"Dead Is Dead"

JANUARY 14, 2011

AIRED: APRIL 8, 2009

Apparently, "Dead Is Dead" is the lowest-rated episode of Lost ever (per Nielsen ratings), attracting barely more than a third of the audience that tuned in for its highest rated ("Man of Science, Man Of Faith"). That's kind of depressing, but what surprises me is that it suggest there were a lot of folks who watched the show casually. With a show this mythology and character heavy, I would think the ratings would consistently stay even or slide, not go up and down like they do for CSI or Law & Order (shows with little to no continuity - I know for a fact that L&O's three series don't even air episodes in order). Who the hell was like "Maybe I'll watch Lost this week..."?

Anyway, it doesn't deserve its fate, since it's a pretty good episode, especially in retrospect as it deals heavily with the "monster", whom we now know was embodied by Locke. The scene where Locke disappears after Ben falls through the ground in the cave, at first glance, seem to just be bad (convenient) timing on his part - watching for the first time I was probably thinking "Aw shit, if he hadn't gone off he could have seen the monster too!". Now I realize he had to go "change", and it's another strong bit of evidence suggesting that, as rather idiotic as it was, the idea to make Locke the monster was indeed decided long before it was revealed in S6.

There's also another scene where he mysteriously disappears, when Ben "calls" it by, well, whatever it is he does (looks like he's flushing a toilet made out of a hole in the ground). Perhaps Locke just took off in case Ben's actions caused a reaction in his "persona"? Or maybe he went to Alex's grave to get whatever he needed to turn into her later? I forget the specifics, but he can't just shapeshift into whoever he likes, right? Doesn't he need to touch the body or something? Ah, who cares - it's obvious just from Terry O'Quinn's change in how he plays the character that something is amiss, so while I really hated the decision, I'd have to defend it against anyone claiming it was made up in the episode it was revealed.

I also liked how Lost's casting folks once again found a young actor that could pass for the older actor whose role he was inhabiting for a flashback, in this case Widmore. He's way better than the guy we saw in "Jughead", for starters, and he could very easily be a young Alan Dale. Since they have the worst luck in the world when it comes to making its actors look younger (Ben looks completely ridiculous with his longer black hair), it's a good thing Lost has this uncanny knack for finding (presumably local Hawaiian) actors that we can instantly recognize as the younger version of someone we know.

I haven't talked about the music for a while. One thing I've noticed with this marathon "re-viewing" is that I can recognize the various themes for certain characters, Sayid's and Ben's in particular. I mean, I'd recognize the cues in the past, but this is the first time I noticed how they were tied to certain characters (i.e. you never hear those sad strings for Jack or Locke; they BELONG to Sayid). It would be cool if Michael Giacchino released a CD with just the themes for each character, I think. And I say again, few television shows have ever had such consistently great and memorable music, and I hope he continues to have such an impressive career.

Another good thing about this episode is that we finally see Desmond! Not for long; he doesn't even have any real lines beyond things like "Hey!", but it's good to see him all the same - he's been absent for like five episodes. And we finally learn why Ben was all beat up when he got on the Ajira plane - it was from the vicious beating Desmond gave him after he tried to kill him and Penny (but paused when he realized they had a kid - or was just momentarily distracted trying to figure out if "Charlie" was named after Pace or Widmore). And thus Desmond gets to join the club of folks who have smacked Ben around. Let's see, there's Jack, Sayid, Locke, Sawyer, Ana Lucia, Sun, Rousseau (butted him with her gun), Alex roughs him up a bit at the end of this one... hell, even Hurley threw a Hot Pocket at him. Dude's spent 75% of the show with bruise/cut makeup on.

So basically, it's a shame that more people saw "Fire + Water" than this, is what I'm saying.

Where are we?

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