would probably be better off without a dad. So I think seeing Ben as misogynistic is reading a bit into his character and is diluting the meaning of the term.

    Yeah Mins is totally right about Danielle not recognizing Ben. I didn’t catch that one.

    And wallflowers-you’re so right about Locke killing Naomi. Total garbage writing there. Just a cheap way to get a shock (like Ben killing Cesar). It made no sense either, because after killing her to keep her from calling the boat, he just walks off and leaves Jack to call her anyway. I didn’t buy that moment a bit.

    I’ve thrown around the idea of coming up with a Lost canon when the show is over-cut out all the crappy episodes, unnecessary rabbit trails, and languidly-paced segments that reveal nothing of plot or character (or those that, like the above, just don’t seem to fit the characters at all). It would probably be really hard to get some consensus on what would make the Lost canon, but I figure we could whittle it down to two seasons, maybe three.

  31. April 10, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    So I think seeing Ben as misogynistic is reading a bit into his character and is diluting the meaning of the term.

    Checks off bingo square …

  32. April 10, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    Mmmm. I think it’s possible that Ben doesn’t quite like his mother, he idolizes her. She wasn’t around, and his relationship with his father suffered, so he most likely did what many kids do – construct the mother as an angel.

    “In absence, she has grown sublime” – Kate Atkinson wrote about a missing mother in Human Croquet, and I think that’s what probably happened here. Hence motherhood “throws” Ben when he encounters it.

    Does that fall under the definition of misogyny? I don’t know. I honestly think that’s what’s blatantly misogynist is Ben’s treatment of Juliet – like a prize to be won in a bloody contest. Remember how he gets her boyfriend killed and then proceeds to gleefully rub her face into it?

    I read his attachment to mothers is a reminder that, underneath the fangs and scales, there’s still a human in there somewhere, someone who’s capable of feeling a small pang of loss. I forget that human being exists when Ben’s running around and “dealing” with other enemies in that horribly efficient way of his.

  33. Paul
    April 10, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    I will only say that killing Penny didn’t mean he had to kill the kid by any means. Why would he have? That doesn’t even make sense.

    Then again, I’m talking to someone who thinks that because Ben is a master manipulator, he can’t possibly be a misogynist. When, funnily enough in my experiences as a woman, the master manipulators are in fact the biggest misogynists.

    Because allowing anyone to survive the attack would have left loose ends that he would surely have to deal with eventually.

    (Also, I can’t stand the plot device of the potential killer standing around explaining himself to his victim, giving someone else enough time to intervene. It makes for good television, I suppose, but still… if Ben wanted revenge, he should have used that killer instinct of his instead of trying to get his victims’ sanction or understanding. “I’m sorry to get you involved in this, but I’m sure you’ll understand I have to kill you because of the following…”)

    2. I will grant you that Ben is often demeaning to women, sometimes in the most brutal way possible. I just don’t think it’s so simple as, “it’s because he hates women.” It’s just another tool he uses to establish and maintain the upper hand – and he tries to achieve this goal (that of control) with every single person he meets, gender notwithstanding. Ben just seems too clinical about the way he goes about doing things for me to believe that his actions are motivated by a generalized hatred of women. Seems that he just views everybody as pawns to be manipulated according to his plan, by whatever means necessary.

  34. April 10, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    Checks off bingo square

    I feel like Lapidus-is the above some kind of codeword?

    In retrospect I should have said that “seeing Ben as primarily misogynistic is…”

    Again-does misogyny trump all his other evils? ben’s problem is not primarily misogyny; it’s pure selfishness (not in the positive Randian sense). Bottom-line selfishness is always misogynist, but is that all it is?

    Remember how he gets her boyfriend killed and then proceeds to gleefully rub her face into it?

    Yeah, I’d totally forgotten about that episode. That’s definitely a better example of misogyny-but he also killed a man in the process.

  35. April 10, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    I feel like Lapidus-is the above some kind of codeword?

    Yeah, it’s Feminist for “oh, how original, never heard that one before, and Lord knows I’m not tired of it!”

    Again-does misogyny trump all his other evils?

    Point out where I said it does? I said it’s one of his evils that particularly annoys and angers me.

    That’s definitely a better example of misogyny-but he also killed a man in the process.

    True, but I don’t remember him also ever telling a man that he was a piece of his property to do whatever he liked with.

  36. April 10, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    And he killed the man because of his misogyny. See???? Patriarchy Hurts Men, Too!!!!!

  37. April 11, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    I can see we’ll probably just go in circles on this one. Thus the problem with online commenting-we expect each other to accurately interpret the other person’s meaning. I overstated my point in response to a comment you overstated. You stated (if I understood you right) that his primary reason for killing Penny is because of his misogyny. My point was that I don’t think it would have mattered one jot whether Penny or Alex were female. I think it’s pretty clear that he would have reacted the same in either circumstance (saving Rousseau’s child or attempting to kill Widmore’s offspring) regardless of their gender.

    Again, I overstated my point by saying that you are reading misogyny into Ben when I really meant that you are reading misogyny into that one moment. Now if you think that was a Freudian slip revealing how misogynist I really am (that I would not admit Ben’s overall misogyny), I grant you that I am flawed and have the tendency towards misogyny too. I have to fight it within myself. I think every man has that propensity (and some women, too). Perhaps that disqualifies my opinion-that I would admit to being guilty of misogynist thoughts or decisions. But I would be lying if I said that I had never been guilty of treating women as objects, and I would be lying if I said that I am not tempted to do so still. I don’t want to, though, and I know men have been blind or indifferent to misogyny within themselves for as long as we’ve been around, so I’m open to correction.

    As far as Ben treating men as property-he has and does all the time. He killed Cesar just to… ???? He killed Locke twice. He had Walt kidnapped and then used Michael to free himself. He used a man (Sayid)_ to kill tons of men. He may not have ever told men that they were his property, but his action ring loud and clear on that one. He treats everyone like property. He is misogynistic, but I do not think that it is the cause of the majority of his evil decisions.

    And you’re right about misogyny hurting everyone. I’m not trying to downplay how evil misogyny is, but if you cry “misogyny” at every action, will it not undermine the meaning of the term when women’s rights really are being violated? Am I making any sense?

  38. ACS
    April 11, 2009 at 11:54 pm

    Is Ben’s treatment of people in general, including and especially women, presented as a positive or even a neutral character trait? Dude’s irredeemable. He’s murdered main characters, called for the murder of others, and watched owlishly as his own daughter got shot in the head.

    It’s a little problematic to say that misogyny can’t even be depicted in fiction, and not even in villains.

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