Thursday, 16 April 2009

Dead is Dead for John Locke

So, the mystery revealed, the title of this weeks episode of Lost is about not Ben, but Locke (shoulda seen that one coming I guess), however it snapshotreally answers another, maybe more important question, while posing a whole host of others.

This week’s episode was by far and away the best episode so far this season. Although the title might be about Locke it is Ben who gets centre stage. So far in Lost history I can only think of two Ben central episodes and only one of those is a Flashback episode. In Season 3’s “Man Behind the Curtain” we learn that Ben hates his father and will eventually grow up to kill him, in this episode we see how he gets there.

As with a lot of this series’ flashbacks, some of what we learn here is already assumed and in most cases assumed correctly. For example we already knew that Ben stole Alex as a baby (it was even in the ‘Previously on Lost’ for this episode.). Another problem I have with Flashbacks in this series is the inclusion of Characters as exposition. What I mean by this is that characters are put into scenes where they don’t necessarily fit because it saves time on explaining their back story. For example why snapshot(0) would Ben take Ethan with him when Charles sent him to assassinate Rousseau? Ethan is a child and certainly shouldn’t be killing anyone. Therefore i can only conclude he was there so we could see he had joined the others as a child (and as yet another echo of seasons past, when Ethan will lead the hunt for Claire’s baby). What isn’t explained is how or why. Did Ben bring him over? Or is he still living in Dharmaville like Ben but moonlighting as an Other? Has Amy died and so young Ethan has been orphaned and taken by the Others? Or is he one of those “the Island chose”?

Twice during this episode Charles Widmore’s authority is undermined. Firstly Richard is admonished for saving Ben, however Richard simply tells Charles, “The Island chooses who the Island chooses” and then later Ben defies him by not killing baby Alex. So did the Island choose Alex too? Did it appoint Ben Linus as her protector? And if Alex and Ethan were chosen then why did the island allow them to be killed? Is the answer in the title? Dead is Dead? As Ben will later snapshot(1)reveal, ”Dead is Dead and there is no coming back from that, even here.”

And of course, Ben’s baby snatching habits continued long into adulthood and maybe we should ask the question what were his true intentions with Aaron? After all, Charles doesn’t answer the question “Is killing this baby what Jacob wants?”… What if it is? We certainly couldn’t be sure if there are any child births after this point on the island. After all Charlotte/Miles/Daniel and Ethan (all possible island births i can think of) were all born before baby Alex and assuming no pregnant ladies crashed on the island in the intervening sixteen years then Aaron would be the first baby since Alex and if Jacob wants no new human life on the island, then maybe Ben was really trying to kill Aaron, on Jacob’s orders.

And no Ben-centric episode would be complete without a mention of the Rules. The rules, the glue that holds the very fabric of time (and the show) together. We learn how Charles gets exiled. It couldn’t be all that long before the 815 plane crash. Alex is maybe six, so ten years (although Charles claims its nearly twenty) and Desmond crashed there three years before that. (Side note: I wonder, i can’t remember, but if Widmore’s yacht race was an annual thing he could have been using it to find the island. I wonder if he knew what had happened when Des didn’t return? snapshot(2) Did he even know that Des would go, after all he seems to have foresight and is Libby in anyway connected to Widmore, as it was her boat?)

Anyway, Charles is kicked off the island because he left it often and had a child with an outsider. Personally i can’t blame him, the choice of Others is quite slim. Now if this was ten years before the 815 crash and we trust IMDB to tell us Sonya Walger (Penny Widmore) ‘s true age then that would mean it took the Others 24 years to realise this… (23 years would be a nicer number, lets pick that, then people can read additional meaning into it.) Seriously? Banishing him for a crime he committed 24 years previous?

