Sunday, April 12, 2009

Dead is Dead

What a great episode. Oh man! I still have this tingly feeling all over my body. And its not even a tingly feeling of having to go to the restroom this time. Anyways, the episode was great because it was all about the mythology of the Island again. The show has two components two it that when one is featured, you forget for a moment the other and vice versa. This episode was all about the mythology aspect of the show. The science aspect of it (time travel, Faraday, equations) was nowhere in our minds. Ok so lets get down to business my children

  • Ben says he has come to be judged. Of course, you know it makes no sense to be judged for returning to the Island since he could simply avoid being judged by not returning, and thats all. So what WAS all that, that Ben told Locke in Season 4 that whoever moves the Island cannot come back?
  • Flashback to Ben and little Ethan going off to kill Rousseau. But he doesn't, since he sees her with a child (Alex). Instead, he takes the child and shows mercy to Rousseau. Now we now that Alex was born in 88(89?) which means this is pre-Purge which occured in 1992. This also means that Ethan at some point, defected way before the Purge. The whole scene of Ben showing mercy toward Rousseau and baby Alex is later mirrored when he meets Penny is about to kill her and then sees her son. Does this soft spot Ben have for children an indication of his infatuation of helping pregnant women give birth on the Island?
  • Ben returns and shows Widmore the baby which Widmore wants killed. Ben does not understand this and even questions whether this is something he, or Jacob want? Angrily, Widmore responds that everything that he has done, he has done it for the Island. This should sound familiar as this is something Ben has said in the past himself. Does this mean that just like Ben on some occasions did things on his own whims, without asking Jacob, "to protect the Island" even if it mean't doing bad things, the same things Widmore was doing? When Ben offered Alex to Widmore, so he can kill her, but he wouldn't (or couldn't)
  • Ben was clearly suprised about knowing Locke coming back to life. Question is, then why did he demand that the Jack take the body with them? Most likely, he didn't want to take him back, but Elloise Hawking cracked the whip and told Ben he must bring the body.
  • Locke pretty much figures out that Ben wants to be judged for the killing of Alex by the manly Keemy and not for breaking the rules and coming back to the Island. Ok, so still, why does he so want to be judged? Is that basically the only way for someone to return to the to be judged?
  • They meet up with Sun at the Barracks, and while inside, you get a glimpse of the risk boardgame. This is important because now it basically sets to rest the theories that the Barracks were in some alternative reality. That board game has been there since Sawyer and Hurly were playing it back in season 4 before the Barracks were attacked.
  • I am still confused as to how Ben does not remember the Losties from the 70's. As you recall, a younger Widmore tells Ben that he will soon join his father which mean Ben returns to Dharma. I am guessing that something happens and the Losties leave Dharma before Ben is able to return and live with Dharma for the next 15 years till the Purge happens.
  • We see finally how Ben summoned the Smoke unclogging the toilet. Not sure what it really was, but it seems to be some sort of opening that goes directly to the Temple perhaps.
  • Locke seems to know a whole lot more. In fact, as much as he tells Sun that he is exactly the same, Locke is clearly different. I have a feeling, that Locke has been reawakened via the Smoke Monster, just like Christian. He is un-dead, as the Producers say. He is one with the Island now.
  • Skipping forward just a bit, Lapidus gets back to the Hydra Island where Ilana has taken charge. She asks him "What lies in the Shadow the statue?" This is clearly a question made to identify team members, just like when Desmond asked Locke "What did one snowman say to the other" in season 2. This was to assertatain if indeed Locke was his replacement. Ultimatly Lapidus fails the questions and gets whoped. Ok, so what does this mean? Who is Ilana working for? I doubt it is Ben because in the beginning of the episode, Ben asked one of the crash survivors what they have in the box. More than likely, these "survivors" are working with Widmore, but we will have to see. So what is in the box? They way they are putting those staves in the box almost resembles the Ark of the Covenant. If you recall, in season 3, Ben asked Locke if he could imagine a box and whatever he would imagine, it would be found inside that box. Ok, so scratch that idea, because the Producers have already said the "Box" is just a metaphor for the Island itself :). I guess we will have to wait and see what is in that box.
  • Ok, so now, we go back, to a Flashback of where we see Widmore being banished. Now, I am still scratching my head with this because, I know it was an important piece of dialogue, but for the life of me, I can't see how it fits in with what happens later. So we learn that Widmore has broken the rules and fathered a daughter (Penny) with an outsider. Who is this outsider? Could it be Ellie? We have not seen her in these flashbacks, perhaps she was banished long before. If they were together before, it would make sense for him to want to leave the island to see her. So is this banishment the punishment for breaking these "rules?" And what are these rules? The rest of the conversation goes something like this:
Widmore: And what makes you think you deserve to take what's mine
Ben:"I won't be selfish, that I will do anything for this Island
Widmore: You won't sacrifice Alex.
Ben: If I remember, it was you that wanted Alex dead, not the Island

Widmore: I hope you are right, but if you aren't, and if the Island wants her dead, then she will be dead.
...and one day you will be standing where I am now and will realize you can't fight the inevitable

