Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Lost - "Dead is Dead"

Episode Title: "Dead is Dead"


Brian's Deeper Meaning Guess: Last week, the writers made sure that we understood one half of this time-traveling mumbo-jumbo - that "whatever happened, happened". Meaning that Young Ben always got shot by Sayid, Jack always refused to perform surgery to save him, Kate and Sawyer always brought him to Alpert, and Alpert always took him to the Temple. This concept was quite elegantly explained by Miles during his classic time travel conversation with Hurley last week. But Miles also referenced the other half of the equation - that although history is already written for all the members of Dharma, 1977 is now the present for our Survivors, meaning that they can very well die.


Which brings us to this week's episode title - "Dead is Dead". Just like last week, I think the writers are taking a pre-emptive strike against the over-obsessed theorists on the Internet, and beating us over the head with the fundamental truth about how time travel works on their show. If one of our Survivors dies in 1977, they're dead. Likewise, if someone dies in 2008, they're dead. But why are they making so sure that we understand this concept?


I'm guessing someone dies this week. Without understanding this concept, it's possible that the death would lose some of it's "punch". They don't want the audience to say "Oh - Jack died, but that's cool because it'll be just like Young Ben and he'll somehow survive. I mean, we know he lives until 2008 right?" WRONG. If Jack, Kate, Hurley, Sayid, Sawyer, Juliet, Jin, Miles, or Faraday die in this week's episode, they are DEAD FOR GOOD. Likewise, if Ben, Locke, Sun, Frank, Caesar, or Ilana die this week, they are DEAD FOR GOOD.


Makes sense?


Good - because the far more important thing to be discussing right now is "Who is going to die?" Let's revisit Deathwatch 2009! First, let's review the characters I would consider as "safe", and why:


Jack - we still don't know Jack's purpose in returning to the Island in 1977, and obviously need some more Jack / Locke interactions now that Jack is starting to shift towards Locke's point of view about "letting the Island take care of things". These scenes can't occur until after our Survivors jump back to 2008, which isn't going to be until the season finale (I'm guessing).


Juliet - as I mentioned last week, there are still tons of questions surrounding how much Juliet really knows, and I have to think at some point we'll get an episode explaining exactly how much she knows and what secrets she has been keeping. I don't think that episode is this week.


Miles - we still don't know the extent of his "powers" of talking with the dead, and he hasn't had the chance to use them on the Island to explain Jacob / Christian Shephard / Claire / etc. He's really safe.


Faraday - even safer than Miles. We haven't seen him for weeks, and know he will eventually sneak into the Orchid station to do... something. He's got a lot of story left to be told.


Hurley - much like Jack, we don't know Hurley's purpose for returning to the Island yet, how he knew about Ajira 316, or if he really does eventually find the radio tower and broadcast the Numbers. Also, the fan backlash from killing off Hurley would probably be unprecedented.


Sun - she has some "mission" on the Island, which many are assuming involves helping the 1977 Survivors return to the present. How, I have no idea - but it's clear that Sun has some work to do ahead of her. Work that won't be resolved this week.


Locke - technically, he might already be dead. But he is obviously of some greater importance to the Island and whatever great battle is forthcoming (based on the Others, Ben, and Widmore's interest in him). I think there's still a lot more for Locke to do on his "mission" - and that's he's going to be a key player in the supposed Season Six Battle for the Island.


Which leaves the following characters as having some element of "danger" surrounding them:


Kate - her backstory is wrapped up, she's shown that she has grown up and learned lessons from her experiences on the Island, and seems removed from the Love Rhombus. If it wasn't for her "mission" to find Claire, she'd have no major outstanding storylines on the show - and even that could be resolved by having Kate on her deathbed make someone (Jack) promise to bring Claire back to Aaron.


Sawyer - much like Kate, he's grown up over the past three years, learned some life lessons - how to fit in and not draw attention, how to love, how to be a badass head of security for a wacky cultish society, etc. It's precisely these type of character "developments" that worry me. I think he's still got plenty of story left... but it doesn't really seem like he has any major outstanding storylines. I could very easily see him going out in a blaze of heroic glory (maybe saving Juliet?)


Jin - yep, I'm the jerk who puts Sun on the "safe" list and Jin on the "danger" list. Sorry, but tragedies of love make for great television. Is there any reason why Jin should die? Absolutely not. But does he currently have any major ongoing storylines that would be lost without him? Nope. I think that if they were going to kill Jin, they would have done it with the Freighter explosion - so he's probably safe... but I don't see enough evidence to push him all the way to the "safe" category.


