Sunday, June 22, 2008

Really Dead???

Early in season 4, Miles Strom went into a black woman's house to chat up a ghost. On the stairway wall was a picture of a young black boy -- many speculared it was the young Mr. Eko. But it wasn't. I asked him.

Yesterday my wife and I were at a grocery store in Mira Loma, California, and I saw this kid who looked so familiar. I knew I knew him from somewhere. Maybe a former student or something? But then -- WHAM! -- it hit me. This was the young Mr. Eko! Or at least he looked exactly like him.
Now I am overly sensitive when it comes to any kind of racist claim, so the last thing I wanted to do was approach him and ask "hey, you're young Eko, huh?" cuz of the whole you-must-think-all-black-people-look-alike thing. But my wife was smarter and generally less concerned about that sort of thing than I am, so she walked up to him and asked him, "excuse me, have you been on TV?
He smiled shyly and said yes.
"Were you on Lost?"
And we spoke to him for a few minutes. Nice kid. His name is Kola (officially Kolawole Obileye, Jr. ). He just bought a new house near the area. He is very busy with school -- only did Lost as a fun little thing to do -- doesn't really even follow the show much. When I told him that we hoped to see him again on the show, he smiled and said "I'm dead now." But with Lost, you never know.

Checkmate, young Mr. Eko.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Ep. 4.13 No place Like Home, pt.2

I guess it’s time I write this review. I’ve been sitting on it for two days now. Maybe I have put it off because I just don’t want the season to be officially over. Or maybe it’s because I was so disappointed by the finale.

Yes, it’s more about the disappointment. So let’s start there. Do you want to know what I hated the most about the ending of season four? Sloppy writing. Here’s what I mean:

Someone PLEASE explain to me why Keamy wired the freighter with all those explosives and his dead-man’s-trigger. Seriously. Why? Did he really think that Ben would give a rat’s tail about those “innocent” people on the freighter who have encroached on his hidden island for the sole purpose of capturing him and taking him to Widmore? I can see why Keamy would do it to maybe get Lapidus to fly him safely back to the island – or maybe if Keamy had wired the explosives to the orchid station or some other important part of the island. But he had already seen Ben let his own daughter die rather than surrender -- what kind of “life insurance” is boatload of strangers who aren’t anything to Ben anyway? Keamy is not that dumb. Stupid, sloppy writing. The ONLY reason Keamy wired those explosives was because the writers needed the freighter to explode. The writers needed that narrative beat. Contrivance. And that simply sucks.

You know what else I didn’t like? I didn’t like that Jack was the one who told the O6 that they needed to lie to protect the people on the island and they just went along with it. Why? How does that really protect the people on the island? And since when has Jack ever believed or followed what Locke has told him to do? I understand them covering their own collective butts – if the guy behind the hoax sees them contradicting his story, they will be in danger. But the people on the island? No, I don’t buy it. More weak writing. Cashing emotional checks early in the season without enough cash in the account, that’s what this was.

I also don’t like that Ben appears to be “off the island” like the rest of them. I am not convinced that he really is, by the way. Sure, he told Locke that the person who moves the island can’t come back, but Ben doesn’t always tell the whole truth, does he? And when did he visit Widmore anyway? After he moved the island, or before? It would make a big difference in the dialogue they shared if Ben really couldn’t get back to the island when he spoke with Widmore.

So I’ll spend some time over the long break ahead reconfiguring my whole black-pieces vs. white-pieces Ben vs. The Universe theory that I have posted elsewhere. I still am clinging to the idea that Ben is trying to outmaneuver the Universe – and perhaps this moving the island wasn’t as much about moving the island as it was the Universe’s way of getting Ben off of it. But I don’t know. I am a huge fan of Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, and I continue to believe that they have a master plan, but I must admit their armor took a few chinks with this finale for me. How much worse would it have been if they would have only had one hour to fit it all in, like they originally imagined. Yikers!

Of course there are things I liked about the finale as well, but I’ll save that post for another day. We’ve got a long long wait ahead.

Friday, May 23, 2008

R.I.P.... Sayid?

I want to make this very clear from the start -- I am not saying that I think Sayid will be killed in next weeks Season Finale. I am just saying that he should.


I like the character, don't get me wrong. But I think the writing demands it.
It is one thing to be able to tell a story and skillfully act out emotions and conflicts and surprises on screen. It is quite another to make the audience actually feel what the characters themselves are feeling. I think these writers have proven that they are up to it. They also have proven that they have a few tricks up their sleeves.
Go back a few weeks. Ben is standing in a house in New Otherton. Keemy has Alex at gunpoint. He is threatening to kill her if Ben doesn't surrender. Ben, however, is supremely confident that everything will be OK and the situation is under control. Why? Because he has seen a role that Alex has yet to play in the future. He knows she won't be killed because the island still has work for her to do.

It's like Michael, who we have seen escape death four times now (car crash, suicide, "not yet" bomb, Keemy pulling the trigger at point blank range) or Jack who has escaped at least once (jumping off a bridge) or Locke who has defied the odds at least twice (falling out an 8-story window, being shot by Ben) -- the rules of the universe are that you cannot be killed until it is "your time" -- and if you still have work to do in the future, it is not yet your time.

So Ben knew that Alex would be safe, until... BAM! Someone changed the rules.

What do you think Ben was feeling in that moment? He had seen Alex's role in the future. He loved Alex and had invested so much into her survival. Then suddenly, without warning, she was gone -- stollen away before her time. This is a significant turn in the story -- the rules have changed -- how do you live in a world where the rules have changed -- what do you do?
A perfect cliffhanger for a season finale, wouldn't you say?

So if you were a writer, how would try to get the audience to feel what Ben had felt when the rules changed? Well, first you would have to give the audience the ability to see the kinds of things that Ben can see -- you would have to introduce flash-forwards as a storytelling device (check). Then you would have to create a sense of security for a few beloved characters -- let the audience know that these people are safe in the "now" because they have seen them in the future -- make the audience emotionally invest (check). Then you would have to unexpectedly kill one of them -- you would have to change the rules.

Since the beginning of season 4 we have seen 8 characters in flash-forwards: Jack, Kate, Hurley, Sayid, Sun, Aaron, Ben, Widmore. If you were a writer, which would you kill to create the "changing the rules" emotional effect?

I think we can rule out Ben and Widmore right off the bat. They are both too central to the overall story, and there is apparently something larger happening between them where they cannot kill the other person, otherwise Ben would have just killed Widmore in that bedroom and not bothered threatening Penny (interestingly enough, so that Widmore could feel the rules-changing loss that he had felt). I'll give these two a 2% chance of being killed in the season finale, although I also acknowledge my bias here -- I really want them to survive.

Aaron would be a very weak choice for death. No one has invested much in Aaron's future role at all, and the reaction to his being included among the oceanic six was just this side of Nicki and Paolo pretending they had been part of the cast since the beginning. Killing Aaron would be an easy character to kill, but it would not have the desired emotional impact. (10% chance of being killed).

I think we can rule out Sun. She bought a controlling share in her dad's company and she has unresolved issues with Jin's apparent death. There are still loose ends to be tied and we have an emotional investment here, but there has not been enough clarification on her future role to make her a signifiant candidate. (20% chance)

I think we can rule out Kate and Hurley because they are too central to the show emotionally. Yes, that means it would come as quite a shock, but I don't see that the writers have developed much of a role for them this season for the overall scheme of things. Besides, I think the public outcry in killing them off would be too great. But again, aside from Kate raising Aaron and Hurley having the ability to see Charlie (and Jacob's cabin), we haven't really been asked to make much investment in their future roles. (25% chance)

I think we can rule out Jack along with Ben and Widmore, because he is too central to the story as well. That said, however, it would certainly be a massive shock, which makes him a strong candidate for an emotionally-charged, rules-changing death. But Jack has to get back to the island to correct his mistakes and play his destined role in overthrowing Ben. As tempting as it would be, I wouldn't off Jack. (40% chance)

So that leaves us with Sayid, and he matches all the criteria perfectly (which is no accident, to be honest, since I created the criteria with Sayid specifically in mind). We have seen him twice as an assasin in flash-forwards, so we know his role very well. We have been given the emotional investment with his marriage to long-lost-love Nadia. And best of all, no one would ever suspect it. He is the perfect central-yet-not-so-central character for this kind of emotional payoff. (51% chance).

