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Marc Oromaner’s Lost In Myth: Is Dead Really Dead?

By Marc Oromaner,

  Filed under: Lost In Myth
  Comments: 24

1rameseswithsokarPerhaps the most ironic theme of “Dead Is Dead” is that it actually seems to imply anything but. The episode is more about the futility of death, rather than its finality, yet, I don’t think this is its ultimate message. The message in its fullest form is that dead is only dead if your services will no longer be needed.

When we had last left Lost, Richard Alpert was carrying a dying young Ben into the temple in hopes of bringing him back to the land of the living—assuming that’s where they even are. The scene seemed very familiar to me and I was racking my brain to remember why. An Egyptian-looking guy who may be a god (the never-aging Richard Alpert’s initials are RA which just so happens to be the name of the Egyptian sun god) was carrying a young boy into a temple to meet with a god of the afterworld. I knew I’d seen it somewhere before. Then, it hit me. It was just like a scene out of The Ten Commandments!

After the tenth plague, Rameses (a king who is worshipped as a god) carries the limp body of his son to a temple and places him on the altar of the falcon-headed Sokar—the Egyptian god of death. Unlike Ben, the boy is not resuscitated. Perhaps Rameses would’ve been better off using the jackal-headed god of the afterlife Anubis (seen kneeling in the hieroglyphics before the smoke monster in “Dead Is Dead.”) What’s particularly serendipitous about this scene comparison is that The Ten Commandments is about the exodus of Jews from Egypt that is commemorated on Passover, on which “Dead Is Dead” aired during the first night of. “Dead Is Dead” continues the story of young Ben, revealing that he has been brought back to life—reborn, just as Locke has been. Even more serendipitously, this theme fits in perfectly with another event that occurred the same day “Dead Is Dead” aired—a rare, astronomical and important spiritual event.

2normal_5x11-7531It takes the Earth approximately 365.24 days to circle the sun. Because of this odd number, our planet is in a slightly different position on any given day than it was the year before. (As seen from our perspective, the sun is in a slightly different position in the sky from year to year.)  In fact, it takes about 28 years for the Earth to come full-circle and return to the point where it started. Kabbalistically speaking, that day happened on Wednesday April 8th—the day that “Dead Is Dead” aired. The spiritual interpretation of this event is that it signifies where the Earth was in relation to the sun when the universe was created. Because of this, many believe that on this day our world is in tune with an energy of being reborn, giving all of us a clean slate or “tabla rasa.”

As many Lost fans may recall, “Tabla Rasa” is the title of the first season episode where we learn that Kate was a fugitive but had been given a clean slate on the island.  In “Dead Is Dead” it is Ben who is pardoned by the smoke monster and allowed to start again, this time to follow the orders of Locke. Just as on Lost, there are no accidents—everything happens for a reason. This once-in-28-years phenomenon along with the freedom themes of Passover and even the resurrection theme of Easter all coinciding with this episode’s similar themes are the universe’s way of letting us know that the seemingly magical rules on Lost island also apply in our world. And this brings me back to what those rules are telling us.

There were actually dozens of interesting parallels in “Dead Is Dead.” One was Ben not killing Penny because he didn’t want to leave her son motherless just as he’d been. This reminded me of Sawyer not scamming a family who had a son because he didn’t want to be like the monster that had ruined his own family. Just as Luke realized as he looked down at his own robotic hand after chopping off Vader’s, we are sometimes tempted to become the thing we hate most. But I’m not going to focus on this theme, or the parallels of Widmore as Satan being cast off the island for his sins, or the conclusions to be drawn from Alex growing ever-so-much hotter in the afterworld. Instead, because of the title of this episode, I’d rather focus on when dead really is dead.

Dead certainly isn’t dead for Locke, who is the same as he’s always been, according to his own assertion to Sun. Death also was not to be the fate of young Ben who was saved due to the island’s mysterious powers. He was also not killed by the smoke monster, which decided to give him another chance to make things right. His dead daughter Alex told him so. Alex probably is dead, but allowed to appear thanks to the smoke monster. This may also be the case for Christian Shephard who was referenced but not seen in the episode, but is known to be wondering around despite having died. So what exactly is going on here?

The moral of the episode, and possibly the entire show, seems to be that when it’s your time to leave this world, no matter what you do, as Desmond said, “You’re gonna die Charlie.” Charlie did ultimately die, as did Danielle and Alex just as Widmore had wanted. For them it may have taken awhile, but death eventually caught up to them. Caesar was shot, and judging by the fate of his namesake, is likely also dead. Desmond on the other hand, despite getting shot by Ben, is alive. So apparently it is not his time to go. The reason for this, as Christian Shephard might say, is that he’s still got “a lot of work to do.” In fact, Eloise Hawking told him so in one of his flashbacks when she promised, “the island isn’t done with [him] yet.”

