Season 5 Episode 12

Dead is Dead

Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Apr 08, 2009 on ABC
out of 10
User Rating
975 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

To atone for sins of the past, Ben must attempt to summon the smoke monster in order to be judged.

Who was the Episode MVP ?

No results found.
No results found.
No results found.
  • Great episode, but why did it take so long to get here?

    Are the Ben and Not-Locke scenes great? Sure. The flashbacks are good too, even with the bad hairpieces (if there is one thing Lost is bad at, it's fake beards and hairpieces). But here's the question I find myself asking: why did it take so long to get here?

    It takes nine episodes for Jack and company to get back into the action on the island, and now in episode twelve, Locke finally returns.

    This episode was so good one wonders why it took over half the season to set things up. I think the answer is that the writers wrongly believed that having the Oceanic Six back home for the first half of the season would be somehow compelling; however, the truth is that Jack, Kate, and Hurley's exploits off the island were as dull as can be (Sayid is another matter). In fact, most of it seemed rather silly: Hurley's scenes were meant to be comic, but mostly just seemed forced, and Kate and Jack's problems seemed overly dramatic and unrealistic (e.g., the viewer is really supposed to believe Jack is this jealous over Kate's phone calls?) This reviewer would like to posit that the Oceanic Six never should have left the island. If you keep them on the island, they could have dealt with similar issues in a more interesting way, and they could have been dealing with the mythology in a more concrete fashion.

    More importantly, and relevant to this episode, rather than killing Locke for an absurd reason (to bring the Oceanic Six back to the island), we could have seen him act like a hero and attempt to take on the Man in Black, or we could have seen him seduced by the dark side. Instead, we are treated to Not-Locke, which for me, seems cool only on the surface. He's more assertive than the old Locke, but this is empty because he's not really Locke.

    How much better would it have been to have stayed on the island and allowed Locke to confront the darkness head on? Much, much more satisfying, in my opinion.moreless
  • Monster turns out to be a lot more than smoke and mirrors--- and that's just the smallest revelation

    By now it's become clear that the episodes that center around Ben are probably the best of the series. Part of it is because of the incredible talent of Michael Emerson, part of it is because we always seem to come away from them knowing more about the mythology, but most of it is because of the interaction between Ben and Locke. And considering that the last time the two were in the same room, Ben wrapped a laundry cord around Locke's neck, you know that there's going to be tension. What's surprising it's that it's all coming from Ben. For the first time in the series, Locke seems relaxed, even amused, by the events that are taking place. He used to be full of questions, now he seems to know everything. (In retrospect, this would appear to have been a big tell by the writers, but we've been down so many blind alleys on this show that we could overlook it.) Ben's attitude towards Locke's resurrections differs depended on who he's talking to. He tells Locke that he killed him knowing that he would come back to life, but he tells Sun that he has absolutely no idea how this has happened. He tells a variation to Caesar, but that's clearly just to gain control of the situation. What's especially telling in all three scenes is how unsettled Ben seems to be. He can spin a web better than 'LaFleur' ever could, but now that he and Locke have very clearly switched roles. He might think that this means Locke really is the Chosen One, but it might me for the first time, he's in a situation he can't control, and that's clearly got him on the defensive.

    As we see in the flashbacks, Ben's always been going at attacking. After he was healed in the Temple, he had his first meeting with Charles Widmore, who appears to have been the leader of the Others. What's never been made clear is how much about the island Widmore has ever understood. When Richard tells him that Jacob wanted Ben to be healed (though it's never been clear whether he even had anything to do with it), Widmore nods and shuts up, as if he knows what the man is talking about. Eleven years later, he sends Ben on a mission --- kill Rousseau. We've seen Ben cold-bloodedly kill a lot of people (hell, he does it in this episode) but at this point, he still has nerves. Instead of killing Danielle, he takes Alex, and warns her never to try and find him or any of the Others. (Suddenly, her actions in Season 3 make a lot more sense) When he brings Alex back, Widmore demands he kill the baby, but he refused, asking if that's what Jacob wants. Again Widmore retreats. Somehow, Ben manages to parlay this maneuver into taking the leadership of the island away from Widmore, eventually exiling him from the island. It's never clear what rules he broke (or, for that matter, whose rules they were) by Widmore clearly has no intention of going quietly.

    Ben clearly loves Alex like she was his own daughter, even though he seems to have no qualms about having kidnapped her. Despite everything that he does--- for the island or not--- he does have compassion in his heart, and it was clear that when Alex was killed, a vital part of him has broken. His first instinct was to swear vengeance, and the minute he got off the island, he told Widmore he would seek blood for blood. Now, we see how Ben spent those last hours before boarding the Ajira flight---- he was tracking down Penelope. What's never been clear is why, when he finally saw Penny, he blinked. We'd already seen him murder six people, was responsible for the slaughter of the Dharma Initiative and everyone Sayid had kill, so there was already enough blood on his hands. But as soon as he saw young Charlie, again he couldn't kill a mother in front of her child.