The writers have promised that in the finale we would find out who is in the coffin. After all the speculation that it is Michael or Sawyer or Ben, wouldn't it just freeze those donkey wheels right off you to find out it was Sayid?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Faraday's notebook

We got another peek inside Faraday's notebook last week.

Among all the scribbled equations, I was really happy to see the following messages:

Timelike Factor

Spacelike Factors


So what does it mean? It means I'm right, of course -- there is a difference between consciousness-time-life-traveling and "teleporting" to another location. In other words, a difference between being unstuck in time vs. being unstuck in space.
Can the two happen simultaneously?
Well, sure, it is volatile and unpredictable. Is that what happened in the Orchid station orientation video with bunny #15?

Friday, May 16, 2008

Ep. 4.12 No Place Like Home

What a great set-up for the two-hour finale coming up in two weeks. I'm just going to ignore the obvious "Wizard of Oz" reference here because I just don't care enough about metaphorical ruby slippers. But some really nice tidbits came out like:

Sun buying a controlling interest in her baddy daddy’s company.

Hurley and the numbers reuniting after a long absence.

Claire’s longtime bed-ridden coma-momma “appearing” to Jack after Christian’s wake (She’s a ghost, like Charlie and Christian, right? An agent of the universe sent to deliver a message and plant the seeds for Jack’s eventual return? Do you think she really came out of that coma and flew all the way to LA for her papa-was-a-rolling-stone ex-lover?).

But the biggest question lingering with me is “why are the O6 lying?” Let me try and walk through this one if I can:

After the crash of Oceanic 815 (or maybe even before it, if someone had a – eh hem – bug-eyed foreknowledge that it would happen) someone staged a fake Oceanic 815 complete with fake Oceanic 815 passengers deep in the Sundra trench. This fake wreckage was discovered by a group who were – interestingly enough – searching for the wreckage of the Black Rock – the 18th century slave ship we have seen sitting in the middle of the jungle on Lost island. The discovery was announced to the world – all the passengers of 815 are dead!

Someone is behind this elaborate hoax. So far, we have heard two different possibilities. Widmore’s people say that Ben did it; Ben’s people say that Widmore did it. I don’t expect a firm answer to this question by the end of this season. This is one of those mysteries the producers want us to debate back and forth over the upcoming hiatus. But they will give us clues to work with, and a big one is the cover story we are seeing from the Oceanic six.

According to the lie, the plane did indeed crash in the ocean and sink deep into the Sundra trench, but not before eight of them were able to escape. (Why eight? Does it have anything to do with the numbers? Who were the other three? Aaron hadn’t been born yet.)

According to the lie, Jin never made it out of the plane, which explains the date we saw on his tombstone earlier this season.

According to the lie, Aaron is Kate’s baby (he couldn’t be Sun’s, since she’s already pregnant, and… well… Korean).

According to the lie, there is no magical island, there are no other survivors, there are no other “others” and – most importantly – there is no Benjimin Linus.

Who stands to benefit more from that lie, Widmore or Ben?

I’m pretty comfortable – at least for the next two weeks – with my theory that Ben is behind both the staged wreckage of 815 and the return of the Oceanic Six, who’s cover story fits the hoax perfectly. (And didn't the man behind the curtain send Dorothy back to her no plasce like home? Sorry, I said I would ignore the Oz stuff).

Of course these people are supposed to stay on the island to bring about the overthrow of Ben. Ben’s cosmic nemsis (the Universe/fate/destiny/God) clearly does not want Jack and co. to get off the island, which is why in the future we see it trying to get them to go back (sending Charlie, Christian, etc to send messages), but Ben has, once again, temporarily outwitted his cosmic nemesis by removing these potential threats. And at the perfect time, too – just before he gets John Locke to move the island, making the potential O6 return all the more difficult!

How did Ben know where that box was buried? How did he know it would have the mirror he would need to communicate with his people who just happened to be waiting for his signal at the top of that mountain. How did he know that the crackers were exactly 15 years old? Easy. Cuz he’s the one who put it there 15 years ago, like Bill and Ted stealing the keys to the cell after they escape and going back to hide them nearby before they ever got there.

And does anyone think that Keemy and his mercenary friends have any chance at all against Ben and his current plan? Keemy will die, that device on his arm will trigger the explosives on the freighter, everyone on the freighter will die, the island will move to a new location, and Ben has nicely covered his tracks to block the aggressive moves of his earthly nemesis (Widmore). Of course some people (Locke, Sawyer, Miles, Charlotte, Daniel) will be stuck on the island with him. But they are for Claire and Christian to take care of, now.

So the other lingering quesions:

How will the six get together?
Helicopter to the frieghter, about to land, frieghter explodes, but Sun and Aaron and Michael are already in a raft -- sorry Jin, you almost made it.

Did you just say Michael?
Yep, he makes it back but is not included as Oceanic six -- but he does make it as far as the coffin...

Why will Sawyer decide to stay on the island?
Something to do with Locke and continuing the search for Claire, but not before asking Kate to look after his daughter when she gets back -- we'll see.

What will happen to Jin?
He’ll die with the freighter explosion, or at least it will look like it to Sun.

Still on the beach -- probably won't even see her. Either that, or Ben will convince her to stay and continue her research – he still needs it for Annie, you see.

Miles/Charlotte/Daniel (and the Rose and Bernards of the world)?
Stuck on the island, although maybe Charlotte will die, which is why Daniel was crying when he watched the Oceanic footage on TV.

But I don’t think the island will be moved in ‘time.’ I think it will be ‘teleported’ the way that Ben was able to ‘teleport’ to Tunisia in that Sayid flash forward earlier this season. Furthermore, I expect it to move someplace cold – cold enough to warrant heavy Dharma parkas (aka dharkas). The reason it is unpredictable and dangerous is because you can never be exactly sure where the island will end up, or if it will arrive 100% in tact – you know, like the Star Trek/Galaxy Quest transporters where – ooops – my insides are now on my outsides.

But Widmore is smart, and he will anticipate the island’s move, and there will be another wave of attacks on Ben and the island. He may even become the primary means that the O6 have for getting back to the island. But that will be the subject of season 5 – how they get back. It will also give us more of a look at the Dharma initiative and Ben and Widmore’s back story. I expect our first glimpse of Annie’s importance towards the end of season 5. Season six will give us the final moves against Ben, and the restoration of Jacob, and that is when we will know what the smoke monster is and who the Adam and Eve skeletons are.

Finally, there is one theory out there that I am secretly hoping against, but I think it has some possible merit. This theory says that as a result of the moving of the island (or maybe a way that Ben tricks him while moving the island) John Locke will be sent back in time, become the leader of the hostiles, and assume the title of Jacob. I hope that John is not Jacob, but I can see how it might work out that way, and it could still fir into the Ben vs. the Universe theory – but I don’t know – we’ll see.

So what do you think is going on? And what in the world are you going to do after the finale when we have to wait another SEVEN MONTHS to get our next real Lost fix. This season went by too fast – a brilliant flash in the pan.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Ep. 4.11 Cabin Fever, Pt. 2: Q&A

Lostpedia is a fantastic resource for all things Lost. I was looking through their review of Cabin Fever and came across a bunch of questions at the end. I thought it would be fun to take a stab at answering them here:

Flashback Scenes
How did Richard get to the mainland?
The same way Ben got to Tunisia. He has been unstuck in space and can “teleport” from one place to another.

Why did Richard think Locke was special?
Because he remembers the future and he has seen the role that Locke is destined to play in the restoration of Jacob and the overthrow of Benjamin Linus.

Which were the items that belonged to John already?
The Book of Laws (as a leader on the Island) and the vial of sand (representing the island) and the knife (from his role as a “hunter” after the crash of Oceanic 815).

Why was he disappointed in Locke's choice?
Because Locke couldn’t see past his “hunter” role to his ultimate destiny. He was short-sighted, not ready to see who he really was.

Why did they want to recruit Locke for Mittelos Bioscience Science Camp?
To test if he was ready to recognize his destiny yet. Future John Locke already knows what Mittlelos is, so teenage Locke should recognize it if he is truly in tune with his destiny.

