Lost Round Table: “Dead is Dead”

We continue with our round-table discussions of Lost. This week, we’re joined by Bridget McGovern and Melissa Frain. As always, spoilers abound, so stay away from this post if you haven’t watched the latest episode of Lost, “Dead is Dead.”

Bridget: This week’s episode definitely followed through on the creepy, supernatural vibe established toward the end of last week’s show, with a healthy dose of Indiana Jones-style, Temple of Doom shenanigans thrown in for good measure. Benjamin Linus has always been one of the more divisive characters on Lost—people intensely hate him, love him, or love to hate him—and while this episode filled in more of his backstory than ever before, he still remains one of the more fascinating and enigmatic characters on the Island. As the roots of his longstanding feud with Charles Widmore were revealed, I was somewhat surprised at how sympathetic Ben was shown to be, especially compared to the tyrannical, bloodthirsty Widmore. 

The fact that Ben has a profound aversion against killing mothers and children wasn’t nearly as surprising to me (especially given his own tragic childhood) as the sincerity and earnestness which characterized his youthful devotion to the Island. It was such a far cry from the smug, twisted, Machiavellian Ben I’ve been so invested in for the last few seasons—and yet the plotting, sarcastic Ben Linus was still very much in evidence up until the end of the episode, when things just got straight-up weird. Hieroglyphics? Was that Anubis canoodling with the Smoke Monster beneath the temple? Was Alex a manifestation of the Smoke Monster, a ghost, or what? 

Of course, the more flawed, guilt-ridden, confused and generally human Ben seemed throughout the episode, the creepier and more self-assured Locke seemed to become. Their exchange in the jungle about how the tables have turned, now that Locke has all the answers and seems in tune with the will of the Island was satisfying, if a little obvious. If “dead is dead,” even on the Island, than what is Locke? A ghost? A god? Next week’s episode takes us back to the Seventies’ survivors, but looks like it will revolve around similar themes, centering on Miles’ ability to speak with the dead. So, just in case we were all starting to get too comfortable with the mind-bending concepts of time travel, we have to factor in the undead now. Thanks, Lost! I’m not really complaining—I just feel like I need to start making crazy-person charts on my wall to keep track of everything.

Also, I have no idea what’s going on with Ilana and the hostile, armed takeover of the smaller Island, but quite frankly, with all the narrative balls already in the air, I’m kind of irritated by the distraction of another plotline, with a group of new characters. My initial reaction was basically, “Shut up, stop hitting Lapidus, and get back to the people we already care about,” though I’m sure that will probably change as the plot unfurls…

Melissa: I felt the same way about the events with that horrible woman who kept hitting Lapidus. I was mildly intrigued—what lies in the shadow of the statue? Uh, excuse me?—but I almost wish they hadn’t even gone there this episode, since there really wasn’t enough time or information to get me invested. It just felt like a little less time we got to spend with, I don’t know…Desmond. Or someone.

But the top thing I’m wondering about this episode (every episode, really): WHAT IS THE DEAL WITH RICHARD ALPERT? At this point, we’ve seen him in the 50s, the 70s, and the present. In all of those times, he looks exactly the same. But remember that scene from a few seasons ago when he met Child Ben in the jungle? And he had that long hair and looked sort of grubby? Yeah, when was THAT? My first thought was that perhaps he was wearing some kind of disguise (remember the beard Mr. Friendly wore?), but then I thought about it a little more…and remembered that we’ve seen Richard have a conversation with Horace looking his regular clean-cut self. So…what purpose would a disguise serve if it’s not to deceive the Dharma Initiative? Anybody have any theories?

And now that I’ve brought that up…I’m really intrigued by the question of what Ben remembers (or doesn’t remember). When Richard took little Ben away last week to cure him, he said that Ben would have no memory of…something. But what something would that be? Tonight we heard Ben tell Sun that he didn’t know/remember that Sawyer et al were in the Dharma Initiative (there is, of course, the possibility that he was not being truthful). We also know that, at least as a child, he still remembers his father and the rest of the Dharma Initiative—he talks pretty coherently about it when he’s recovering from “being cured” and talking to Widmore. So…is he going to forget after he leaves their camp? (Worth noting, in any case, that in the present, Ben tells Locke that he was cured at the temple—so he does remember that part years after the fact.)

Anybody have a quicker brain than me and have this figured out already? Also: Do we really believe that Ben didn’t know Locke would come back to life? 

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