You know those pesky numbers that show up on Lost once in a while? Well, after roughly two years of wondering, hypothesizing, and mathemetizing, we finally got the answer. Check out the video below:
For my co-workers without sound on their computers (read: suckers!), you can just read below:
Hanso: “I am Alvar Hanso. If you are watching this film, you already know and have worked with Gerald and Karen Degroot, founders and masterminds of the Dharma Initiative. By now, you also know there are many research goals for our joint venture. What you may not know is why we have assembled the Dharma Initiative, why we have assembled the greatest minds in the world and given them unlimited funds and access. As with all you have already been told, you are bound by your honor and commitment to keep what you are about to hear a secret.”
“In a few weeks, after your induction counseling and survival training, you and your colleagues will be shipped to a top secret facility - the precise location of the facility is known only to myself, the Degroots, and a few high ranking members of my organization. Why all the security? All the secrecy? The answer is simple. The research is intended to do nothing less than save the world as we know it."
“In 1962, only thirteen years ago, the world came to the brink of nuclear war. The United States and the Soviet Union almost fulfilled the promise of Mutual Assured Destruction… a promise they continued to foster through a destructive Cold War. After the Cuban Missile Crisis, both nations decided to find a solution. The result was the Valenzetti Equation.”
“Commissioned under the highest secrecy through the U.N. Security Council, the Equation is the brainchild of the Italian mathematician Enzo Valenzetti. It predicts the exact number of years and months before humanity extinguishes itself - whether through nuclear fire, chemical and biological warfare, conventional warfare, pandemic, overpopulation... its results are chilling, and attention must be paid.
"Valenzetti gave numerical values to the core environmental and human factors in his equation. 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, and 42. Only by mainpulating the environment, by finding scientific solutions to all of our problems, we will be able to change those core factors and give humanity a chance to survive.”
"Although the Equation has been buried by those who commissioned it…"
"Panic. It has always been my belief that we ignore warnings at our own peril, and thus the Dharma Initiative was born. DHARMA is an acronym for Department of Heuristics and Research on Material Applications. It also stands for ‘the one true way’, and through your research, you will help humanity…" "
We have constructed several stations on the Island - underground laboratories with the facilities you will need to do your research with optimal expediency. All of the support you need, including regular medicine and food drops, will be made in perpetuity. A radio transmitter has also been erected on the Island. Broadcasting on a frequency and encryption known only to us. The transmitter will only broadcast the core numerical values of the Valenzetti Equation. When, through your research, you manage to change the numerical value of any one of these factors, when you have created through science the… you will know that the one true way has been found. That is the work to which you have commmitted yourself. Change the core values of the Valenzetti Equation and you will change the course of destiny. The fate of the human race is in your hands."
"Thank you… and Namaste.”
Mittelwerk: “We all know what happened. The Dharma Initiative failed, and in spite of every effort of the Foundation, we are gripped in the tyranny of those six numbers. We have tried to change those values by manipulating the environment in many, many ways. We have done our level best, and yet this inscrutible equation is bringing us back to the numbers."
"So now we have to take radical action, and I just want to tell all of you that I trust you to do what is best. The villages of Fallam and Vitualami have allowed us to test our vaccine on them. They think they are infected with a virus carried by a local Macaques, and they believe we are bringing them the cure. So when you go in, you have to keep up your story – to know it by heart. Don’t waver."
"When the deaths begin, you must comfort everyone with compassion and the bodies of the dead must be brought to this station immediately for full genetic work up. We must make absolute certain we are hitting precise genetic targets we have engineered into the virus. The optimal mortality rate is 30%. Our operatives at the Vick Institute have verified this figure. More or less, people succumb, we have failed. We need not take any more lives than is absolutely necessary... Yes?"
Man in Audience: "Tom, these are people - innocent human beings - and we're just going to..."
Mittelwerk: "If you knew with mathematical certainty that you could end all famine, war, and poverty - what would you do? Exactly. You'd find the best way to get it done. Precisely. Surgicially. Without allowing for any more suffering than is absolutely necessary. Sigh. It is not fair that innocents have to die so that we can perfect this virus, but I promise you, someone is going to help..."
"Is there something reflecting in the back?"
Rachel Blake: "Oh God!"
Mittelwerk: "Somebody grab her. We have an intruder!"
Random People: "Who is it? She's got a camera!"
Rachel Blake: "No! Get off me! Get off! Get off! Stop! Get off me! No!"
Random Voice: "We got her!"
So what did we learn from all that?
Put simply, the Numbers are simply numerical representations of human and environmental variables. What does that mean in English? 4 could be the human population. 8 could be the pollution level in the oceans. 15 could be the Bird Flu (whatever happened to this alleged "black plague", anyways?). 16 could be the temperature of the Earth's core. 23 could be Michael Jordan. 42 could be the Communist China.
So, when entered into the Valenzetti Equation, the Numbers factor in and give us the date of Armageddon (the end of the world, not the Bruce Willis movie). Therefore...
The whole point of Dharma was to somehow change these values. Using my examples above, Dharma was trying to use "science" to keep the world population in check, eliminate pollution, kill all birds (there are a suspicious few birds on the Island - hmmm...), lower the Earth's core temperature, assassinate Michael Jordan, and overthrow Communist China.
