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Ben Linus. Brian K. Vaughn. Like this could possibly have not been awesome. Throw in Ben’s nemesis John Locke and Vaughn’s writing partner Elizabeth Sarnoff and you had an instant classic of a “Lost” episode, entitled “Dead is Dead.” You crave answers? The episode delivered. You wanted even more mystery? The episode delivered. You want to know what lies in the shadow of the statue? Um, well, you might have to wait a bit on that one.

This one’s LONG, but so much happened I didn’t want to skimp. Too many crucial things went down to try and cut corners. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to ice my wrists until next week’s episode.

4) In Short

“Who needs Judge Judy when you’ve got a smoke monster handy?”

8) Now

Ben wakes up, stunned to see Locke before him. He claims that he knew Locke would live, but is shocked to actually see it in person. When Locke asks why Ben was trying to go to the mainland, Ben replies that he’s going there to be judged for going back to the Island. Judged by whom? I believe we call him the Monster. (Ms. Smokey if ya nasty.)

Back on Hydra Beach, Ben sees Ilana and a few others huddled around a large metal crate. Ilana tells him it’s filled with things that need to be moved. Man, they are so not getting a UHaul. When Ben offers his help, Random Bearded Dude says they’re covered. Ben moved onto Caesar, who’s eyeing Locke wearily. Ben manipulates Caesar’s concern that John was never on the plane, and before long, the two have a pact to watch over Ol’ Baldy.

In the Hydra Station, Ben goes rooting through a desk in the main room and finds a photograph of himself and Alex. Locke enters and notes they are standing in Ben’s old office. He notes the “corporate” nature of such a place of rule. Locke suggests they talk about the “elephant in the room”: Ben’s killing of Locke. Ben explains that it was the best way to get everyone to come back. After Locke had failed in his mission, Ben knew as well as Locke that his death was the best way to achieve it. But, Locke had critical information Ben needed; once obtained, Ben decided he didn’t want to waste time waiting for Locke to kill himself all over again. Is it wrong that I laughed at that last bit? Probably.

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After all that, Locke wryly notes that all he wanted was an apology. Nevertheless, he agrees to help Ben on his judging journey. Ben thinks that’s a bad idea, but Locke calmly notes that if Ben indeed has done everything in the best interest of the island, then the Monster will surely understand. Once on the beach, Caesar isn’t too thrilled about Locke’s plan to go to the mainland. Caesar insists he’s running things, and wants some answers about Locke’s intimate knowledge of the Island. Caesar reaches into his bag, but doesn’t find what he’s looking for. Turns out Ben stole said object: the sawed off shotgun, and blows Caesar away. Et tu, Linus? “Consider that your apology,” he says to Locke. Somewhere in Los Angeles right now, Saïd Taghmaoui is stilling yelling at his agent.

Ben and Linus arrive at the same dock that Sun and Lapidus previously docked. Interesting role reversal, with Locke calm and sarcastic and Ben semi-struggling to keep up with the comings and goings around him. Ben informs Locke that his old house is the only place he can summon the Monster, at which point he’ll be forgiven or Eko’d. Locke thinks Ben’s lying about why he’s being judged; he thinks Ben wants to be judged for killing his daughter, not returning to the Island.

The two enter New Creepington at night. Locke wants to know whose idea it was to move into the Barracks from the jungle. He doesn’t think it’s something the Island would want. Ben’s annoyed that Locke pretends to have any insight into the Island’s wants and needs. Just then, a light goes on in Alex’s old room, and yea, I jumped a little when this happened. Don’t judge. Ben moves slowly towards the house, and once inside, passes by the Risk board where Hurley once explained to Sawyer how Australia is the key to everything. Ben opens Alex’s door and finds…Sun. Didn’t see that coming. Lapidus comes in soon after, and shows Ben the reason they are in his house: the 1977 Dharma Initiative class photo. Ben seems surprised to see familiar faces in it, claiming he has no memory of them. Sun explains that Christian told them to wait in Ben’s house for John Locke, if she had any hope of finding Jin again. When Lapidus notes they weren’t exactly holding their breath for a dead man to show up, Ben points to the Reincarnated Man behind Window #1.

Locke catches Sun up to speed on post-donkey wheel events during the commercial break, which saves us a lot of exposition. Thankee kindly, Locke. Sun’s more than a little freaked out by the intel, and Lapidus is less than thrilled by the Less than Dynamic Duo in the bungalow. He asks Sun to come back to the plane in hopes of fixing the radio. Locke insists if she leaves, she’ll never find her husband again. But does he know how to find Jin? “I have some ideas,” he replies, directly echoing Ben’s line to Jack over Bentham’s coffin at the end of Season 4. Sun stays behind, and Lapidus returns to the remaining survivors aboard Ajira 316.

