Episode Title: "Dead is Dead"
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.
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
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
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:
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!