Does adult Locke remember meeting Richard in his youth? Did he recognize him on the island?
Eventually adult Locke will be unstuck from space and time and will be able to remember all things, past, present, and future. But at this point, he is still coming to grips with his destiny. He may have felt some deja-vu when he met Richard on the island, but he doesn’t understand it… yet.

Why is Abaddon interested in Locke?
For the same reason Richard is interested in him, and Ms. Hawking and Father Campbell were interested in Desmond. Locke has a role to play and needed some guidance along his journey.

What happened during Abaddon's walkabout?
Abaddon was speaking metaphorically. Abaddon was a slave on the Black Rock. When he came to the island, he learned who he really was. He became a follower of Jacob and was lead by Widmore before Ben took control of the island.

On the Island
What is Frank's intent in giving the survivors a satellite phone?
So Jack and the others can find them and stop Keamy.

How is Locke supposed to move the island?
Good question. I don’t know.

Where is Jacob, and why are Christian and Claire in his cabin?
Jacob is imprisoned somewhere. Christian (who is dead) has been recruited by the Universe (like Charlie and Libby) to play a role in this final drama against Ben. This is Christian’s chance to redeem himself for the mistakes of his life. Claire (who may or may not be dead) is playing a role in it as well, but I don’t know what that is yet.

Why was Claire so calm and nonchalant?
Because at heart she has always been a cool hippy chick who likes imaginary peanut butter.

Why did Christian ask Locke not to tell anyone that he saw Claire in the cabin with him?
Awesome question. No idea.

How does Christian know Keamy and his men are on their way back to the island?
Because it has already happened – the future, past, and present are one eternal round – the universe knows all and Christian is working on the side of the Universe.

Where is the "one place" that Ben would go to hide, as stated by Keamy on the ship?
Two possibilities: The temple or the Orchid station. Not sure.

Why is Ben no longer the chosen one?
He never was the chosen one. Everything he has he stole from Charles Widmore.

Who was the Others' leader before Ben?
Charles Widmore.

On the Kahana Freighter
What causes the time fluctuations that allowed for Ray's body to wash ashore before he was killed on the freighter?
An electromagnetic “bubble” atmosphere thingy around the island. Certain coordinates are required to pass through the bubble. If they are not followed exactly, they can send a person to a slightly different place in time.

Why does Ray's body wash ashore a full day before the helicopter reaches the island?
It hit the bubble at a coordinate that sent it backwards by a day.

What is the secondary protocol?
Another way of Widmore “changing the rules.” It explains what happens in the future so that they can anticipate and change it.

What is the device strapped to Keamy's arm?
Something that monitors his heartbeat. If his heartbeat stops, it triggers a massive (nuclear?) explosion that burns the entire island.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Ep. 4.11 Cabin Fever, Pt. 1: Review

Okay, time to do some more fine-tuning to my “Cosmic Game of Chess” theory.

I admit it -- during the first few moments of tonight’s episode I was a little disappointed that this was Emily Locke getting ready for a date, and not a teenage Annie, who I was secretly hoping was on the island getting ready to go on a nice Dharma date with her un-motherly-approved-boyfriend Ben. But no, it was Locke’s mom. Still, it was super cool.

So Richard Alpert – what is up with this guy? Keep in mind the line to Locke from the dream-visage Horace Goodspeed, “Jacob has been waiting for you for a long time.” Why? I still think Locke's destiny is to free Jacob from whatever power Ben has him under, although I am a little less sure of that after this episode than I was before.

But it looks to me like Richard is working for Jacob – sent to look out after Locke at certain times in his life. When he put those items on the table in front of little Locke and said “which one already belongs to you….” Awesome. And how else could little Locke draw a picture of smokey smashing Mr. Eko? Clearly he has some “memory” of future things that will happen to him in his life – and future is all relative, right? All things – past, present, future – are one eternal round, right?


Do I need to point out that little Locke was playing Backgammon – the same game he was playing in the pilot episode – the game he explained to Walt as the most ancient of all games? Even Richard made a point of commenting on the Backgammon game. Not exactly Chess, but still a very nice “game” reference where one player tries to anticipate and outmaneuver the other player (like Widmore's second protocol Keemy pulled out of the safe) – although the “chance” roll of the dice has more impact here than it would in chess.

And how cool was it to see Mathew Abaddon pushing Locke in that wheelchair, planting the idea of the Australian walk-about. At first I thought that we are seeing two sides with competing interest in the future of John Locke – mainly because I was had originally imagined Richard as being on “Ben’s side” (the black pieces) and Abaddon as being on “Widmore’s side” (the white pieces, aka The Universe’s side). But now I think Richard and Abaddon are both on Jacob’s side (aka, The Universe’s side). And here is why:

I’m still halfway considering that “Jacob” might be a piece of Widmore’s soul still imprisoned on the island – maybe the source of the nightmares Widmore spoke about. This would mean that Jacob/Widmore was the leader of the group that – as Ben referred to – ordered the mass execution of the Dharma Initiative. Ben was part of that group, but ultimately betrayed Widmore/Jacob and banished him from the island, imprisoning that little piece he needs to serve as his constant. I know, this is sounding a little stupid, right?


Well, it get’s even more stupider. So Richard, who was a Jacobite (aka, follower of Widmore/Jacob), supported Ben because he didn’t really know the role Ben played in Widmore/Jacob’s overthrow – he only knew that Ben was “chosen” (or so he claimed), so he followed him. But not all the Jacobites did. Some people like Ms. Hawking, Brother Campbell, and now Matthew Abaddon left the island to watch over key people -- to put pieces into play that would be needed to eventually overthrow Ben’s grip on the island.

Hawking and Campbell have helped Desmond on his destined path. Abaddon has helped Locke. And we know that Abaddon hired Naomi and the freighter folk, and we can see that they have a role to play in the overthrow of Ben, too.

Still, I really hope that Jacob and Widmore are two different people, where Jacob is maybe some personification of the island (like a "yoda" who has melded into the Force, and that Ben has somehow imprisoned) and Widmore was once one of Jacob’s “chosen ones” (like Obi-wan Kenobi) before Ben ran him off and sullied his name. I can see that Ben is claiming that he was one of Jacob’s “chosen ones” as well, but that may still be part of his big lie.

Is there any doubt now that Widmore can see future events and that he is using that knowledge to outmaneuver Ben? What was it the Keemy was saying about torching the island, and where Ben had gone/would go (and why was there a Dharma symbol on that second protocal folder?) All one eternal round to these guys, right? Unless of course they violate what is “supposed to be” and surprise the other person by “changing the rules.”

Which brings us to the best quote of the series to date. Drumroll please:

“Destiny… she’s a fickle bitch.”

I love Benjamin Linus! And Michael Emerson -- genious. What brilliant delivery on that line!!! But what does he mean?

Well, I still think he is angry at the universe because of this whole “destiny” thing. Even the way he said that he was “supposed to” get a tumor and that Alex “was supposed to” die because it was his path – that just sounded to me like he was mocking the things Ms. Hawking revered – the idea that everyone has a path and that the Universe is in control. So I get the “bitch” comment. But why fickle?

Because it’s changing, right? Which is why Faraday couldn't remember all of the cards Charlotte was about to show him, right? Or why Alex was killed when she wasn't supposed to be killed, right?


If you believe Ben – one day you are the chosen savior of the island, and the next day you are replaced by Uncle “don’t tell me what I can’t do” Fester (sorry – I’m not Sawyer – I shouldn’t even try). But that aside – Alex wasn’t supposed to be killed because he saw her in the future – that was against the rules. And if the all powerful universe can take his beloved Annie because “it’s her path” and he is not supposed to do anything to change it, shouldn’t the universe also allow his only-somewhat-less-beloved Alex the chance to fulfill “her path” instead of having it cut short by Martin Keemy? How is the universe going to course correct that? Fickle bitch.

(Ok, so I just like saying that – would it make it less offensive if I transposed it to Bickle Fitch?).

Claire in the cabin with Christian was downright creepy. Not sure what to make of it. There’s a lot of speculation going around that Claire is actually dead – that she died in that house explosion, but didn’t realize it (nor did anyone else around her, except for ghost-whisperer Miles). I’m not sure I buy into that completely, but I can’t dismiss it either.