After Lapidus leaves, Locke notes that Ben has some work to do before they can find Jin. Ben takes a deep sigh and moves the secret bookcase which leads to the hidden door which takes him to the false wall which reveals the Hieroglyphic Wall of Awesome. The camera takes us inside for the first time, where Ben grabs a lantern, crawls through what looks like a man-made tunnel, and reaches into a shallow, muddy pool of water. He reaches around for…something, eventually turning something that makes the water drain into a tiny hole in the earth. “I’ll be outside,” Ben says. So, is he the Island Protector, or the Island Roto Rooter guy?

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When Ben returns, he discovers that Locke is gone, much to his surprise. Sun still can’t wrap her head around Locke’s return, rationalizing that Jack must have lied to get them all to come back. A more bug-eyed than normal Ben insists that Jack didn’t lie. Moreover, he confesses that Locke’s resurrection is unprecedented, even on the Island. Contrary to what he told Locke earlier, he tells Sun he didn’t for one second think Locke would be alive upon returning to the Island. Sure, the Island can heal people, he tells her, but “dead is dead,” even there. Thus, New Locke scares the hell out of Ben.

Just then, Ben and Sun hear rustling in the jungle. He tells Sun to go inside, warning her he can’t control what’s about to come out of the jungle. And out…pops…Locke. Hmmmmm. Locke thinks that if the Monster won’t come to them, they should go to it. Ben says he only knows how to summon it, not where it actually lives. Locke surprises him by saying he knows. Boy, this John Locke fellah’s acting all sorts of funny, ain’t he?

On the porch, Locke fashions a few torches and tries to assure Sun that he’s not a zombie. Well, he never says “zombie,” but that’s the gist. Locke leads the way as Ben glumly takes up the rear. Along the way, Ben peppers Locke with questions, as Locke vaguely answers. After a few exchanges, Locke notes the irony of the role reversal: Ben as the ever-questioning, always following sap, Locke as the obtusely responding, always leading know-it-all. Soon, they come upon the location Locke mysteriously knows for reasons completely unclear: the Temple. Or rather, as Ben explains, the wall around the Temple a half mile out so intruders and paparazzi can’t see it. 

As Ben looks for a way over the wall, Locke notes that they are going down the hole in Montand’s Corner. Think of this as his little place in the Hundred Acre Wood from Hell. Before going down, Ben asks Sun for a favor: should she ever leave the Island, tell Desmond Hume he’s sorry. Um, what? Sorry for what? IF YOU HURT MY DES, I WILL KILL YOU WHERE YOU STAND! Oops, I typed in my out loud voice again. Sorry.

Upon returning to Hydra Island, one of the survivors informs Lapidus that Ilana and three others have found guns and declared martial law. When he confronts her, she asks that age-old chestnut, “What lies in the shadow of the statue?” I’m pretty sure they ask that on the eHarmony questionnaire. When Lapidus fails to answer, Ilana clocks him with the butt of her gun. She tells Random Bearded Guy that it’s time to grab the others and tie Lapidus up; he’s apparently coming with them.

In Montand’s Corner, Locke lights the torches and walks with Ben into the halls underneath the ground. Ben admits to Locke that he was right: he could have given himself up to Keamy and spare Alex, but he didn’t do it. So he’s there to be judged for killing Alex. He walks a few steps ahead of Locke, and falls through the floor to yet another sub-level of the edifice. Locke offers to find something to help Ben up.

Right after Locke leaves, Ben hears something. Hmmmm. He follows the sound inside a room he appears he’s never seen before, gazing upon hieroglyphics along support beams until he finally comes upon…well, my best guess is some sort of altar. In the middle of the wall above it, we finally see what appears to be the Statue reaching out to the smoke monster. Aww, the ancient civilization even gave Smokey a face! Adorable. See “Mythology” below for more on this image.

Speaking of below, below this etching lies a small, rectangular sheet of rock with symmetrical holes seemingly bored into it. Out of these holes pours the monster, which surges onto the floor and eventually envelops Ben in a cloud of smoke and light. Upon the wall of smoke, Ben watches several scenes from his life between himself, Alex, and Widmore. It’s unspeakably odd and undeniably gorgeous to watch this: the monster as judge, jury, and potential executioner.

Oddly enough, the monster soon returns to its original place, and as it makes its final bellow, Ben’s torch lights of its own accord. But Ben’s not alone. Behind him? Alex. And folks, seeing her is why I refuse to spoil myself on any bit of this show. I screamed for joy, I’ll admit it. Of course, it’s not really Alex, it’s…something else. He apologizes to her, claiming its all his fault. She completely agrees, and then throws him against a support beam. She knows he’s already planning to kill Locke again, and vows to destroy him unless he starts to follow Locke without question from now on.