    What is more key to this scene is that it reveals the blind spot Ben had the entire time he was on the island --- Desmond. As 'Henry Gale' he told Locke that the timer in the Swan station didn't mean anything. He was clearly lying because he wanted to try and take out Locke. But Desmond returned to the island, and ended up (indirectly) saving the day. When he gave the order to Mikhail to destroy the Looking Glass, he clearly thought it would block the transmission for the outside--- Desmond again managed to save the day, though he couldn't save Charlie. When he killed Keamy, he clearly thought he no longer had to worry about the people on the freighter. Penelope had been tracking the signal, and ended up saving Desmond and the Oceanic 6. Now he shoots Desmond and leaves him, clearly thinking the threat was negated. And once again, Des gathers his strengths and opens up a can of whoop-ass on Ben before he can kill Penny. When he goes under the temple to be judged, he talks to Sun as if he's never going to see Desmond again. Is it possible that Desmond will be the flaw that destroys him?

    Right now, he has more immediate worries. He tells Locke that because he came back to the island, he has to be judged--- by the monster. That happens in more ways than one, but we don't know it yet. He clearly has no desire to see it happen--- he keeps stalling throughout the episode--- and eventually Locke is the one who has to take him to his judgment. We see how the monster is summoned--- kind of disappointing, after the build up. He goes to the room in his house he went to in 'The Shape of Things to Come', opens up a secret staircase, climbs to the bottom--- and appears to unclog a sink. When it doesn't show up immediately, he seems concerned--- especially when Locke tells him that he knows where he has to go. Again, it's possible to misjudge this because Ben is such a good liar--- he knows the secrets of the island, after all. But we're in a familiar place --- back to the Temple, or to be accurate, under it. By now, Ben has realized what he has come back to be judged for --- killing Alex. Up until now, he's blamed Widmore for this, but in the last scenes he finally seems to take responsibility for this particular action. That is what he has to deal with, and which he comes face to face with.

    We finally enter what appears to be the smoke monster's lair. We encounter more of the hieroglyphics and symbols we've be seeing around the island. They would seem to post date the monster as far back as Ancient Egypt (and it may have been there for even longer) and it emerges from a miniature grate and surrounds him, a lot like it did when it confront Eko the first time. Again he sees flashes of his life, mostly with Alex, and painful memories He doesn't look away, and it seems to spare him. Then Alex steps out into the room (more evidence that Smoky can assume the form of the dead) and slams into him demanding that he not try and kill Locke again, and that he will follow him loyally. For the first time on the series, Ben looks truly frightened. It's not clear whether it's seeing the monster or coming face to face with his daughter in the flesh (so to speak) has unnerved him, but after this, something fundamental changes in him. For the rest of the season, and almost until the end of the series, Ben behaves like he is broken, as if all the power he once wielded has been taken from. He's been judged and spared, but just like Locke, he's not the same.

    And it's easy to see why. Locke has come back from the dead a very different man. He smiles a lot more than he did, he doesn't seem afraid or surprised by things (when Ben shoots Caesar, he doesn't even blink), and every time that he talks Ben now seems to flustered. From the discussion in 'Ben's office' to the time that he starts leading him to the Temple, Locke seems far more at ease and content than he's ever been on the island --- hell, in his whole life. His assurances to Sun to the contrary--- you don't tell people that your the same person when you are--- something fundamental has shifted in Locke as well. Terry O'Quinn has always been a dynamite actor, but from this point on, his performance takes on a completely different level. (Again, it makes perfect sense when you consider what's going to come, but that would be giving away the store a little early.)

    If that wasn't bad enough, it would seem like there is now a different contingent on the island. Ilana seems to have been more than some hot chick who arrested Sayid. It's not clear "what lies in the shadow of the statue", but whatever it is, she seems to know a lot more about the island than she let on-- as Lapidus discovers before taking a blow to the head. Unfortunately, this particular avenue would seem to have been another blind alley, or at least one they never filled out in a satisfying matter

    'Dead in Dead' is arguably the high point of the seasons so far (and it's small wonder Michael Emerson won his first Emmy for it) Bad wigs and inconsistencies as to when the Purge took place, the flashbacks reveals levels to Ben that we just haven't seen before. We learn a lot more about the monster (more than we think, actually) see more fine work by O'Quinn and Alan Dale (no bad hair days for him), and hear the seasons best line so far After Ben explains very patiently to him why he killed Locke in the first place, Locke smiles and says: "I was just hoping for an apology." Turns out the new Locke has a sense of humor. Maybe that should've been a clue too.

    My score:10moreless
  • Mind-Blowing!

    Ok, I'm still not over the excitement of this episode. I am SPEECHLESS!!

    This was the best of the season and an instant classic. ;)

    All I'm going to say is: The smoke monster surrounding Ben and flashing moments of his life with Alex.

    WOW, just WOW! Simply mind-blowing!! :D

    Now I am going to hat having the Oceanic 6 back next week. That means no more Ben & Locke. Ugh!! We need these two heroes every week. :)

    Happy to learn MORE about the monster and what it can do. So it judges people and decides whether or not to let people live or not....which makes me wonder if we'll ever know why the monster killed the people it did like Mr. Ecko?

