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Lost: Join Ye, Ji Yeon

Of course you knew Michael was coming back. The writers had promised he'd return, and Michael's portrayer, Harold Perrineau, has been in the credits for some time now.

In boxing terms, this is like a fighter pulling his right hand way down to his hip to throw a haymaker; it's telegraphed long before it arrives, and the recipient is more than ready for it.

Talk about misdirection.

Michael/Kevin Johnson were the least of the reveals in this episode. The big trick of the episode was narrative; the blending of flashforwards with flashbacks. We've already seen both devices used this season; “Confirmed Dead” brought back the flashbacks, and “The Constant” showed Des flashing back while, according to Cuse and Lindelof, Minkowski flashed forward (although we're not privy to Minkowski's flashes). In “Ji Yeon,” we get both flashforwards and flashbacks at once, for the first time. This could be a new narrative device we'll see again, used to keep us guessing throughout an episode; maybe we'll see some development of the technique where we can't quite tell which is which over the span of a few episodes (which wouldn't be a bad way to lead up to a finale). It's something to watch for.

The use of both devices at once was interesting just for the irony/build-up/pay-off standpoint, but it does something else that plays back into a greater theme of Lost. There were four ostensible narrative time-locations in this episode: two present locations (the freighter and the beach), the flashforward, and the flashback. By having all three exist at once in the same episode, we're getting another perspective on the idea of spacetime. With literary references like Watchmen, Slaughterhouse-Five, and A Wrinkle in Time, and other references like Stephen Hawking and David Lewis, we know that we're dealing with a particular interpretation of spacetime that says all points in time — past, present and future — exist at once, just like all physical locations in spacetime exist at once.

In other words, just as the grocery store up the road from my apartment, the street I grew up on, Tunisia, and Mars all exist in space at the same time, this present moment where I'm writing this sentence, the time I got my head stuck between the bars of my crib, the WWII Tunisian campaign, and the colonization of Mars all exist at once. And just like I can't be in all of those physical locations at once, neither can I be in all of those time locations at once; a person can really only experience being located at one point in space and time (I'll leave that one right there, because such distinctions will get messy quickly). Likewise, just as I experience physical space in a mediated way — the grocery store is a half-mile up and Tunisia is half a world away, I also experience time in a mediated way — I wrote the last sentence 30 seconds ago, and got my head stuck between the bars of my crib a number of years ago.

There are all kinds of philosophical debates around whether time actually exists in this way or not, but there's no need to go into it any deeper because when we're dealing with a narrative, spacetime exists in just the way being described. When a person reads a novel, all the events are existing at the same time in the pages of the book, but the reader experiences those events in a mediated way through the act of reading (no one can read all the events of a novel at once, not even Harold Bloom, no matter what he claims). The same holds for a film, or an episode of Lost; all of the events are already existing, but we witness them in a mediated way via the film projector or television signal. We've already seen Desmond (or at least his consciousness) jump around in time like he was jumping around in space, and we have the examples of Billy Pilgrim from Slaughterhouse-Five and Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen (who actually does experience all time at once). In “Ji Yeon,” we the audience get to experience that jumping around in spacetime in a similar fashion; we're the ones bouncing from the future to the past to the present. (Ji Yeon is also an anagram of join ye and i enjoy, almost as if we're enjoying joining Des on a time-trip.)

Beyond time as the central device, the central theme of the episode, as well as the central scene, has to do with karma and the choices people make; bad choices lead to bad things happening to a person, good choices lead to good things happening. Jin had made poor choices when he was first married, which lead to Sun's having an affair. Sun was making a bad choice for her baby by trying to leave for Locke's camp; she had reason to find Juliet distrustful, but Juliet's prenatal advice was sound. Maybe Sun's having an affair was the poor choice that led to the karma of Juliet outing Sun's affair to Jin. If karma is at play, we'll have to wait and see what kind of karma that act brings to Juliet; when it comes to wielding information like a weapon, Juliet seems to have as few scruples as Ben. We also have a future choice to consider; recall that Jin's tombstone says he lived from Nov. 27, 1974–Sept. 22, 2004 (the date of the crash of Flight 815). This could be a hint at the next person to die on the island, but we've already seen plenty of misdirection. The one thing we don't know is how the Oceanic Six get off the island in the future, and what actually happens to the rest of the survivors, if they're actually dead or if they're still back on the island.

