This is the International Mystery Sale

Special Offers see all

Enter to WIN a $100 Credit

Subscribe to
for a chance to win.
Privacy Policy

Visit our stores


Authors, readers, critics, media — and booksellers.


Lost: Demon Economics

Pluralitas non est ponend sine necessitat.
Plurality should not be posited without necessity.
(Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.)

For a fairly straight-forward episode with a curious twist at the end, "The Economist" did some other subtle narrative work, particularly through the visual metaphor of the room behind the room. The narrative of this episode sneaky, slyly bringing in material planted in previous episodes, but never quite foregrounding it. This all seems part of the basic shift of the game with the audience this season.This all seems part of the basic shift of the game with the audience this season.

A quick overture of what discussions will be attempted in the following paragraphs:

  • A breakdown of "economy"
  • Ockham's Razor
  • Playing with spacetime
  • Jack Kerouac
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Ken Kesey
  • Michael Faraday
  • James Clerk Maxwell and his lil' demon
  • Identity loss
  • David Lewis
  • Conditional grammar as a narrative tell
  • These themes will occur in no real specific order, as many coincide with other themes, but let's see what happens.

    Sayid's target, Elsa, seemingly works for an economist. An economist is someone who practices or studies economy. Economy, from the Greek oikonomiā, simply means household management. It refers to the management of resources and the rules that govern a person's mode of living. The term is also used in a theological sense, referring to God's government and activity within the world. It really didn't come into play in English until the 15th century, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, and then it was used as a term for managing a monastery. But there's another use of the term that is pretty significant — the law of economy, also known as Ockham's Razor. This principle has already been brought up by the Losterati, but in short, it claims that amongst a set of competing explanations for an entity or problem, the simplest one is better. Ockham didn't originate the principle, but it's tagged with his name because he used it so rigorously. The law of economy was first used by Ockham's contemporary, a French Dominican bishop named Durandus. He stood in opposition to the ideas of St. Thomas Aquinas and held that reason and faith were mutually exclusive. For Durandus, one could be a man of reason or a man of faith, and should prefer one's own conclusions over that of any authority, except when it came to truths of faith; however, he held that those faith truths did not rest upon reason. This was all a bit problematic and progressive for the church, and his positions got him censured. But the principle persists today, and is one that the Lost audience has to keep in mind when trying to hash out the many competing theories of what's happening in the narrative. Oh — and the captain of the Christiane I from the Find 815 game is named Mr. Ockham...

    A common version of Ockham's Razor, often attributed to Einstein (but it's not known if he actually said it), is that everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler. In other words, if a simpler explanation leaves some holes, it actually introduces more complexityif a simpler explanation leaves some holes, it actually introduces more complexity, because those holes have to be accounted for. For our purposes, this means trying to determine the most effective explanations for what's going on without over-complicating things, or writing anything off to some over-arching authoritarian theory (like the purgatory idea). The Find 815 game coincided with the beginning of the fourth season; the past game, The Lost Experience, took place outside of the Lost narrative time proper. If the audience is playing the game, and the game becomes part of the actual narrative, then the narrative itself becomes a game for the audience to parse. For instance, in "Confirmed Dead," when Miles goes up Mrs. Gardner's stairs, all the picture frames are wooden; when he descends the stairs, all the picture frames are metal. Other such examples have already been discussed, and those changes started taking place after Desmond began saving Charlie from some very ugly futures. We've also seen that the flashes aren't quite in chronological order; the steadily-progressing flashbacks of past seasons are giving way to flashforwards where we see events that that actually occur after future events we see later on (like Jack being a wreck in "Through the Looking Glass," but just approaching wreckage in "The Beginning of the End"). Did you notice anything weird about the first Sayid flash on the golf course? When he tells Mr. Avellino that he is one of the Oceanic Six, Avellino is visibly disturbed, and tries to leave. He doesn't make it. Avellino obviously knew about Sayid. How's that?

    Jump ahead to the end of the episode, when Sayid is having his gunshot wound treated by Ben. We find that Sayid is being blackmailed by Ben to hunt down a list of people; if Sayid doesn't play along, his friends (the rest of the Oceanic Six?) will come to some bad end: "Do you want to protect your friends or not, Sayid?" The people Sayid is hunting are possibly members of the Maxwell Group, since Sayid's mark, Elsa, is wearing the same bracelet as Naomi. After the incident when Elsa shoots Sayid and contacts her boss (getting two in the chest in return), Sayid tells Ben that the people on the list will now know who he is; Ben is just fine with that. Indeed, Avellino's flash of recognition on the golf course suggests this is the case, and if so, it also suggests that the episode on the golf course took place after the rest of the flashes in the episode; the narrative time of the episode twists back on itself, giving "The Economist" a kind of circular feel. Avellino may even have been Elsa's boss.

    But there's more: Daniel Faraday conducts an experiment where he has Regina on the freighter fire a rocket with a clock in it onto the island. The rocket doesn't land when it should. When Faraday opens the rocket and checks the clock against his clocks on the island, he finds that the island is about 31 minutes behind time on the freighter. That's a significant 31 minutes; if you start at the very beginning of the episode and skip ahead 31 minutes (sans commercials), you'll be at the beginning of the pivotal scene where Sayid and Elsa are in bed. If you take the scene where Sayid tells Elsa he's in Germany to kill her boss and go back 31 minutes, you're at the beginning of the golf course scene where he shoots Avellino. This may be just a simple coincidence and an intriguing play on spacetime, but coincidence may be too simple an explanation (and if it's just a coincidence, it's damn cool and damn convenientif it's just a coincidence, it's damn cool and damn convenient).

    Speaking of Faraday, the British physicist Michael Faraday was the face embossing the cash Sayid finds in the room behind the room. Britain issued a £20 note with Faraday's likeness on it from 1991-2001. The room behind the room is suggestive; it's a double-room, so the room is mirroring itself, and it's located behind the bookshelf (where Sayid spots a copy of the Quran — what to make of that?). It's literally a secret that lies behind information, which may be a symbol to keep in mind.

    Then there were the passports in the room; the one from Switzerland with Ben's picture bears the name 'Dean Moriarty,' Jack Kerouac's literary reconstruction of his friend Neal Cassady from the book On the Road (1957). Ben doesn't seem too much like a dharma bum, but there is a significant echo; both Ben and Dean had alcoholic fathers who were hardly available, and both search out father-figures (Ben's is Jacob, Dean's is his actual father). Ken Kesey also knew Neal Cassady, and fictionalized him in "The Day After Superman Died," a short story in his collection Demon Box (1986) — keep that name in mind for a moment.

    The name Moriarty also conjures up Sherlock Holmes' adversary, Professor Moriarty. The creator of Holmes and Moriarty, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, is also the author of an archetypal book that structures some of the Lost mythos, The Lost World (1912). The writer Alan Moore, whose Watchmen is yet another influence on Lost, made Dean Moriarty the great-grandson of Professor Moriarty in his comic The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier (2006-07). Very convenient. Such references sometimes feel like the room of secrets behind the stack of information.Such references sometimes feel like the room of secrets behind the stack of information.

    All this name play raises the question of identity, and "The Economist" shows that once-stable identities are starting to shift. In the first season, Sawyer was conning people to get onto Michael's raft and off the island. Now he's ready to settle down and accept his fate on the island. And as Hurley noted, the Sawyer of old seems to be displaced into Miles Straume (both being versions of Han Solo). Locke's grasp on the situation with his faction of Lostaways is becoming increasingly tenuous; compare the Locke of "The Cost of Living," where he declares it's a free island and invites people to go with him to the Pearl Station, to the Locke of "The Economist," where he tells Hurley, "We're beyond compromise, and right now Hugo I'm making the decisions. Is that going to be a problem for you?" Even Hurley's identity seems to be on some shifting ground. He's still asserting himself more so than in the past, trying to be a mediator, but also positioning himself as a possible challenge to Locke's authority. It's no wonder Locke uses Hurley for hostage bait; Locke is playing economist, trying to manage what resources he has available to him.

    The implicit nod to Kesey's Demon Box is interesting because Kesey used Maxwell's demon as the underlying premise to his collection of stories, one of which is about Neal Cassady (Dean Moriarty). Maxwell's demon has been mentioned before; it was a thought experiment conjured up by James Clerk Maxwell, the 19th century Scottish physicist who built upon Michael Faraday's work. The organization funding the Christiane I's search for the Black Rock, The Maxwell Group, is also named for him. But briefly: The demon box would contain fast-moving hot molecules and slower, cool molecules, and there would be a partition in the middle with a door in the partition The demon guards the door.