    I said I'm speechless but I still can't shut up. :D

    So, Ben will now HAVE TO follow the orders of Locke? Man, this will be a BLAST! :

    Can't wait to see if Ben actually tells Locke this. :)

    10 out of 10. Every episode needs to be like this.moreless
  • Oh My God! Best episode of the season so far!

    I can't believe they've done it again! Another Classic Locke/Ben masterpiece! So many stuff! The Alex Kidnap, Charles Widmore banished, Ajira folks going mad, The smoke monster house, The Wall of the temple, Desmond and Penny! This episode just show how good mithology is on this SHOW!

    And what about the ending! hyeroglyphs all the way (some great easter-egg right there) and the home home of the smoke monster!

    Locke finally became real John that we all waiting for... and that after 4 season of this amazing show it's an amazing relief! In other word best episode of the season... yet!moreless
  • Awesome episode, with some very great symbolism and mysticism.

    Definitely the best of the season so far. A couple of nice reveals are in this episode. The reveals though aren't what made this episode so great. It's more about the mystical energy and the overall feel of the episode. The episode had that great feeling of omnipotence and beauty that fans look forward to and hope for every time they watch Lost. When Lost is in this mode, it gives a resonating feeling of cosmic connectivity and perfection unlike any other show that has ever been made. The historical significance of the island plays so well into the show. The Egyptian symbols gave this episode a very unique quality, especially the symbol that showed the Egyptian god Anubis control what appeared to be the smoke monster. The symbolism really gave me shivers up my spine.moreless
Melissa Farman

Melissa Farman

Danielle Rousseau

Guest Star

Matt Hoffman

Matt Hoffman


Guest Star

David S. Lee

David S. Lee

Charles Widmore

Guest Star

Nestor Carbonell

Nestor Carbonell

Richard Alpert

Recurring Role

Tania Raymonde

Tania Raymonde

Alex Rousseau

Recurring Role

Sonya Walger

Sonya Walger

Penny Widmore

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (11)

    • When Ben has gone through his wardrobe, he is pulling a plug - or something similar - from the water. But his right hand switched from being in the air and resting on his knee between shots.

    • When Ben is being judged by the monster we see again the scene of The Shape of Things to Come where Keamy murders Alex, her delivery however, is faster than the one from that episode, and, she says the line "Help me!", which didn't appear in the episode.

    • When Charles is about to leave the Island, we can see two men in what appears to be bulletproof vests, with the water trigram on their backs. The same trigram can be found in the DHARMA logo, and on the sub as well.

    • On the dock, Locke puts on his left sock and ties his shoe, but then in the next cut shot, he's putting his left sock on again.

    • Charles Widmore tells Ben that just because he is living with them, it doesn't mean he can't be one of them. This is similar to Isabel telling Jack the meaning of his tattoo: "He walks amongst us, but he is not one of us" in the episode "Stranger in a Strange Land".

    • Numbers: The crate has "AA823" written on its side.

    • The following books can be seen in the bookcase in front of the entrance to the secret tunnel in Ben's house: "Flowers For Algernon" by Daniel Keyes, "Roots" by Alex Haley and "Uncle Tom's Cabin" by Harriet Beecher Stowe.

    • Inside the temple, a lot of Egyptian hieroglyphs are seen, being the representation of Anubis with the monster the most important and highlighted one.

    • A different take is used for the beginning of the first scene between Ben and Locke to what was used at the end of the previous episode.

    • A deleted scene from the episode "I Do" is shown during the scene in which Ben is judged by the Monster. The scene involved Alex getting into an argument with Ben over Karl and resulted in Alex saying "I hate your guts", which is shown during this episode.

    • Ben's house was in the same state it was in the last time he was inside, when the mercenaries attacked - including the Risk game Sawyer and Hurley were playing left out on the table.

  • QUOTES (12)

    • Locke: So this is your old office, huh? I never pictured you leading your people from behind a desk. It seems a little...corporate.

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

    • Ben: 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: 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 comes 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.

    • Lapidus: (to Sun) As long as the dead guy says there's a reason, well, then I guess everything's gonna be just peachy. And forget about the fact that the rest of your people are supposedly 30 years ago. Now the only ones who are here to help us are a murderer and a guy who can't seem to remember how the hell he got out of a coffin.

    • Locke: (To Caeser) You're in the habit of calling people "friend," but I don't think you mean 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: Yeah.

    • 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 ...

    • 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.

    • 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.

  • NOTES (3)


    • Elephant in the room: John says uses this idiom when he is talking to Ben about his murder. It's an expression about an important and obvious truth that everybody in present is aware of but which isn't discussed because such discussion is considered uncomfortable.

    • The Wizard of Oz: As Locke was packing his shoes before returning to the main island or his "home", he cleaned them off by banging the heels together three times prior to putting them in the bag.

    • Our Mutual Friend: Desmond and Penny name their sailboat after the literary work by Charles Dickens.