Sayid - he had his backstory effectively wrapped up two weeks ago, thinks he completed his "purpose" in coming back to the Island by shooting Young Ben, and is currently running around a really dangerous Island with no allies or supplies. It's not looking good for everyone's favorite Iraqi Torturer...


Ben - lastly there's Benjamin Linus. This week is a Ben-centric affair, which automatically puts him to the top of the list. Initially, I dismissed the idea of Ben dying... but the more I think about it, the more likely it seems. How ironic, after thinking that he was "killed" by Sayid two weeks ago, would it be if he was actually did die this week?! The previews for the episode hint that we're going to get most of the holes in his backstory filled in - from how he stole Alex to what he did at the marina when he "tied up some loose ends" before boarding Ajira 316. By my estimates, that leaves two main missing pieces from Ben's story:


1. What happened to his former pseudo-girlfriend Annie.

2. What happened between Ben and Widmore on-Island (including how he "tricked" Widmore into leaving).


The first one could easily be answered through some interaction between Young Ben / Annie / our Survivors over the remainder of the Season. Granted, that second one is a pretty big - but could be answered in a mega-revealing Charles Widmore flashback down the road (fingers crossed!). So maybe Ben's "mission" for the Island was simply to get the Oceanic Five back to the Island, and now that it's done, his work is complete. I guess I always thought that the "battle for the Island" would be between Ben and Widmore - but maybe it's actually going to be between Locke and Widmore!


Crazy talk, I know. The biggest argument against Ben being the death is that the wording of the episode "Dead is Dead" makes me think that the death will occur in 1977 (thus the need to beat us over the head that the death will stick in the episode title) - and we all know Ben lives until at least 2008. Based on the 1977 candidates on the list, it's looking bad for Sayid and Sawyer. So if I was forced to rank the candidates for Deathwatch 2009, I would go:


1. Sayid

2. Sawyer

3. Ben

4. Jin

5. Kate


Wow - that's a pretty all-star list of characters, including four that have been around since Season 1, Episode 1 and one who most would argue is the most interesting and best-acted character on the show. Lost writers, what are you thinking?!



Guest Stars: Nestor Carbonell as Richard Alpert, Tania Raymonde as Alex, Sonya Walger as Penelope "Penny" Widmore, Alan Dale as Charles Widmore, Jeff Fahey as Frank Lapidus, Sterling Beaumon as young Ben, Zuleikha Robinson as Ilana, Said Taghmaoui as Caesar, Melissa Farman as young Danielle Rousseau, Brad William Henke as Bram and Matt Hoffman as Jed.

Guest Star Breakdown: Based on the guest stars, we can confirm that we will revisit at least a number of different storylines -


1. Alpert and Young Ben inside the Temple (1977)

2. Ben's Interaction with Young CFL (late 1980s)

3. Some scenes involving Teenager Alex, since she is played by Tania Raymonde (2000ish)

4. Ben vs. Penny and Desmond (2008)

5. The Ajira 316ers (2008)

6. Locke and Ben going to the Temple (2008)


I assume that Widmore's inclusion will be on the other end of a phone call from Ben after his "interaction" with Penny and Desmond. Frank Lapidus's inclusion might mean we'll get some forward progress on the "Sun and Frank Figure Out Time Travel" - which sounds like a hilarious sitcom - but this episode already seems too packed to delve into that storyline as well - so maybe Frank will just appear in a Ben flashback when he boards Ajira 316. But the guest stars again seem to confirm this is going to be an in-depth look at the "major moments" of his life.


The other interesting detail is that no members of Dharma appear as guest stars this week. No Phil, Horace, Amy, or Ben's Dad. After spending three weeks focused almost entirely on the Dharma storyline, it looks like it might get a break this week... which almost eliminates any of our 1977 Survivors from Deathwatch 2009!


In fact, the only one remaining is Benjamin Linus.


That's strike two against him.



Episode Description: To atone for sins of the past, Ben must attempt to summon the smoke monster in order to be judged.


Episode Breakdown: Holy crap. That's gotta be the greatest episode description in the five year history of Lost. Let's break it down...

"To atone for sins of the past" - It's tempting to start thinking about stuff like the Purge and all the other perceived "wrongs" he has done over the years, as it provides a good base in the current 2008 Ben storyline for him to "relive" those moments in the past. They provide a logical "launching point" for the flashbacks... but I don't know if this makes any sense. If Ben is atoning for sins he committed before 2005, why wouldn't he have had to "pay" for them a long time ago? We've seen that he already summoned Smokey once (when the Freighters killed Alex), so one would think if Smokey had a beef with Ben's sins, he would have taken him out along with the Freighters at that point.


