Wednesday, April 29, 2009

"The Variable" Instant Reactions!

Brian's Two Word Review: Holy Crap.

Maybe I'm a little rusty after spending a week without thinking about Lost, but keeping up with this week's episode definitely required about 100% of my brainpower, further confirming that there is absolutely no way that anyone is still watching (and understanding) Lost unless they are uber-obsessive nerds like us.

Having said that...

  • NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I know that I had Daniel Faraday on the DeathWatch 2009 List after pre-analyzing the episode, but I never thought it would happen before the Season Finale (since I was banking on him causing the whole "Incident" thing). Holy crap. Is he actually dead? Based on next week's episode preview (featuring Jack having Faraday's journal in his possession... and trying to intrepret it), I think the answer is pretty obvious - although one does wonder why Alpert couldn't just take him to the Temple like he did for Young Ben to magically heal him.
  • Eloise Hawking basically killed her son for the Island. Holy crap. Widmore's comment that he "sacrificed his relationship with Penny" for the Island suddenly seems a way easier. Think about it - from the point of Faraday's birth, Ms. Hawking knew that she would put him on the path that would end with her shooting him. The interesting thing here is that based on Faraday's comments to Jack this episode (about people being "Variables"), Ms. Hawking could have done just one or two different things to prevent Faraday's death... but chose not to. Why?
  • There's just an insane amount of things to analyze and think about from this episode. Initially, I'm thinking that Faraday is wrong about being able to change the past - simply because we've seen too many split-second decisions and actions by our Survivors that should have "changed the past" so far this season - but didn't. Whatever happened, happened. It all has made sense up until this point - but if suddenly ANYONE can change the future by doing something diferent in the past, it's one helluva coincidence that everything has played out the way it has.
  • It turns out that Faraday is Ms. Hawking and Widmore's love-child. Which means that Penny and Faraday are brother and sister (or at least halfies)... too bad Faraday died before they could realize it (kinda like Claire maybe died before she and Jack could discuss their relationship). 
  • The biggest question I have from this episode - and the first thing that Kate should have asked when Faraday told her and Jack about his plan is "What happens if you succeed?" Would our Survivors suddenly "skip" back to 2004, with Oceanic 815 finishing its flight as normal? Would they "skip" back to 2008, having lived different lives from 2004 to 2008 that they may or may not have memories of? Or would they "skip" back to 2008 retaining full memories of everything that happened with the Island? It's all very confusing...
  • Which is why there is no way it's going to happen. Again, we'll see if this thought process changes once I think about this episode some more, but right now there is no way the writers go through with this storyline. It would cheapen everything we've seen in the past four seasons (by making it not happen) and bring back to life characters who have died (and with characters like Michael on other shows, clearly it's not in their contracts). No way it happens.
  • Something else to think about? How did Ms. Hawking and Widmore know so much about everything? Did the Others really have some way to "see into the future"? Because even though they experienced running into Faraday and our Survivors in 1954 and 1977, they didn't seem to get enough information to know as much as they do. And what about Ms. Hawking's comment about suddenly "not knowing" what was going to happen to Desmond? Is Faraday right? That now that he has told Jack and Kate about being able to change the future, the one that she and Widmore have "seen" may no longer come true? It makes my head hurt.
  • The Jughead returns! And apparently it's stored in the Temple? And was that 2008 Ben in the Temple who 1977 Jack runs into? Is the Jughead going to end up causing the Incident? Or will it play out as it always did with the Others digging too deep and releasing a ton of energy? And what about Sawyer, Juliet, and the rest of our Survivors? Things are looking pretty bleak for them. It seems like it's all going to be up to Jack and Kate to save the day (for now) - which is kinda fitting since you could argue they are the two "main characters" on the show, who have had backseat roles for most of the season. And what about Locke, Sun, and the Ajira 316ers? Are they going to have any purpose this season besides setting up the next? Are Locke and Sun really going to be involved in bringing our Survivors back to the present (one would think they have to - otherwise their season storylines seem pretty lame), but it seems like it's all going to be resting on things that happen in 1977 right now, doesn't it?
Enough of my yapping. I need to let this episode sink in a bit and revisit it. But first I need sleep. Aren't vacations supposed to be restful?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Lost - "The Variable"

***Note - if there is anything worthwhile to discuss during tomorrow night's "clip show", I'll put my thoughts here.***

It's time for you to Choose Your Adventure! You come across a Lost Blog Post for next week's episode "The Variable" on the Internet. Do you...

A. Read ahead right now, fully knowing that it will just make next week seem even longer as you anxiously await new Losty goodness.

B. Exhibit self-control and wait until April 28th to read the episode preview like normal. Prevent unneccessary overhyping of "The Variable" and find a new website to keep you busy for the next week (I strongly suggest ) before returning full attention back to Lost for the final four episodes of the season.

Choose wisely!

Episode Title: "The Variable"


Brian's Deeper Meaning Guess: Last season, Lost cruelly forced us to remember high school math lessons in the Desmond-centric classic episode "The Constant" (which will probably go down as one of my Top 5 Lost episodes of all-time when all is said and done). If you recall, that was the trippy conscious-hopping episode where Desmond's mind jumped between 1996 and 2004, where he had conversations with Faraday in 2004 that he passed along to Faraday in 1996, ending with the heart-felt phone reunion with Penny that had all but the toughest of tough guys choked up. I'm going to be referencing that episode a few times in this episode preview, so if you don't remember it, now might be a good time to head over to Lostpedia and re-read the summary:


Next week's episode (remember, tomorrow night is a clip show called "The Story of the Oceanic Six" that may or may not have any worthwhile new information in it) is entitled "The Variable", which seems to be the other side of the equation. In math, you've got constants (things that don't change) and variables (things that do change). They're basically opposites. On Lost, we learned that a "Constant" was an "anchor" to keep someone grounded when their mind and consciousness were jumping around in time. Per Faraday, it needs to be someone or something that exists in whatever time periods the person in jumping between - and the jumper needs to care greatly about and would recognize it/him/her. For Desmond, this was Penny Widmore. At the conclusion of the episode, we discovered that Faraday had written "if anything goes wrong, Desmond Hume will be my Constant" (more on this later).



I'm guessing that a "Variable" will take on a similar Lost-specific meaning next week. If you've been reading my Blog this season, you know where I'm going with this - but I think a "Variable" will be something that can break the rules and change the future. In some ways, the concept of a constant is represented by Faraday's "Whatever Happened, Happened" adage, but the concept of a variable is going to be represented in "Sucks to That, I'm Changing Things". Much like a Constant was a person, I'm thinking the Variable will be a person - in this case, Daniel Faraday, who has found a way to alter the past. But how? More on that later as well...


Such buildup!


(Note: my other initial thought when I saw this episode title was the Valenzetti Equation. Remember that? It was a mathematical formula that predicted the end of the world using 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, and 42 as numerical representations of human and environmental variables. If you need a refresher, I talked about it a lot in this post from 2006:

Dharma was trying to change these numbers, which would change the formula, which would prevent the world from ending. Since the Numbers have been nearly non-existent on Lost ever since the Swan Hatch Implosion, I don't know how they would really tie-in to this week's episode, but it is curious that they deal with "changing things" and "preventing the end of the world" while ironically Faraday "changing things" might just bring about the end of the world.)


Guest Stars: Nestor Carbonell as Richard Alpert, Sonya Walger as Penelope "Penny" Widmore, Alan Dale as Charles Widmore, Francois Chau as Dr. Pierre Chang, Fionnula Flanagan as Eloise Hawking, Patrick Fischler as Phil, Eric Lange as Radzinsky, Sarah Farooqui as Theresa, Alice Evans as younger Eloise Hawking, Wendy Pearson as E.R. doctor, Todd Coolidge as paramedic, Peggy Anne Siegmund as caretaker, Jennifer Sojot as E.R. nurse, Spencer Allyn as young Daniel Faraday, Michael Dempsey as foreman, Maya Henssens as young girl, Ariston Green as workman, Marvin DeFreitas as young Charlie and Brad Berryhill as anxious guy.


Guest Star Breakdown: Lots to be giddy about!


Given that this week is Faraday-centric, the inclusion of Richard Alpert excites me even more than usual. Is Faraday interacting with him in 1977 on-Island? Or has he interacted with him at some point over the three years when he was off-Island? The mere thought of that makes my mind race with tantalizing possibilities about Faraday secretly being a double-agent for the Others (and his mother, Eloise) while he was working inside Dharma, learning their secrets, figuring out ways to take them down from the inside, all the while learning from them the truth about the Island and its powers. Wow. I'm going to stop here, since this is a classic example of Brian Overhyping, and when Alpert shows up walking in the background on-Island in 1977 without any speaking lines, we're all going to be really really disappointed.