[Editor's Note: The above text has been edited for corrections.]

Jin's tombstone

Something else was set up in this episode that was always there, but never made quite as clear — another example of mirror-twinning with the married couples on the island, Jin/Sun and Bernard/Rose. The real equal-but-opposite mirror-twinning is going on with Sun and Rose; if Sun stays on the island, she gets sick, whereas if Rose leaves the island, she'll get sick.

We'll have to wait and see if this mirror-twinning extends to Jin and Bernard. But there definitely seems to be something else odd going on with Jin; he's picking up English pretty fast for only practicing for about two months. He's speaking with correct pronouns and sentence structure. This may be just a move on the writer's part to get Daniel Dae Kim back to speaking English (his native tongue), but perhaps his phonics superpowers are connected to the electromagic abilities of the island.

Two other people who are doing better are Desmond and Hurley. Desmond seems to be feeling better now that he's found his constant (no nosebleeds), and at least in the flashforward, Hurley is not asylum-bound. If Ji Yeon is just a few months old when Hurley visits, this helps us get some time bearings; Hurley must be visiting Sun within about 10 months of getting off the island. The question, then, is if his seeing Charlie at the asylum occurred before or after that event. (Of course it is possible he just left the asylum on his own to see Ji Yeon, but he seemed pretty stable in his visit.)

The Freighties, however, aren't doing so well. Their proximity to the island is scrambling some of their internal circuits: Minkowski went the way of Desmond, and far past him; Regina was so distracted that she didn't realize she was holding her book upside-down, and then dumped herself into the sea wrapped in chains; and a Freightie named Brandon is somewhere “in a body bag.” The bloodstain on the wall of Sayid and Des' cabin may be some of what's left of Brandon.

This negative reaction may be the reason behind Lapidus' errand. Just before Regina walks off the ship, Sayid grills the freighter doctor, Ray, about where Lapidus went. The non-diegetic strings from the orchestral score grow as Desmond watches Regina approach the railing wrapped in chains, and this sound drowns out the conversation between Sayid and Ray. All we know is Lapidus is going back to the island, and Keamy warned Lapidus not to be late.

Regina's upside-down book is revealing, as it's the fourth Jules Verne text to be referenced some way: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Around the World in 80 Days, Mysterious Island, and now The Survivors of the Chancellor. Verne's 1875 diary of a shipwreck is told from the point of view of one of the passengers. A plot element that Verne uses again and again (and Lost picks up on) is the use of an international cast of characters, and The Survivors of the Chancellor is no different, but the characters are primarily from the British Isles, France and America. The diary follows a J.R. Kazallon's account of the ship the Chancellor leaving Charleston, South Carolina and heading out to the Sargasso Sea via the Bermuda Triangle (it can't be avoided).

Eighteen days into the voyage, the crew discovers a fire in the cargo hold of the ship; one of the passengers, a Welshman named John Ruby, was smuggling “with characteristic Anglo-Saxon incautiousness” an explosive called potassium picrate, which ignited in the hold. Things pretty much devolve from there. The fire burns for days, the captain resigns, and the smuggler himself goes mad and jumps through a hatch into the fire. The ship finds its way to a small volcanic island and tries to make repairs, dumping much of its cargo and putting out the fire. But not long after setting off again, it starts to take on water, and after a number of days they're forced to make a raft and abandon ship. The survivors limp south, and little by little, succumb to the pressures; some of the crew get drunk and mutiny, some die, some eat the dead, one person dies from poisonous water. A body even goes missing, like Christian Shephard's, and like Regina, one crew member goes insane and jumps off the ship.

One of the interesting points about the novel is that the narrator is constantly giving their precise latitude and longitude throughout. This makes the novel a bit more interactive than a regular book, as the reader can follow along with a map and chart when and where the survivors ended up (not unlike what much of the Lost audience does each week). Furthermore, this kind of interaction is one that displaces traditional author/audience roles, where the audience only passively receives whatever the author explains (and we know how active the Lost audience is in its story). As such, it's fitting that the name of the ship, Chancellor, describes an administrative official of high national office, and in some places a leader. The leader, in other words, is crippled and brought down, while those who were subject to the leader become self-organizing and self-directing, for better and worse.

