Friday, April 17, 2009

5.12 Dead is Dead

Summary and Spoilers

It’s a credit to Michael Emerson’s acting and the Lost writers that despite all of the evil acts that Ben has performed or ordered, I’m still not sure if he is evil, or exactly how evil he is – or at least if he is more or less evil than Charles Whidmore. Since this is a Ben-centric episode, we get to see a lot more of his character – and yet, I’m still not sure.

In flashback, we find out that Richard brought Ben the boy to the Temple, where the island made the decision to heal him. The island could very well have decided to let him die – or kill him. When Whidmore hears that Richard spared the life of this Dharma boy, he is unhappy – but he cannot argue with decisions the island makes.

Later, we see Ben when he is a little older, perhaps in his early 20s. Whidmore has sent him on a mission with a young Ethan to eliminate Danielle. Whidmore considers her a threat to the island. But Whidmore hasn’t told Ben about Danielle’s baby Alex. Faced with killing a mother, Ben opts out, but he does bring back the baby. Back at camp, Whidmore tells him to kill the baby. Ben refuses and tells Whidmore to do it. Whidmore just walks away. Okay, they’re both equally evil there, quite willing to use a baby as a pawn in their struggle to prove which one of them knows more about what the island wants. In many ways, they are like high priests, trying to interpret the same scripture.

Still later, Ben is able to banish Whidmore from the island at gunpoint. He has won the power struggle and convinced everyone that he knows more about what the island wants. Where does Richard stand in all this? The ageless eyeliner-wearing one doesn’t seem to get involved in this power struggle, always remaining close to the top of the command structure.

And Ben was evil on the mainland. Remember how he showed up to return to the island with numerous serious bruises? He got them while attempting an eye-for-an-eye retribution for Whidmore killing his daughter. Ben is about to shoot Penny, when once again a child (Desmond and Penny’s son) makes him stop. Ben will do many things, but killing mothers doesn’t seem to be among them. This gives Desmond time to jump him, stop him, and seriously injure him.

Ben is plenty evil enough in the present, too. He’s obviously shocked to see that Locke is still alive, but he tells Locke that he knew it would happen – that the only reason he killed Locke was because he knew this would get everyone back to the island and bring Locke back to life. But Ben also tells Sun that he had no idea that Locke would be alive again, and that he is terrified by this. This second revelation seems closer to the truth.

Locke, for his part, is serene – indeed, almost god-like. For most people, if they got a chance to confront the person who tried to kill them, they would go for that eye-for-an-eye type retribution. Locke is actually confronting the man that did kill him, and all he wants is an apology. Ben won’t even give him that, but Locke wants something else – he’s pushing Ben to return to the main island to face judgement. Ben initially says he will be judged for turning the wheel, bringing everyone back, and returning to the island. But Locke figures out the real reason: Ben will be judged for allowing his daughter Alex to be killed.

Ben has convinced the gun-toting Caesar that Locke wasn’t on the plane and is deranged. So when Ben and Locke are about to take a boat to the island, Ben makes it sound like he is going against his will. Caesar is about to stop Locke from going, but Ben has stolen his gun – and shoots him in cold blood. It’s an over-the-top response that was not warranted – there was no indication by Caesar that he intended to kill Locke – he was probably just going to detain and question him. But Ben tells Locke that he has just saved his life – and he offers this as an apology.

Back on the main island, Ben and Locke find Sun and Frank. Frank tries to get Sun to return to the other island, but Sun sticks with Ben, hanging on the possibility of finding Jin. Frank returns to the other island amid turmoil. It seems that some of the passengers, led by Ilana, have found a cache of guns and are now running things a little differently. When Frank can’t answer the "What lies in the shadow of the statue?" question, he is knocked to the ground with the butt of a gun.

Ben, Locke, and Sun go to the temple. Sun waits while Ben and Locke crawl beneath the structure. Alone, in a roomful of hieroglyphics indicating that the smoke monster is thousands of years old, Ben is surrounded by gray fog and images of the conflict that was part of his relationship with Alex. When the smoke monster retreats, Alex appears. She doesn’t look like a ghost (perhaps she inhabits the real world or lives in another timeline). Roughly, she pins Ben against a pillar, tells him to discard his plan to kill Locke, and instead to follow every word and command Locke gives. If he doesn’t do this, she says, she will hunt him down and terrorize him. Ben agrees and seems – on the surface - to be truly humbled.