Then we've got Penny and Widmore. Are they appearing in 2008, advancing their storyline, getting them closer to returning to the Island with Desmond? Will we finally see Widmore forgive Desmond and tell him that he needs him to help get back to the Island for the upcoming "battle"? Or are they appearing in 1996, in the scenes from "The Constant", only this time from the perspective of Faraday, who might have been trailing Desmond to try and figure out what was really going on? I'll take either possibility!


Continuing the guest star excitement we've got not one - but two appearances by Eloise Hawking - both in her old lady 2008 form, and also a much younger, hotter (I'm guessing 1974-1977 form?):




(Seriously. I'm picking up what she's laying down. Figure out a way to make her a series regular or spin her off into her own series Lost writers!)


Hot Eloise's inclusion (along with "Young Daniel Faraday") might mean we'll finally get our answers about if Faraday was born on-Island, when Eloise left the Island, and if Widmore is his father after all... or maybe she'll be paying a visit to Faraday in 1977 with Alpert to talk him into becoming a secret Other double-agent?


I'm guessing Old Eloise will appear in conjuncture with the Penny / Desmond / Widmore storyline, providing the knowledge they need to also return to the Island  - although if that storyline isn't actually happening this episode, it might mean she's going to appear in 1996 to Faraday to explain to him how all this time travel stuff works, give her "universe course correction" speech we heard her give Desmond two seasons ago, or again - reveal Island secrets that are going to prove useful for Faraday later on his journey.


Lastly, we have a reappearance of Faraday's former flame Theresa (possible pre-comatosed state?), a slew of doctors and nurses and the usual Dharma suspects like Chang, Radzinsky, and Phil - who is now a prisoner inside Sawyer and Juliet's love shack.



What does it all add up to?


It looks like we're going to see a LOT of Faraday's backstory... like, maybe even all of it. If you think about it, there's the potential to see his birth, everything that he did between 1974 and 1977, and maybe even some of the stuff he did in 1996 and beyond, after his meeting with Desmond leading up to boarding the Freighter. Dare I say it? I dare: let's put Faraday on the Deathwatch 2009 list - although I anticipate that if he dies, it won't be until the season finale, after he causes The Incident...


Episode Description: On the 100th episode milestone for the series, the time of reckoning has begun when Daniel Faraday comes clean regarding what he knows about the island.


Episode Breakdown: Happy 100th Episode, Lost! For most traditional shows, this is a big deal, since it's the number of episodes most networks want before they'll buy a show in syndication - but for Lost, whose reruns have been airing on Sci-Fi for the past year or so, they never had anything to worry about. But that's not to say that this week's episode isn't going to be monumental - it most certainly is, but not from a business standpoint. Rather, from a storyline perspective, this is it - the episode that will kick us into the mad rush of action and reveals building up to the season finale. It also is potentially an episode that provides a shift in our fundamental understanding about the Island - that line about "coming clean regarding what he knows about the Island" could mean a lot of things. Maybe Faraday will be like "I was just faking it, I really know nothing about this Island". Or maybe he'll be like "I know everything about this Island, why it's weird, and what Smokey is. You better sit down" followed by a twenty minute monologue answering all our questions. Most likely, it's going to come down somewhere in between, but that's not to say we won't get some revelations that make us re-examine everything we thought we knew about the Island.


It's also true - "the time of reckoning" has come for a number of storylines on Lost. We've got Faraday back on the Island, presumably to carry out some "plan" that may have dramatic repercussions on the lives of our characters and the rest of the season. We've got Sawyer, who now has Phil tied up in his house, with his cover about to be blown inside Dharma. We've got Horace and Ben's Dad growing increasingly suspicious about the actions of Kate, Jack, and Hurley - so their cover is about to be blown as well. Finally, we've got Pierre Chang who may or may not know that there's time traveling going on, that most members of Dharma are destined to die, and that his grown son is walking around the same Barracks that his baby son is at... whose interaction may or may not rip apart the space time continuum.


...and that's not even talking about the Locke / Ben / Sun, Widmore / Desmond / Penny, or Ajira 316 / Shadow of the Statue storylines - which we all left pretty much in the middle of a lot of action. It's all coming together - both from a season and a series perspective. I get the feeling that the remainder of this season will focus on resolving the time travel storyline, getting everyone back to 2008 - but will also get the proper pieces in place to setup the final season. So I doubt we're going to get resolution to these three additional storylines this season, but we'll at least get them to the place where we can hit the ground running next year without a lot of setup needed.


As for this week, the episode description basically boils down to Faraday explaining what he knows. To understand what that might be, we need to look at the timeline of Daniel Faraday, which can get a little confusing - so I'll go about this two ways. From a strictly "Timeline Perspective", here are the major events:


1954 - Faraday meets Eloise and the Others, helps them deal with the Jughead

1970ish - Daniel Faraday is born (somewhere, to someone)

1974 - Faraday leaves the Island

1974-1977 - Faraday spends three years off-Island, presumably starts working with Dharma

1977 - Faraday returns to the Island

1994 - Widmore begins funding Faraday's research

1996 - Faraday meets Desmond, who provides him with settings for his experiment

September 2004 - Faraday cries when seeing the Oceanic 815 wreckage

December 2004 - Faraday arrives on-Island from the Freighter


It's strange, but Faraday (along with Sawyer, Juliet, Jin, and Miles) has never seen 2005 or beyond, even though the "present" on Lost is now 2008. But we also need to look at the life of Daniel Faraday from the order that he actually experienced it, which will lead me to my theories about this episode.



So from a "Daniel Faraday Perspective":


1970ish - Daniel Faraday is born (somewhere, to someone)

1994 - Widmore begins funding Faraday's research

1996 - Faraday meets Desmond, who provides him with settings for his experiment

September 2004 - Faraday cries when seeing the Oceanic 815 wreckage

December 2004 - Faraday arrives on-Island from the Freighter

1954 - Faraday meets Eloise and the Others, helps them deal with the Jughead

1974 - Faraday leaves the Island

1974-1977 - Faraday spends three years off-Island, presumably starts working with Dharma

1977 - Faraday returns to the Island


Keep this Perspective in mind, and let's consider the possibilities...


1977 Faraday would know everything that led him to that point in his life. He would have the acquired knowledge from years of study in the 1990's and his time spent on the Island (including all the time-skipping). Being the only time-skipping character who actually left the Island (that we know of), there's the potential to do a lot of damage. Faraday could do fun stuff, like gambling on sporting events for easy profit (Back to the Future Part II Style), but I think he spent the years between 1974 and 1977 focused on one thing - saving Charlotte (or maybe getting our Survivors back to 2008, but I like the Charlotte story better). In order to do so, he realizes that he is going to have to find a way to alter the past, to change the present, which is seemingly impossible... or is it?


When Faraday time-skipped to the early 2000s, he told Desmond that he was "special", that "the rules" didn't apply to him. Most people (myself included) took this to mean that the rules about changing the past don't apply to Desmond thanks to the huge blast of funky electromagnetism he endured when imploding the Swan Hatch. Whatever happened, happened... unless you're Desmond Hume - and then you get to decide what happened through your actions.


If Faraday wants to change the past, he has to become like Desmond - he also would need to become "special" so that the rules don't apply to him. The only way we know of to become special involves the unique electromagnetic properties of the Swan Hatch, so I'm guessing Faraday is returning to the Island with the single mission of exposing himself to those funky powers. During his time spent with Dharma, Faraday probably worked out a plan to figure out precisely how he was going to do this, and now he's back on the Island to carry out that gameplan.


However, Desmond also knows that there are risks involved in becoming "special". Thanks to the exposure to high levels of electromagnetic energy, there's the risk of becoming "unstuck in time" when traveling to or from the Island - just like Desmond and Minkowski. If Faraday is going to carry out his mission and (I assume) leave the Island afterwards, he would need to take precautions to prevent suffering the same bloody-nosed fate as Minkowski. He would need a Constant.


"If anything goes wrong, Desmond Hume will be my Constant."


Faraday had this written in his journal in 2004. Keep in mind, this was BEFORE all the time-travel stuff started on Lost, BEFORE he found out that Charlotte was going to die, BEFORE he came up with his plan to "become special". In my mind, this means that 1996 Faraday had a journal containing information that he wouldn't have needed until 1977 (which sounds funny, but keep in mind the Daniel Faraday Perspective Timeline!). This means that before he left for the Island in 1977, Faraday must have sent something to himself that he would receive sometime before 2004. It almost creates a neat "loop" for Faraday's storyline. He's just a normal physicist, walking around Oxford, dating Theresa, happily oblivious to any of this - then he receives a journal from HIMSELF from the 1970's and his mind is blown. He starts reading his research and carrying out the experiments discussed within. Some of it probably makes sense to him, some of it probably doesn't - but over time he slowly begins to understand more and more. But the journal never leaves his side. That's when he meets this "Desmond Hume" in 2004, he runs off by himself and reads his journal that references Desmond - and suddenly it all starts to make sense. I'm guessing Faraday has had a number of revelations like this over the course of his life from the 1990's to 2004... maybe there was even some reference to the Island, the Oceanic 815 Crash, and his "gameplan" to become "special". I'm guessing this would kinda freak him out - maybe even driving him to be slightly crazy (queue the first time we met him when he was crying when viewing the wreckage of Oceanic 815!).