This kinda makes me think that the sins in question occurred between Ben turning the FDW in 2005 and Ben returning to the Island in 2008, which leaves two things:


1. Potentially killing Penny.

2. Returning to the Island.


Keep in mind, when Keamy killed Alex, Ben told Widmore that he "broke the rules". It's possible the Religion of the Island has an "eye for an eye" clause - but it's also possible that it was technically Keamy who killed Alex - not Widmore. But if Ben kills Penny, he's doing it himself, and might have to pay some consequences.


On the other hand, we've also been told that if you leave the Island, you can never come back. Perhaps in the Religion of the Island, Ben coming back to the Island after turning the FDW is an example of him "breaking the rules" and he needs to plead his case for returning or else face the consequences.


So apparently, in the Religion of the Island, killing outsiders, stealing babies, and manipulating people for your own benefit is totally cool... as long as you're doing it for the Island's well-being. But if you start acting on your own - following your emotions or looking out for your own best interests over that of the Island - then you've got to stand before the Island judge, jury, and executioner - the Honorable Smokey D. Monster.


"Ben must attempt to summon the smoke monster" - Will Ben need to return to his secret room in the Barracks to summon Smokey, just like he did last season? And what does the "attempt" mean? He was pretty successful last time. Is there a chance Smokey doesn't always come when called - or that Ben no longer has the same "connection" to the Island that allows him to call upon Smokey? I'm guessing it's the latter...



"in order to be judged" - I'm guessing we're going to get an Eko-style "scan" from Smokey on Ben, looking at what he has done over the past three years, and then determining what to do with him. Does he turn into a giant thumbs-up and allow Ben to go on his merry way? Or does he turn into a giant fist and get smashy with Ben? It's pretty clear that Ben knows he has done something wrong, or else I doubt he would go seeking out Smokey, knowing that there is a chance the interaction will end very, very poorly - but this might be his only chance to reclaim his title as Leader of the Others, which he probably views as being the most important thing in the world. If Young Ben truly is "brainwashed" in 1977 and suddenly puts the Island above all else, there really isn't an option for him. He could never live off-Island and be happy. Ever since he landed in Tunisia after turning the FDW, he's been solely focused on returning to the Island. Everything he's said, everything he's done in the past three years have been leading him up to this "moment of truth".


Either he'll live or he'll die - but he wouldn't have it any other way.


That feels like strike three to me.


Prove me wrong, Lost writers!


Happy Losting!



eagle44 said...

I think that "dead is dead" refers to something Ben will say to Locke, as in, "I know the island has healed you before, John, but DEAD IS DEAD," expressing his amazement and terror that Locke has been brought back to life, especially since Ben was the one who killed him... Whew, long sentence...

BloodyGamebreak said...

I also don't think that "Dead is Dead" necessarily means that someone on the island (in 1977 or 2008) will die. It might refer to Locke or even Penny.

Sam said...

I am guessing Ben goes to the marina and kills Penny, then gets beat up by Des, or Ben goes to the marina to kill Penny but Des intervenes and gets killed in the struggle. I am hoping Des avoids death, though.

davis said...

I think Ben killing Penny is almost too obvious. Part of me thinks he was doing something else at the marina.

Also I don't think that there will necessarily be a death tomorrow night. Episodes titles can be deceiving. I do think Ben will probably die soon, but I don't think that is going to come tomorrow night.

I agree with eagle44 - "dead is dead" will just be a line of dialogue from the episode, in regards to Locke.

Nabeel Beg said...

I agree, Desmond and Penny are actually the highest on the Deathwatch this week! And "Dead is Dead" is what Ben says in his call to Widmore referring to Penny. or perhaps referring to his own stolen and dead daughter.

Salvar said...

Don't think that if Ben's going to die, it has to be in the 70's! I think there's a good chance that he dies right there in 2008. First of all, the two remaining storylines that you mentioned all happened in the past--which means that there's still a possibility for them to be seen by the survivors, with young Ben. The one important storyline that you didn't mention is the one that is almost certainly going to be cleared up this episode--what do Ben and Locke have to say to one another? Yes, that's right--I'm suggesting that Ben might just die in 2008, only to stick around for a good portion of the rest of the season in the 70's. Now that would be weird.

Also, a big thumbs-up on the concept of Smokey turning into a big thumbs-up sign in the air. :D

Geez said...

In 316 Ben rings Jack to say he's been "sidetracked". Given this and how he looked it said to me that things didn't go as planned (i.e. he didn't kill Penny).

As to who's on death watch I don't think there'll be one this week - it'll be more about the concept (like "what happened, happened") - still I'm always wrong...

omanni said...

I don't believe that any of the main characters are going to die in this episode. I think the title "Dead is dead" has something to do with Ben inside the temple. Maybe "dead is dead" is part of some ritual etc. that Richard is going to do.

jack said...