    Thermodynamic entropy states that the molecules in the box will go from an ordered state (hot and cool) to a disordered state, and the hot will eventually lose energy and come into some sort of equilibrium with the cool molecules. After all, in our world, ice cubes melt outside of the freezer, they don't get colder, and if you put a warm object next to a hot object, heat doesn't transfer from the warm object to the hot object and make it hotter. But that's just what the demon does; it only lets the hot molecules move to one side of the partition, and only cool to the other; one side of the box gets increasingly warm while the other gets cooler. In a sense, Maxwell's demon is an economist; managing and ordering resources in order to maximize return. As has already been kicked around on the interwebs, the factioning of the Lostaways resembles something like Maxwell's demon at work; in this case, the demon might be the Freighties. Jacob may also play such a role, and the theological sense of economist — God's government and activity within the world — also fits the bill. (God as demon?) But more than that, the unseen narrator of Lost, the camera, is a kind of Maxwell's demon/economist, re-ordering scenes, changing backdrops and character features, and planting visual and aural devices that guide the audience through certain doors and towards specific directions. Just look at all the literary references. Disclosure: Ever since I learned of Maxwell's demon years ago, I always pictured it as the 10,000 Volt Ghost: voltghost

    So we should ask that demon narrator where Desmond has been.So we should ask that demon narrator where Desmond has been. He was nowhere to be seen in "Confirmed Dead," and comes strolling out of the jungle with Juliet in "The Economist." Has he been time-tripping again, and is that the reason we're seeing some swiftly-tilting identities? Or perhaps Desmond's already done enough, and spacetime is just generally more slippery now and in need of repair.

    Charlotte's father may think so, or at least his namesake. In "Confirmed Dead," Ben announces Charlotte's background, saying that her parents are David and Jeanette. David Lewis is a significant name; David Kellogg Lewis was a renowned analytic philosopher at Princeton whose work on modal realism, counterfactual conditionals, and possible worlds was game-changing. And with that we're back to philosophers. Lewis uses some technical language that isn't too difficult to parse, and it turns out his ideas have a direct bearing on the narrative of Lost in a number of ways. First of all, Lewis caught a strong case of influence from both Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz and David Hume.

    From Leibniz, Lewis caught the possible worlds wave. In his Theodicy (1710), Leibniz starts with the position that God is a perfect and good being with the ability to create an infinite number of worlds. Because God is all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-good, God must have chosen the best of all possible worlds for ours.

    From Hume, Lewis borrowed a notion of causality he called Humean supervenience. This is less funky than it sounds. If thing X supervenes on set-of-facts Y, X cannot change until Y has changed. One way to think of it is that everything that's in a world is first and foremost dependent on the fundamental physical properties structuring that world (things like electromagnetism, temperature, gravity, chemistry, etc.). The things in a world cannot fundamentally change unless those fundamental properties change. For instance, we can't float around the room because gravity operates at a certain level while we're on earth (unless you're David Blaine). In our world, there is no way two hydrogen molecules and one oxygen molecule would ever bind together to make malt vinegar, or a polar bear.In our world, there is no way two hydrogen molecules and one oxygen molecule would ever bind together to make malt vinegar, or a polar bear.

    Building off that foundation, Lewis identified some themes that unify his work; they are particularly brought out in his books Counterfactuals (1973) and On the Plurality of Worlds (1986), but he kept developing them until his death in 2001 from diabetic complications at age 60 (like Locke, he lost a kidney). First, he claimed possible worlds are just as real as our world, and only differ from our world in content, not kind. Possible worlds also cannot be reduced to anything more basic than just what they are; if you know of a thing in this world, there are more things of that sort in other possible worlds — mp3 players, Harry Dean Stanton, bar stools, dialysis, etc. Such possible things are also known as nonactual things. Nonactual things are not fundamentally different from actual things; they just don't exist in our actual world — and to some other world, we're the nonactual things. Yes, this means that there is a possible world where there is another you having the same brain cramp you may be having while you read this sentence. So could there be an actual Christian Shephard and a nonactual Christian Shephard? An actual Charlie and a nonactual Charlie?

    Another theme of Lewis's is that a possible world is unified by the interrelation of its parts in spacetime (meaning it is pretty much integrated and mappable, like our actual world — Wisconsin isn't a blob of plasma flying out past the Pluto). Space and time, for Lewis, are analogously related; past and future events are in the same kind of spatial relationship to each other as locations in physical space. In other words, past and future events have a specific distance between them, just like the Swan Station and Hydra Station are in a specific spatial relationship to each other on the island (about a day's walk between them). If this sounds at all like Minkowski's spacetime, it should. For Lewis, there really is no distinction between "elsewhere in space" and "elsewhere in time." However, actual and nonactual things may be analogous to spatial and temporal relations (which are the same thing), but actual and nonactual things are also spatially and temporally isolated from each other — they shouldn't be occupying the same spacetime.

    Finally, possible worlds are also causally isolated from each other. Say in some world (W) some event (C) causes another event (E); therefore if (C) doesn't occur in that world, (E) doesn't occur. That's logical enough. But events happening or not happening in one world do not cause events to happen or not happen in another possible world (or should not).

    Counterfactual was one of Lewis's first articulations of this theory of modal realism, and he demonstrates how one can think about possible worlds through counterfactual conditional statements. A counterfactual conditional basically states: if A were/were not (or had/had not been) the case, then C would/would not be (or would/would not have been) the case. In the grammar of logic, it looks like this: A counterfactual C. The idea is to test the truth value of a sentence in order to see if it would be possible in some world. So:

      If Kelvin had not made Sayid into a torturer, Sayid would not have been on Oceanic 815.
      If Desmond had listened to Charles Widmore, he would not have crashed on the island while racing a sailboat across the pacific.
      If Desmond had not crashed on the island, he would not have followed Kelvin out into the jungle and allowed the computer to count down to zero, setting off an incident.
      If Desmond did reset the computer in time, there would have been no electromagnetic incident and Oceanic 815 would not have crashed.
      If Oceanic 815 had not crashed, Ben would have died from a tumor on his spine.
      If Ben died from the tumor on his spine, he would not have blackmailed Sayid into being a hitman for him.


      If Desmond hadn't saved Charlie, Charlie would not be a swim champion (see past discussions).
      If Charlie couldn't swim, he would not have dove to the Hydra Station.
      If Charlie did not dive to the Hydra Station, he would still be alive.


      Sayid: "Forgive me, but the day I start trusting him [Ben] is the day I would have sold my soul." ("The Economist")

    The grammar in Sayid's statement about trusting Ben is off; he moves from a present tense to the past conditional, positing the present into a hypothetical past. It's not even grammatically correct, so it stands out. However, it is accepted usage for forming counterfactual conditional statements in logic. If the David Lewis name-drop, the hints at different possible worlds seeming to impose themselves onto the actual world of Lost (Find 815), the actual and nonactual versions of the same people occupying the same spacetime, and the different possible worlds Desmond sees — if those didn't hint enough at some kind of David Lewis influence, Sayid's counterfactual conditional statement sure helps. It's a simple enough explanation.It's a simple enough explanation.

    Brain break. This episode didn't seem nearly as dense at first, but of course there's always something more. There are a number of things to still be discussed; the inscription on Naomi's bracelet, the use of numbers in this episode, how finding Ben's other world in the hidden closet echoes the Pevensie kids finding a hidden world through the wardrobe in C.S. Lewis's fantasy series, and yes, the fact that Sawyer finally called Kate freckles again.

    Are they back? If so, is it a function of something Desmond did when he was away during "Confirmed Dead?" Here's a screencap from when Sawyer calls her freckles; they're not prominent, you can make out some shadows, and it's hard to tell if they're not just showing through some makeup.


    Books mentioned in this post

    1. Watchmen
      Used Trade Paper $11.00
    2. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen:... Used Hardcover $14.95
    3. On the Plurality of Worlds Used Trade Paper $33.50
    4. Counterfactuals New Trade Paper $53.95

    J. Wood is the author of Living Lost: Why We're All Stuck on the Island

    74 Responses to "Lost: Demon Economics"

      Laura February 16th, 2008 at 10:13 am

      Well, Wisconsin certainly feels like a giant blob of plasma floating somewhere out past Pluto, at least during this hideous winter.

      Nice analysis as always. Thanks for sharing!

      Juno Walker February 16th, 2008 at 10:52 am

      J -

      First of all, I think you did a fantastic job of translating what can be rather abstruse philosophical reasoning! And as always, you prove yourself to be a polymath.

      If what you (and most of the commentators on this blog) say about the depth and breadth and "thickness" of the narrative of the show is correct, then Darlton, et al., are truly geniuses! Why? Because they can create something so dense and enticingly intriguing yet at the same time make it a popular and successful show in its own right. If that's the case, then LOST is truly the most ingenious drama ever to grace the small screen.

      As an aside, if it's true that the Others' submarine (which Locke allegedly blew up) was the only way on or off the island; and in fact Ben is off-island in the future (as in this epi), then does Ben have another method for leaving the island? Or did Locke not blow up the submarine? Maybe even Ben's Pevensie wardrobe contains a secret method for leaving the island. Or maybe there is a Third Policeman-like magic box on the island.

      (I'm assuming Ben didn't get off the island via the Freighties. Of course maybe he did as a prisoner and somehow escaped. Ugh. Too many things to speculate about!)


      L O S T, Hearts & Minds

      BeefJello February 16th, 2008 at 11:09 am


      You say, "there are a number of things still to be discussed..."

      I hope that means you are going to write two blogs per episode now!!! Please let me know when you discuss those number of things because I, for one, am ready.

      Thanks for another great writeup - much appreciated.