On the other hand, once he ends up on-Island in 2004, having this information would suddenly be really, really useful. It would explain how Faraday knew so much, knew to bring the equipment necessary for his payload experiment, noticed that light didn't "scatter right", etc - because he sent himself information about all of this, information he gathered through his time on-Island and his time with Dharma.


It all makes sense!


(Note: yes, it's possible that Faraday simply wrote about Desmond in 1996 after meeting him "just in case" he ever ended up getting unstuck in time, but that's a far less exciting theory than this one.)


You could take this a few steps farther if you want, having Widmore start funding Faraday in 1994 because he met him in 1977 off-Island while Faraday was working with Dharma and learned the truth. Likewise, you could have 1977 Faraday return the favor to Widmore by giving him stock market information about the next thirty years that could turn Widmore into the wealthy businessman we see today. My mind boggles with possibilities!!!


But I'll stop here. I think I've already built up this episode enough to ensure we will all be disappointed by it - but this should give us all something to chew on and discuss over the next week while I'm away.


Don't let the Blog burn down without me! See you next Wednesday for "The Variable" Instant Reactions!

Friday, April 17, 2009

"Some Like It Hoth" Analysis!

An episode analysis already? What's come over me? I'm actually ahead of schedule for the first time in forever! It's a beautiful day, so let's get right to it so that I can get on to more important things like drinking beers on my deck!


Faraday. It seems fitting to start the analysis with the "bombshell" of the week. Daniel Faraday is back on-Island, after apparently spending some amount of time off-Island. Logic would tell you that he left on the submarine that was the morning after our time-skipping Survivors ended up in 1974 - reason being, if Faraday had actually spent even a few weeks on-Island, I would think Pierre Chang would recognize him when he stepped off the submarine and be like "wait a minute - you're one of LaFleur's friends from three years ago!" However, if Faraday snuck off-Island the day after arriving at Dharma, the chances are good that he could have avoided most Dharmites... and wouldn't have interacted with any enough for them to remember him. That means that Faraday has spent the past three years off-Island. How did he fill that time?


Think back to Faraday's state of mind in 1974. He was a mumbling, bumbling mess, torn up over the death of his almost-girlfriend Charlotte, swearing "I'm not going to do it, I'm not going to tell her". Most of us assumed this meant Faraday wasn't going to warn Charlotte about coming back to the Island in an effort to save her - meaning, he was going to try and change the past (even though he's the one who continually told us this was impossible). If this guy leaves the Island the next day, what's he going to do? Obviously try to figure out a way to change the past. How is he going to do it? How about by going to Ann Arbor and working with the folks who are studying the "unique properties" of the Island in the first place?


I'm guessing Faraday left the Island and joined the Dharma Research Team in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Armed with his journal full of years worth of time travely experiments that he conducted in the early 1990's (probably using technology and concepts that didn't exist in 1974), I can see Dharma welcoming Faraday with open arms, even if they are usually far more selective and secretive about their employees. He would certainly be able to quickly advance their research on the subject, all the while working on his own in determining how he could use this knowledge to save Charlotte or our Survivors. It might be due to Faraday that Dharma began building the Orchid and discovered the FDW in the first place... maybe Faraday even initiated this project as part of his master plan to return to the Island and use that FDW for his rescue mission. It would all make a lot of sense, and be a really cool way to tie all the time-travel stuff together. My favorite part of this theory is that before he left to return to the Island in 1977, Faraday could have made a copy of his journal and sent it to himself in 1990 (using the whole "Western Union Delivery Man" plot device from Back to the Future), creating a weird but possible explanation for how and why Faraday started studying all this time travel stuff in the first place...


I mentioned Faraday's state of mind in 1974 for a reason. Contrast that with the confident Daniel Faraday that stepped off the submarine in 1977. What would cause such a dramatic change in demeanor? Simply being three years removed from the death of a loved one? Maybe... but I'm guessing that Faraday succeeded in his mission - he used those three years to figure out a way to change the past (queue Brian's "Faraday is going to bring about the end of the world!" theory from weeks ago!). So what's the next step in his plan?



Pierre Chang. Wow, Lost wasn't kidding when they said "All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues" back in Season One. I guess we can add Miles to the list that includes Jack, Sawyer, Hurley, Sun, Jin, Kate, Penny, Ben, Claire, Walt, Locke, Alex... wait - actually, maybe it would be easier to just list the characters who don't seem to have any issues with their fathers - but that list would mostly include characters whose fathers we haven't met yet like Juliet, Desmond, Frank, and Vincent. Odds are, if we ever do meet them, they'll also have issues. The important takeaway here is that the Lost writers apparently all hate their dads, and still have all sorts of pent-up rage inside them from their youth. He can't hurt you anymore, Lost writers! Take off the black eye-shadow, play sports, and join society!


However, in the case of Miles, I think his daddy issues are somewhat misplaced. Sure, according to his mother Pierre "never cared about us, never cared about you, kicked us out when you were just a baby", and "didn't want anything to do with us" - but I'm guessing this is more of a case of "tough love" that actually saved their lives rather than Pierre Chang "being a douche".


Why? Because I think Pierre Chang knew that the Purge was coming, and knew that forcing his wife and child to leave the Island was the only way to save them.


I'm guessing that at some point over the next four episodes, Faraday is going to approach Chang and start talking - telling him exactly how the Orchid needs to be constructed, how it will work, and some of the potential dangers. I don't know if he'll actually come out and admit that he's from the future as well - but if not, Chang is going to figure it out. From there, he's also going to find out about the Purge and his unavoidable future nickname of "Lefty". How do we know all this?


Remember this video from Comic-Con this past summer?



Me neither, so I went back and read my post from earlier this year when I first addressed it (which is actually worth a re-read, if for no other reason than to convince you that you should stop reading this Blog immediately because I basically spoiled the entire plot for Season Five in my pre-season guessing... or maybe I'm really a writer on Lost after all):


Revisiting the video now, a few things jump out:

  • Chang is sending the video from roughly 1977-1978, right around when our Survivors are still living among Dharma. That's roughly 15 years before the Purge will take place - yet he has already determined that there is nothing he can do to prevent it. The only way he could know this is from someone else telling him that "whatever happened, happened"... like Faraday.
  • Chang looks down at his arm (not yet prosthetic) and seems sad. It seems that he knows he's going to lose an arm - what a double whammy of depressing news from the future. No wonder he is so defeated.
  • Chang begs the viewer of the video to rebuild the Dharma Initiative and try to find a way to change the past... which means that even if Faraday thinks that he has found a way to change the past, he hasn't revealed that information to Chang.


Many have speculated that in fact, it's Faraday himself filming the video.


Having said all that, what is the purpose in filming the video in the first place? The only thing that I can think of is that Faraday knows that Dharma is going to be wiped out... but that doesn't mean that its intentions for the Island were all bad. During his three years spent with Dharma in Ann Arbor, perhaps he actually started buying into the underlying purpose of Dharma (which was to make the world a better place... and prevent the end of the world by manipulating the Valenzetti Equation). Even though his main concern is to save Charlotte - or possibly our Survivors - he also eventually wants Dharma's work on the Island to continue. The world still needs saving, and this magical Island might be the best way to do it. Even though the ARG involving Dharma recruiting people and starting back up failed miserably, without real ending, that doesn't mean that the plotline is dead. Perhaps Chang sending the video is the first step to a "hopeful future", that even if Lost doesn't address this storyline in its final 21 episodes, we can hope that someday Dharma will rebuild and return to the Island to continue their research to prevent Armageddon.


(Queue the forthcoming terrible fan-fiction that will start popping up after Lost's Series Finale involving Dharma returning to the Island!)


So, based on all this information - I could very easily see Chang deciding that although his fate seems sealed, perhaps he could save Lara and Baby Miles by getting them to leave the Island as soon as possible... either by telling them the truth about the future and the Purge... or by acting like a jerk and getting them to voluntarily leave. But either way, I think we saw the true Pierre Chang reading his book to Baby Miles.




Back to the Faraday. So what's his next step? I think we saw it in the first scene of this season. However, he's actually not "sneaking into the Orchid" - he's Dharma, probably fully able to move around inside their various stations without question. This opens the door for Faraday to have access to a lot more than I first suspected. However, it's also probably time for us to start thinking about what precisely he is going to do.