A retraction:

A few weeks ago I suggested that Ben and Mr. Friendly were long-conning Michael with that whole “the island won’t let you die” thing. I thought Friendly had switched out Michael’s real gun with a rigged gun to perpetuate the illusion. Then Martin Keemy goes and tries to shoot Michael on the ship. Click click. So much for my great Long-con theory.

See, I'm not too arrogant to admit when I’m wrong. Right?


Just an all-around AWESOME episode. This show is the coolest.

And thanks to Kyle Dutton of Norfolk VA for emailing me and pointing out the Buddy Holly song "Everyday" - a song about destiny. (Nice touch)

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Ep. 1.1 Pilot

We had some friends over for dinner tonight and watched the pilot episode of Lost with them. They have seen a few bits and pieces over the past few years, but really don't have any idea what Lost is, so we decided to get them hooked. As I was watching the pilot episode, I had a few ideas based on this "Ben vs. The Universe" theory:

1. Locke is sitting alone on the beach with a Backgammon board. Walt approaches him, and asks if it is like Checkers. Locke says it is better than checkers -- that it is the oldest game in history, the earliest known set was from Mesopotamia over 5000 years ago. He also said, "There are two players. One side is light, and one side is dark." This is possibly a foreshadow to the oldest game in history -- fate vs. free will -- being played currently by Ben vs. The Universe.

2. The monster is in the trees around the beach, but never comes onto the beach. Is it possible that it is actually protecting the Losties? I haven't completely thought this one through yet, but if "the island" brought 815 to the island because people like Jack, Locke, Hurley, Sayid, etc. all have a role to play in the overthrow of Benjamin Linus, could the smoke monster be protecting the Losties from Ben? Is this why Ms. Clue tells Michael in season 2 "we can't do that" when Michael asks her why they don't just go to the camp and rescue Ben themselves? Maybe not, but it was a thought. I still have no idea why the monster ripped the pilot out of the cockpit and killed him, or why it didn't kill anyone else on the beach.

3. I also wondered why the island, with all its "healing properties" (i.e. Locke, Rose) didn't heal Kate's U.S. Marshall friend.

I plan to go back and watch episodes of season 1-3 over the next few weeks, and will add any information I see that might support (or not) my Ben vs. The Universe theory. Stay tuned (or not).

Friday, May 2, 2008

Ep 4.10 Something Nice Back Home

I guess after ending with Ben and Widmore squaring off last week, a let down is kind of innevitable. In the immortal words of Randy Jackson, "this one was just a'ight for me, you know? I wasn't really feelin it." At least no one was pitchy.

So what did we learn? There were a few interesting moments:

1. Christian Sheppard is playing a behind the scenes role. It was cool to see him holding Aaron and to hear Claire say "dad?" But I really wanted that scene between him and Jack. I guess we'll have to wait. My guess is that Jack will see him before he leaves the island, and Christian will explain that he (Jack) is meant to be on the island, that he has work to do, that Claire is his sister, and that he is not supposed to raise his nephew, Aaron. I got the distinct impression when Hurley delivered Charlie's message that Jack had heard this once before. Someone had a theory about "Jacob" being like Scrooge's Jacob Marley. Well, we are sure seeing the visits from the ghosts, aren't we?

2. The island wants Jack to stay -- thus the problem with his apendix. Jack is not supposed to leave the island. But we already kind of knew that, didn't we? Still, it was interesting to see Rose put that piece together. Jack is still fighting that destiny, and we see the missing piece between the Jack at Kate's trial and the bearded drug-abusing Jack.

3. Sawyer chose to stay. That was an interesting reveal. Do you think he chose to stay because he is still determined to find the missing Claire?

4. Future Kate has her teeth capped -- like oversized chiklets. Distracting. But the rest of her ain't too bad.

Maybe there are some other interesting things that I missed, but I don't know -- it was my least favorite episode of the season. What did you think?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Who is charles Widmore?

What an awesome final scene between Ben and Widmore in last night's 4.9 "The Shape of Things to Come." So what does that mean for my theory? Do I still think that Ben is waging a war against the Universe?


I still think that the biggest most important game is being played between Ben vs. The Universe, because Ben is trying to change fate and save Annie's life. The eventual outcome and the stakes of that game are more important to Ben than anything else (he is even willing to sacrifice his daughter Alex, who he loved as his replacement child when Annie died in childbirth).

The Ben vs. Widmore game is for possession of the island, and that is the source of the power Ben needs to wage his war against the universe. So this is an important game, too.

But who is Widmore? Why was it always his island? How did he know Ben well enough to say "I know you boy -- what you are -- and I know everything you have you took from me." In the war between Dharma and the Hostiles, on what side was Widmore?

I have some guesses here that may or may not pan out, but it sounds to me like there has been a classic "now the student is the teacher" moment between Ben and Widmore, and that would lead me to believe that Widmore was on the side of the Hostiles, not Dharma.

I earlier proposed some speculation about both Widmore and Jacob that I will have to tweak a little, but I think they were pretty close at the time, only now the roll of "teacher" that I enjisioned as Jacob is now filled by Widmore. Here is what I posted earlier -- you will see the tweaks I need to make:

[Young] Ben returned to Dharma and waited. He told no one about his encounter with Richard – no one except for Annie. Ben continued to sneak away from Dharma to meet “the hostiles,” sometimes taking Annie with him.

Richard introduced Ben to Jacob Widmore, the leader of “the hostiles.’ Jacob Widmore was a great man – a powerful man – a kind and forgiving man. He became a second father to Ben. Ben loved and respected him and was especially in awe of his great power.

Jacob Widmore gained his power from the mysterious Jacob and from the island itself but shared its power and secrets with only a select few who had proven themselves worthy. He taught them to “unstick” themselves in time and space, but warned them of the hazards that would come if they tried to leave the island. Ben wanted to learn these secrets and prove himself worthy, but again, he was told he would have to be patient and wait.

Jacob Widmore was in tune with the Universe, with God, and was a staunch protector of fate. He was very concerned about Dharma’s sinister attempts to exploit the power of the island, but he was confident that their efforts would eventually fail. He had seen the future – he knew what Dharma was trying to do – and he knew that their own chemical experimentations would shortly be used against them.

On the prescribed day at the prescribed time, Ben and Annie and a few other Dharma defectors assisted “the hostiles” in their purge against Dharma. The purge was successful and the connection between Dharma and the outside world was severed. The island had been saved from the outside world, once again.

After the Dharma purge, life on the island returned to normal – a peaceful, idyllic bliss. Ben and Annie were married, but then tragedy struck. Annie had a terrible accident and was killed. Ben was grief stricken. He appealed to Jacob Widmore
to use his great power to go back in time and save Annie from her fate, but Jacob
Widmore refused.

“It wouldn’t matter,” he explained to Ben. “If you saved her from that death another would soon follow. The Universe has a way of course-correcting. That is simply Annie’s path. You cannot change it – not even with all the power this
island could give you.”

But Ben refused to accept it. He delved more deeply into his studies of the island. He began to recruit others – people who wanted more than what Jacob Widmore and the island were offering – people like Richard and Tom who wanted to experience life off the island – a benefit allowed only to the few elect who had been found worthy to be taught all the secrets of the island.

These elect people had proven themselves worthy and been taught by Jacob Widmore to “unstick’ themselves in time and space and to transcend their very natures. They became part of the island, and when “unsticking” themselves in time and space would manifest themselves as black smoke-like creatures with amazing power and ability. Ben wanted this power and ability for himself, so he went along doing all he needed to be deemed worthy, to become one of the elect – and eventually he was rewarded.

Once he learned the secrets of the island, however, Ben tricked Jacob Widmore and imprisoned [or expelled him from the island making it impossible for him to return] him. Ben could not simply kill Widmore, because Widmore -- as he had done for many of his followers -- had taught Ben the secrets of time and space, and had made himself Ben's constant. If Ben killed his constant, he would lose the control he had over time and space and would eventually "short circuit."

When Jacob Widmore did not return to his people, Ben spread the word that Jacob Widmore had lost favor with the universe Jacob– that he had lost favor with God. He began to speak of Jacob Widmore as a man who was neither kind nor forgiving.

Jacob Widmore had been lost, but not permanently. He could still be redeemed if his followers gathered together and worked for a common goal.

And Ben – as the new custodian of the island’s powers – could still communicate with the mysterious Jacob, so he could show his people the way to reclaim him from his tragic fate.