      Jeff February 16th, 2008 at 11:31 am

      Wow! And I thought watching the show fried my brain:) Great review and points to ponder. I am trying my best to spread the word within the Lostworld about your great reviews Mr. Wood. Keep up the good work!
      Jeff W

      Rachel Unck February 16th, 2008 at 11:57 am

      Moriarity was also the subject of an episode of Star trek: The Next Generation that I think held a key to the Lost situation:

      Nathaniel February 16th, 2008 at 12:17 pm

      Is there something to the fact that all pregnant women on the island die at 7 months or so and that Ben's own mother had the same fate? I love reading your blog, thank you very much.

      Matt February 16th, 2008 at 1:19 pm

      Very well done, it would be interesting to think through the connections to Pynchon via Maxwell's Box and the Crying of Lot 49. the false (or not) journey of Oedipa and the false (or not) experience of dharma and the losties.....hmmm

      Phutatorius February 16th, 2008 at 1:24 pm

      First, I wanted to add to your discussion of Maxwell's "sorting demon." The LOST writers told us in sub-captions of the recent "enhanced version" that Abaddon means "the guardian of the abyss." Now the guardian of the abyss functions to keep the abyssmal in and the non-abyssmal out, presumably, so that makes Abaddon a sorting demon -- of sorts. Second, I wanted to go out on a limb after seeing Des and Sayid both on their way to the ship. Who appeared in both of their backstories? Kelvin Inman whom Des left for dead in what appears to the the same spot where Miles positioned himself. What's more, Kelvin is a possible conduit for the people on the ship to know of Desmond and Penny, and Kelvin must have had plenty of opportunity to make a copy of that photo. So, will Kelvin show up on the ship? Is he, and not Michael, Ben's man on the ship?

      Philip February 16th, 2008 at 1:38 pm

      Speaking of freckles, when Jack was telling Kate she should go with Sayid, I noticed the freckles were pretty prominent.

      digsby February 16th, 2008 at 2:51 pm

      Is that screen cap from when Kate was looking down nervously when Jack was asking Juliet how long the beach is from them, and Kate was thinking Jack would send her? That was a great scene because you see Jack figuring out if Kate is for her or not. What do you make of Jacob's shack not being where Locke left it? Think Desmond had something to do with that? Didn't Ben once say you cannot just go and visit Jacob, but you must be summoned? I wonder why we didn't Sayid breakdance in the future, but he did wash his hands in the snow when he ended his call with Ben. I think Charlotte knows more about the island than the helicopter-ies. Why did she not want to leave, whereas Miles is motived by money, and Dan is just afraid of how the time on the island is slipping further and further away from world time (he was surely very nervous after his experiment), and Frank the pilot is just proud he has landed. None of them trust their superiors, but Charlotte knows the most. And Locke traded her for a cheap trick. I agree that Charlotte's boss is the island/Jacob, especially when she mentioned her call was half and hour late.

      digsby February 16th, 2008 at 2:53 pm

      wait so now our lostaways are protecting the island? does that constitute a mirror twin? They came back to occupy the barracks, tossed prisoners into the rec-room, and brought refreshments as an offering before beginning the interrogation. They used people as bait and made bargains for freedom. Because we love our main characters it all seems a little sugar-coated, at least until Charlotte puts it in plain English: she’s a hostage. It should give us the same pause it gave Hurley.

      Tom February 16th, 2008 at 3:13 pm

      Space/time and bearings... Faraday tells Lapidos to stay on the same bearing leaving the island as the one they came in on at all costs. If he doesn't, then he would emerge from the island in a different place. Therefore, wouldn't he also be emerging from the island at a different time?

      That is interesting to me because Ben gave Michael very specific directions on what bearing to follow when he allowed him to leave with Walt way back when. Perhaps he was manipulating Michael to emerge at a time that would be most advantageous to himself.

      Tom Von Doom February 16th, 2008 at 3:21 pm

      F#@k sudoku. Reading this column every week and trying to unravel "Lost" gives my brain plenty of exercise.

      So when is Miles going to talk to Jacob?

      Bri February 16th, 2008 at 3:36 pm

      Man, what a great way to start my Saturday. I'm so glad this blog is back for this season. No I shall sit back and read on.

      Faramir February 16th, 2008 at 6:02 pm

      Great post as usual, J!
      Just to complicate things, I expected the *late* rocket to carry a *late* clock, not an early one. This, together with the apparently normal communications on-off island (Ben-Alpert, Charlie-Penny, Daniel-Regina), messes up the time-topic a bit.
      Just to follow up to my theory, the targets of Sayid are Fate slaves, while Ben is guiding the Free Will acolytes to the (re)conquest of the Island.
      Kate - I fear - is one of the O6, but under another name (a *clean* one, perhaps of a really dead passenger): Claire?!?
      On a side note, the correct Latin for the first quote is: Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate.

      DrDan February 16th, 2008 at 6:56 pm

      Great analysis
      Thanks for another ice cream headache

      Asilgrass February 16th, 2008 at 8:33 pm

      I hate to sound simple compared to such brilliant minds as most of the posters on here, but I think it is a bit over-imdulgent to assume that some aleteration of the past is responsible for Sawyer wanting to stay on the island. A lot has happened since then, most importantly - he's in love, he's killed the man who has driven him for most of his life and he is now under the subtle influence of Ben. And keep in mind that Sawyer comes from very humble backgrounds. Now that he's seen Otherville and he's no longer motivated by revenge it seems perfectly logical to me that he'd be ready to settle in and stay. Just a thought.

      Tim February 16th, 2008 at 8:34 pm

      The economy of Ockham's razor is not an explanatory economy (the simplest solution is usually right) but an ontological economy (the explanation with the fewest necessary entities is usually right). It's a pretty fine distinction, but if the writers are sophisticated enough about philosophy to be referencing David Lewis, I bet they are aware of it.

      Paul February 16th, 2008 at 9:10 pm

      Great analysis as always J.

      A comment on the way the future flashes are playing out. We've seen Jack become that which he most despised - his drunken father. Worse than that, he's an addict too. Hugo too has fallen far - back into the mental institution when he was at his lowest prior to the crash. Finally, at the end of Enter 77 in season 3, Sayid was confronted with the option of torturing/killing Patchy, but he decided against that, presumably in part b/c his recollections of being forgiven by one of his victim's led him to acknowledge the possibility of his own redemption. Now, he is assassinating people on orders from Ben - just like he took orders from his Republican Guard superiors. If the losties were not supposed to leave the island, perhaps the universe is course correcting in order to motivate them to return?

      Also, it seems odd that the remains of 815 were found near Bali, which is northwest of Australia and not in the Sydney to LA flight plan. Why would someone want to fake a plane crash and then discover the remains so far out of place when one has the perfect alibi - the plan crashed somewhere over the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean.

      Shaun February 16th, 2008 at 11:07 pm

      Interesting thing about the speculation that the opening scene on the golf course took place AFTER Sayid's showdown with Elsa... I had that same impression even before the final scene with Sayid and Ben. Go back and look at that opening scene again.

      Sayid appears to have a touch of grey about him (sideburns and beard), and he even appeared a bit paunchier. That might have been the golf shirt he was wearing, but I honestly thought he looked slightly older and heavier than he did in the scenes with Elsa and Ben.

      I've seen speculation that Sayid might even be Ben's "man on the boat." If so, is it possible that the opening was a flash-forward, but the Elsa scenes were a flashBACK? That could explain the older, heavier Sayid, who said he "does nothing" after his settlement from Oceanic. I'm not sure I'm willing to go there, the idea that Sayid's a plant who knew Ben before the plane crash, but it's an intriguing idea (and another "game changer" if true).

      What's also intriguing is why Avellino approached Sayid in the first place? Was he there to kill Sayid? It seems unlikely that Avellino would just happen to approach a man, by pure dumb luck, looking to kill him... Yet he seemed truly shocked when Sayid revealed himself. Perhaps Avellino knew the game was up at that point. I'd bet there's more to come about that.

      Sorry for rambling, but as always keep up the excellent work J!

      Shaun February 16th, 2008 at 11:12 pm

      Oh, and one other point I forgot to bring up: If the Elsa scenes would indeed turn out to be flashbacks, that would certainly explain Sayid's fascination with Naomi's bracelet... Wouldn't it? Hmm...

      Speaking of Naomi, does anyone else wonder why, for two weeks running, the show has gone out of its way to show her dead face to us? The last time Lost did this was with Nikki, who turned out to NOT be dead (just yet). It seems unlikely that she'd just suddenly spring back to life, but who can say? There has to be a reason for this.

      Shaun February 16th, 2008 at 11:23 pm

      Rachel, interesting idea... As a Star Trek fan myself, I had to see what your Lost/Moriarty theory was. I have to say that while I am open to a great many explanations to the unanswered questions of Lost, the idea of Ben and The Other being holograms is just not a leap I am willing to make.

      Time travel, time displacement, alternate realities (all things that Trek has dealt with) all seem to play a possible role here, but holograms? Perhaps the island itself is somehow disguised or cloaked to the rest of the world (perhaps by holographic technology?) though.

      Well, at least you're sticking with Lost. Your comments at your blog puzzled me... With the show doing such great, intriguing work right now, why on Earth would you have decided to quit watching? I think Lost is a good as ever, perhaps the best the show has ever been!