Initially, it seemed logical that Faraday would simply turn the FDW again to get our Survivors back to the proper time period... but based on what we know about the FDW, one would think that turning it again would not only skip our Survivors to a different time period, but also any other "non-Island Originals"... which would include all of Dharma. We know this can't happen because Dharma is on the Island in 1992 when they get Purged. In fact, we know that the FDW still exists as "normal" in 2007, and that Dharma has built a full station around it where they are studying its properties. So any theories about Faraday "blowing up the Orchid" seems to be out of the question as well.


The next thing that comes to mind is doing something in the Swan Hatch. Perhaps Faraday has found a way to tap into the huge pocket of electromagnetic energy behind those thick concrete walls of the Swan that could get people back to their proper time period. It would make sense that "the Incident" take place near the Swan Hatch, since that is where the new procedures about pressing the button every 108 minutes takes place. This would assume that the FDW is somehow "tied into" the same electromagnetic energy that is in the Swan Hatch, since both result in time travel. Since the Orchid and Swan are a good distance apart, this seems unlikely - unless the "core" of the Island is where this electromagnetic energy resides, and the Island has a really, really thin "crust" that only requires digging a short distance down before you hit the core.


As you can see, based on everything we know right now, there just doesn't seem to be an easy explanation with how this is all going to happen without introducing some new concepts about how and why this time travel stuff works - because neither the FDW or the Swan Station seem to be able to logically accomplish what needs to happen - getting our Survivors back to 2008.


But here's what I'm thinking... what if Faraday attempts to "go Desmond"? Meaning, he intentionally exposes himself to the unique electromagnetic properties of the Swan Hatch to make himself a wild card. We know that he can't implode the Swan Hatch like Desmond (since it still exists in 2004), but what if "The Incident" involves him blowing a hole into the pocket of electromagnetic energy below the Swan and jumping in? It seems like this would cause "The Incident", require Dharma to cover the hole with a TON of concrete, and maybe even need to release that pent-up energy every 108 minutes to prevent another huge release of energy. But more importantly, this would potential allow Faraday to become "The Variable" (the episode title of the next new episode in two weeks) that could actually CHANGE THE PAST.


Whatever happened, happened be damned! Faraday could suddenly start doing things that would change the past! What would be the first thing that he would do? Aside from gambling on sports and buying every share of Apple stock, it's saving Charlotte. Oh boy, here comes a crazy theory...


From the start, I've theorized that having the ability to change the past would make the space time continuum tear apart, bring about the end of the world, and generally be a really, really bad thing. But all the sudden, I'm thinking crazy thoughts like maybe it won't quite be so bad. If someone changed an event from the past, what if the universe would simply "course correct"? Remember that theory from Ms. Hawking a season ago? Basically, it's "whatever happened, happened" with a twist. Whatever end result happened, happened - but the details along the way are variable, and can change. (Yes, this immediately brings up the question of "what determines an end result vs. just a step along the way that can be changed?", but pretend you didn't think of that and stick with me here).


Let's just pretend that Faraday does something that creates a paradox. How would the universe course correct this action? I don't have the logic or details worked out in my head yet, but perhaps the universe would do something like "resetting" everyone back to where they are supposed to be to prevent them from causing any more problems. Then, it could resolve the paradox without fear of the "wild card" interfering again. It's crazy talk, I know - but it's the best I've got right now. In summary, I'm thinking Faraday causes the incident, becomes a wild card, and messes with the past... and somehow this causes everyone to get back to where I belong. I think we'll have a lot more information to flesh out this theory after the next new episode, which is Faraday-centric. But for now, I'll go with this.


Wow, that was a tangent. What was this episode about again?


Miles. Oh yeah, this guy. This week gave us some great insight into Miles' powers to communicate with the dead. He needs to be in close proximity to the body, ashes don't talk as well as bodies do, he mostly seems to be able to pick up what that person was thinking and doing at the time of their death, and to him, it's like they are actually talking to him. But the episode failed to answer the biggest question - how did Miles get these powers in the first place?


I can't help but assume it's tied to Miles being born on the Island. We have seen very few people actually be born on the Island, which would explain why we haven't seen more people with "special powers" - but I think back to Aaron being born on-Island, and how the Others were so concerned about that, thinking that he would be "special" for some reason. On the other hand, you have Ethan being born on-Island, who never really demonstrated any special powers (other than potentially being able to perform surgery without any real schooling) - and Aaron really doesn't seem so special anymore, at least not compared to someone like Walt (who clearly has some magic mojo, despite not being born on the Island). Still, it would be a heck of a coincidence for Miles to just happen to have these powers when he was born on an Island full of mysterious powers. Oh, and there's Bram's comment to Miles: "There's also Bram's comment to Miles: "You'll know who you are, Miles - why it is you have a gift - and most of all, you'll know about your father."



Bram. Damn. Sidetracked again! But I can't logically complete my Miles analysis before first diving into my Bram analysis. Who is this guy? If you recall last week, I theorized that The Shadow of the Statue (which currently includes Ilana and Bram) either had to be working for Widmore or not working for Widmore. Pretty specific, huh? After this week, it looks like the second theory is the correct one, but now there's another contender:

  1. They are Island Ancients (pre-Other Others).
  2. They are Dharma.


The second theory came out of nowhere, but seems to have some strong supporting documentation. Bram tells Miles that he has the ability to tell him about his father - the most logical way for him to know this information would be if he had access to old Dharma files, or knew people that knew Chang. Also, remember Chang's video (to someone in the future) that asked for Dharma to be rebuilt? What if Dharma did get that video and decided to return to the Island? They could have spent years building up forces and strategizing how to "take the Island back" so that their research could continue. The continued existence of Dharma would go a long way in explaining things like why the Periodic Ration Drops continued on the Island years after Dharma left... maybe they did stop, but started back up again in preparation for a Dharma return. You can almost make this theory work... almost.


But the first theory still makes more sense. I talked about it pretty extensively in last week's episode analysis, so I won't rehash it here, but I still think it's viable one week later. It's an easy way to introduce a "bad guy" for the final season, give the audience a door to the more ancient history of the Island, and show us that the current "battle for the Island" isn't something new, but something that has been going on from the start. Bram is clearly not working for Widmore since he tries to talk Miles out of joining his "team", which means he's either working for Ben, or a third party.



I suppose it's possible that The Shadow of the Statue are working for Ben, but it doesn't seem probably. When Ilana tells Sayid that she doesn't recognize Ben on Ajira 316, she seems earnest about it. One would also think that if Ben had all these "henchmen" on the Island, he would have used them to help him kill Locke again (which he wanted to do, as confirmed by his Smokey visit), or at least provide leadership to them. I have a hard time believing that Ben would have gone through the trouble of being judged before Smokey if he had all these Shadow of the Statue reinforcements already. It's more likely that Ben went through the Smokey Judgment as a way to win back the favor of the Others, not as something to kill time before he and The Shadow of the Statue engage in battle with them.


That only leaves a third party, and the only third party I can imagine knowing about the Island is someone who has been there before... the Island Ancients.


Revisiting Bram's comments to Miles, one of the last things he said to him was "all the money in the world isn't gonna fill that empty hole inside you, Miles". It's a very spiritual comment, one that would come from someone who believed in the power of peace and tranquility that comes from being "one with the Island". When Bram says that he'll learn the truth about his powers and his father, it isn't because he has some dossier filled with this information - but that he can help lead Miles on the path to "enlightenment" that comes from being "one with the Island".


Miles Part II. Where did Miles' ability actually come from? Perhaps it is tied to being born on the Island, but maybe he was just lucky and born "special", similar to Walt. I don't know that we'll ever get a firm scientific explanation for it, but I'm okay with that. We did learn that the reason why he was recruited by Widmore / Naomi wasn't to communicate with Jacob (which was my theory last season), but instead to simply help track down Ben, who had killed a lot of people on the Island - all of whom would probably have information that would be useful in tracking and capturing him. When Miles told Ben "I know who you are" and demanded $3.2 million dollars to not turn him in, it didn't have any deeper meaning - it simply meant that Miles knew that Ben had killed a LOT of people by listening to the dead... and the $3.2 number was simply twice the amount that Widmore paid (the same amount he requested from Bram). Miles is a money man.


The other juicy tidbit we picked up thanks to Miles' powers this week was that someone named Felix was killed on his way to deliver papers, pictures of empty graves, and a purchase order for an old airplane to Charles Widmore. If you recall, we've heard two sides to this story. Tom told Michael that Widmore was the one who dug up the empty graves and planted the fake Oceanic 815. Captain Gault tells Desmond and Sayid that Ben was responsible for doing it, and must have "a lot of resources" to be able to pull off such an operation.



Does the information from Felix tilt the scales in one direction or the other? Not really. I think it's equally likely that he was delivering the information to Widmore to prove that the job he paid for had been completed vs. delivering the information to Widmore as proof about what Ben was doing. The question is, was Felix gathering information on Ben's actions for Widmore or gathering confirmations for Widmore of his own actions? I don't see anything conclusive either way.