OK, so what is going on here? The conversation is important and a lot to chew on. Clearly, Ben sacrificed Alex for the Island, so Ben was serious that he would not be selfish and do anything for the Island. Seems also, that Widmore is basically telling us, that it is the Island that wanted Alex dead, and not him. How else do you understand the writers adding in "if the island wants her dead, she will be dead." So really, the questions are, why did Ben say that Charles "broke the rules?" Why did he even insist that it was Widmore that broke the rules when Ben entered Widmore's room and that after Ben would kill Penny, Widmore would wish he never changed the rules? Is it really Ben that is responsible for her death? Is it Widmore, or is it simply the Island? And if the Island wanted her dead, why should Ben be judged for it? The truth is, my head is hurting trying to piece ALL of this together so here goes. In reality, the Island DID want Alex dead. Widmore is no fool, and wouldn't simply say that. The fact that Ben was able to sacrifice Alex for the Island does not mean he SHOULD have. (This is actually going to connect to Mr. Eko soon). The whole Fate vs Free will played a huge part here because even later, Ben admitted to Locke in the Temple that it IS his fault. He CHOSE not to. Whether the Island takes her life or not, it does not obsolve Ben for the choice that he has made. I WAS thinking that the "rules" that Ben keeps harping at Widmore were simply Ben passing the buck over to Widmore. But that does not seem to be the case. Seems there ARE rules in play here but I just don't understand them yet.

Regarding Widmore's final comment about Ben eventually knowing that he can't fight the inevitable, I must admit I am lost to what that means now. Perhaps it is something for much later, maybe even the last season where Ben is perminetly banished.

  • Skipping to where Ben enters the temple- interestingly enough, the same exact place where Rousseau's men were taken-we see a hyroglypic of the God Anubis, and the Smoke Monster. Anubis was the god of the dead. Is the Smoke Monster used by Anubis to judge people on the Island or is it simply that ancient man made, after experiencing what the Smoke Monster can do, created these hyroglypics in an attempt to tag unto one of their own gods? As Ben approaches, the Smoke Monster appears and envelopes him and starts showing Ben memories of Alex (ie, the topic of judgement). Ben cries, and its over. The Monster disappears and the ghost of Alex appears. Ben takes responsiblity for his action in which case Alex says "I know" then grabs Ben and basically tells him he has to follow Locke from now on. Ben is now really happy that he gets to live. I am assuming he really thought he would die. So now, if anybody has been paying attention, you should remember that this entire scene is reminisent of when Mr. Eko was killed by the Monster in season 3's The Cost of Living. If you recall in an earlier episode in season 3, Mr. Eko was put face to face with Monster in which case we saw the same exact thing that happend to Ben. Images started to flicker in the Smoke Monster to Mr. Eko, and then it disappeared. In the episode, The Cost of Living Mr. Eko sees his brother Yemi (i.e, in our episode, it was Alex). Yemi askes Eko if he is ready (i.e. to be judged). Apperantly, the Monster (Yemi) does not like Eko's response, and he ends up killing him. Both Eko and Ben were judged in the same exact pattern, yet Ben lives, and Eko dies. Why? (In fact, in a flashback of Eko's, one of the women tells him he will be judged for what he did). The answer is that Ben admitted guilt, Eko did not. Eko said that he was not sorry, because he had to do what he had in order to survive. That he was not asked for the life he had, but was given it. Well Ben did not ask for the prediciments in his life, but yet he made certain choices. Choices that involved Alex being killed. Eko made choices and others were killed as well. Seems the Monster, or the Island perfectly understands that life throws you curve balls, but it expects you to take responsibility for it, and most of all, feel a sense of regret. Ben did. Eko did not and that is why he was judged to die.


Sue said...

A couple of things- Did you notice John's obcession with putting on and off his shoes? when on the small island, then on again....of course, they are Charles' shoes...also- John is missing when Smokie is summoned; missing when Ben thinks Smokie is around...Locke may be the smoke a humanoid....this could explain his deep sense of knowledge of the island......Just a theory.....I loved this episoder--and have been waiting very impatiently for your blog!!! Thanks!

Hanan said...

The interesting thing is I DID notice the shoe thing and I even wrote it in my initial notes. I thought there may be something there, but then decided that maybe I am looking too deep into it :P

It's not Charles shoes, its Christians shoes.

Anyways, yes, I do believe that the smoke monster is a part of Locke. I mentioned that he was reawakened by the Monster in the post. It is probably in the same sense how Ben was healed through the Monster. It is too early to know if he IS the smoke monster or a part of him. Yemi was the smoke monster. Alex was the smoke monster. Vincent the dog may be the Monster, but I don't think Christian is literally the Smoke monster. I think the producers have made a distinction between alive, dead (who the Smoke Monster can take form of) and the Un-dead.

Actually, it is interesting that when Ben summons the Monster and tells Sun that something is coming out of trees that he cannot control, ends up being Locke. So yes, I think that was a hint to some connection between the Smoke Monster

Sue said...

I meant "Christian"--I was just so tired...and those senior moments creep in...BUT- I can't get over how fascinating this whole series is..the writing, the characters..why are we so fascinated with it- I think part of it is that while it is only a TV show, it touches on a lot of things we struggle with as intelligent human beings....and it is very challenging--which most TV isn't....Thanks again for your blog--I really like reading it!