      Shaun February 16th, 2008 at 11:38 pm

      Faramir, the "late" rocket carries an "early" clock because (it appears) that time passes more slowly on the island than off it. Perhaps by quite a lot... Does anyone have an idea of how much time passed on the island between Daniel's phone call and the actual arrival of the rocket? I don't think it was established, but let's say it was 5 minutes. That would mean every minute on the island is roughly six minutes in the outside world. Quite a differential! It would certainly explain "taller ghost Walt." Well, maybe not the ghost part. :-) Not yet.

      Phutatorius, I love the idea of Kelvin being the "man on the boat"! He wouldn't be the first person to seemingly come back alive (Patchy, perhaps Naomi?)... It could happen!

      KWeed February 17th, 2008 at 1:45 am

      Just discovered this blog and I'm thrilled!

      I absolutely think the Lostaways have become the New Others. The clearest example of this is when Jack pulls the ole switcharoo on the Freighties and says, "I wouldn't do that if I were you cuz my crew is in the jungle ready to bust a cap in your behinds" (obviously we all know this is not how Jack really least not yet, as Des hasn't messed things up in the space/time continuum that much...I hope). Anyway, if you remember, this same tactic was used against Jack by Tom, the pseudo-leader of the Others.

      Hmmm...interesting thought...if you glue a beard on Jack, he just might be the new Tom, the pseudo-leader of the Lostaways who've become the New Others(making Locke the real leader?). Drunk-n-depressed Jack does have one helluva beard in the flashforwards...but Tom follows Ben's orders and Jack does not follow Locke. However, Jack does follow science and Tom follows the lies/stories that Ben tells him (that whole secrets behind the information thing might come into play here).

      Argh! My brain has cramped...a sensation not entirely unpleasant, but mentally crippling nonetheless.

      Jason February 17th, 2008 at 5:05 am


      Fantastic, yet again. Your earlier time-looping-back-on-itself narrative examples from the beginning of the essay made me think of two examples: one from last season (and may have already been discussed) and one from this season.

      In "Through the Looking Glass" when the blonde other (sorry, I've forgotten her name) tells Charlie that a musician programmed the code for the jamming device, the clarity of her voice coupled with the rather significant close-up on Charlie's face after this bit of information is revealed seemed to suggest (unless it's just me) that Charlie himself programmed the jamming device at some past date. Given the fact that he de-activated the alarm so handily suggests it.

      This then leads to a similar situation this season (one that I thought you might talk about here) with the suggestion that Sayid is in fact Ben's mole on this ship. Ben would have known that Sayid would have been (note the grammar) working for him and then could have been confident that Sayid would get on board the freighter. Actions that appear to happen in "real time" have already happened, determined by a future event looping back on itself (and remember we've been dealing with 16 year old loops already in the first episode).

      Miss Gretchen February 17th, 2008 at 8:35 am

      Thanks, J, and Others ;-) here for your insights. I've been finding the shows this season to be a bit James Bond on the surface, which lessens my enjoyment. This blog brings me back to the show the next week instead of abandoning it.

      BeefJello February 17th, 2008 at 9:39 am

      Is Ben one of the O6 under an assumed identity in the future? Or does Ben make it off island via previously established means? If the sub WAS the only way off the island during the F4 arrival, then it is possible Ben is one of the O6 under an assumed name and posing as one of the dead. He did have files on everyone on the plane and could easily assume an identity if need be. Any thoughts?

      Velvetnan February 17th, 2008 at 11:05 am

      Did anyone else notice that Ben's eyes were dark brown in Sayid's flash forward? They are blue on the island. Is this significant?

      Miss Gretchen February 17th, 2008 at 12:20 pm

      PS Phu, great idea that it is Kelvin on the boat. However, I'm missing Michael so much, I hope he shows up soon. I'm watching Romeo + Juliet just now, and Harold Perrineau's Mercutio is truly one of the great film performances.

      [Coinkydink? I looked up in Google to see if I had said this about Perrineau here before, and I got a hit, because in another Powells blog entry the word Mercutio turns up in connection to Orson Welles! Fun!]

      Nathalie February 17th, 2008 at 12:35 pm

      I was also interested in why Sayid washed his hands with snow AFTER throwing away the cell phone. It seemed so odd to me, unless there is something obvious I'm missing, and really stood out in my memory of the episode.

      J. I'd love to hear more about the use of the numbers in this episode. No fair listing off all those topic at the end and leaving us in the lurch!

      StephanieM February 17th, 2008 at 1:17 pm

      I'm thinking about the counterfactual chains you listed, and was wondering if the Whispers are the soundtracks of the other possibilities that could extend from that moment? Or, the other possibilities already happening alongside the events we are seeing, and the Whispers are actually happening in a parallel time stream?

      Thanks Jason for the 'blonde other' point - I think you probably picked up on something key there. How do you remember all these little details??? After all these seasons and hiatuses I'm finding it hard to connect things up - and that was the most fun about watching Lost...

      KWeed February 17th, 2008 at 1:26 pm

      Beefjello - interesting point. Were there any brown-eyed veterinarians on Oceanic Flight 815?

      Matt February 17th, 2008 at 1:30 pm

      Shaun, I'm pretty sure Elsa says something to Sayid about the plane crash while they are in bed, making the Elsa scenes definitely not a flashback, although perhaps still taking place before the golf course.

      KWeed February 17th, 2008 at 1:32 pm

      P.S. I love the time/space theories about Lost, but I didn't realize just how much I liked those concepts pre-Lost until I was perusing my mini-library and came across 2 fun books: Einstein's Dreams by Alan Lightman and A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. Fun, time-bending fiction.

      Phutatorius February 17th, 2008 at 2:42 pm

      J, thank you for sending me to the BD655 section of my local university library to find Lewis' "On the Plurality of Worlds." That's one fascinating bookshelf. I'd have liked to have checked out a whole armload of books but I settled for just two. And thanks to one of your earlier blogs I just finished reading "The Invention of Morel" --twice.

      Tom Von Doom February 17th, 2008 at 4:28 pm

      OK, I'm obsessing, but here goes:

      In the beginning of the episode, I noticed a scar on Sayeed's left shoulder resembling a gunshot.
      When he is in bed with Elsa, there is no scar on his shoulder, which could indicate that this is a flashback, not forward. Yes, Elsa mentions a crash, but maybe it's some other crash cover story, who knows? And she shoots him in the left shoulder.
      The photo that Miles has of Ben shows him with dark eyes. When Ben is tied up at the barracks he clearly has light eyes.
      When Ben is treating Sayeed's wound at the end, his eyes are darkish, it's hard to tell, could be the lighting... The wound looks like it's in a slightly different place than the scar in the beginning?

      Was Sayeed shot or wounded on the island? I don't remember. Of course, if Sayeed knew Ben before the island, then why did he torture him to find out who he was in season two?

      My brain hurts....

      Faramir February 17th, 2008 at 5:16 pm

      if time passed more slowly on island than off it, the rocket would land *earlier* than expected; if time were faster on island, the rocket would land later, but with a *late* clock on board! Anyway, I think the time between the experiment and the arrival of the rocket (those 31 minutes) got lost on the discontinuity (call it event horizon) between on and off island, a discontinuity which affects material bodies only, not electromagnetic waves (hence the synchronsed communications).
      The idea that Berlin Sayid's could be a flashback is intriguing, but I recall Ben being questioned by Sayid alone in the armory oh the Swan Station, where they could easily avoid faking unacquaintance: I think it's clear in that occasion they didn't know each other.

      Paul February 17th, 2008 at 7:41 pm

      Tom Von Doom,

      Sayid was shot by Patchy in Enter 77, Season 3. I believe it was in the left shoulder/arm.

      Kubby February 17th, 2008 at 9:11 pm

      I am not sure if anybody has mentioned this but, I thought it was a bit weird that when Jack asks Julliete how long it will take her to get Desmond she says "A couple of hours". She leaves around the same time Daniel starts his experiment.

      When the rocket finally gets to the island, Julliete and Desmond show up, and it is pointed out by the pilot, which makes me believe that the rocket took about two hours to get to the island - not 31 minutes as suggested by the time difference.

      Did anyone else catch this? What could this mean?

      And another thing, the possibility of Sayid's killing of Elsa being a flashback makes sense to me because Sayid is not stupid, if this was a flashforward Sayid would have taken Elsa's bracelet off to see if it was the same as Naomi's. At the very least if it was a flashforward, Sayid is smart enough to connect the two and be better prepared. Making me believe this is a flashback.

      Also if you watch Sayid's expression as he is leaving in the helicopter right before the last "flash" it appears as if he is thinking back.

      Jeffrey February 17th, 2008 at 10:40 pm

      I started reading Alan Moore's "Black Dossier" early last week so it was interesting to see a Moriarty allusion on "Lost" then see it on your blog. In keeping with the James Bond theme of "The Economist" Moriarty is also the original "M" Bond's boss (who becomes Harry Lime - a Welles allusion Miss Gretchen). Also the description of Fantomas in "Black Dossier" sounds like the smoke monster. And Ben's hit list sure sounds like the hit list in Moore's "Watchmen". In "Black Dossier" Moore plays up Bond's misogyny and I have to wonder if Elsa was just shooting to maim and slow down Sayid whereas he shoots to kill (very unSayid-like where a woman is concerned). That scene mirrors the ending of the movie "Prizzi's Honor" - a book written by the same man that gave us the programmed assassin in "The Manchurian Candidate". The R.C. of the bracelet - Richard Condon - unless that was R.G. I wasn't sure. I think J. is right about the flash-way-forward on the golf course. The way Sayid kills Avellino is a mirrored payback of how Elsa got the drop on him.