And once again, as he is being banished Charles brings up Alex. Ben says “I will sacrifice everything for the good of the Island.” to which Charles replies “You wouldn’t sacrifice Alex.” Ben refutes this saying “It was you who wanted her dead, not the island.” bringing us to the crux of the matter “I hope you’re right Benjamin, because if it is the island who wants her dead, she’ll be snapshot(3) dead… and you’ll finally realise you cannot fight the inevitable.”

Well Charles was right, but what is the inevitable? Is it that Ben is to be replaced, that he is not the messiah the Others believe in? After all we have to assume that both Ben and Charles were fed the same story about being chosen that Locke was, it would be the only way to explain why Richard would be so subservient to them.

In Ben’s final flashback he goes after Penny Widmore, just as he promised Charles he would. Just before we get this flash Ben asks Sun to find Des and tell him he’s sorry, leading us to believe that he killed Pen and that Des survived the attack. Somewhat wishful thinking on Ben’s part because he shot Des in the abdomen wheresnapshot(4) he could puncture any number of vital organs, that wouldn’t necessarily kill the Scotsman out right . Ben however cannot kill Penny when he sees young Charlie and Desmond flies into an adrenaline fuelled rage and pommels Ben into the beaten and blooded fellow we see boarding the plane.

So Penny and Desmond(?) survive, hopefully to return in season six, maybe with young Charlie in tow. Meanwhile in Island time, Locke and Ben flee back to the main island, after Ben kills Caesar with a shotgun, who he had befriended mere moments earlier. I wonder if the name Benjamin can trace its roots from Brutus? After all Lost is not afraid to draw on mythology for it muse. In fact, Lost is menagerie of influence, which has caused snapshot(5)it to become aimless in theological comparisons. I digress.

Ben is returning to the Island to be judged and Locke it seems has been chosen as his spirit guide, somewhat akin to Eko and Yemi. They meet up with Frank and Sun and Frank abandons them and returns to Ilana only for her to pull a gun on him. Poor Old Frank, glad to see the beard returning, he looks so odd clean shaven. So have the 316er’s already turned all Lord of the Flies, or is there a dark mystery at work here? My vote, dark mystery!

Returning to Ben, he and Sun have a heart to heart where Ben mutters the immortal words “Dead is dead, you don’t get to 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.” So Dead is Dead? Well that certainly puts the kibosh on so many theories, that for example Jin, Locke and Rose are all dead, which is why they appeared cured. It also supports Lindelof and Cuse’s insistence that Christian Shepherd is dead and therefore by extension so too is Locke, so who the hell is walking about the snapshot(7) island? Is Christian really just Christian, as Locke is Locke? Have we therefore not actually met Jacob? How is the Island able to manifest corporeal bodies such as Locke, Christian, Dave, Kate’s Horse, Horace and now in this episode Alex? And why can it only become dead people? Even worse why can it’s reach extend off the Island in the case of Hurley (who has seen Anna Lucia, Charlie, Eko and others)?

One thing is certain now that Locke is dead, he wont be leaving the Island. His death has certainly given him fresh insight into the Island, as he leads Ben all the way to the Temple without aid and he even knows that Smokey lives beneath it. But if Locke is dead (avoiding the obvious Jesus Christ metaphor) can he still be the messiah the Others have been waiting for? Has the Island brought snapshot(8) John back because it still has a purpose for him?

Finally Ben enters the Temple, which is covered with Egyptian hieroglyphics (and I’m not about to translate it all to look for hidden meaning) where Ben is to be judged, by none other than Alex. Somehow he passes and his penance is to follow John Locke. However, other than the counter in the swan hatch (which was Dharma and not Other in nature) I honestly don’t see the Egyptian influence in the show. In fact it draws more parallels with Christian mythology than it does with Egyptian and the two hardly go hand in hand. For example the presence of a single omnipresent god-creature (like Jacob) is opposed to the pantheon of gods in the Egyptian mythology. I’m just not sure I’m convinced…

Anyway, its been a long rant this week and think i missed out half of my questions, but this has been My Two Cents.

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