Alex lets the terrified Ben go, and when he opens his eyes, she’s gone. But Locke’s back! And he’s got rope! Hey, what a coincidence! When Ben stumbles into sight, Locke what happened. “It let me live,” Ben replies, looking at Locke with a mixture of awe and fear and perhaps a touch of regret that he’s still actually alive.

15) Then

A strapping young lad coming riding into the Others’ camp on a horse. HUZZAH! He’s plenty mad at Richard for bringing Ben to the Temple. Richard claims that he was merely fulfilling Jacob’s will, and that the Island chooses whom the Island chooses. This stops this Renaissance fair reject cold in his tracks.

Oswyn of the Low People visits Ben inside one of the tents. Ben can’t remember the circumstances under which he arrived in the tent, but knows that he wants to stay with the Others rather than return to life with his Dad. Piers Plowman explains that there’s no reason Ben can’t be one of them, yet also live with the Dharma Initiative. He tells Ben he’s amongst friends, and also reveals his name: Charles Widmore. Personally, I think “Oswyn of the Low People Corporation” sounds better. That’s just me, though.

In 1988, Ben and his young padawan Ethan eye Danielle Rousseau’s tent. Ben orders an eager Ethan to stay behind, and wearily walks up to the tent. Before he can shoot, he hears Alex crying. In his surprise, he knocks over Danielle’s music box, which wakes her up. She accuses him of spreading the infection that killed her crew. While holding her at gunpoint, he starts to take Alex. When she approaches, he shoots the ground next to her. He tells her if she wants to live, she should never come looking for Alex. Also? Should she ever hear whispers, she should run the other way. Because the whispers are all shy and stuff.

Ben returns to the Others’ camp, where Richard sits at Widmore’s right-hand side. Just noting. Ben admits there was a complication with executing Widmore’s plan. Not only does Ben think Danielle poses no threat, but seems pretty miffed that Widmore left out the part about her having a baby. Widmore insists that every decision he makes in the best interest of the Island, but Ben has trouble seeing how killing Alex is part of Jacob’s plan. He then tries to hand Alex over so Widmore might kill her himself, but Widmore merely walks away. Richard makes this great, “I wish I had a long, thick moustache so I could stroke it thoughtfully right now,” face as he looks at the man who stood up to the Island Leader Pretend.

Ben pushes a young Alex on the swings in the Barracks, post-Purge. Richard walks over and notes that the submarine is leaving. Richard insists that Ben doesn’t have to see “him” off, but Ben says he does. Upon reaching the dock, we see Charles Widmore being led away by two armed guards in bulletproof jackets. Ben drops some interesting tidbits: about Charles’ regular visits off the Island, about having a daughter with an “outsider.” To Ben, these are things that break the “rules.” Ben insists his rule will be different, that he won’t be selfish and will protect the Island at all cost, no matter the sacrifice.

Charles notes Ben wouldn’t sacrifice Alex. Ben insists Charles, not the Island, wanted Alex dead. Charles hopes he’s right; if not, if the Island wants her dead, she’ll be dead, he tells his nemesis. At that point, he continues, Ben will be standing right where Widmore is now. “I’ll be seeing you, boy,” he sneers at Ben before leaving in the sub.

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In present-day Los Angeles, Ben makes a phone call to Charles Widmore. Guess he’s in Ben’s Fave Five. As Charles walks out of his office building in England, Ben announces that he’s going to succeed where Widmore failed and return to the Island. You know, right after he kills Penny. Ruh row, here comes the scene “Lost” fans have been dreaded for weeks. Ben gazes upon Des’ boat, aptly titled “Our Mutual Friend.” Named afte the last book Des vowed to read before dying. Sonofa…

As he approaches the boat, he’s too busy staring at Penny to see Desmond unloading groceries right behind him. When Des asks what he’s doing there, Ben shoots him on the right side of his chest through a bag of groceries and calmly but steadily walks down the pier. He apologizes that she’s caught up in this, but he’s there for revenge. Just then, Little Charlie emerges, and Ben starts having all sorts of mixed emotions. Flashbacks to 1988, perhaps. In his daze, Des manages to sneak up, tackle him, beat the holy hell out of him, and toss Ben’s bloody body into the Pacific. Des lives! Pen lives! Little Charlie lives! And now I can breathe again. Don’t you dare do that to me again, “Lost.” I’m only human. Flesh and blood. A man. Part of a Human League, if you will.

16) The Moment

Seeing the statue and the monster having a cup of tea. Or whatever the hell they were doing in that etching.

23) The Mythology

I’m kind of at a loss as to how to even try and unravel all that immediately after watching. But hey, that’s kind of my job, so let’s do our best, shall we?

Ben once took orders from Widmore! This has always been assumed, but never completely confirmed. Can we assume Widmore held exactly the same position of power as Ben eventually did? I still say no, as Richard taking Ben to the Temple seems to indicate that Charles held more of an interim type of role. (Which according to my wife would make Ben akin to the Dauphin of France) But since it takes a long process by which one becomes the true leader, Widmore still had some authority over Ben. However, name me another person who could have openly disobeyed the Others’ interim leader in public and gotten away with it? That little exchange indicated to me that while not yet possessing the keys to the Island, said keys were not in Charles’ pocket.