Lost Quotes

Richard: He's just a boy, and he was dying.
Charles: Then you should've let him die.
Richard: Jacob wanted it done. The island chooses who the Island chooses. You know that.

Caesar: How you feeling, my friend?
Ben: Like someone hit me with an oar, but I'll live. edit »

"Sun, I had no idea it would happen. I've seen this island do miraculous things. I've seen it heal the sick, but never once has it done anything like this. Dead is dead. You don't come back from that, not even here. So the fact that John Locke is walking around this Island... scares the living hell out of me."
- Ben

Ben: You may want to go inside.
Sun: Why?
Ben: Because what's about to come out of that jungle is something I can't control.
[Locke walks out of the jungle]

Ben: May I ask you a question, John?
Locke: Shoot.
Ben: How is it that you know where you're going?
Locke: I just know.
Ben: I mean, how does that work, exactly?
Locke: How does what work?
Ben: The knowing. I mean, did it come upon you gradually, or did you wake up one morning suddenly understanding the mysteries of the universe?
Locke: You don't like this, do you?
Ben: What?
Locke: Having to ask questions that you don't know the answers to, blindly following someone in the hopes that they'll lead you to whatever it is you're looking for.
Ben: No, John, I don't like it at all.
Locke: Well, now you know what it was like to be me.

Ben: I knew it. I knew that this would happen.
Locke: Then why are you so surprised to see me?
Ben: Because it's one thing to believe it, John. It's another thing to see it.

Locke: Do what you say you were on your way to do. Be judged.
Ben: That's not something you want to see, John.
Locke: If everything you've done has been in the best interest of the island, then I'm sure the monster will understand.

Locke: Well, Ben, I was hoping you and I could talk about the elephant in the room.
Ben: I assume you're referring to the fact that I killed you.

Locke: If all I had to do is die, Ben, then why did you stop me?
Ben: You had critical information that would have died with you - and once you've given it to me - well I just didn't have time to talk you back into hanging yourself.

"You're in the habit of calling people "friend," but I don't think you mean it."
- Locke: [to Caesar]

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

5.11 Whatever Happened, Happened

Summary and Spoilers

When Jin awakens from his Sayid bashing, he finds the almost dead body of young Ben. He brings Ben back to camp and alerts other that Sayid is the culprit. Juliet tries to patch Ben up, but she can’t stop the bleeding, and the Dharma surgeon is inaccessible at another station. Sawyer asks Jack to help, but Jack refuses. Later, Jack explains to Kate that he already saved Ben once, at Kate’s request, because Ben was going to kill Sawyer. He says he won’t do it again.

This discussion with Kate takes place in a house where Sawyer has put Miles and his rifle in charge of keeping Jack, Kate, and Hurley under house arrest lest they talk to anyone. Hurley questions Miles about time travel. Kate gets fed up with Jack’s indifference, and she leaves, despite the earlier warning from Miles that he would shoot anyone who left in the leg.

Kate gives blood (she’s a universal donor) but that isn’t enough. Juliet suggests the Others may be able to help. Kate loads Ben in a van and drives to the border of the Dharma camp. Sawyer arrives soon after, but he isn’t there to bring her back – he wants to help her.

Sawyer disables the barrier fence, and together they bring Ben to Richard, who reacts as if he already knew that Ben was coming. Richard agrees to take Ben, but says he will never come back, he will forget all that happened, and he will lose his innocence. Kate agrees to those conditions.

Richard carries Ben into the Temple.

On the other island, big Ben wakes up in his weakened state and finds himself face to face with a very alive John Locke.

In flashback, Kate visits Cassidy and brings her money, saying it is from Sawyer (even though it isn’t). Cassidy wants none of it. She is still angry at Sawyer, and she is convinced that the reason Kate took Aaron was to help mend the heart that Sawyer broke when he did his cowardly dive out of the helicopter. Kate leaks a lot of details about what really happened on the island. Later, she leaves Aaron with Claire’s mother, and leaks even more details.


Miles says that time-traveling islanders like himself cannot change events that have already happened, because even though those events happened in the future, it is from their past. Hurley then wonders why Ben did not remember Sayid in the future. Miles doesn’t have an answer for this. However, later we learn (from Richard) that Ben will forget all that happened.