In addition to learning about Miles' powers this week, he also proved that it's possible to see one's self in the past without causing the world to blow up. However, he stopped short of actually having any real interaction with himself in the past. Again, I can't help but remind you of the video we saw of Chang freaking out when time traveling rabbits got too close to each other:



So even though we've proved that a person could see themselves in the past, we still don't know what would happen if they were to interact with themselves (which sounds dirty). Hmmm - I wonder if the "paradox" that Faraday creates is having Miles baby-sit himself? Could that cause some seismic universe course correction that gets all our Survivors back to 2008 before Miles can undo existence?


Alvarez. Lastly this week, I wanted to touch on Alvarez, aka the dead body that Miles had to take from the Swan to the Orchid. I don't know why there was such confusion about what happened to Alvarez, because they flat out explained it in the episode. But for those who missed it, here were the important lines:


Miles: "His name's Alvarez. He was digging a hole and thinking about some chick named Andréa. Then he felt this sharp pain in his mouth, which turned out to be a filling from his tooth being yanked right out of its socket and... blowing through his brain. Then he was dead."


The ol' Death By Filling. Gets 'em every time!


The bigger question for me was why the body needed to be taken to the Orchid. We got hints from Horace during his conversation inside the Security Station:


Horace: "Pierre, if it was caused by the electromagnetism, we need to know. You wanna see it now? Yeah, he just got back. I'll send him out with it right away. Okay."


So it wasn't so much that the body needed to be taken to the Orchid to be "resurrected" or as a test subject for the FDW - but rather, it was simply where Pierre Chang was, and he needed to investigate if it really was electromagnetism that caused the death of Alvarez - both in order to protect other Dharma workers from suffering the same fate, but also to potentially gauge just what kind of electromagnetic power they were dealing with (from a science perspective) to help refine their experiments on the Island.


This concludes the episode analysis for "Some Like It Hoth". Please remember to tip your waiter.


As a Blog Service Reminder (BSR), I'm around through Wednesday of next week, then on vacation out west until Thursday. Why do you care? Because it means I'll be posting my "The Variable" preview THIS WEEK since I won't have time to do it before the episode next week, which means you'll have over a full week to read my predictions about the episode and get extra jacked up for it... setting you up for what will surely be a huge disappointment when the episode doesn't live up to my hype. Or, you could display some self-control and wait to read the episode preview until the day before the episode (like usual), to only have normal-sized hype built up. It's really up to you.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

"Some Like It Hoth" Instant Reactions!

Brian's Three Word Review: Picking Up Speed

It's not as though any of the past few week's episodes have been "bad" - but it seems like they've all been building up to something big... and this week seemed to put us right on the cusp on everything to start unraveling and chaos to ensue. Unfortunately, all this excitement is about to happen when we're due for a "Clip Show" next week, so we'll have to wait two weeks to see how all these storylines that have been started are going to come together. On the plus side, I'm on vacation next week so this all works out perfect for me anyways. It's almost like the Lost writers timed this out on purpose just to help me out...

What did we learn this week to keep us busy during the next two weeks?

  • Miles is indeed the offpsring of Pierre Chang - who seemed kinda jerky, but turned out to be a good father to Baby Miles after all. Who wants to bet that Miles ends up telling him about the Purge, which results in Chang sending Baby Miles and Wife off-Island to save them? He's not a jerk, he's making the tough decisions to save his family!
  • Bram (and Ilana and two other Ajira 316ers) are NOT WITH WIDMORE! Looks like we have a mysterious third party entrant to the storyline after all. Just as I was hoping, this opens the door for Widmore to become a "good guy", come back to the Island with Desmond, and join the Others and our Survivors in the "Battle for the Island" vs. the Shadow of the Statue.
  • What lies in the Shadow of the Statue? Apparently the answers to all life's questions and a sense of "fulfillment" inside someone who has never known their father. Bram assured Miles that Widmore was the wrong team to join - and if he joined the Shadow of the Statue, all his questions would be answered. I'm still a big fan of the Shadow of the Statue being the pre-Others group on the Island, a group more in touch with the "mystical properties" of the Island than our Barracks-living-Others in the 1990's.
  • Faraday is back! Somehow, he got off-Island (putting to rest the rumors that he had simply lost his mind) - I'm guessing hitching a ride on the submarine that Juliet and Sawyer took a pass on. He's spent the last three years in Ann Arbor (home of the Gerald and Karen Degroot, who FOUNDED the Dharma Initiative!). I'm guessing he used that time to learn everything he could about the Island and time travel (maybe starting his journal full of notes that he would later bring to the Island in 2004) - all in an effort to save Charlotte... or get our Survivors back to 2008 where they belong. Something tells me that Faraday is going to be a WEALTH of knowledge about everything going on as soon as someone sits him down and makes him talk!
  • Hurley + Miles = Comedic Genius. The scenes between the two of them were all fantastic, especially discussing talking to dead people ("You're just jealous that my powers are cooler than yours") and Hurley attempting to get Miles and Chang to hang out ("Small world, your kid is named Miles too, huh?") It's really a testament to the Lost writers that characters introduced last season have become such fan favorites and integral parts of the show, even with an already quite full cast of characters.
  • Why did Miles ask Ben for $3.2 million dollars? Quite simply, to double the amount that Widmore paid him. No real deeper meaning there. Miles is all about the money.
  •  Nice references to Lost things this week. The key hidden under the concrete rabbit, Chang reading Baby Miles a book entitled "Me and My Polar Bears", and getting to see both the Swan and Orchid being built. Good stuff.
  • Yep, probably should have watched "Star Wars" as a child. If I had known it would be referenced on Lost twenty years later, maybe I would have had more motivation to show interest back in my youth. 

So... I guess that's it? It seems like there is more to say, but I think I'm out of ideas for now. Discuss!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Lost - "Some Like It Hoth"

Episode Title: "Some Like It Hoth"


Brian's Deeper Meaning Guess: This week's episode title is the first so far this season that has obvious pop-culture references. There have been some minor "deeper meanings" to the episode titles this season, but for the most part, they've been pretty straight-forward descriptions of the episodes. To recap, thus far we've had:

  1. "Because You Left" - line from the episode, Ben to Jack.
  2. "The Lie" - main subject matter of the episode, Hurley living the lie.
  3. "Jughead" - object in the episode, the nuclear bomb on the Island.
  4. "The Little Prince" - minor reference to the book of the same name (CFL's Crew Debris), mostly about Aaron - who really has no tie-in to the book.
  5. "This Place is Death" - line from the episode, from Charlotte… who also died.
  6. "316" - minor Biblical reference to John 3:16, number of the Ajira Flight that brings the Oceanic Five back to the Island.
  7. "The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham" - pretty obvious here.
  8. "LaFleur" - Sawyer's new alias among Dharma, also means "the flower" in French… which has no relevance to the episode.
  9. "Namaste" - "welcome" to the Island for our Oceanic Five, now in Dharma.
  10. "He's Our You" - refers to the Dharma "Torturer".
  11. "Whatever Happened, Happened" - Faraday's catch-phrase to explain time-travel.\
  12. "Dead is Dead" - line from the episode, Ben to Sun, referring to Locke.


Huh. Looking back, it sure does seem like I've wasted my time each week in coming up with a "Deeper Meaning Guess" when in reality the episode titles haven't really been that deep… until this week. We finally have a "fun" episode title to breakdown!


"Some Like It Hoth" appears to be a combination of two things:

  1. "Some Like It Hot" - the 1959 comedy classic starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon.
  2. "Hoth" - a planet from the Star Wars universe.


Unfortunately for me, I've never seen "Some Like It Hot" and have barely seen "Star Wars" (I'm not even sure if I've seen all three movies, to be honest with you). Thank God for Wikipedia!


The storyline behind "Some Like It Hot" is as follows:


Two struggling musicians witness a gangster murder… but are spotted by the gangsters. The two flee town and jobs in an all-girl band headed to Florida… in Bosom Buddies / Ladybugs style. They both fall in love with a (real) girl in the band, a millionaire falls for one of them (thinking they are a real girl), and wacky hijinx ensue. The ending involves the object of the millionaire's affections pulling off his wig and yelling "I'm a man!" to which the millionaire responds "Well, nobody's perfect."




The storyline behind "Hoth" is:


In the fictional universe of Star Wars, Hoth is the sixth planet of a remote system of the same name. It is a world covered in snow and ice, with numerous moons, and pelted by meteorites from a nearby asteroid belt. Native creatures include the wampa and the tauntaun.


If you're anything like me, you have no idea what the heck a "wampa" or "tauntaun" are. Apparently, wampas are fictional predators resembling Yetis. Tauntauns are bipeds that look like dinosaur-horses.




How does any of this relate to Lost?