The title of this weeks' episode is way too obvious for it to be Ben's...or any other popular characters' last show! I bet it's a red-hearring and, if I am wrong, little chance Ben gets' whacked.

orangejack said...

After reading your recap of why Kate could die, I realized that "dead is dead" could be there to reinforce the issue of Claire. I don't think it'll be this week, but it could lay some more groundwork for the rest of the season/series to help explain Claire...and others eventually

pete said...

Major continuity error in last weeks episode when Hurley and Miles were talking about the time travel rules. Miles says "once Ben turned that wheel, time isn't a straight line for us anymore."

How did he know that Ben turned a wheel? Or even that there is a wheel? Charlotte only mentioned a well, but even Locke didn't know what was going to be at the bottom. We presume that Faraday enters the Orchid in the last episode of the season and that's when Chang finds out about the wheel for himself, so it's not like anyone at Dharma knew about the wheel in last week's episode.

Anyone think that was a blatant error or careful wording? Miles could have said "once Ben did whatever he did to move the island, time isn't a straight line for us anymore."

Daniel said...

dang Pete, I remember him saying that, but didn't think anything about it. Seems too blatant to be a screwup. Maybe they're after the time when the FDW is discovered, while I thought they were before.

timcourtois said...

I think the "sin" that Ben has to atone for is that he wasn't supposed to be the one to turn the FDW - it was supposed to be Locke.

And killing Penny.

wgh said...

Maybe the sin is attempting to kill Locke... again.

Conventional wisdom says absolutely no way Ben dies this episode because he's a shoe-in to be a major part of the series finale. But with Lost, Ben could die here in the present and yet remain a player throughout the rest of the series. So who the hell knows.

It struck me that maybe people are miraculously brought back to life not because of Island Magic but simply because the "killing" takes place in their past (e.g. Little Ben)... I tried to figure out how to make this work for Locke, like Ben's experiences with our survivors is actually a Ben who came from the future, and now can't kill Locke because Locke is a part of that future. Or something.

Anonymous said...

Pete, this isn't really a continuity error. Even though I thought Locke mentioned it before they went back to the Orchid, it's possible that this exchange just wasn't shown. They had to talk about something on that long walk to the Orchid, and I imagine that part of that conversation would be why Locke thought they had to go there.

They probably just didn't film such a scene because it wouldn't give us, the audience, any new info.

Kurtis Rambis said...

long time reader, first time poster.

dead is dead? could whoever dies (if someone does die tonight) be the recepient of juliet's rifle shots while they were jumping through time... you know, the boat chase?

could juliet be the one to kill ben?

Daniel said...

FOOT, Locke didn't know there was going to be a wheel down there.

He didn't find out about it until Christian directed him, while in the cavern.

pete said...

I think the writers are getting sloppy with the story. This gaffe of Miles knowing about the wheel and the whole Olivia thing really bother me. Olivia was so important in the Man Behind the Curtain that she appeared when Ben was born and was his teacher when he was about 10 or so but now she's nowhere to be seen and Horace is shacking up with Amy.

The Cabin Fever enhanced episode confirms that Olivia was his wife when they stopped to help Ben's dad. http://lostpedia.wikia.com/wiki/Cabin_Fever-Enhanced_transcript

Rebecca said...

"the Honorable Smokey D. Monster." LOL I love this show & your posts about this show. What will we do when it's all over? :tear: I am SO excited about tonight's epi. Though I still feel like the slow kid in class when it comes to the "whatever happened, happened" thing. If someone in 1977 died would they be "erased" from everything in 2008 or is that the past even though it's the future?? Now my head hurts.

Jason said...

Been sort of said before, but I think it refers to Locke being dead, but alive on the island. Something to the effect that if Locke had to leave the island again, he'd be dead. He was dead and is dead. He's only alive on the island b/c he has work left to do. Ben isn't dying.

J-Bos! said...

When I first read that title I thought it might have meant that the concept of life and death on the island isn't like the 'real world'. Like Ben sayign to Locke "But you're dead??" and Locke saying "Ben, dead is dead."

So "Dead is Dead" as in "disco is dead" or "Dead is soooo 1998" (that's my teenage girl impression). I dont know if that makes any sense the way I explained it...

Reading the episode description I doubt that's the case but thought it would be a Dartlon play on words to explain Locke not being in a coffin.

Geez said...

pete - you may be right about Miles & FDW (but time will tell) - but it reminded me of another possible error in early S5 eps where Daniel Faraday talked about what Ben Linus might have done at the Orchid. How did Daniel know about all that when he was busy at that time ferrying people to the frieghter? Anyone?