3normal_deadisdead281So is dead really dead then? According to Lost (and movies like Final Destination), only if it’s your time to die. If you still have unfinished business to do, you’ll live. This perspective of life pretty much takes us out of the equation when it comes to matters of life and death. It’s actually pretty comforting to believe in it. When someone we love dies, it’s hard not to wonder, “what if.” What if he hadn’t taken that flight, or eaten that food that got him sick, or what if we’d caught her disease earlier? Sometimes we feel responsible. According this viewpoint though, the end result is out of our hands. There is simply nothing that we could do. Even if we had prevented one source of death, another would simply come up in its place. Just as people have proxies, perhaps life situations have proxies too.

On the other hand, perhaps you know someone who’s had several close calls or even near-death experiences. Maybe you can remember some time from your own life when you thought you were a goner for sure—that logically, you absolutely should’ve died or been very severely hurt. You can think that you were just lucky, or, look at it from a different perspective—the perspective of the universe. Like the island for Desmond, the universe isn’t done with you yet. It just may be that you have a very important role to play in the movie of your life, and there are many characters that are depending on you to complete it. Or, put another way, you are an invaluable gear in the universal clock, and without you, the whole mechanism comes to a screeching halt. The point is, you weren’t just lucky, you are needed, and you have work to do. Use the clues that Lost teaches us to look for and begin to piece them together to find your true calling. What is it that you are meant to do? How do you fit into the universal scheme of things? Figure it out and achieve it and the person who needs you to succeed will be able to do what they are meant to do. This in turn will enable someone else to do their job and others to do theirs and so on. This is why one person can be so important. The fate of the entire world just might rest on your very capable shoulders. Good luck, we’re all counting on you.

Next Week: Will “Some Like It Hoth” finally reveal what we’ve all been suspecting the polar bears are for—to turn the donkey wheel and get zapped to Tunasia? We shall see…

Marc Oromaner is a New York City writer whose book, The Myth of Lost offers a simple solution to Lost and uncovers its hidden insight into the mysteries of life. He can be contacted in the discussion section of The Myth of Lost Facebook page.

The Myth of Lost is available on Amazon and barnesandnoble.com.

From TVFrenzy:

  • Hipster Doofus

    Alex IS way hotter in the underworld. Its a damn shame she’s dead. At the time, it was so shocking that her and Rousseau were killed, but now that we have perspective, there’s really no place for them in the current story of Lost. There never really was, it seems. They were always supposed to die.

  • barbara

    Fabulous review of this episode and of the whole concept of LOST. Thanks for your insights.

  • brent

    Thanks Marc… excellent article this week.

    “LOST” loves to make this point that you can’t die until you’ve finished what you were supposed to do. When you’ve been atoned for your sins; when your story has come full circle. That’s why guns mysteriously misfired for Michael. That’s why Locke survived like 8 times. With the exception of Eko, I think this idea holds up well. In the past, it was easier to predict a “major death episode” because it was always character-centric, a final good-bye. Season 5 episodes has a less character “centricity” than ever before which I believe to be the real difference in storytelling this year, not the time travel.

    • Thanks for bringing up those points.

      Because the actor who plays Eko (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) wanted off the show, they had to rush his story line a bit, but I do think his death satisfied the atonement rule. The monster killed him when he realized that he’d done the best he could with his life and didn’t need to ask his brother Yemi for forgiveness. I believe that when he told Locke and gang “you’re next” it wasn’t a threat, it was his wish that they too would solve their issues and be freed.

      I feel the only characters who did NOT satisfy the rule, were Nikki and Paulo. The writers got around it by having the Losties kill them, not the island (since they were accidentally buried alive).

      I agree that this season is definitely less character-focused, but I believe they will get back to that next season since the characters are the essence of “The Myth of Lost” theory.

      • brent

        Ok, I’ll buy that for Eko. It was a tad rushed because AAA hated Hawaii but I can’t really complain about the end result. We learned a tremendous amount about the Monster way earlier than we probably would have otherwise.

        Nikki and Paolo were an example of the producers listening a little too much to the fan base and then having to deal with those decisions.

        The characters are at the heart of the show and watching them wrestle with everything emotionally and physically is what makes the show so great.

  • Wintermute

    Marc, I love your articles. Love ’em!

    I have one issue though, and it’s not so much a bone to pick as a little cautionary warning.

    I’ve been seeing a lot of commentary going around lately that makes points about the dates specific episodes air. A lot of folks took issue with the fact that “Whatever Happened, Happened” aired on April Fool’s day, and wondered if maybe some elements of the episode weren’t supposed to be misleading. I’ve also been hearing the statements about the date “Dead is Dead” aired (as you’ve mentioned in your article here). I just want to warn folks against making such statements because we can ascertain for a fact that these air dates are simply coincidence.