      Nick in SF February 17th, 2008 at 11:03 pm

      Regarding the point made in Kubby's previous comment, it could be that Sayid doesn't need to examine Elsa's bracelet closely because, by then, he might already know what it signifies, whereas he didn't when he looked at Naomi's bracelet. This is assuming that the action in Germany does take place after he leaved the island.

      A couple comments on J Wood's analysis: first, J. writes "We find that Sayid is being blackmailed by Ben to hunt down a list of people..." There is another possibility here: it could very well be that Sayid is not being blackmailed by Ben, but rather that he has a new perspective off the island; perhaps he affirmatively believes that helping Ben go after the people on his list is the best way to protect Sayid's friends -- be they the rest of the Oceanic 6 or those who remained on the island.

      Ben says "These people don't deserve our sympathies. Need I remind you what they did the last time you thought with your heart instead of your gun?"

      Sayid replies "You used that to recruit me into killing for you."

      Ben: "Do you want to protect your friends or not, Sayid?"

      I think it's reasonable to interpet from this that Sayid thinks he's protecting his friends from those that he's killing, not from Ben. 'Recruit' doesn't suggest blackmail as much as resignation.

      Second, J Wood wonders if off-screen Desmond may have been "time-tripping again, and is that the reason we're seeing some swiftly-tilting identities...?" Maybe, but the Ockham's Razor explanation could be that, bowing to the conventions of television and of a show with such a large cast, Desmond wasn't being shown for the same reason that Sun and Jin and Claire etc. weren't being shown; they usually can't show everybody in every episode, and Desmond being off on the beach had no particular significance at all. When his character was called for, Juliett was dispatched to get him. But who knows?

      janet in venice February 18th, 2008 at 4:56 am

      maybe everybody is just too rushed to make sense of this. i had no trouble making sense of what i saw in this episode. to me, it seems that sayid , after having found ben's secret 'wardrobe', gets some valid and confirmed evidence from ben later in the sotryline, as to who these people are and how they view the world, how evil and haughty and priveleged they think they are. 'the economist' could refer to someone who thinks the world is theirs to run as they deem, like a self conceited gardener yanking out people like unwanted weeds, deciding who lives and dies,strolling around the planet streaming such self satisfied evil that they just beg to be taken out.
      i gathered that far from coercing sayid to do these deeds, ben merely showed him what he had on these bastards, and that was all sayid needed to know, to willingly be game to take them out, one by one. he isn't working 'for' ben, he's decided it is his own intention, too.
      the arm scar would have been from Enter 77. altho he got another one in a similar spot from elsa. deja vu?
      i had no problem taking sayid's 'jobs' in the same order they were shown.ben's telling him 'i've got another name for you,' to me, just meant he had another person on the list for sayid to go eradicate next. sayid seems to be living out a kind of glamorous, james bond 'thing'. i'm betting Darlton did it for his lady fams to fantasize with. something besides humid, sweaty Island funk, for a change.
      my roommate has pointed out with some increasing irritation that more than just Oceanic passengers could successfully get off the Island and return to lives in the World. It's verbal misdirection. Jack, Kate, Sayid, Hurley were on Oceanic. they can be rightly members of the O6. but juliet, desmond, ben, were not on the plane. they can't be referred to as the O6. the world wouldn't call them that. back in the world, ben can pass himself off as an animal researcher, based on the hatches, the dharma stations, his lovely ability to lie and pretend he's something harmless and benign. juliet had her life as a fertility doctor. desmond had a life in the military and the monastary. they have no reason to assume fake identities if they get back to the world. i can surmise that sayid learned something about these fatcats between the time we see him in the 'wardrobe and the time we see him on the golfcourse, that changed his mind decisively from the time when he declares that if the time ever comes when he trusts ben, he would have to have sold his soul.

      his character is cast as being Shiite- a Shia. he may well have washed his hands with snow after speaking to ben and throwing the phone away, as an act of purification after being conscious he had just apoken to a man for whom he knows he is performing unclean acts, unholy acts...symbolicaly washing the blood off his hands, to make himself clean again before Allah. i don't think ben has him by the balls. i think sayid has come to know how heinous these fatcat figures are, and that they will, indeed, get on that island and do anything they can to have it, wwhich will, indeed hurt the friends he left back there who chose to live there, and not return to the world.

      calling a figure 'the economist' implies someone who decides what gets spent where, who decides what gets kept and what gets discarded, who manipulates markets, the worth of money and goods and services, who plays God with ordinary forces among free people buying and selling and trading what they have. it can convey the sense of someone penurious, miserly, who squeezes everything to its tightest.
      in another sense, it can mean someone streamlined, elegant and spare, who does the most with the least, who chooses just exactly where to strike a system, in order to have the maximum effectiveness, with the minimum of effort expended.
      all the things sayid briefly saw in ben's secret room- the multiple passports, the wads of international cash, the suits, to me bespoke of missions out in the world, under numerous aliases and covers, and could easily indicate movement among or against some cartel on the order of Hanso, Widmore, Paik, etc, men who beleive they run the planet as their own toy, and regard us mere peons as so much chattel.
      i turned to my rommate and snickered "hm. i smell X-files. do you?"

      as for all you said of Lewis's arguments, i have reams of issues to take up with that guy. a 'world' could be as simple as one person's experience of existence contrasted with another's. each person is a world. each family is a world. each tribe is a world. each human culture is a world. consider tribes living far enough apart so that each develops its own foods, shelters, language, clothing, customs, religions, mating rituals, beleifs,---both are valid. all are valid. all start with the same natural laws, same human bodies, same needs. one is as good or as bad as another. they don't know the other exists until they encounter. if they don't encounter, they never know.
      there was a time when it didnt matter what someone on the other side of the world from me, did.
      now, it's increasingly getting so that it DOES. what used to be isolated 'worlds' that never encountered, is moving toward becoming all the same world.
      i don't hear lewis taking any of that into account!
      i want to argue this guy!!!

      and lets keep mrs hawking on the table, for discussion's sake. if fate is course correcting, then it doesnt matter whether A does a thing or does not do a thing, causing C--or if or B does it. 'someone' will do it, so that fate plays out, and the ordained takes place.

      my kid committed suicide. i could spend my life beating myself up, thinking i could have prevented it. but if he was intent on accomplishing that- or any other act-, i could have devoted all my time to preventing him, and he still would have found a way to do it.

      lewis fails to reckon with the fact that worlds DO collide.they CAN clash in the same spacetime. all kinds of things can happen: they can annihilate each other, have confusion, antagonism, stay to their own while mixing, or they can blend and find a new synthesis. it's happening all around us, all the time.

      JK February 18th, 2008 at 8:58 am

      A few comments on the comments. I too was freaked out by Naomi's dead stare and although I did not go back and watch "Confirmed Dead," I specifically remember in Naomi's flashback that Abbadon does not blink the ENTIRE flashback. Then they immediately cut to Naomi's dead stare. An implication he is some manifestation of the grim reaper?

      I like J's theory about Sayid's golf flashforward, but I still believe that the Charlotte storyline is still a flashforward and not a flashback. I think it is setting up the flashforward narrative of Ben/Sayid trying to keep the Maxwell Group from finding the Island, while at the same time Jack also trying to get back to the Island (will he unknowingly lead them there?). This also makes me think that Ben is the key to this season with everyone on the island eventually turning to him for a way to stay on the island and everyone in the future hunting him down looking for a way to the island. I also believe the season will end with him being the one in the coffin, causing Jack's reaction b/c he thought Ben was the only one who could lead him back. There a few holes in that theory of course - mainly that if the helicopter found the island, why would they need Ben? It also appears that he does not need to pose as one of the O6 b/c he can get on and off the island as he pleases (or was that only true before the sub blew up? - probably not).

      In last week's comments someone compared Locke to a Christ-figure, but I see Ben as more of the Christ figure. He has been ridiculed as a false-king, and has been beaten and tortured and dragged along the stations of the cross. Perhaps we're being set up for a major incident where he will (re)emerge as the leader of the Losties.

      JK February 18th, 2008 at 9:06 am

      Obviously meant "Elsa" not "Charlotte storyline" talking about Sayid's flashforward - sorry.

      Juno Walker February 18th, 2008 at 9:15 am

      Tom Von Doom -

      Yes, Sayid was shot in the left shoulder by Patchy at the Flame Station. Elsa shot Sayid in the same shoulder in this epi. In the screen capture of this epi, Sayid has NO scar on his left shoulder when he gets out of bed, before he puts on his t-shirt. Check out the screen capture.

      It could be a production error, or it could be a clue as to whether this is a flashback or flashforward, or it could be a clue that timelines, etc., have been altered.


      L O S T, Hearts & Minds

      Tom Von Doom February 18th, 2008 at 2:15 pm

      Of course, I remember now. Patchy shot Sayeed. Maybe the islands' miraculous healing powers dissolved the scars, and it's a flashforward.