This was the lie Ben used to assume his power.

He also taught his chosen supporters secrets that Jacob Widmore had safeguarded and reserved for the elect. This included making himself the "constant" for
people like Richard and Tom who wanted to travel off the island. Ben made these
things possible for them, and thus secured their loyalty.

But most importantly, once Ben assumed control, he used his new power to go back and save Annie from her original cause of death. But sure enough, when one death was avoided, the universe course-corrected and another death followed.

Still, each time Ben found a way to avoid it and postpone it. He used the lie about Jacob Widmore to recruit others to assist him in his efforts, and thus developed a powerful network of followers, both on and off the island, who could help him with any task he assigned.

Not all Jacob Widmore's people accepted Ben. Some of the elect abandoned the island, and set about working against Ben in their attempt to free Jacob Widmore.

So what is the relationship between Widmore and Jacob? Is Jacob Yoda to Widmore's Obi-Wan to Ben's Anakin? Is Widmore actually Jacob -- a piece of soul trapped on the island some quantum-ghost state? Does Widmore see the island in his nightmares? Did Widmore originally get to the island on the Black Rock? So many interesting questions. What a great episode. I absolutely loved it!
Just one final thing to say:
Yoda – Obi-wan –Anakin
Jacob – Widmore – Ben

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Ep. 4.9: The Shape of Things to Come

What an amazing hour of TV. Does this show just keep getting better, or what? How much clearer can it be that the central story to Lost is not about Jack or Locke or Sawyer or Kate or any of the Losties we have seen so much of in Seasons 1-3. This is Ben’s story, and the island has given him power to manipulate space and time. We still don’t know exactly how or why, but we are beginning to see more and more how real this actually is.

Was that not the coolest return from commercial break when we see Ben sprawled out on his back in the middle of the Tunisian desert? Wha???

This is Ben moving through space, from one location to another. And it was unsettling enough to make him vomit. And his interaction with those guys on horseback (or were they camels?) – do you speak English? No. Mental note to self – quickly consciousness-travel back in time and learn a little Arabic to distract them – wham, bam, thanks Imam.

What is the date? Still 2005, right? He just wanted to make sure that when he “space” traveled he didn’t accidentally “time” travel as well. Because time was of the essence – he had to get to Sayid while he was still grieving.

And poor Sayid – he made it back to LA as an O6 and married his long lost love, Nadia. But the long awaited honeymoon was cut tragically short. Why? Because Ben had her killed. Then he blamed it on Widmore’s guy. Now we know how he ensnared Sayid’services. Wicked, evil, manipulating, “I find what they are invested in and I exploit it” Benjamin Linus, with that conniving little grin. Something tells me that Ben knows all too well the grief that comes from the death of a wife, and the extreme measures a person will take in the wake of it.

Which brings me to Alex. I will miss Alex. She was interesting and cute. I was moved by Ben’s grief for her. What an amazingly complex character – so capable of outright malice, but so full of feeling for those who he loves...

(Smokey was terrifyingly menacing, no? Looks like the island’s Davy Jones has his own pet Kraken)

…and so capable of vengeance. I’m going to kill your daughter so you know how it feels.

That final scene with Widmore was completely amazing. So who else thinks after this episode that Widmore is Jacob? Ben can’t kill him. Why? What would happen? Could it have something to do with Widmore being Ben’s constant? The island always has been and always will be Widmore’s – fascinating! And he knows Ben – “I know you boy” – like a former mentor, a father figure. Widmore has bad dreams – could this be related to Jacob – a piece of his soul that is still imprisoned on the island? What did it mean that Charles “changed the rules?”

I absolutely LOVE this show. Now I have to go and watch it again.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Time Travel vs. Life Travel

I think it is important to clearly define these terms. When we say “time travel” we traditionally think of a person being able to go backwards or forward to any point in time and to any place on the earth. Marty McFly can go back to the future in his De Lorean. Bill and Ted can collect famous history dudes in their flying phone booth. But that is not the kind of “time travel” we have seen so far on Lost. Lost's version isn’t really “time travel” in that traditional sense. It is more like “life travel.”

I want to call this “life travel” because the traveling is limited to the lifespan of the person doing the traveling. It is not the physical person who is traveling from one place to another place so much as it is the mind or the consciousness of that person -- like Billy Pilgrim in Slaughterhouse-Five.

In “life traveling,” Marty McFly can’t go back to meet his parents in 1955, 30 years before he was born, because there was no physical “Marty” in 1955 for his mind to travel in to. Ditto for Bill and Ted, although with those two you have to wonder if there is much of a mind to really travel at all (dude!). In life traveling, at no point does the person travel outside of himself. The travel is all inside – the mind or consciousness travels to different times within their own life.

For example, Desmond’s consciousness can go from 2004 to 1996, as we have seen a few times now. Theoretically, it could also go back to the day he was born, although he would be limited in what he could do as an infant with his under-developed motor and mental skills. But he could not go back to any time before he was born, nor could he go forward to a time after he has died. The traveling is limited to the person’s life span.

I don’t know much about quantum physics, and I didn’t even stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but as I understand it, from a molecular point of view (no, I don’t know what that means) a person’s past, present, future is all one. There is no good reason why we should not be able to remember the future the way we remember the past. “Life travel” allows you to not only remember the future, but also to pick any moment in your life and “be” in that moment. Desmond hasn't learned all there is to learn about it yet, but it is possible that he could come to be able to control it.

Of course, with that “memory” of the future, imperfect and incomplete as memories can be, a person can either let things unfold they way they remember them, or they can attempt to change it. For example, when Desmond remembers Charlie dying – as he did several times – he did what he could to change it. I think that the same thing is happening with Ben trying to save his beloved Annie, but on a much much larger scale.


Let’s look at the episodes in Lost where “life travel” first showed up and see if we can understand how and why this is happening. (I'm starting early in season 3, and will add more later on):


We get our first glimpse of Desmond’s new ability when he “remembers” the future. Hurley says something about Jack, Kate, and Sawyer. Desmond says:

“Don’t worry. Locke’s gonna go after them. He said so in his speech.”

Of course Locke didn’t make that speech until later that day, which is when Hurley (and the rest of us) started to figure it out.

Every Man for Himself (S3.04)

In this episode, we see Desmond sitting on the beach looking over at Claire’s tent. He is remembering something that is going to happen -- a deja vu moment -- but we don’t know what. He first suggests that Claire and Aaron leave the tent for a while, so he can make some repairs. When that doesn’t work, he gets a golf club and makes a lightening rod just outside the tent. It starts to rain, lightening strikes, and bam – the disaster he saw earlier (Charlie being struck by lightening) has been averted. “Life traveling” gave Desmond information that he used to change a tragedy.

As if this were not important enough, several other significant things happen in this episode that begin to give us a glimpse into a much larger story on the horizon – the story of Ben and his “life traveling” experience as he changes the tragedies with Annie.

First, it is important to recognize that the Desmond-Charlie storyline is a foreshadowing of the Ben-Annie storyline and that the Ben-Annie storyline is central to the entire series. That assumption will color all these interpretations.

In this episode we learn a little more about Ben than we knew before. Ben tells Sawyer that he has implanted a pace-maker into his chest that will make his heart explode if his heart rate goes above 140. This is just a con, of course, meant to keep Sawyer in line, but also to gain his respect. Ben has some plans for Sawyer in the future, and he needs him to respect him as a conman.

But there is something deeper driving Ben. He comments that the reason Sawyer started behaving was not because he was afraid his heart would explode, it was because he was afraid they would do the same thing to Kate. It was because of love -- a love he tries to hide. Ben mentions this and quotes a passage from Of Mice and Men:

“You work so hard to make her think you don’t care – that you don’t need her… but, “A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody. It don’t make no difference who the guy is, as long as he’s with you. I tell ya, a guy gets too lonely and he gets sick.”

Why is Ben saying this? Surely he wants to impress Sawyer with a bigger-better "don't you read" comeback. But why this message from the book? Maybe Ben is just trying to get Sawyer to let his guard down with Kate so they can be little humping guinea pigs in Ben's ongoing fertility experiment. But I think there is more to it. I think Ben is also giving us a glimpse of his own motivation. No one wants to be alone. Everyone’s gotta have someone to love. He urges Sawyer to express his feelings for Kate because love is important to Ben – Annie is important. He misses her. And he’s lonely.