Jules Verne isn't the only literary reference in the episode; we also meet the freighter captain, Captain Gault. The name is evocative of a couple literary figures. In the twelfth episode of the third season, “Par Avion,” Sawyer is seen reading Ayn Rand's novel The Fountainhead (which was discussed in the post for that episode). In Rand's next novel, Atlas Shrugged (1957), John Galt is the mystery man of the book. Galt is an engineer who develops a revolutionary engine for the motor company he works for, but revolts when the company shifts from a laissez-faire capitalist system to a communal, collectivist one. Galt goes on strike, refuses to build his revolutionary engine, and proceeds to entice other engineers, businessmen and industrialists to follow in his wake. He has little difficulty getting other like-minded capitalist leaders to follow him to Galt's Gulch, an enclave for free marketers hidden away in Colorado. Their fear is that governments were nationalizing businesses anyway, so their efforts would be doomed; abandoning their industries and retreating to the gulch, these industrialists form their own free, high-tech Utopia that embodies Rand's objectivist philosophy.

At this point, one might think of other industrialists like Widmore, Paik, and Hanso; the island may have the potential to be a kind of Galt's Gulch for them. But nationalized industries is not nearly the fear that it was during the height of the Soviet Union; today, decentralized, transnational, globalized industry reigns, complete with its own set of benefits and drawbacks. It's hard to say what Rand would make of the state of contemporary globalism, but at least in Lost, people like Charles Widmore, Mr. Paik and Thomas Mittelwerk are portrayed as amoral, with ends-justify-the-means drives.

The other literary Gault is William Hope Hodgson's character Captain Gault. Hodgson wrote over a dozen Captain Gault short stories that were collected in 1917. The stories seem to be the stuff of early pulp fiction. In one of the stories, “The Case of the Chinese Curio Dealer,” the captain is said to be a member of a Freemason-like secret society, and we've certainly seen a good share of secret-society-like elements amongst the island inhabitants and those who wish to control it.

The Lost Captain Gault, however, is a teller of secrets. He shows Sayid and Desmond the black box of Flight 815:

It was found with the wreckage of the plane, along with all 324 dead passengers. That's not the complete story as you are well aware, Mr. Jarrah, given the fact that you're standing here breathing. The wreckage was obviously staged. Now, can you imagine what kind of resources and manpower go into pulling off a feat of that magnitude — faking the recovery of a plane crash, putting 324 families through a grieving process based on a lie. But what's even more disturbing — where exactly does one come across 324 dead bodies? And that, Mr. Jarrah, Mr. Hume, is just one of the many reasons we want Benjamin Linus.

So we know the crash wasn't actually at the Sunda Trench, and that puts a few theories to rest. But this cover-up scenario has echoes of another conspiracy theory currently out in the wild, the September 11th hijacking of United Airlines flight 93. *The following is neither an endorsement nor a debunking of said 9/11 conspiracy theory.* The conspiracy hooks onto a few unsatisfactory parts of the official 9/11 Commission Report story: The theory claims the debris pattern of the crash suggests the plane burst in the air, rather than crashed into the ground, meaning it was actually shot down; there is a three minute gap between when the black box voice recorder transcripts end and the crash occurred; the black box recordings were never released, only transcripts were released; the planes would have been too high and too far away from cell phone towers to allow for the now-famous phone calls of passengers to their families, suggesting the calls were staged; and some have cited the presence of military jet fighters in the air which may have shot Flight 93 down. So if the crash of Flight 93 was staged, what happened to the original flight? Another conspiracy theory suggestion is that the plane was re-routed to an airport in Cleveland, and the passengers were all disappeared: “But what's even more disturbing — where exactly does one come across 324 dead bodies?”