      There seem to be alternate versions of our characters: A scarred/scarless Sayeed, a freckled/freckleless Kate, a blue-eyed/brown-eyed Ben and possibly a crippled/non-crippled Locke, a fertile/non-fertile Jin, a swim-champion/non-swimmer Charlie, etc. How about a Penelope/non-Penelope freighter? A crashed-underwater/crashed-on-the-island 815? With a married/unmarried pilot? Does he have a ring on in the first ep? This isn't mirror-twinning, it's mirror oppositing.

      Obviously, there is a right way or a wrong way to go here. Like the woman in Desmonds' flashback, and Charlie in Hurleys' flashforward, 'something' is trying to steer the characters to the right course of action.
      When Locke doesn't follow the 'islands' path, his legs weaken. When Ben doesn't follow Jacob/the islands' path, he gets cancer... Are scars/freckles/eye color indicators of which direction the characters are/could be/would have been going?

      OMG, what have I done.... am I chasing a red herring?

      Leah February 18th, 2008 at 2:16 pm

      Regarding Ben: has anyone else wondered if he (Ben) was also Elsa's boss? He trips on power and secrets, and he doesn't let anyone into his head. While sending Sayid to kill Elsa's boss, maybe the plan was to kill Elsa the whole time. Meanwhile, he either planned that the two would fall for each other or not (it's easy enough to set it up: actors fall in love with each other all the time after playing lovers in movies: you act something out and sometimes you make it true--though those marriages don't usually last because they're based on ILLUSION). Sayid falling for Elsa and then killing her just gives him a tighter grip of control on Sayid, who he is using. Was he also using Elsa? Ben, more than ever seems to fit the role of "economist," both on and off the island.

      Another trail: Just like Ben killed off all of the Dharma initiative people who "raised" him on the island, including his father, maybe at this point he's doing the same "cleansing" of his own funders/organizational heads in the real world. Last time he seemed to come out on top with the others (who he joined as an adult after killing all the dharma people). Now maybe he's planning to come out on top in the outside world. There's not enough information on this guy, but he's clearly smarter than people have him pegged, and he likes it that way. His mousy demeanor make him seem harmless, and then he gets underneath the skin and does some damage.

      Brown vs. blue eyes.... there could be a lot of different explanations, from having a mirror twin in the outside world (to me unlikely), to assuming some brown-eyed person aboard the plane (that person would probably have relatives or friends who knew him, so he would be easily exposed after his O-6 fame if he were posing). Or he could be assuming one of his off-island identities, though why would he change his eye color for that?

      Tom Von Doom February 18th, 2008 at 2:24 pm

      The most obvious example of oppositing: we're half-way through the series and now, we are experiencing flashforwards, not flashbacks.

      Leah February 18th, 2008 at 2:29 pm

      I forgot to mention the initial reason I thought Ben might be the boss of both Elsa and Sayid. He's stitching up Sayid, who tells him he still doesn't know who Elsa's boss is. Ben seems indifferent and says he has another name, like he's moved on, like the task has been accomplished. I thought that odd. If he did't get the target, why would there be a new name? Why not focus on the original target? Unless the original target was not the real target.

      There was a thread at one time dealing with fathers, also. I keep coming back to it, because there is something very relevant about fathers in this whole show. Especially with some comments someone made about the island being God (the "Father"). Many of the characters have real issues with their fathers, as has been discussed, but not just Jack and Locke. Sun, Jin, Claire, Boone, Shannon, Desmond (with Penny's dad), Kate, Sawyer (James), and probably others have had conspicuously daddy-centered back stories. It almost makes you wonder what's up with the characters whose daddies are not mentioned, because there are fewer of them. Like Juliet is the polar opposite: I remember her mom and sister, but no dad. She also implants a baby into her sister (no daddy there). Rose and hubby don't mention daddies, but there was only one episode with their backstories, right? Hurley doesn't have a dad, right? His grandad died after the lottery thing, though.

      Maybe it's a rabbit trail. Any other insight on daddies and their connection to the show? (not to rehash any old Christian or Anthony Cooper discussions).

      Also, I agree this blog is intellectually stimulating. I always think about quitting lost at the very beginning of a season, but this blog digs so deep it inspires a deep awe of the creators of this show and where they are going with all of this. Keep up the good analysis.

      Tom Von Doom February 18th, 2008 at 3:30 pm

      Shaun brought up an interesting point about Naomi. Maybe, as she ran through the jungle, Naomi was bitten by a medusa spider, and will revive. At the beginning of the episode, Sayeed seems to come to some realization, and walks over to Naomi to close her eyes. Does he suspect she's not dead? Did he learn about the spiders from Arzt? According to Lostpedia, the paralysis lasts approx. 8 hours. It's been longer than that since she 'died,' hasn't it?

      Another thought: the island changes physical characteristics of people like Locke and Jin, why not eye color? When Ben is off-island, he's got brown eyes, when he's there, blue. Perhaps the physical changes aren't permanent. Maybe, Locke will be one of the O-6, and be stuck in a wheelchair again. Then, he kills himself out of despair, so, he's the one in the coffin. I'll expect full credit when that's revealed.

      One of the big clues about what's going on is the death of pregnant women on the island. If the island somehow physically changes people (usually healing,) maybe it's some misinterpretation of pregnancy on the islands part. Or maybe, it's not the 'island' but some kind of virus unique to the island. Didn't Kelvin wear a hazmat suit whenever he went to the surface?

      yogi February 18th, 2008 at 5:29 pm

      Asilgrass, I like your theory about Sawyer becoming under Ben's influence. To take it a step further look at is as, the mirror image is, before all his life he tried to become the man who conned his parents (Cooper) after he kills Cooper he's lost, but then he kills Tom, and could be developing into Tom, Ben's thug. It'd be interesting to watch and see if that's where its taking us.

      As for the Sayid braclet issue, I don't think its that imporant that he doesn't look at Elsa's because he was sleeping with her and could have already known what may or may not have been written underneath.

      Juno Walker February 18th, 2008 at 5:46 pm

      Leah -

      I like your idea that

      "Just like Ben killed off all of the Dharma initiative people who "raised" him on the island, including his father, maybe at this point he's doing the same "cleansing" of his own funders/organizational heads in the real world."

      I think Darlton have hinted that there is much more to the Ben character than we suspect...


      L O S T, Hearts & Minds

      Viking February 18th, 2008 at 8:14 pm

      Leah said:
      "Hurley doesn't have a dad, right? His grandad died after the lottery thing, though."

      Hurley also had daddy issues; we did see his dad in a flashback episode (played by Cheech Marin). Dad came back after Hurley won the lottery, and Hurley wanted nothing to do with him because dad disappeared when he was young (riding off on a Harley).

      One of the key points in that flashback was the red 70's Camaro Hurley's dad was restoring -- Hurley saved the car, and that was the car he was driving when he was chased and arrested in the first episode this season.

      KWeed February 18th, 2008 at 9:01 pm

      JK, I can't agree with Ben being like a Christ figure. Ben's a killer, hence "cleansing".

      I believe the most Christ-like figure is Jacob, especially if one thinks God is the Island. It would make sense for Jacob to be the son. John, Des, Echo may just be prophets, hence the ESP. And, with the Lostaways all having daddy-issues, the Island then fills that role as father, too.

      As for the pregnancy problem, maybe the electromagnetic qualities of the Island cause them to fail?

      Jeffrey February 18th, 2008 at 10:10 pm

      Leah's comments reminded me of yet another Orson Welles allusion - "Mr. Arkardin" who hires an investigator to find out about himself so he can then wrap up loose ends by killing everyone connected to his past. The father issues Leah mentioned can be expanded to powerful men in pop culture (esp. for the "Lost" makers) of which Welles and Kubrick would apply.

      Jeffrey February 18th, 2008 at 10:19 pm

      I knew I should've checked the spelling of "Mr. Arkadin" first but when I did I saw that the film was based on a radio show called "The Lives of Harry Lime" who as I've mentioned becomes James Bond's boss "M" in "Black Dossier".

      Leah February 19th, 2008 at 11:38 am

      I just remembered some little online mobisode i saw awhile back... i can't find a link. from what i remember, a girl is carrying a handheld video cam into a house where her long-lost father (Hanso) is being held against his will. If someone finds the link, could you post it? I remembered it because of this discussion of Ben... maybe he's the one who has sort of hi-jacked the foundation (and the island) as Hanso suggests in the mobisode? I may have the details mixed up, but I can't find the thing to watch it again. Or maybe Ben is also trying to kill the people who have hi-jacked everything (though I don't see him as the hero type).

      Mrs. Friendly February 19th, 2008 at 12:43 pm

      If what Tim says is correct:

      "The economy of Ockham's razor is not an explanatory economy (the simplest solution is usually right) but an ontological economy (the explanation with the fewest necessary entities is usually right)."

      Has it occured to anyone else that perhaps the principal applies to decent screenwriting as well? I adore this show, and this blog, but frankly, I've decided to focus on the journey and the literary references rather than "solving the puzzle" because there are just too many bloomin' entities at this point. It's possible I'm not sharp enough to track all of these characters, sub-plots, theories, timelines, etc., but I'm growing a bit weary.