Not in Portland (S3.07)

This is also a key episode in understanding Ben’s motivation. While it does not further the Desmond “life traveling” story line, it does give us our first glimpse at the lengths Ben will go to save Annie from dying.

Ben has sent Richard Alpert to Miami to recruit a fertility specialist. Juliet Burke has created life where life is not supposed to be. Ben wants her on the island. Why? In later episodes we learn that pregnant women die on the island. Ben wants Juliet to solve this, and he will not let her go until she does. Why is this so important? Is it because Ben has witnessed a pregnancy-related death on the island with his beloved Annie?

Imagine what would happen if Ben lost Annie, but he had the ability to “life travel.” In that case, it would be possible for him to move forward in time, commission some research to find a cure, then travel back in time and use that cure to save the woman he loves. Would something like that even be possible? With "life travel" it would be. But wouldn't something like that be changing fate? I thought the universe has a way of course-correcting so that people stay on their path no matter what.

Yes, but Ben is fighting against fate. He is pushing a doctrine of free will. He is challenging determinism and emphasizing each person's role in shaping their own life. It is a difficult concept to push because determinism has been the prevailing belief on the island for thousands of years. But he has convinced a few people, and he has created a nice little movie to help convince the rest. We get a taste of this movie when we enter room 23.


Perhaps the most intriguing moment in "Not in Portlad" comes when Kate, Sawyer, and Alex rescue Carl from the brainwashing Room 23.

We hear sounds and see flashing lights and we see the following messages appear on the screen:

“Plant a good seed and you will joyfully gather fruit,”

“Everything Changes,”

“We are the causes of our own suffering,”

“God loves you as he loved Jacob,”

and “Think about your life.”

In addition, if you play the video backwards, you here a phrase repeated by different people over and over again: “Only fools are enslaved by time and space”

Each of these messages is meant to convince the brainwashee that THEY are in control of their actions – they are their own free agents --- their life is determined by their actions, not pre-determined by fate.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these messages:

“Plant a good seed and you will joyfully gather fruit,”

Obviously, you will reap the rewards of your own actions. What you put in to your life will determine what you get out of your life. You are in charge, not fate. This is the positive side of the coin.

“Everything Changes,”

Things are not predetermined and nothing is written in stone. You can change the past, the present, and future. Despite what Ms. Hawking said, you can save the man in the red-shoes and keep him alive. The course-correcting universe does not decide what will be. You do.

“We are the causes of our own suffering,”

Again, you reap the rewards of your own actions. This is the negative side of the coin.

“God loves you as he loved Jacob,”

A very important message to throw in to the brainwashing. This message of absolute human agency is contrary to what Jacob taught. But God supports your agency. He loves you and let’s you choose your path. He doesn’t choose it for you. He loved Jacob, but Jacob fell out of grace because he believed that the universe determines the course of your life. That was a false belief, so he fell out of favor with God. But God loves you like he used to love Jacob, and he supports your free agency.

“Think about your life.”

You control your life. It is up to you. And, if you think about it enough, you will have a clearer understanding of your past, present, and future. This can help you make the best choices and plant the best seeds now.

“Only fools are enslaved by time and space”

This is the ultimate goal for people on the island, to learn how to “un-stick” themselves in time and space. Not everyone is able to achieve it. And once achieved, not everyone is able to control it. But it is possible.

Only fools are enslaved by time and space

No one wants to be a fool, right? So how do you do it? What is the process? There are two main parts to this -- time and space-- and while they certainly interconnect, it would be best to understand them separately.


First, to be enslaved by time means that your consciousness moves only forward, slowly, second-by-second, from birth until death. It is just the normal day-to-day aging process that fools like us are used to. Your mind is always only in “the now.” You may have memories of the past – imperfect and incomplete as they may be -- but if you are enslaved, you cannot “un-stick” yourself from time. You cannot move your mind forward or backward from the now. We have seen Desmond and Minkowski (“I was just on a ferris wheel”) become “unstuck” in time, although neither of them could control it. It happened as a result of their exposure to the electromagnetic qualities of the island, or perhaps to a force-bubble-type-thing that surrounds the island. Either way, we know that they have “life traveled.” Although since they have not learned to control it, the may possibly still be "stuck" (and Minkowski's death only sets an end point for his life traveling ability -- it is still possible for past Minkowski to life travel, if he could somehow find a constant and learn to control it).

Now, there is also reason to believe that "un-enslaving yourself in time" can also mean prolonging your life – stopping, or severally slowing the aging process. This has not been confirmed, but it has been suggested with Richard Alpert, who looks the same today as he did 30 years ago when he first met Ben. Ben says, “you do remember birthdays, don’t you Richard?” So it is possible that a person who is “un-enslaved” by time would live much longer, thus increasing the life span within which to “life travel.” But they are still mortal, and can still be killed...

...and surprised. The future does not always happen the way someone remembers it. You can plan for only so much, but since human agency is still a factor, and there are so many paths, and the universe is constantly course-correcting, the unexpected can (and does) happen all the time.

I think something like this happened with Colleen and Sun. Colleen believed that Sun would not shoot her, because she remembered Sun not shooting her. But in that moment, Sun made a different choice, and it surprised everyone.

We also see this – in a far less tragic example – with the jeweler Ms. Hawking. She is surprised when Desmond says he will take the ring. That isn’t how it was supposed to happen. It’s not how she remembered it. But after the initial shock wore off, she relaxed and resigned herself to fate as if to say, “Go ahead and take the ring – it won’t matter. You won’t use it. It is not your path.” But more on Hawking later.


But what does it mean to be enslaved by space? This has to do with physical location – where you are. A person who is enslaved by space can only ever be exactly where they are. They can walk, or run, or take another means of transportation to move from one location to another, but this takes time (the other enslavement). To be un-enslaved or “un-stuck” in space means that you can move from one physical location to another in no time at all. We have not really seen any clear examples of this yet, but I think we have been given a few glimpses.

There were several times in season two when Walt instantaneously appeared in places he was not supposed to be. This, in fact, was one of the main questions Ms. Clue asked Michael when he mentioned they lived half a world away – did he ever see Walt when they were apart like that? Has Walt ever appeared in a place where he shouldn’t have been? Walt was special, and – although never properly trained on how to achieve this on the island – was intuitively sensitive to the whatever abilities are required to "unstick" yourself in space. This doesn't necessarily mean he could "life travel." Remember, unsticking yourself in time and space are two different things.

When Harper appears to Juliet to pass on a message from Ben, she seems to have appeared out of nowhere and then disappear just as quickly. We know that Tom was able to travel off the island – he told Michael that “some of us” are able to do that. Maybe he traveled by submarine, but it is also possible that he could unstuck himself in space.

We have also seen Jacob’s cabin move from place to place when Hurley came across it. It also was not where it was supposed to be when Locke went back with the hope of talking to Jacob.

It may be possible for a person to be able to unstick themselves in time, but not space (or vice-versa). But imagine how powerful a person would be if he could unstick himself in both! That is when a person would have the appearance of traditional "time travel" but it is still two separate processes. And while we are aware that the island has special electromagnetic qualitites, we still do not know exactly how either one of them is possible.

Flashes Before Your Eyes (S3.08)

So at this point, we have been given some glimpses of “life traveling” and have been introduced to a few motivational themes for anyone (i.e. Desmond, Ben) who might want to prevent a tragedy with their “life traveling” abilities. Now it is time to understand what that person would be up against.

First we learn how Desmond remembers the future. His memory is flawed – he only remembers bits and pieces – and sometimes he remembers wrong (he remembered the wrong night in the pub – the events were correct, but the night was wrong).

Second, we meet Ms. Hawking at the jewelry store while Desmond is shopping for wedding rings, and she provides a wealth of information about The Universe -- the thing that makes free choice inconsequential, because things are going to happen the way they are supposed to happen and you simply cannot change that.

Her first words to Desmond are:

“Never done this before, have you? I can always tell the first timers.”

On the surface, this is understood to mean that Desmond is a first-time ring shopper. But the dialogue is smart and has a double meaning. It can also communicate that this is the first time Desmond has “life traveled.” Ms. Hawking is not just a jeweler. She is much more. A seasoned “life traveler” herself, she has taught many others, and can easily spot a newbie.