This is not to suggest that Lost is using 9/11 conspiracy theories to drive its plot; conspiracy theories abound in many of its literary references, and there is a rich history of false flag conspiracy theories to draw on (where an entity, governmental or otherwise, stages some disaster on its own people in order to effect policies it would otherwise not be able to enact; the Reichstag Fire, for instance). But it is interesting to see how the aftermath of 9/11 has seeped into the cultural subconscious, and how that subconscious occasionally manifests in the telling or possible interpretation of a story.

So who's that banging on the freighter pipes?

Books mentioned in this post

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

75 Responses to "Lost: Join Ye, Ji Yeon"

    John March 15th, 2008 at 11:18 am

    J Wrote -- "We also have a future choice to consider; recall that Jin's tombstone says he lived from 1974-2004. Since we're near the end of 2004, it seems we have a good candidate for the next to die on the island."

    Note that the Jin's tombstone says 9/22/04... the date of the crash. If he died in late December (perhaps one of the 8 initial survivors that Jack mentioned in "Eggtown") Then why not list his death date when it actually occurred? Additionally, Sun's lines during the exchange at the grave are, I think, intentionaly ambiguous... leaving the possibilty for Jin being alive and still on the island. Lastly, it seems a bit out of character for the writers to set up a death and then deliver in the very next episode (and if the previews are to be believed, we know someone is slated to die in "Meet Kevin Johnson").

    My pet theory is that the death is Michael or Ben in the future. I think that it is likely one of them who is in the coffin seen last season.

    Granted all of this is circumstantial evidence and we don't have enough to go on right now to make a more definitive assessment, but I did want to argue the other side for a bit.

    Leah March 15th, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    Any idea who that guy is who is lurking around Sun's hospital room (who she calls out to and thinks is Jin) while she's in labor? I checked to see if he was in the background in any of the other shots, but I didn't see him.

    Jeffrey March 15th, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    I work a half mile away from Cleveland Hopkins Airport and remember quite clearly that day in Sept. (I was reading "Gravity's Rainbow" that morning.) That feeling of the reroute right over my head that took Flight 93 to PA.
    First some more movie stuff incl. Kubrick (sorry): the freighter has that ominous look of the ship in Lars Von Trier's "Breaking the Waves" - a film about redemption and divine intervention. It also has the feel of the Overlook Hotel with its "cabin fever" and I've heard this for several episodes this season but that one note piano strike comes right out of "Eyes Wide Shut". Nuff said.
    What exactly is the ceremony that Hurley came all that way for (and no one else did)? BTW he looked like Brando in "The Godfather". Are Aaron and Ji Yeon "special" kids ala "2001"'s Starchild? Capt. Nemo figures in "Black Dossier" as well. And how do the Oceanic 6 fit in when ALL 324 bodies are accounted for?
    I'm reading Alain Robbe-Grillet's "Repetition" right now based only on his obit recently and was struck by the similarities of it and "The Economist". Is anyone else familiar with his writing (he wrote screenplay for "Last Year at Marienbad") as it deals with "Lost" type stuff?

    Thomas March 15th, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    Karma is an intriguing and on going issue with Lost. Most of our group seem to have some questions in their past, whether you're talking about Kate & Sawyer's criminal pasts, Sayid betraying his friend the terrorist, or Sun & Jin's marital troubles. Did these people's need to work things out with their lives contribute to their survival of an unsurvivable crash? For that matter, did the pregnancy issue for women on the island begin before or after the Darma purge? Perhaps that act generated bad Karma for Ben & company as well.

    One last thing. Any one want to take bets that Ben will claim that that Whitmore was behind the fake crash?

    Four Leaf Clover March 15th, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    At first, I thought the person banging on the pipes might have been tapping out a message in morse code, but then the scene is interrupted by the arrival of the note, which seems to be telling the audience to forget the tapping.
    Still, whoever was tapping on the pipes couldn't have been Michael, er, Kevin Johnson, and I can't believe it was a completely random occurrence. Maybe there was someone else trying to reach them (by morse code).

    Random note: was I the only one who thought of Radzinsky as soon as I saw the splattered blood on the wall?

    Also, Jin may not be dead in the future. To the outside world, everybody died on 9/22/04. The grave could be marking that passing. Sun is crying because she really does miss him, but he's just stuck on the island, not dead. And the reason they're there in the first place is to "maintain the facade" so to speak. Remember, they're big time celebrities, and the media may be tracking their every move.