      Is it just me?

      kool February 19th, 2008 at 12:59 pm

      to 'Tom Von Doom': Kelvin wore a hazmat suit because Dharma people were told that the island was quarantined, probably after the purge. But he realized it was fake, and took the suit off after getting outside. Desmond noticed a hole in the suit one day, and that's why he followed Kelvin outside, noticed the sailboat, killed (presumably) Kelvin, and let the timer get to zero and set off the system failure that caused Oceanic 815 to crash.

      Also, Jin wasn't changed by the island any more so than the other men. Juliet explained that all males on the island have a quadrupled sperm count, which is counterproductive, since pregnancy leads to death.

      I think it's the healing properties of the island that causes the pregnancy issues. Around 7 months, the island begins to see the developing fetus as an invader, or disease, and trys to heal the body.

      It's possible that Naomi is still alive. When Mikhail went through the sonic fence, he was dead for awhile before healing and waking up. When Mikhail was shot by the spear gun, he was "dead" for awhile. When Locke was shot by Ben, he was close to death for awhile. Maybe Naomi is just on the edge of death, or actually dead, and the island is working to heal her. One reason to suspect that she's alive is that there was a flashback with her and Abaddon after she was "dead". The writers supposedly vowed to not have flashbacks for dead characters. Also, they made a point of having close-ups of her "dead" face, and of having her body put on the helicopter.

      Of course, she could just be dead. Remember, in the 1st season, right after the crash, Jack wanted to just pile up the bodies of the dead passengers and burn them. Sayid's Muslim background put him at odds with that, and he wanted to bury every passenger individually. His reaction to the dead body, and closing her eyes, could just be him showing respect for the dead. Also, if Naomi is alive, how was Miles able to communicate with her ghost?

      To 'Leah': I also thought it weird that Ben wanted to move on to another name and leave Elsa's boss. Perhaps, though, he realized that with Elsa dead, they had no way to identify her boss, so they moved on to someone else.

      kool February 19th, 2008 at 1:11 pm

      Also, I agree with 'JK' that this all sets up future flashforwards with Ben/Sayid protecting the island and Jack trying to get back to the island. I would add that the only reason the helicopter found the island was that Naomi's satellite phone served as a homing beacon. Now that the Freighties are there, they have other beacons to lead them from ship to island. If the Losties manage to turn the tables and destroy the homing beacons, the island could be hidden once again.

      Phutatorius February 19th, 2008 at 1:36 pm

      All this talk about brown eyed/blue eyed Ben. I can't help myself: maybe Ben has a twin. After all, we never saw what happened in Horace's little Karmen Ghia convertible immediately after Ben's mom expires. And Roger wouldn't have been enough of a midwife to have checked. Hmmm?

      Thomas February 19th, 2008 at 3:29 pm

      Maybe we're like the characters in the movie spoof "Murder by Death" who missed the correct answer because they wanted a complex solution. The island is a place where time as a dimension can actually be percieved, at least by some people, on some level. Jack's father may, like Charlie, be dead, but is on the island because Jack was so focused on him at the time of the crash that he pulled a version of him out of the timeline without realizing it. Some people like Jacob and Mrs. Hawking (maybe Abbadon?), have more control, and some people like Ben, Locke, and Desmond, may have partial understanding. It just strikes me that I can fit most plot points into the mix if that is the underlying reason why the island matters.

      mark February 19th, 2008 at 10:37 pm

      J - my thoughts, too, drifted toward ockham's razor immediately after this episode. the simplest explanation of ben's presence in the last scene is that the true antagonists of the full story arc have not yet been revealed. we've been offered many possibilities - the others, the hanso foundation, the darma initiative, smoky, the maxwell group, the freighties, even the losties themselves, not to mention the various possibilities within the ARGs. but my guess is that they've all been red herrings (but integral to the plot nonetheless), and narrative building blocks toward the introduction of a dark force far more nefarious than we've imagined. or perhaps you did imagine it - "a demon god?"

      (i guess the idea that ben was also elsa's boss would negate this. but one of the posters commented on ben's christ-like journey resonated with me, and i've always intuited that his manipulations and deceptions are more a function of survival than malevolence.)

      by the way, thanks for the excellent exploration of david lewis' pluralism of worlds theories. the assertion of interwoven actuals and non-actuals into the storyline has been strong and undeniable, but this reference finally gave it context for me.

      finally, i've always worried a bit that the writers are referencing intellectuals to give the show a false depth, or worse, just showing off. but your citing of sayid's incorrect grammar tense in his statement about ben convinced me that real literary aspirations, craft and even art are truly why this show is so compelling. it also reminded me that they are innovating wildly with the use of a novelistic narrative arc over a seven season serial television show. if these first one and a half acts are any indication, imagine the third act to this sucker.

      J Wood (Post Author) February 21st, 2008 at 12:12 pm

      I've had company in from out of town, we have a visiting scholar here this week (Luke Menand of "The Metaphysical Club"), and have only been able to read comments, not respond. So now I'll try to make with the responses already.

      A few things from previous comments: Not only does Aaron look bigger, he has Obama ears. It's a different kid; the baby playing Aaron before must be pushing a year old now.

      Someone asked about the explanations the producers promised. I believe the producers said there would be natural explanations, not supernatural. I've seen some references to that being said in an Entertainment Weekly article, but I think it was from a few years back.

      Juno: Darlton are pretty bright, but their brightest move may have been amassing a team of other smart writers. Just the two of them would have a hard time working all this material together, even if they were doing only 8 episodes. But they have a team of around 30 writers; that's a lot of gray matter to work things out. (I also know that two of the writers were at the same university as me at the same time; if they took some of the same courses, then I'm not surprised at the cache of info and background that they have to draw on. We had some fantastic teachers at UW - Madison.)

      Phutatorius: Right on with Abaddon. Also, there's one significant problem with the whole demon idea; Maxwell's little devil would have to have perfect knowledge of the system in order to separate the correct particles. So how does he get it? The whole model starts to break down, but it's sustained itself as a thought experiment in physics and for Thomas Pynchon and Ken Kesey. We don't know what kind of info Abaddon has, but Ben certainly has a knack for gathering info. He's like a manic librarian.

      I'm digging the idea that Kelvin could be the man on the boat.

      Question for people on the freckles: I found out recently that these posts are being re-posted at another site and people are commenting on it over there as well. I've only looked at one posting from a couple weeks back, but there was a general irritation with the whole freckles thing. The complaint was I needed to get an HDTV because the freckles never went away. That doesn't answer the clear lack of freckles in the flashforward from "Through the Looking Glass," and it raises another issue -- are they visible in HD but not on regular TV, and why? They were clearer in the first season on a regular signal. And others have said they're a lot harder to see. So I'm not yet ready to just throw up my hands and blame it on my four-year-old TV.

      (The screencap is from when Kate is talking to Sawyer in Otherville and he calls her freckles for the first time in maybe six episodes.)

      But that raises another one of Tom Von Doom's points: freckles, eye color, etc. indicating various shifts. That's an interesting idea. I don't know yet, but I'll be watching. I noticed Ben's eyes have seemed dark in a few scenes, like the first scene with Jacob. I can't tell if that's just his giant pupils dilating, or if he's wearing contacts. I had my eyes dilated two weeks ago and looked like that for half the day. (Anyone ever heard of people with multiple personalities whose eye color changes depending on the dominate personality?)

      Digsby: Yep, the Lostaways are protecting the island. The scene where Jack tells Miles his friends are in the jungle pointing rifles at Miles' head is a mirror of the scene from "The Hunting Party" (season two) where Jack, Locke and Sawyer meet Mr. Friendly out in the jungle clearing, and Sawyer gets shot.

      Tom: You're dead-on about the directions Faraday gave Lapidus lining up with what Ben told Michael.

      Asilgrass & KWeed: You're right, it would be over-indulgent if all the suggestions of changes were based just on Sawyer's different behavior. But it's also Jack's (off-island), Locke's, Mr. Friendly's -- there's a pattern. Of course, there's still more to learn. One personality shift is interesting, two may be coincidence, but more than that, and you're facing a pattern.

      Tim, that's a better explanation of Ockham's Razor than I gave in this post. I think the key point is "necessary" entities, and I remember discussing it in those terms some time back because I had to do some work convincing some that the simplest seeming solution couldn't be correct because it left some necessary stones unturned. My point back then was if a solution skips over some of the snags, it's not the simplest one, because those things need to be accounted for. Fewest necessary entities is the best way to put it.

      Quick clarification: I didn't mean to imply that the Elsa scenes were flashbacks, only that they occurred prior to the Avellino scene. I thought they were all flashforwards. It's like this: On the island, it's around Dec. 23 or 24, 2004; I'm suggesting the Avellino scenes took place on, say, April 20, 2008, while the Elsa scenes took place in, say, December-March, 2008. All in the future, but one's more future than the rest. I personally didn't see anything in the Elsa scenes that suggested those were flashbacks.

      Shaun, I'm not sure we know enough to say every island minute is six minutes off-island. The time would start to compound off island if that were the case; after six island minutes, 36 minutes would go by off-island, after seven minutes 42 minutes would have gone by, and pretty soon you're really stretching out. That 31 minutes could be more like how the East Coast of the U.S. is five hours behind Greenwich Mean time. Of course we have to wait for Faraday to get his act together first and get the experiments done. (By the way, the 31 minute gap is two of the numbers, 15+16.)