It's pretty easy to see how "Some Like It Hot" could tie in - based on the episode description below, you'll see this episode will feature Miles and Hurley tasked with delivering a package to an important Dharma official. For starters, we already have Miles and Hurley pretending to be Dharma to avoid being killed by them (or the Others) - just like the characters in the movie pretended to be women to avoid being killed by mobsters. Secondly, if Hurley and Miles are involved, wacky hijinx are almost a guarantee, aren't they? Perhaps we're in store for a little buddy comedy - which will provide a relief from the "heavy" storylines we've had thus far this season.


But none of this helps us with the "Hoth" part of the title. I suppose you could say that Smokey is a "fictional predator" that lives on the Island, like the wampas that live on Hoth - and maybe the task of delivering this important package involve traveling through "dangerous territory" on the Island where Smokey could be involved. It's a stretch, but based on my limited knowledge of Star Wars stuff, it's the best I can come up with for now.



Big nerds out there, this is your chance to use that worthless Star Wars knowledge for something worthwhile! Help finish the deeper meaning of this week's episode title in the Comments Section!



Guest Stars: Francois Chau as Dr. Pierre Chang, Marsha Thomason as Naomi Dorrit, Doug Hutchison as Horace Goodspeed, Patrick Fischler as Phil, Jon Gries as Roger Linus, Eric Lange as Radzinsky, Leslie Ishii as Lara, Brad William Henke as Bram, Dean Norris as Howard Gray, Tim DeZarn as Trevor, Lance Ho as young Miles and Linda Rose Herman as Evelyn. "Some Like It Hoth" was written by Melinda Hsu Taylor & Greggory Nations and directed by Jack Bender.


Guest Star Breakdown: Once again this week, the episode guest stars give us a good idea of how the episode will unfold. Based on the episode preview and description, this week will be a Miles-centric affair – which marks the first time we get flashbacks about one of the Freightors first introduced at the start of last season. It’s about damn time!


Naomi’s inclusion means we’re likely to get a pre-Island flashback between her and Miles. Although we know that Abaddon somewhat forced her to include Miles on her team, perhaps we’ll find out HOW she talked Miles into coming along… or perhaps WHY Abaddon showed an interest in Miles in the first place. Was his ability to communicate with the dead widely known? What is the extent of his powers? How did he come to acquire these powers? Was it standard superhero style involving radiation, or inherited from a long line of dead-people-talking ancestors?


Speaking of ancestors, this week should also confirm our suspicions that Miles is the child of Pierre Chang (who seems to feature prominently in this episode based on the preview). With “Young Miles” and Lara (aka Lara Chang) guest starring, it should be pretty obvious if we see a little Miles running around the Island in 1977… although that might bring the whole “rip apart the space time continuum” potential into play if Regular Miles were to interact with him.


I almost get the impression that Pierre knows full well who Miles is (kinda like Faraday thought Ellie “looked familiar”), which would explain why he would be trusted to deliver an “important package”. In fact, Pierre discovering Miles is from the future could explain why he started to build the Orchid and know so much about the FDW in the first place. Remember that video from Comic-Con last summer, where Chang was fully aware that the Purge was going to happen? Well, if he starts talking to Miles and Co, it could explain HOW he knew all that and why he might start trying to find ways to escape the Purge and survive. Although it seems like Horace Goodspeed is in charge of Dharma on the Island, it seems like Pierre Chang is the one that actually knows what’s going on…



Interestingly, Bram (the Shadow of the Statue behemoth who’s BFF with Ilana) is guest starring this week… but Ilana is not. Does his mean that we’ll see Bram off-Isalnd? Or will the Shadow of the Statue storyline continue with Ilana absent from the action? Speaking of the Shadow of the Statue, check out the chalkboard behind Jack in the episode preview… all about the different eras of ancient Egypt. Either the show’s creators are throwing a big red herring at us, or we are onto something when we theorized the Shadow of the Statue have some connection to the Ancient Egyptian Culture on the Island.



Episode Description: Suspicions about a possible breach intensify after Ben is taken from the infirmary, and a reluctant Miles is forced to work with Hurley when he's asked to deliver an important package to a top Dharma official.


Episode Breakdown: It looks like time is running short for Sawyer’s perfect life inside Dharma. This episode seems to take place concurrent with the events from “Dead is Dead” – but this time from Dharma’s perspective, where suddenly Young Ben has vanished from the infirmary, and Juliet and Sawyer (along with a Dharma Van) are suddenly missing. Given Horace and Phil’s suspicions about those two during “Whatever Happened, Happened”, it should take long for them to start placing the blame on the “new recruits” among Dharma.


But the main storyline of the episode appears to revolve around Miles and his mission to deliver an “important package” to a top Dharma official. The two big questions? Who is the “important package”, which I’m assuming is this fuzzy-faced dead body pictured below? And who is the “top Dharma Official”? There are a number of additional guest stars that we have yet to meet, any of whom could be a member of Dharma… but assuming we’re also getting some 2008 Ajira 316 scenes, they could just as likely be members of the Shadow of the Statue. What would be especially shocking would be to find out that someone like Ellie / Widmore were actually covertly working with Dharma all along, explaining how the “truce” came to be… but even more shocking would be for this top Dharma Official to be someone like Christian Shephard. How? Why? I don’t know, but you have to admit it would be fantastic.


As for the dead body of the episode, I’m reminded of what happened with Paul died… and Amy was insistent that they bury the bodies of the Others and take Paul’s body back to the Dharma camp. There might be something weird going on with dead bodies on the Island (being possessed by Smokey?) that requires them to be handled very specifically – or perhaps Dharma just came across a dead Other, and they intend to use Miles to find out all the secrets that the Others know.



But enough guessing about the episode. It’s the opening night of the Dave Matthews Band Spring Tour! Time for me to cuddle up with the computer and hit F5 repeatedly for the next three hours watching the setlist be revealed.


Until tomorrow!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

"Dead is Dead" Analysis!

Say hello to the first ever Mobile Blog on Lost… and Gone Forever. It was partially written in the car on the way to the in-laws for Easter, partially written in 5 minute intervals when I had spare time over the course of the weekend, and completed during the car ride back home after Easter. This means it’s probably full of repeated ideas, changes of writing tense, and half-written sentences that I forgot to come back to. Enjoy!

Benjamin Linus. Okay, okay, okay. You were right, I was wrong. You’re smart. I’m dumb. Benjamin Linus did NOT die this week as I had predicted. But - although he didn’t die this episode, I’m still keeping him near the top of the Deathwatch 2009 List. As predicted, this episode effectively wrapped up most of his major storylines on the show – and while there are still a number of mysteries about his relationship with the Island… and how much he REALLY knows, I don’t know if we’re ever going to get nice and easy clear-cut answers to these questions.

That’s not to say that we, the audience, won’t find out more about the Island. But I think it’s more likely that we’ll see a lot of these major Island secrets revealed through Locke’s eyes in the “present” on the Island rather than having another Ben flashback to explain them. If you think about it, once Locke reunites with the Others, he’s due for some sort of “initiation process” in becoming their leader. Maybe they have a training manual entitled “Everything You Always Wanted To Know About the Island… But Were Afraid To Ask” that we’ll see him page through. Or maybe Locke will learn through experience, talks with Alpert, and taking a spiritual journey to Jacob’s cabin alone. Personally, I’d much rather watch these mysteries unravel in the present vs. the past – and have them be the focus of the on-Island action, rather than learning about them through a cutaway flashback scene while Ben walks through the Jungle, wouldn’t you?

The best part about this is that it will leave the audience to wonder about exactly how much Ben really knew – how often he was telling the truth and how often he was simply lying to manipulate others. Honestly, this seems like the best way to remember Ben. He’s a far more interesting character when we’re debating if he’s good or evil, telling truths vs. lying through his teeth.


But I digress. I have to assume that if Ben survived this week, he’ll be around for a while. The writers had the perfect opportunity to kill him this week – and if they passed that up, I can’t imagine a better opportunity will present itself in the storyline until the Season Finale or later.

As I mentioned, we did learn a LOT about Benjamin Linus this week, which helps provide some fresh insight into his character:

As the episode opened, Young Ben had just been magically “healed” by the Island. I have to admit I was a little disappointed we didn’t get any scenes of Alpert and Ben inside the Temple circa 1977 to find out exactly what happened. Did Smokey heal him? Was there a “Fountain of Healing”? Did Alpert do voodoo magic? We’re still left to wonder. But in the end, Ben was on the road to recovery inside an Other tent, rather than slowly dying in the Dharma Barracks.

We also got hints of the extent of Ben’s memory loss due to the healing. He didn’t seem to remember getting shot by Sayid (which also means he probably conveniently doesn’t remember Jin, Sawyer, Juliet, and Kate attempting to save him afterwards), but does remember his jerk father. Although this still smacks of a cheap plot device (wouldn’t he still remember our Dharma Survivors from living among them for three years prior to getting shot by Sayid? At the very least Sawyer, who was in a prominent position among them?), at least he still remembers how much he hates his dad and life among Dharma, which provides the necessary motivation for him to carry out the Purge – as opposed to Ben suddenly becoming a mindless follower of the Island who carried it out simply because it was a command. The act of the Purge carries a lot more meaning this way.

