I believe you call it “The Monster.”

My recap of “Lost” episode “Dead is Dead”.

Now that’s a pick-up line.

I guess technically, this week’s episode of “Lost” (“Dead is Dead”) was another character-centric flashback-heavy episode, except focusing on Ben Linus instead of one of the “good guys.” But that was okay, for two reasons:

  1. Ben is now officially twice as interesting as any of the good guys (except for Kate, where he’s a dozen times more interesting).
  2. This episode was co-written by Brian K. Vaughn.

I really hate it when people give one person all the credit for a particularly good movie, TV show, videogame, whatever. There’s always a ton of work from a ton of people involved in these productions. Instead of being the product of one person’s genius, it’s just as likely that they got some really good material to work with, or everyone else brought his best work to the project, or any of a thousand different variables. Plus, titles on TV shows in particular are somewhat nebulous; from what I understand, it’s often the work of a group of people that gets credited to one person.

But still: the guy’s got a streak going here. This one felt like it had a momentum that even flashbacks to stuff we kind of already mostly sort of knew were unable to stop.

My favorite aspect of this episode was seeing Locke finally starting to get his pay-off after getting piled on for the past fifty years or so. The guy has basically two settings: desperation, or condescension. It’s amazing how much mileage he gets out of it from context: sometimes, his forced calmness and condescension have you convinced he’s evil incarnate; other times, like this episode, you’re rooting for him.

He never says it outright, but getting killed may have been the best thing that ever happened to him. He’s spent his whole life having people tell him he doesn’t have a greater purpose, he’s not special, and his stubborn conviction that there is meaning to all this and that he does have a crucial part to play is nothing more than naivete. Now, coming back from the dead seems to be a pretty clear sign that he was right all along. And it’s a very subtle shift in his character, but he no longer seems to be trying to convince himself that he’s in charge and he knows what he’s doing; as far as he’s concerned, he’s got proof.

Of course, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they turn this into some kind of weird temporal-causation-loop type thing, and the only reason he’s been “chosen” is accidental or arbitrary. (As in: he’s important because he went back in time and told people he was going to be important). But I say he should enjoy the moment as long as it lasts.

Other things I liked about this episode were Locke’s revelation to Jin and Lapidus that he was still alive:

and that they somehow managed to find an actor who looks eerily like a younger version of Widmore:
At least, to me. I could tell who he was supposed to be the second he came on screen, and it took me a minute to realize it wasn’t the older actor in a bad wig.

As for the smoke monster: I’ve got a bad memory, so I can’t recall what exactly we saw back when Mr. Eko got “judged.” Was he really responsible for his brother’s death, or was he convinced that he was, or did he just want to be killed as penance, or did they really just want to get him off the series? Whatever the case, I like how this episode handled Ben’s “judgement.” We got to see that he really did feel genuine remorse, and that there is still the barest hint of a human that will do the right thing even when no one’s watching.

But he didn’t get any points for that. The Island just dug the knife in deeper and said: “You feel bad? Suck it, you should feel bad. You won’t get any resolution, or acceptance. Instead, here’s a reminder that your worst fear has come true: you’re not the leader, you’re not special, you have to play second fiddle to the bald guy and you damn well better do everything in your power to protect him.” We don’t have a word for that, but I believe you call it “cold.”