      The official podcast confirmed that Jack, Sayid, Hugo and Kate are four of the O6, and they were cagey about any O6 tricks (but those four are confirmed). Ben's off-island, Des seems to be heading that way, and if Future Jack's future holds to what we saw in "Through the Looking Glass," Christian Shephard is among the off-islanders. But true, just because an islander is off-island doesn't necessarily mean s/he's one of the O6. We don't even really know why the O6 are called the O6 at this point.

      StephanieM: You can check some transcripts of the whispers. There's some people out there with snazzy sound equipment who are able to extract out the whispers and amplify them. I've looked at a few transcripts, and they're generally conversations, with things like "Ssshh! He'll hear you!" Check Lostpedia or DarkUFO for those.

      Kubby: I went back and looked at the scenes you're discussing, and there's quite a bit between when Juliet takes off to the beach and Faraday starts the experiment. We shift to Locke's faction and get a flashforward before we get back to Faraday, so I don't know if we have enough info to say that only thirty minutes or an hour and thirty minutes passed after Juliet left for the beach.

      Jeffrey -- that's right, the killer in Watchmen was going through a list. The film of Watchmen is coming up; anyone happen to know any details?

      I also think that Sayid may have chosen to work for Ben, for his own reasons, is a valid point. Rhetoric here is always important (like Sayid's counterfactual statement), and Ben only said Sayid's friends would be in danger, not from whom.

      Janet: The possible worlds idea doesn't really have to do with a world that someone just doesn't know. He has some clear distinctions the definition that take it past anything beyond the realm of a person's limited experience being a "possible world." Just because I have no experience whatsoever of life on Vanuatu doesn't men Vanuatu is a possible world for me. The distinction is actual and nonactual; Vanuatu doesn't cease to be actual despite the status of my experience with Vanuatu. Vanuatu is very much a part of this actual world. But had a meteor landed in a part of the Pacific rather than the Yucatan Peninsula a few million years ago, Vanuatu may never have existed (a possible world), or perhaps what is called Vanuatu would be what we now call New Guinea. What you've described is more along the lines of cultural blindness; but being blind to a culture doesn't mean its nonactual. Just because no one here seemed to care what happened to Afghanistan after the Soviets left didn't mean the Mujahideen ceased to be actual, and yeah, all that stuff from some other world does make a big difference in our lives now. But it's another world in a different sense than what Lewis is using.

      Take Charlie being able to swim at the end of the third season. In the first season he says he can't swim. In a possible world, Charlie might have gotten swimming lessons. After Des starts saving Charlie (changing the future, as well as the past and present because in spacetime there's no distinction), Charlie's nonactual possible world has become the actual world, and the actual world from the first season (at least a portion of it dealing with Charlie) is now a nonactual world. That's the thing that's strange, at least in Lewis' terms; I don't think he ever argued that a possible, nonactual world could ever impose itself into an actual world.

      As far as economists just being business tyrants, we definitely have some business tyrants floating around in the background, but I'm waiting to see what we actually learn of them.

      I was about to write some more about someone who wrote a text called "The Economist" -- Xenophon, a contemporary of Socrates; Oeconomicus is a Socratic dialog about household management, including slaves. I don't know if it will hold much promise, but its there. I was also about to write something about how economics deals with producers and consumers of capital, and about spending/squandering political capital, like Locke seems to be doing (and the philosopher Locke has some things to say about that as well). But I'm at a public place right now, and someone at this same table keeps kicking it in rhythm, and it's all I can do to keep my fingers on the keyboard, or from grinding my teeth down to buttons. I have to get back to work now, but if I get the chance to finish later today, I will.

      Miss Gretchen February 21st, 2008 at 2:57 pm

      J, you wrote "But true, just because an islander is off-island doesn't necessarily mean s/he's one of the O6. We don't even really know why the O6 are called the O6 at this point." One aspect of the so-called "Oceanic 6" phenomenon is that in this future time, they seem to be treated as actual heroes, not just survivors of a crash. People's reactions to them imply that they vanquished a bunch of "bad guys," as well as got rescued, don't you think? Maybe even tonight we'll find out more about that.

      As to the freckles, I think that they are a catch-all for people who think that we go too deep over here. All I know is that in the first flash-forward, Kate had tons of makeup on, in a very California soccer mom kind of way. It was clearly there as a statement for her new, off-island persona. I'm not a fan of HD, so if you can see some faint freckles in certain scenes this season, I am more likely to fault the HD for seeing something we're _not supposed to see_ than attributing it to a lack of continuity in Kate's makeup. Look at all the DVD extras which show the incredible attention to detail the people involved with the show bring -- again, it's Ockham's Razor. If it seems like she doesn't have freckles, it's because she's not supposed to have them, not that it wasn't sunny that day on the island or whatever the other explanations might be. . .

      Viking February 21st, 2008 at 4:22 pm

      J. Wood wrote:
      "Quick clarification: I didn't mean to imply that the Elsa scenes were flashbacks, only that they occurred prior to the Avellino scene. I thought they were all flashforwards. It's like this: On the island, it's around Dec. 23 or 24, 2004; I'm suggesting the Avellino scenes took place on, say, April 20, 2008, while the Elsa scenes took place in, say, December-March, 2008. All in the future, but one's more future than the rest. I personally didn't see anything in the Elsa scenes that suggested those were flashbacks."

      Well, Darlton settled that issue in an interview with Doc Jensen over on EW today. They basically said that they're playing enough with the space/time stuff as it is, and they won't do it in the flashbacks/flashforwards. The events shown in them occur in the sequence they're shown in the episode. They even said they had Sayid saying something about just getting back from the Seychelles when he was talking to Elsa, but the line got trimmed due to time.

      They also said, FYI, that we will know who all of the O6 are before this season is out, and also who was in the coffin in the last season finale. What's part of our (as viewers) puzzle right now is figuring out where all these flashforwards fit in relation to each other. We only know the date of Jack's for sure, and can infer when Hurley's occurred due to Jack talking about growing a beard, but we have no context for Sayid's yet, and may get some more timeline clues tonight.

      Viking February 21st, 2008 at 4:31 pm

      One other interesting thing Dalton said in the interview is that fans can put the idea of these flashforwards being "possible alternate futures" to rest. They have no intention of "pulling the rug out" from the viewers with this -- what we see IS the future for the people on the island, and the rest of this season and some or all of the next will deal with how they got to that point.

      John Moustache February 21st, 2008 at 5:44 pm

      Just because the flashforwards are not "possible alternate futures" does not mean they are not the one future resulting from a series of selections of possible realities at an earlier point. So we can still have fun with the idea that multiple possible realities exist on the island, and that someone may have the power to select one as actual at any given moment - Maxwell's Demon, as I brought up in my comment in last weeks post.

      J. Wood, no love for John Moustache in the response to comments? Maxwell's Demon selecting realities on the island with Desmond (DEsMONd) getting some of that selecting power?

      Juno Walker February 21st, 2008 at 6:49 pm

      J -

      Just to clarify: I have an HDTV, and Kate DEFINITELY has freckles in this episode...


      L O S T, Hearts & Minds

      Snowden February 22nd, 2008 at 4:00 am

      Boy, that image behind Kate in Ben's living room sure reminded me of the map in the movie "Time Bandits."

      Also, does anyone think we'll be getting any references for "Donnie Darko"?

      Rictus Grin February 27th, 2008 at 2:46 am

      Just seen it over here in NZ. Had a moment of recognition when Sayid mentioned to Elsa about a "list" - some more mirror-twinning there. And in response to Nick in SF, I'm pretty sure that Sayid's reply to Ben at the end was You used HER to recruit me into killing for you." (not "that").

      Anyway, love this blog, it's very hard having to ignore the first post as we are one episode behind!

      Joe Brown February 27th, 2008 at 2:57 pm

      I LOVE YOU !
      You really need your own lost blog !

      Janet the Schmanet May 22nd, 2008 at 3:21 pm

      I love you too! I'm going back to read all your past postings. Thank you for this really informative and imaginative discussion!

      Jocelyn Krauss March 24th, 2013 at 5:36 pm

      Just discovered these posts since I'm going through Lost on DVD now -- thanks for such amazingly in-depth analysis!

      The one thing I have to comment about is your freckles obsession. Do you have freckles? Do you realize that they come and go a LOT depending on one's sun exposure? If Kate (er, Evangeline Lilly) spends a few days beneath the trees, they fade. After two hours in the bright sunshine, they POP! I have had friends comment many, many times "Wow, you look so freckly!" after time in the sun, but when I've been indoors more, "Oh, you have freckles?" Yeah, they change. They're something that not even the Lost producers, nor the Island, can control.

    Post a comment:

    Get Your Gravatar

    1. Please note:
    2. All comments require moderation by staff.
    3. Comments submitted on weekends might take until Monday to appear.
    PowellsBooks.Blog uses Gravatar to allow you to personalize the icon that appears beside your name when you post. If you don't have one already, get your Gravatar today!
    • back to top


    Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at