This doesn’t make sense to me and doesn’t gel with how time travel and the timeline is normally handled in fiction. Surely, if you travel back in time and do things differently, this would affect the future. I wonder why the creators have chosen the opposite path. Are they saying that nothing the time travelers do will change the future? Logical or not, it seems like a more boring strategy – I was looking forward to a different, Ben-free future where the Dharma people were not mass murdered.

Kate tells Claire’s mother that Claire is still alive. This seems like a big call – Claire is missing and presumed dead, isn’t she?

One of the Others suggests to Richard that before taking Ben, he should consult with Charles and Ellie. So in this time period, Widmore is still in a position of power with the Others.


Sayid has just spent a couple of years traveling around assassinating people. So why, when he had his chance to kill young Ben, did he shoot him from a distance and then run away? There was no one in the vicinity who was threatening him. I would have expected Sayid to fire a couple of shots into the head of young Ben; normally, that has a greater chance of guaranteeing death. Or is it possible that Sayid did not want to kill Ben?

Young Ben’s internal injuries would be exacerbated by a bumpy ride on a dirt road…so I’m not sure if Kate’s decision to move him was such a good idea. I suppose she had no alternative; Juliet stated he would die anyway.

Lost Quotes

Jack: I’ve already saved Benjamin Linus, and I did it for you Kate…I don’t need to do it again.
Kate: This is our fault; we brought Sayid back; we caused this.
Jack: No, when we were here before I spent all my time trying to fix things, but did you ever think that maybe the island just wants to fix things itself? That maybe I was just getting in the way?
Kate: You know, I don’t like the new you. I liked the old you who wouldn’t just sit around and wait for things to happen.
Jack: You didn’t like the old me, Kate.

Hurley: Let me get this straight, all this already happened?
Miles: Yes.
Hurley: So, this conversation we’re having right now, we already had it.
Miles: [claps] Yes!
Hurley: Then what am I gonna say next?
Miles: I don’t know.
Hurley: Ha! Then your theory is wrong!
Miles: For the thousandth time, you dingbat, the conversation already happened. But not for you and me. For you and me, it’s happening right now.
Hurley: Okay, answer me this. If all this already happened to me? Then why don’t I remember any of it?
Miles: Because once Ben turned that wheel, time isn’t a straight line for us anymore. Our experiences in the past and the future occurred before these experiences right now.
Hurley: [pause] Say that again?
Miles: [frustrated, hands Hurley his gun] Shoot me, shoot me please.
Hurley: Ah-ha! I can’t shoot you, because then if you die in 1977, then you’ll never come back to the island on the freighter 30 years from now.
Miles: I can die! Because I’ve already come to the island on the freighter! Any of us can die, because this is our present.
Hurley: But you said Ben couldn’t die because he still has to grow up and become the leader of the Others.
Miles: Because this is his past.
Hurley: But, when we first captured Ben, and Sayid, like, tortured him? Then why wouldn’t he remember getting shot by that same guy when he was a kid?
Miles: [pause] Huh. I hadn’t thought of that.
Hurley: Huh.

"Hello Ben. Welcome back to the land of the living."
- Locke to Big Ben

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

5.10 He’s Our You

Summary and Spoilers

If I had to choose a Lost cast member to ‘share a jail cell with’, my clear choice would be Sayid (Naveen Andrews). Almost every line he delivers in that quiet, powerful accent brings more to the script than is already there. And so I enjoyed this mostly Sayid-centric episode.

We learn more about Sayid’s past in this episode. As a child, he was willing to kill a dinner chicken at his father’s request, while his more sensitive brother was not. This earned praise from his father. Was this what led him to a life as a torturer? When he was on the island, he tortured Sawyer for information, then regretted it later. But when he left the island and his wife was killed, Ben pinned the blame on Widmore’s men, and Sayid trusted Ben – and became an assassin.

There’s no doubt that Sayid despises and distrusts Ben. Ironically, it is Ben as a boy who gravitates to Sayid in his cell, brings him sandwiches and a book to read, and, eventually, helps him escape. (This isn’t ironic for young Ben, who has no idea of the hardship he will cause for Sayid and his island-mates). Ben wants to leave Dharma and join the Hostiles, and he make Sayid promise to do that in exchange for freedom. Sayid seems to know that Ben will save him; he passes earlier on Sawyer’s offer to let him escape. Sayid is due to be executed, and at the time, his refusal to allow Sawyer to release him seems like a death wish. This is when he says that he now knows his purpose. Is it to die like Locke? Not exactly.

