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?
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.
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.)
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.
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