Note: there is one way that I’ll be cool with Ben forgetting a portion of the past. If the way that Alpert was able to save Ben somehow involved sending him / his memory / his consciousness “back in time” to before being shot, that would be a logical reason that he wouldn’t remember. But this seems like a stretch, might verge on “changing the past” (running in direct opposition to “whatever happened, happened”), and still seems pretty hokey.

Later, in 1989 we see an early 20s Benjamin Linus sporting a horrid haircut, who is apparently friends with a 12 Year Old Ethan… and they are both wannabe Others. Apparently, Widmore has sent the two on a mission to kill CFL – but upon seeing CFL with baby Alex, Ben is unable to pull the trigger. A couple of interesting notes here:

Ben must have become friends with Ethan, and convinced him that being an Other was way cooler than being a Dharmite. This explains why Ethan survived the Purge, but one wonders if he went through some “conversion” to being an Other, like Ben in the Temple – or if he just got to tag along with Ben vouching for his worth. But this is the first sign of Ben bringing “outsiders” into the Others, which we know he will continue to do over the years (Patchy, Juliet, etc).

Ben didn’t suddenly become a cold-hearted killer after his life was saved in the Temple. So even though Alpert warned that he would “lose his innocence”, he still had enough to prevent him from killing CFL.

Ben warns CFL that “if you want your child to live, every time you hear whispers, you run the other way.” As I mentioned in the Instant Reactions, this could provide a (lame) explanation for how CFL was able to avoid the Others over the years – but more importantly, it seems to confirm that the whispers are a product of the Others. The weird thing is that the Others seem like totally normal people. Outside of Alpert not aging, it seems like Ellie, Widmore, Ben, Ethan, Patchy, Tom, etc didn’t have any “special powers”. So what is up with the whispering? How did these normal people from various backgrounds who came together on the Island as “Others” suddenly develop the ability to mysteriously communicate via mysterious whispers? I know some have theorized that the whispers are the product of people time traveling on the Island – but given Ben’s warning, I don’t think so.

When Ben brought baby Alex back to the Others camp, Widmore instructed him to kill her, claiming it is the will of Jacob. Ben challenges him by saying that if it really is the will of the Island, Widmore should be able to kill her… but Widmore refuses.

Lots to analyze here:

Jacob. Up first is Jacob – more specifically, his “relationship” with the Others. More than ever, I’m wondering who – if anyone - can actually “communicate” with Jacob. In the past, we’ve seen Alpert, Widmore, and Ben all evoke his name and orders – but are any really in communication with him? When Sawyer and Kate brought Young Ben to see Alpert, he seemed reluctant to save him – making sure that they understood the consequences of taking Young Ben to the Temple. I would think that if Jacob passed down some communication to Alpert about needing to save Young Ben, Alpert would have taken him without question, warning, or second thought. Heck, if Jacob wanted Young Ben to become an Other, wouldn’t he have “put him on a list” and sent a group of Others to kidnap him?

Instead, it seems like Alpert saves Young Ben out of the goodness of his heart. When Widmore questions this action, he claims “Jacob wanted it done. The Island chooses who the Island chooses. You know that.” It’s like Alpert is playing the “Jacob Card” as a way to justify his actions, knowing full well that Widmore could never question it – because Jacob’s word is Gospel.

Why? Well, if you recall two weeks ago, there seemed to be some animosity between Alpert and Widmore. When Alpert first decided to take Young Ben, his fellow Others said he should first check with Ellie and Charles – to which Alpert replied “I don’t answer to either of them.” It seems as though there was a definite rift between Alpert and Widmore. As we saw in 1955, Charles Widmore was a bull-headed up-and-comer in the Others, who thought he was a lot more important than he was – and his style seemed to rub Alpert the wrong way… yet somehow he made his way up the ranks of the Others to a leadership position.

The Lost writers have compared Richard Alpert to someone like the Panchem Llama, used to help find the next leader of the Others… but is not necessarily the leader himself. Based on this conflict between Widmore and Alpert, I have a hard time believing that Richard would ever “chose” him to be his next leader. But perhaps there was a gap in leadership among the Others. Maybe their former leader had died, and they knew that their next leader would be coming in John Locke (eventually, since he foretold his arrival in a way by talking about Jacob in 1955). The problem is that the Others still had to survive between 1955 and Locke’s arrival in 2003, and that probably required a leader. Perhaps this is why Alpert was so anxious to recruit Locke – even as a little kid – and why he was so angry when Young Locke failed the tests he administered… because it meant he had to go back and deal with a few more years of Widmore in charge.

Under this scenario, where there is no official “chosen one”, it makes sense that a strapping young Other like Widmore would win a majority vote of his fellow Other to become the leader. However, it would also mean that this leadership role was on shaky grounds – because if Widmore wasn’t really “chosen” by Jacob, he probably couldn’t communicate with Jacob either. Perhaps, Richard Alpert saw Young Ben as an opportunity to knock Widmore down a peg and get the Others to start questioning his authority. Suddenly, Young Ben isn’t some nerdy kid who wants to be an Other – but he’s a nerdy kid who was chosen by Jacob, making him seem far more important.

The interesting thing here is that Young Ben was no more “chosen” than Widmore was – but through Alpert’s lies, once Ben became leader of the Others, he was untouchable. He could do whatever he wanted – and if questioned, could just say “Well, Jacob told me to do it” and people would just accept it. Maybe Ben was a better leader than Widmore (at least more aligned with Alpert’s point of view), but it’s clear that over time, Alpert grew tired of his fake “air of importance” by referencing a relationship with Jacob that he knew wasn’t true… but also couldn’t call out since he was the one who started the lie many years ago. The hostility we saw between Alpert and Ben suddenly makes a LOT of sense. It also makes sense why Ben tried to destroy Locke (through his actions in the Swan Hatch, making him question his worth, trying to have him kill his father, etc) – he knew that Locke was legit, and when Locke came along, it meant his reign as leader was ending. Likewise, it makes total sense why Alpert went out of his way to secretly pass information to Locke (preventing him from having to kill his father)and help him – because it was his chance to get rid of Ben!

Note the irony – Widmore tried to discredit Young Ben by getting him to kill CFL – an innocent woman on the Island, just like Ben tried to discredit Locke by getting him to kill his father. Silly Ben, it didn’t work the first time, what makes you think it was going to work the second time?

So in summary, from 1955 until 2003, the Others had two leaders – Widmore and Ben – neither of whom had any ability to communicate with Jacob… even if Ben pretended that he did. When Ben brought Locke to the cabin and he legitimately heard Jacob’s plea to help him, he freaked out. It confirmed that Locke is legit… and that Jacob had not been happy with how things had gone for the prior fifty years under the reign of pretenders.

Widmore. As for Charles Widmore himself, there are still a ton of questions about this guy. This episode did confirm that he had been leaving the Island periodically, (in my mind) living a double life. Off-Island he was a successful businessman with a wife (who could be anyone – and is just as likely never going to be featured on Lost) and daughter (Penny, who probably has no idea about the Island). On-Island, he was the ruthless leader of the Others who managed their truce with Dharma and ensured that the Island was protected from outsiders. While having Widmore live this double life makes a lot of sense (as his business connections and wealth could provide the money and resources we saw that the Others had), it also raises new questions.


For starters, where did Widmore come from in the first place? How did he first arrive on the Island? Once he got there, why did the Others assimilate him into their culture vs. killing him like they did the US Military team who refused to leave? After spending (presumably) a decent amount of time on-Island, how was he able to return to the real world and quickly become a successful businessman? For that matter, how were the Others able to come and go from the Island? We know that post-Purge, they gained access to the submarine. But pre-Purge, we’ve yet to see how they were able to come and go from the Island (although Alpert seemed to confirm they did have SOME WAY to do it, but it was privileged information). Short of a Widmore flashback, I don’t know how we’ll ever get answers to these questions – but these are questions I want to know… which again is why I think it’s the perfect time to kill off Ben and have Widmore move into full-time character status.

All we do know is that Ben was able to use Widmore’s double life as proof that he was an unworthy leader of the Others. Even though Widmore was probably providing a lot to the Others (and Island) in terms of resources, he wasn’t dedicating 100% of his time and energy there – which provided Ben with just the crack he needed to rally the Others into supporting him and exiling Widmore. Suddenly, it’s crystal clear why Widmore would tell Ben that “everything he had in life he stole” and believes that the Island is rightfully his.