A flaming bus crashes into the barracks. The diversion (staged by young Ben, we would assume) allows him to sneak into the jail and free Sayid. As soon as they reach the jungle, they encounter Jin. Sayid knocks Jin out, then Ben receives his reward for allowing Sayid to escape: Sayid shoots and (we assume) kills him.

Speaking of Sawyer…James jumps back and forth between being concerned solely with maintaining his reputation in Dharma. Anything he is going to do to help Sayid will fit within those constraints. His plan is to have Sayid say he is a defector. This is a bad plan, and it’s lucky Sayid did not go along with it. It wouldn’t take long for this story to be exposed as a lie, especially if Richard were to return to the Dharma compound. Sawyer, to his credit, is ready to allow Sayid to escape when Dharma votes to execute Sayid. As mentioned before, Sayid turns down this offer (for reasons we learn later).

Jack, Kate, and Hurley have little to do in this episode. Kate has started working at the garage, despite having no knowledge of engines. Hurley is the one who tells Kate that Sawyer and Juliet are living together; Jack hid that fact.


Now that Sayid has killed young Ben, what will happen to the ailing Ben’s body in the present timeline? Will it cease to exist?

Will Ben’s death change the course of history? When he reached maturity, Ben orchestrated the mass murder of the Dharma people. What will happen to Dharma now? Will there still be a war with the Hostiles, and will the Hostiles win again in this timeline?

Lost Quotes

Sayid: I killed all those people for you, and now you’re just walking away?
Ben: You didn’t kill them me, Sayid. You’re the one that asked for their names. There’s no one else in Widmore’s organization that we need to go after.

Sawyer: Hit me in the face.
Sayid: What?
Sawyer: Go on, you owe me one anyway. So make it a good one. I want you to take these keys out of my pocket and let yourself out. Guard outside is Phil. He's a dimwit. So I reckon you can get his gun before he even realizes you're out. Just promise me you won't shoot him.

Ben: Sayid: And that’s why you’re here. You actually came all this way to suggest I kill this man [who is parked outside Hugo’s mental institution].
Ben: You don’t want to?
Sayid: What makes you think I want to?
Ben: Because, Sayid…to put it simply, you’re capable of things most other men aren’t. Every choice you’ve made in your life, whether it was to murder or to torture – it hasn’t really been a choice at all, has it? It’s in your nature; it’s what you are! You’re a killer, Sayid!
Sayid: I’m not what you think I am. I don’t like killing.
Ben: Well, then, I apologize. I was mistaken about you.

Juliet: It's over isn't it?
Sawyer: What's over?
Juliet: This. Us. Playing House. All of it.

Sayid: Where to now?
Ben: Nowhere. You're done.
Sayid: What do you mean, I'm done?
Ben: We're done. Andropov was the last one. You've taken care of everyone who posed a threat to your friends. It's been a pleasure working with you, Sayid.

Sawyer: How are you doing?
Sayid: A 12-year old Ben Linus brought me a chicken salad sandwich. How do you think I'm doing?

"Four years ago I ran away into the jungle and Richard found me. I said I wanted to leave, that I wanted to join you. So I've been patient. And if you're patient too, I think I can help you."
- Young Ben (to Sayid)

Sayid: Are you a professional?
Ilana: A professional what? You think I'm a prostitute. I'm not a professional anything. I just thought you looked sad. I like sad men.
Sayid: I'm sorry to hear that.

Sawyer: You got yourself a choice, Chief. Either you cooperate and join the party in Dharmaville or you're on your own.
Sayid: Then I guess I'm on my own.

Roger: What I can't figure out is how the hell you got caught. You Hostiles are supposed to be the kings of the jungle. How dumb are you that you got captured by these idiots.
Sayid: And yet you're the one who mops up after them.

Horace: I just spoke to the prisoner. We have a problem.
Sawyer: Why, what did he say?
Horace: Nothing. Which is what worries me. We need to find out why he violated the truce. Why the hell he would come into our territory. I'm just going to have to have Oldham do his thing on him.
Sawyer: That psychopath? No way.

Sayid: [looking at Oldham] Who is that man?
Sawyer: He's our you.

Oldham: Why were you in handcuffs when we found you?
Sayid: Because...because I am a bad man.

Sayid: You were right about me.
Young Ben: What?
Sayid: I am a killer.