Widmore enjoyed the outside world!
Ironic that a man who later had more passports than Jason Bourne and allowed Tom Friendly some super sexy time with his boy toys in Manhattan once railed against Widmore for getting a little sumthin’ sumthin’ off Island. But clearly something else was the real reason that Widmore got banished. Perhaps he ordered the Purge, which explains Ben’s almost terrified look upon pulling off his gas mask in “The Man Behind the Curtain”?

We know why Danielle was scared of the whispers!
Ben warns her to run away if she ever hears them. However, he doesn’t actually explain what they are. Damnit. Interesting, nonetheless, to see Ben essentially buy Danielle and Alex sixteen years of life they would have not gotten otherwise. Course, the question is: do you think the Island just got its wish 16 years later, or did Widmore? Discuss below!

The Statue and Smokey Go Waaaaay Back! Like, all the way. When Darlton indicated that the monster predated the DI, they were NOT kidding. Much more analysis of this next week on the blog. There’s something symbiotic about their relationship, and the monster itself might be the answer to Ilana’s riddle. Speaking of…

Ilana = Robert! Least, that’s my best guess now. Somehow, her and her three compadres got “infected” in the same manner as Danielle’s crew. How? I’m guessing the answer lies inside that big honkin’ box. Since that scene came completely from left field, I’m letting things happen. But at least I think we finally know who the hell was shooting at Locke and Company back in “The Little Prince.”

Dharma built the Barracks in a really interesting spot! Here’s a brain teaser: did Dharma build the Barracks in a place where a super scary, super sentient, almost omnipotent monster could be summoned on purpose, or did Ben and the Other retrofit it almost like a utility company and “hooked up” a connection to the Temple post-Purge?

Locke’s potentially super duper special! According to Ben, he’s the first person to cheat death, even on the Island. Then again, the show almost bent over backwards to show Locke acting shady throughout the hour. So, is he special? Is he like Kate’s Horse? More like Cabin Christian? Some form of the Monster? Or just another version of whatever Alex is: a representation of the island in a form the viewer can understand? (Hands up, who remembers “Contact”?) Or, here’s my favorite iteration: what if Locke’s got a little Jacob in him now? We know that dude was all-powerful, but fairly incorporeal. Just a thought.

The Hume Family is Alive! This isn’t mythology; I just like saying it because it makes me happy. However…

The Island isn’t done with Desmond! Hawking tells this to Desmond as his leaves the Lamp Post. Anyone think the incident on the marina is it? Methinks not. Can’t help but wonder if the marina incident actually forces Des to join forces with Widmore to return to the Island. Together. Oh baby.

42) Random Things

  1. Oh, Caesar, we hardly knew ye. Seriously, that’s it for that character? Can’t be, right? And what’s up with television in the past week? We’ve had shocking, out-of-nowhere deaths on “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles,” “House“, and now “Lost.” Getting pretty brutal out there.
  2. Things I want to see filled in later: why Widmore was really banned, where Locke went during Ben’s Drain-O summoning, what’s in Ilana’s Big Box of Crazy, a full view of the Temple.
  3. I think the Risk board in Ben’s bungalow confirms that New Creepington exists in the same timeline as Seasons 1-4 on the Island. In fact, this week took great pains to show how “whatever happened, happened,” down to adult Ben confirming his time in the Temple as a child. Ben’s memory loss is basically the way Darlton are seeking to avoid paradox. Some might call it cheap, but hell, it’s working, isn’t it? I’m thiiiiiis close to tossing in the towel on alternate timelines, but simply can’t. Two words: Faraday. Hume.

108) In Summary

Just a masterful episode. I don’t like to rank episodes upon initial reactions, but the streak of incredible Ben-centric episodes continued tonight. To me, only Widmore’s banishment didn’t have me on the edge of my seat, as the rest of the hour flew by in seemingly seconds. And hey, you Hollywood types: if you aren’t already working on a series starring Terry O’Quinn and Michael Emerson for the Fall of 2010, you’re idiots. These two are absolute gold together. That’s why the Island didn’t send them back to 1977: it wanted to see them play off each other as long as possible.

What did you think about tonight’s episode? Did it live up to the hype, or fall under the weight of unfair expectations? Should Locke be trusted anymore? And what do YOU think lies in the shadow of the statue? Leave your thoughts below!

Ryan also posts every 108 minutes over at Boob Tube Dude. He invites you to join the hundreds already in Zap2It’s Guide to Lost Facebook group. He also encourages you to subscribe to the Zap2It’s Guide to Lost Twitter feed.