But in reality, let's think about what we know so far about the "experiments" that Dharma was carrying out on the Island:
- The Hanso Life Extension Project
- The Hanso Foundation Electromagnetic Research Initiative
- The Hanso Quest for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence
- The Hanso Mathematical Forecasting Initiative
- The Hanso Cryogenics Development Imperative
- The Hanso Juxtapositional Eugenics Development Institute
Reading those through, it seems like the variables were actually things like how long people could live, the powers of magnetism, the existence of other-worldly life forms, getting Walt Disney back, solving the Pythagorean Equation, and "selective breeding".
Any way you cut it, it's clearer than ever that Dharma was trying to cheat death by building a better human race. One that could withstand whatever is coming that is going to wipe out the human race. So the bad news for you and me is...
The Dharma Initiative failed. We are all gonna die. As Mittelwerk over-dramatically puts it, "we are gripped in the tyranny of these six numbers". Dharma wasn't able to build a better mankind, and gave up (or ran out of money, or had their "test subjects" overthrow them, or something like that). Which brings us to present day. Mittelwerk is talking to a group of people, perhaps the last remnants of the Dharma Initiative, briefing them on the "radical action" they're taking - murdering innocent people.
The villages of "Fallam and Vitualami", which I can only imagine are somewhere in Africa or the South Pacific, have been tricked into thinking that they are sick and Hanso offers the only cure. The trick is that they aren't really sick, and the "cure" is probably fatal.
Stop right there. Remember "The remedy is worse than the disease" that we saw scribbled on the Blast Door? Remember all of CFL's crazy ramblings about her crew being down with the sickness? Remember the shots Ethan had to keep pumping into baby Aaron? Sounds like we're on to something!
This could go one of two ways.
1. The "sickness" actually just represents some innate human condition that we all have. Dharma is trying to create a super-race that doesn't have this sickness through their "cure" - the downside is that it will kill 30% of the population. The upside is that 70% will live through the apocalypse.
2. The "sickness" is truly some sort of disease that mankind is about to catch. The "cure" is similar to any vaccine - containing a weakened form of the virus. Again, the bad news is that 30% of people are going to be killed by it.
Either way it's pretty creepy. But at the end of the day, it seems like they are actually doing what is best for mankind.
The question becomes - what does this mean for our Survivors on the Island? Here's my newest whacked out theory:
After Dharma "failed", they realized that this "vaccine" was their only answer. The remaining few Dharmites on the Island (the true believers in the cause?) decided it would be better to isolate themselves from the rest of humanity (aka - the "sickies") and form a new Eden, a lush Island with nice weather, friendly Smokey Monsters ,and perpetual food drops. What's not to like? Led by Hanso himself (who has been missing for a while, remember?) they all inject themselves with the vaccine for good measure and happily build jungle forts and have misadventures with the Harlem Globetrotters. They even find a way to use the Island's unique magnetic properties to cloak the Island and keep any would-be vacationers out. Everyone is happy.
Then people start crashing their party. Sickies. These innocent people represent the enemy and need to be dealt with - thus the killing of CFL's crew (who had "the sickness"). The problem is that there aren't many of these Dharmites left. When Flight 815 landed, they outnumbered the Dharmites, so a quick slaughter was impossible. Flight 815 also offered something the Dharmites have been looking for - Dharma: The New Class, represented by baby Aaron (thus the kidnapping, injections, etc.)
They were probably confident that the Survivors wouldn't last too long on their Island (what with their security system (Smokey) and lack of television or Internet), but the Survivors turned out to be more resilient than they bargained for. But there's still one question...
So where do the Others fit into this little story? Are they really the Dharmites? As you know, I always thought that they were an entirely separate entity on the Island - Rebels, if you will. But based on their knowledge of the Island (and its hatches, ferries, buildings, etc.) it sure does seem like they might be Dharmites. We also saw Ethan (who told Claire about "the sickness" and injected Aaron with the "cure") interact with Tom / Zeke / Mr. Beardy, who is clearly in cahoots with HGI and the other Others from the Season 2 Finale.
I'm torn like Natalie Imbruglia. My gut tells me they are Rebels while logic seems to say they are Dharmites. I'll remain undecided at this point.
The good news is that Season 3 is supposedly all about the Others and I have a hunch that we're going to get some answers to these questions sooner rather than later.
So, at the end of the day, what did this whole wild-goose chase for clues and video clips on the Internet give us (besides a Lost-related distraction over the summer)? Well, we learned what Dharma stood for (fun!), we learned what the Numbers are (finally!), and some people got free candy bars (yum-o!). Not too shabby.
The nice thing is, none of these things make any difference to the storyline on the show. Someone who doesn't know what the Numbers represent can still follow along and just know that Dharma is creating some "vaccine" for some "sickness". They don't need to know the details. What Dharma stands for? Who cares! Knowing it doesn't make Kate any hotter or debunk any Nanobot theories.
In a nutshell, The Lost Experience (I talk like it's now over, even though allegedly there's still one more "phase" to come) did exactly what it should - gave the obsessive among us something to geek out about without alienating the average Joe who watches the show.