When Desmond says, “I’ll take it [the ring],” she is initially surprised.

“No you won’t,” she says. “This is wrong. You don’t buy the ring. You have second thoughts and walk right out that door.”

Desmond is amazed at this, especially when she calls him by name. How is this done? Ms. Hawking replies with this matter-of-fact prophesy:
“I know your name as well as I know that you don’t ask Penny to marry you. In fact, you break her heart. Well, breaking her heart, of course, is what drives you in a few short years from now to enter that sailing race to prove her father wrong. Which brings you to the island, where you spend the next three years of your life entering numbers into the computer, until you are forced to turn that failsafe key. And if you don’t do those things, Desmond David Hulme, every single one of us is dead.”

I call this “prophesy” because it predicts the future. But it’s not really a prediction so much as a recollection of what has already happened – because in that weird quantum physics world, past, present, and future are all one.

But the most interesting question is how does Ms. Hawking know all this? Who is she?

When I first watched the episode, I thought she was a manifestation of the island – that this was all happening in Desmond’s head, not in real life. But since then through seasons 3 and 4 we have learned much more about the reality of “life traveling” – enough to suggest that Ms. Hawking was, in fact, a real person who really met Desmond in that jewelry store in 1996.

But as to who she really is, we can only guess. Besides what she says, the only other clue we have is a picture of she and brother Campbell (the monk who took in Desmond and introduced him to Penny and, indirectly, Charles Widmore) sitting on brother Campbell’s desk

My theory is that Ms. Hawking and brother Campbell are two of those few people who have freed themselves from the enslavement of space and time. They were “Jacobites” – followers of Jacob who lived on the island for hundreds of years. They left when Ben came to power and imprisoned Jacob. Now they are two of a handful of displaced “Jacobites” who are working in the outside world to free Jacob from Ben’s imprisonment. They have seen how this will happen, and they know the important role that Desmond will play (they also know how Ben plays the game and what he does to potential threats), so they have stationed themselves at different places (un-enslaved by space) and different times (un-enslaved by time) in Desmond’s life to guide him and protect him along his path.

Going back to the jewelry store, at first Hawking seems angry that Desmond is not returning the ring to her. But then she relaxes, shakes her head and says, “oh, you’re going to be difficult about this, I can see,” as if she has come across this many times before – like a wizened old Yoda who has wasted too much time with foolish neophytes who believe that they can choose their own path instead of accepting the path that fate has chosen for them.

To teach Desmond an important lesson, she takes him outside and points to a man wearing red shoes. Desmond doesn’t understand what is happening, and he doesn’t really believe it. He suggests that this is all in his head, and that Ms. Hawking is a figment of his subconscious. She simply laughs that away.

Desmond then launches into a speech about how he loves Penny and she loves him and he’s going to spend the rest of his life with her. Ms. Hawking matter-of-factly explains, “no, you’re not,” at which point a scaffolding collapses and kills the man in the red shoes.

Ms. Hawking acknowledges that she knew in advance that this was going to happen, but she tells Desmond that it wouldn’t matter if she had tried to stop it. And it is in this moment that we hear the most important speech ever spoken so far in the show:

“Had I warned him about the scaffolding, tomorrow he’d be hit by a taxi. If I warned him about the taxi, he’d fall in the shower and break his neck. The universe, unfortunately, has a way of course-correcting. That man was supposed to die. That was his path. Just as it’s your path to go to the island. You don’t do it because you choose to, Desmond. You do it because you are supposed to.”

Choice vs. Fate. Desmond is not convinced (and to be honest, I don't know how this plays out with the taxi driver and his path, but I won't convolute the issue with more speculation - I'll chase the rabbit down that hole another time).

Desmond tells Hawking that he is going to propose to Penny and she is going to accept – that he can choose whatever he wants.

With a wise shrug Hawking says, “You may not like your path, Desmond. But pushing that button is the only truly great thing you will ever do.”

Ultimately, she gives up trying to convince him, and leaves him to his fate, trusting completely that what is supposed to happen will in fact happen. And it does.

Choice vs. Fate

Even with the new “life traveling” wrinkle introduced in season 3 and developed further so far in season 4, this is really nothing new to Lost storyline. This tension between choice and fate has been central from day one. Do things happen by chance, or are they meant to be?

Locke believes things are pre-determined, that he is “meant” to do things. Yes, his faith has ebbed and waned, but ultimately he believes in fate.

Jack, on the other hand, believes in choice. He believes that his actions and his actions determine the difference between what happens and what does not happen, and he thinks that Locke is a fool for thinking otherwise.

We have seen what happens when Jack continues down that path – he makes it off the island, grows that awful beard, and contemplates suicide. But he eventually comes to his senses and realizes his mistake – that he was not supposed to leave the island – that there is a destiny for him that brought him to that island in the first place – a destiny he has fought against his entire life. He realizes that needs to return.

This tension between choice and fate is also the key tension that we will see between Ben and Jacob. Jacob and his followers – people like Ms. Hawking – respect fate and accept all that the universe has pre-determined, even those terrible, tragic, unfortunate events. But Ben is angry at fate. He doesn’t like his path, or the path fate chose for Annie, so -- like Jack -- he is pushing the doctrine of choice, as we can see in the freaky brainwashing film of room 23. Ben is determine to change what is “meant to be” by any means necessary. And Ben, with his ability to travel freely in space and time, is a man of very powerful means.

We see this on a smaller scale with Desmond. Like Ben, Desmond has a difficult time accepting this idea of fate. He wants to choose, but ultimately he does exactly what Ms. Hawking predicts. He breaks Penny’s heart. But instinctually, he still wants to protect people from the bad things the he sees in their future. When the guy comes into the bar with the cricket bat and takes a swing and the bartender, Desmond steps in front of the blow, slightly changing what was supposed to happen. And when he is back on the island and sees Charlie die, he goes to great lengths to save him over and over again.

As a result of Desmond’s actions, we see that choice can delay fate, at least temporarily. And it may have gone on much longer had Charlie not chosen to accept his fate. Perhaps this is a foreshadow as well. Perhaps in the end, we may see Ben finally accept fate and stop fighting what is meant to be. Maybe it will be a decision that sends he and Annie to an earlier time on the island – a time where they can live together and die together and have their remains discovered years later in a cave by Jack, Kate, and Locke.

Maybe. But right now he is still fighting, very much like Desmond, but on a much larger scale. The life he’s trying to save is his one true love. Does that make him a villain? (no, murdering and lying and manipulating does).

Ben vs. The Universe

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Ep. 4.8 Meet Kevin Johnson

I loved this episode. I’ve only watched it once so far, but I think we learned a lot.

Ben vs. The Universe reinforced

My theory still stands, and I think this week brought more evidence -- at least in the way the game is being played. Ben has harnessed the power of the island and is trying to outfox the Universe by staying a few moves ahead of its course-correcting counter-moves (i.e. the cosmic game of chess).

Case in point:
Mr. Friendly’s proof (the Widmore File)

Remember a few weeks ago when Ben had Locke open his safe and pull out a video tape with Widmore on it? Wasn’t that just a little too convenient, that this tape just happened to be sitting there in Ben’s safe at the exact moment Ben needed it? The same sort of thing happened in tonight’s episode with Michael and Mr. Friendly.

Here is what is happening:

Michael asks Mr. Friendly for proof against Widmore. Mr. Friendly’s consciousness instantly travels back in time and instructs someone to prepare a file and leave it on the table in his penthouse. His consciousness then returns to the very moment when Michael asked him for the proof and bingo, there it is on the table (you know, the way Bill and Ted were able to escape from jail just in time to give their most excellent history presentation).

This instantaneous backward-forward consciousness time-traveling can explain many things: how Ben got that video tape in his safe, how Mr. Friendly knew where Michael would be when he committed suicide (which they stopped), etc etc.

And what if Ben really did give Michael a working bomb, and Michael really did blow up the freighter, but then in one of the Universe’s counter-moves, Ben realized that the destruction of the freighter actually worked against him, so he traveled back in time, deactivated the bomb, and put a little pop-up flag saying “not yet’ for Michael.

And since ghost-Libby and ghost-Charlie seem to be working against Ben, I am sticking to my theory that they are agents of the Universe trying to free the island (and Jacob) from Ben’s malevolent grasp.