Penny. While we’re talking about the Widmore family, this episode revealed that our worst fears were NOT realized and Ben was unsuccessful in killing Penny at the marina. There’s still hope for the Penny and Desmond happy ending to continue! Again, the irony is that although we view Ben as this cold, heartless man – once faced with actually killing a mother in front of her child, he can’t pull the trigger – just like CFL and Alex. We’re lucky he didn’t steal Lil’ Charlie this time.

The question is – since we know that Penny and Lil’ Charlie were unharmed – and although Des got shot – he clearly wasn’t THAT injured, since he was able to tackle and beat the crap out of Ben… what next for Desmond? I had always assumed it would be a desire for revenge that would drive Desmond back to the Island (where he has to end up, right? Not only because we need to see if he is “special” enough to change the past / future – but also because Ms. Hawking told him he wasn’t done with the Island). Given that he and his family dodged Ben’s best effort to ruin their happy ending, why in God’s name would Desmond ever return to the Island – where Ben happens to be – to give him another chance?


The only way I can see Desmond returning to Lost is through Charles Widmore.

Remember, before Ben attacks Penny and Desmond, he tells Widmore that he’s looking at them… and that he’s going back to the Island that day. I can see Widmore reacting one of two ways:

  1. Widmore rushes to find Penny, afraid that she has been killed by Ben. Upon finding them (recall that Ben also told Widmore the name of Desmond’s boat, which should help him track them through harbor records or something, right?) he convinces them that they need to return to the Island… somehow.
  2. Widmore rushes to track Benjamin Linus, afraid that he’s actually found some way back to the Island… and this is either bad news for the Island – or he wants to tag along so that he can return to the Island as well. Think about how Ben actually returned to the Island. He hopped on board Ajira 316 with a number of passengers from Oceanic 815, recreating the events that led them to the Island in the first place (keep in mind that they voluntarily left, but were not “banished” like Ben and Widmore). With them out of the picture, already back on-Island, Widmore is left with very few options of getting back to the Island himself – but the easiest one would be to have DESMOND recreate the actions which brought him to the Island in the first place… which conveniently was in a shipwreck… and he’s conveniently currently living on a boat.

It seems like the easiest answer to all the open storylines (in my mind) is to have Widmore do both. He immediately starts tracking Ben (which tells him that he’s on Ajira 316 – which helps him narrow down where the Island could be), then rushes to Penny’s side (under the guise of “being concerned about her” – which he may legitimately be), but then convinces them / forces them to sail the path of Ajira 316, hoping to end up back on the Island.

Sure, convincing them to do any of this seems like a stretch right now – but he could reveal to Desmond that the world is going to end unless he does it… or he could hire a goon to point a gun at Lil’ Charlie to force him to do it. Either way, the net result is that Desmond, Penny, Lil’ Charlie, and Widmore end up back on the Island… just in time for the Sixth Season “Battle for the Island”.

The Shadow of the Statue. I have to assume that Ilana and “three of the others” will figure prominently into this “Battle for the Island”, but the question is, who are they? There are really only two options:

  1. They are working for Widmore. When Widmore got the call from Ben, he immediately started tracking him – putting four of his “men” on Ajira 316. The “crate” of “stuff they need to move” are weapons and equipment that they’ll setup to help Widmore find the Island.
  2. They are not working for Widmore. In my Instant Reactions, I posed they might be former Island inhabitants (pre-Others) who got sent way into the future through the FDW and have been working to return to the Island ever since. Most of this was based on their “shadow of the statue” secret phrase (much like Desmond’s “what did one snowman say to another” secret phrase inside the Swan Hatch). The more I think about it, the more “out there” this theory seems, although it seems to be popular on the Internets since it could reference the ancient Four Toed Statue – which seemingly has been destroyed for the past few hundred years. If the Shadow of the Statue know about THAT statue, they are either from the way back past or at least know about the way back past (descendants of those people).


I guess I always assumed that the Others were a motley crew of people who had randomly found the Island over the years... but were always “the Others”. I had never thought that the Ancient Egyptian culture on the Island was defeated by some less-ancient culture back in the “Original Battle for the Island”, but assuming the Shadow of the Statue are not just reinforcements for our Others (bringing fresh soldiers and weapons), which I think it unlikely – they’re there to fight for the Island. It really starts to paint a picture of the Island as being a place that has been continually fought for over the course its entirely existence. Widmore and Ben are simply the latest iteration of this battle. Maybe Alpert is some un-killable instruction manual that comes with the Island. No matter who wins the battle, he’s around to tell them the “rules”, show them Jacob’s cabin, etc.

So who are the Shadow of the Statue? I can’t quite work out the details yet, but I really think they have some connection to the Ancient Island Culture. Think about it – having these new characters be tied to the Ancient Egyptians on the Island would provide we, the viewers, as a reason to learn about the Four Toed Statue, the original discovery of the FDW, explanations for the hieroglyphics all over the Island, and learn how old Alpert REALLY is. Plus, this allows Widmore to come back to the Island with Desmond as “good guys” needed to help the Others in the battle against these people, which I think makes for a really cool storyline.

What lies in the Shadow of the Statue? I don’t know if the answer to that question really matters (much like “what did one snowman say to another” didn’t really have anything to do with Dharma), but the simple answer seems to be something like “The Island” / “Paradise” / “Home” which would be really deep to the Island ancients, but not as much to anyone else.

Smokey. If I had one complaint about this episode, it would be the cheese factor of Smokey’s encounter with Ben underneath the Temple. Up until this point, Smokey has always been pretty “cool” – even when he “scanned” Eko, there were just fleeting images of Eko’s past intertwined with his smoke. However, when he surrounded Ben, we were treated to poor CGI images and “flashbacks” of Ben’s life, highlighting all the most emotional scenes – contrasted against Ben going through a wide array of emotions while he watched. It just didn’t seem cool.


It did confirm that Smokey does “judge” people – and then allows them to live or die based on what he sees. With Eko, he wasn’t sorry for his actions… and he was killed. With Ben, he was truly sorry that Alex died, but he had to do what he had to do to protect the Island – and apparently that was the correct answer. The thing I don’t quite understand is why Smokey only judged Ben on Alex – how about Caesar, who Ben just killed a few hours earlier? I guess Alex was the only death that Ben still carried around on his conscience, and Smokey just plays upon people’s emotions and guilt. It’s too bad that the “Island as Purgatory” theory was blown out of the water in Season One – because having Smokey basically act as a chance to “go to confession” and atone for the sins on your conscience (and face the consequences) would really tie into a Purgatory theory.

Maybe this is part of the “initiation” into becoming an Other. You face Smokey, and if you apologize for your sins, you are “reborn” as an Other – a person with a clear mind and cleansed spirit. Once you face this trial once, you never have to worry about Smokey again – which is why he would have attacked our Survivors right after they landed, but would leave the Others alone on the Island.

At least that’s my best theory for now. All we know is that Smokey has been around on the Island for seemingly as long as the Island has existed, as evidenced by the hieroglyphics that adorn his grate under the temple. He’s also able to be “summoned” by draining a pool of water inside a secret passage inside the Dharma Barracks… huh?


Think about that for a second. Did Dharma intentionally build their Barracks on top of an ancient passageway to Smokey’s doorbell without knowing it? Or did they do it intentionally as a way to “study” Smokey? Doesn’t this kinda seem like building a house on top of an Indian Burial Ground? You’re just asking for trouble! Or was it just a coincidence that Dharma built their houses there, and once the Others moved in they added the secret passage and tunnel? It just seems a little odd. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a huge deal, even if it’s a mistake on the writer’s part – I’d rather have them provide satisfying answers to the “big questions” on the show rather than worry about minor details like this… even if we’ve been over-analyzing those minor details for the past five years.

As for the Dharma Class Photos that Christian showed to Sun, now that we’ve confirmed that those photos were hanging in the very buildings that Ben and Juliet were living for years and years of their lives, I have a very hard time believing that they didn’t “know” about our Survivors. I’d be willing to accept that they didn’t intently study each person in each picture, but wouldn’t you think that AFTER our Survivors crashed on the Island and they began gathering dossiers for each of the, someone would have walked by those pictures and been like “Uh, remember that guy I spent all day researching? He’s in this picture from 1977!”

Even if the writers want to wipe Young Ben’s memory in 1977 with a hokey plot device, this would still explain why Ben was always outsmarting our Survivors… and prove that Juliet knows more than she is letting on. I’m sticking with this theory!

With that, I think I’m done.

I should note, I know that some people have been complaining about some of these minor storyline inconsistencies, thinking that they are signs that the writers really aren’t as smart as we thought they were all along. I still have faith, and am fully willing to give the writers the remaining twenty-two episodes to tell their story. But I will say that if they let me down in the end, I might just have to go back and “re-write” the ending of Lost – which of course, I would post on the Blog. I always talked about doing this for Alias, but I think for Lost maybe I’ll actually follow through on it. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

Happy Easter!