    If you’ll remember, several weeks ago we took a week off. This was not originally planned – we were told to expect a complete season with any breaks. These episodes were written late last summer, as filming began on the early half of the season. I find it hard to believe the powers that be planned to air certain episodes on thematically appropriate days. For one, this episode had been written before we even had a firm date for the start of the season. If you’ll remember it was mid October before we were given the firm January start date. Even then, the time slot was up for discussion. Do you recall the “Will it air on Wednesdays or Thursdays” debate from last fall? Up until then the consensus was that season five would start in mid-February.

    And, as I said, the week off (and there’s another break coming just before the finale) was decided on late in the game, after the season had already begun. This of course pushed every subsequent episode back one week from when originally intended.

    This is all to say that the connections folks are trying to forge between air dates and episode themes are really no more than coincidence.

    Unless of course it IS fate, and the Island influenced the big wigs at ABC to push things back for its own mysterious reasons…

    • “Unless of course it IS fate, and the Island influenced the big wigs at ABC to push things back for its own mysterious reasons…”

      Exactly. That’s my point. That the island is a metaphor for the world we live in. I agree that the ABC/LOST powers that be did not plan it this way, it was a higher power–whatever it is you wanna call it. I’m being totally serious.

      Yes, originally no one knew what day the show would air and there wasn’t supposed to be any breaks. Interesting how that all worked out, right?

      I think once LOST concludes, the writers will come clean to reveal what clues and patterns they had actually planned within the show, and what they didn’t. I believe fans are going to be blown away that the vast majority were just serendipitous parallels–the universe working its magic. For me, that’s what makes this show so extraordinary. It’s working on another level. LOST truly is alive.

    • horselover

      So you’re right that they didn’t write the episodes with the dates in mind, but how do you know the air dates weren’t picked with the dates in mind? You said that the breaks weren’t originally planned, so why were the breaks inserted? Maybe they noticed the dates and planned the details of the schedules and breaks so that appropriate episodes would air on certain dates.

  • Wintermute

    “Don’t mistake coincidence for fate.”
    -Eko

    • neoloki

      Or, what the hell, mix it and bring some meaning to your life, whether others believe it or not.

  • cap10tripps

    Okay, no one is asking this question so here goes. WHO THE HELL WAS DESMOND!? Was Henry Ian not available for shooting, or could this have to do with Ben saying, “Find Desmond Hume and tell him I’m sorry?”

    • Nawawala

      You didn’t recognize him? That was the same actor HIC, the guy playing Desmond.

      • cap10tripps

        I’ll have to rewatch, but I could’ve swarn it was a different actor…

        • Michel

          (**wind sound**)

      • Vital10

        *******crickets****************

  • Nawawala

    Thanks, Marc. You’re one of my favorite Lost blogger/recapper/theorist. Your articles are always insightful and give a different spin on our favorite show and I always learn something new from them. Namaste!

    • Thanks Nawawla. As I just mentioned to someone on The Myth of Lost Facebook page, my goal is to make all the time we’re investing in LOST worthwhile. It’s more than a show, it’s instructions for life.

      BTW, I’m interested in learning what your screen ID means. If it’s your name, I’m curious of the origins and English translation.

  • cap10tripps

    I’m starting to think that Smokey is Locke. Locke mysteriously disappeared and returned just as Ben says, “I can’t control what comes out of that jungle.” Then Locke knows the way to the underworld, and subsequently disappears while Ben is judged. Perhaps it is certain people’s destiny to be the human form of this “god.” Jacob (who was the vanishing human form of Smokey) says, “Help me.” The only one who hears this is Locke, because it is his destiny to be Smokey (who will eventually have a more appropriate name). Richard and the others look to John to light the way for a very good reason. He was destined to be (and now is) a deity

  • Henry Holland

    (who will eventually have a more appropriate name)

    It does have a name, Cerberus (in Greek and Roman mythology, the three-headed dog that guards the gates of hell), that’s been known since the blast door map in season 2.

    • I’ve been wondering about that too. Actually, Cerebus was the name Radzinsky painted on the blast door map for what was considered “the security system.” I talk about that a bit in the book. They seem to be mixing mythologies now. If Thor shows up, things are getting just a bit too wacky.

      • Michel

        The Others don’t have a name for Smokey, so Cerberus MUST be a name DHARMA gave to the thing. They’re known for their penchant for multi-culturalism and their inclination for giving glamorous code-names (i.e. every Dharma station out there). So, Cerberus it’s probably a Dharma name.

  • Mildred Davis

    It’s about time someone exposed the big banks and Wall Street for the manipulating fraudsters that they are. Last week a veteran trader showed his insiders why Wall Street never fights fair (and neither we should).

    Big banks exposed: Now I could understand why we never have the freedom to do what we want to do.

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