Carl Bites the Dust

Well, as a father of two girls, I say he got what was coming to him. So who shot him and Rousseau? The freighter folk. You know, the guys who were “shooting stuff” in tonight’s episode. Remember, Frank Lapidus took them off the freighter last week. So now they are on the island, hunting. And Ben knew exactly where they would be, and he sent horny Carl and expendable Rousseau right into their path – but only after he gave Alex all the information she would need to save herself. It will be interesting to see how he uses the capture of Alex against them.

Mr. Friendly

It has been speculated since he told Kate that she “was not his type.” Now it has been confirmed. Okay, so Mr. Friendly is gay. Big deal.

Taller Ghost Walt

The Walt who appeared on the island to Locke was not really Walt. It was a manifestation of the island – maybe the smoke monster – encouraging Locke to get up and get to work. But the real Walt (or at least a body-double with real Walt’s CGI-imposed face) is with his grandmother in Manhattan.

Why Jack Couldn't Jump

When a badly-bearded suicidal Jack almost threw himself off a bridge last season, a car crashed behind him. The lure of saving someone was too strong, and he avoided an untimely death. Why? Because, like we found with Michael this week, he still has work to do, and "the island" won't let him die.

And, by the way, I still think that Michael is (will be) the man in the coffin.

I know there are at least four people who will read this. So what did you guys think of this episode? Did it raise any new questions for you? Let me know.

P.S. I am working on a website dedicated to flushing out my theory. It's a work in progress. Take a look at what I have so far and let me know what you think.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Ep. 4.7 Ji Yeon (aka: Gee... YAAAAWN)

Another week, another Lost fix. So what new info did we learn in this latest episode of lost? Unfortunately, not very much.

Juliette spilled the beans about Sun's affair, but that was just rehashing stuff we already knew. Jin's forgiveness was touching, and the way he took responsibility for his role in their crappy marriage was admirable. But for the most part, I thought this episode was a bit of a bore.

So what were this episode's biggest reveals?

1. Michael is Ben’s spy on the boat
This wasn’t huge news – it has been anticipated for weeks. It’s a great storyline and next week's episode “Meet Kevin Johnson” should give us Michael’s backstory, explaining how he got on the freighter and why he is working for Ben. I have some ideas about that. I’ll discuss them a little later.

2. The wreckage of Oceanic flight 815 was staged
Again, not too revealing. We have known about this since Naomi first parachuted onto the island last season. We even saw the television footage of the discovery of the underwater wreckage in this year’s season premier. The only thing really new tonight was the direct implication that Ben is the one who staged it all. Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t. I expect that will be a question we still won’t know even at the end of this season. We will see some compelling evidence to implicate Ben as well as Charles Widmore as the two people possibly behind the hoax. Regardless of who dunnit, the intriguing question is: why? Again, i'll get to that in a moment.

3. Sun is one of the Oceanic 6, but Jin is not (cuz Jin is dead)
Or is he? The date on the tombstone said 9-22-04, the date Oceanic 815 crashed. We know he didn’t die then, so this is clearly a cover-up. But what, exactly, is it covering up? The oceanic 6 have a secret. We still don’t know exactly what it is. But we do have some clues as to who arranged their rescue (Ben) and at least a few small hints of the price they had to pay (Sayid the super assassin) to get off the island.

4. Annoying Bernard really likes to talk
But this wasn't really anything new either. Bernard is one of those guys I dread sitting next to on a plane. Please, just give me a big set of headphones. I’ll listen to anything, just don’t make me pretend to be interested in whatever he has to say. Instant karma’s gonna get you.

So what does this episode do for the overall story?

I still think Ben is moving people around like pieces on a chessboard, manipulating them to serve his nefarious purposes – to try and change some future (or past) event and stay one move ahead of the course-correcting universe. He must have hundreds of agents like this. We've already seen a few of them. Now we know that Michael is among their ranks -- like he pretty much was the last time we saw him.

We already know that Michael is crazy enough to do anything to save his boy, and we know that Ben does what he always does (as he said to Juliette last season), “I find something people care about and I exploit it.” So you put the pieces together, and Ben has some power over Michael, and it is going to be tied to Walt.

I have seen some people suggesting that this is not really Michael, but is instead a grown-up Walt. I think those people are way over-thinking this whole ‘time lag’ thing on the island and are trying too hard to anticipate mind-blowing stuff that -- in this case at least -- doesn’t really fit with the tone this show has set for the past three-and-a-half seasons. No, it’s not a grown-up Walt. It is Michael. And he’s doing the same thing we saw him do over and over on the island – betraying people who trust him so he can get his boy back.

The Charles Widmore Theory

As for the staged Oceanic flight and the 324 dead bodies in the bottom of the ocean, let’s assume for a moment that this is actually Widmore’s doing, and not Ben’s as Cap'n Gault asserted (I really like that guy, by the way. They have brought on some awesome new actors this season). What would be Widmore's motivation for staging this crash? Where would he get his resources?

I had this thought in the season premier – when they showed footage of the underwater salvage team, and they flashed a number on the screen for family and friends of the victims to call. Remember when the guy Lapidus called in and said he knew that was not the real pilot, because he didn't have a wedding ring, and he knew this guy personally because he was supposed to be piloting 815 on that day? As I was watching that, I thought that the whole thing was staged for teh sole purpose of attracting the friends and loved-ones of the 815 survivors -- enough people to get some kind of 'psychic' connection.

I think it is safe to say that Widmore is definitely trying to find the island. Why? So he can get control of the immense power that it gives (the immense power that Ben is currently monopolizing). It is possible that Widmore staged the crash as a way to get in contact with people close to the survivors of 815.

It is also possible that he is using his daughter's connection with Desmond as a way to find the island (he may even have set up the race around the world and arranged for libby to give desmond the boat for the sole purpose of setting these events in motion and locating the island -- that might suggest some foresight on widmore's part -- and why not? Maybe he has had previous experience with the island -- the artwork in his office certainly suggeests as much -- and has 'unstuck' himself in time as well -- but i think i am getting a bit off track) – if he knew that they were still alive on the island and that people with a close connection to their loved-ones might – in some psychic, ESP kind of way – help lead him to the island.

What if Widmore had access to the island before – through his connections with Hanso and with Dharma – and he used the island to amass his current fortune, but lost that connection to the island with the Dharma purge (which wouold explain why he sent a team to neutralize the gas that purged out Dharma in the first place). That is one idea. I like it, and I don't think it has to be mutually exclusive to the Benjimin Linus theory.

The Benjimin Linus Theory

But what if Ben is behind the hoax – what would be his motivation? Well, that is pretty easy. He wants to keep the island for himself. He doesn’t want anyone to come looking for the survivors, so he arranged the hoax to tell the world that there were no survivors, so don't bother looking. I think this theory is more likely (although i can't completely discount the Widmore connection), and I think we will see it emerge as we learn more about the Oceanic 6.

Remember, those six are living a lie. We don’t know the entire lie, but we know that they have told the world that every other member of 815 is dead (so don’t bother going to look for them). But Widmore doesn’t believe it (his agent Mathew Abaddon asked Hurley “are they still alive?”) – Widmore is still looking for the island. Somehow, the return of the Oceanic 6 has thwarted Widmore’s efforts, at least temporarily. And who other than Ben would be behind something like that?

So is Jin really dead, or did he agree to work for Ben in exchange for Sun being able to get off the island? We can ask the same question about Claire and Aaron. Or maybe Sawyer gave himself up for Kate. Maybe Juliette for Jack. But if Jin is still alive and is working for Ben, it is possible that Sun doesn’t know. She might really think that Jin is dead. That would certainly make the lie seem more believable to the people who are definitely keeping an eye on the Oceanic 6.

"Gee... Yawn" is right!

There are other connections to make, but it’s late, I’m tired, and I've created enough loquatious "yawns" of my own for now, so I’ll call it quites for now. I'll just end by saying it was a good episode, but not a great episode. I felt a little frustrated at Jin’s flashback – contrived as it was simply to mess with the audience. It would have been better if his flashback would have contributed more to the overall storyline, but all it did was set up one of those “huh?” moments – it didn’t add anything to the show other than that. Unless of course I am missing something. Which is not beyond the realm of possibility. It's not as if I have been to the island and am in on the hoax as well.... or is it?

I'll never tell.