    Also J, thanks for the reminders about the potential Ben/Jacob struggle (from The Other Woman post). There are so many details on this show, and sometimes they slip my mind. The ring of ash as a binding implement is certainly compelling, and hard to debate at the moment (but it's not stopping the shack from moving), but I'm still not sold on the "help me" comment. We just don't have enough information or context at this point to reach any solid conclusions. Couldn't he very well be asking for help with protecting the island, or with some other unknown task? Jacob may in fact be a prisoner (Ben's prisoner?), but I just don't think we have enough context yet.

    Also, Ben shot Locke before he told him what Jacob said, so I don't think the fact that he said "help me" is of much importance. Rather, Ben perceived Locke as a threat to his leadership, and this was confirmed by the fact that Locke could indeed communicate with Jacob, albeit in a limited capacity. That's why Ben shot him. Okay, that is all. Forgive my rambling.

    Bill Hrdina March 15th, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    Just a thought- is it possible the strange "suicidal" reactions of the people on the ship are being caused by Walt? (Who, in this guess, is the person knocking on the pipes) Are Brandon and Regina "birds" like the ones Walt crashed into the window and the side of Room 23? The suicidal behavior is certainly similar. Maybe Michael found out they were keeping Walt on the boat and so he's infiltrating it James Bond style?

    Asilgrass March 15th, 2008 at 2:19 pm

    I've heard three things that may or may not be true, but here they are. 1st I've heard that the date on Jin's tombstone actually said 9-22-04 which is the day or the crash and would therefore make a good case for Jin actually being alive and still on the island.

    Second, I've heard that the "Year of the Dragon" last occurred in 2000 and not again till 2012. When he said it was the "Year of the Dragon" I thought, "That's being said to date this episode and the only reason for dating it is because there has to be something off about the timing." Obviously I now know that it was because that was in fact a flash back, obviously to the year 2000.

    Third, I've heard that Carlton Cuse has confirmed (But who is saying this I don't know) that the flashfowards have been shown in reverse order. Meaning that Jack on drugs is the farthest thing in the future we've seen and Sun having the baby is the closest thing. It makes sense. Obviously Sun having the baby must happen within the next six months of so from the time on the island. Then Kate is on trial and Jack is still holding it together. (Clearly Kate's trial would happen soon after their return). Then Sayid is an assassin. Then Hurley is in the assylum and Jack seems fine, but he also seems to be holding on a little too tight. Finally Jack is over the edge and someone is dead.

    That's all I know. Great post!

    Meris March 15th, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    One small detail worth noting about Jin's gravestone is that his date of death is listed as September 22, 2004. Not just 2004 in general. For one reason or another he is portrayed as dying in the crash. Whether this means he is actually dead or he is still on the island alive, I don't know. Since according to the Oceanic 6 myth told by Jack at Kate's trial, only 8 people survived the initial crash, it is clear that the events of those months are being kept secret. Any remaining survivors on the island are also being kept secret.
    Jin certainly is a solid candidate for the next death, but Sun's dialogue focused on how much she misses Jin, his being dead was never explicitly stated. So I think there is still room for arguing that he is still alive.

    Tina March 15th, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    You are such a deep thinker! I love your recaps and loved your book!

    Messenger88 March 15th, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    I thought the divergence in this episode's timelines (with Jin flashing back and Sun flashing forward) was brilliant. By the end of the episode, it appears that Jin has no future, while Sun goes forward off the island without him---very fitting that Jin is moving back in his narrative as we are waiting for him to make it to the hospital in Sun's flashforward. I thought he was headed to meet Sun as she gave birth right up until the store clerk made his comment about the year of the dragon..this episode was heavy on subtle verbal and visual clues...the axe buried in the ship metal; the doctor's reply to the comment "this ship is not moving" with "whatever you say..."; the tapping that could possibly be Morse code, etcetera. I have a feeling that after another viewing, "Ji Yeon" might appear to be much richer in content than it first appears, even more than is typical of an episode of Lost.
    I also found it very interesting that the date of death on Jin's tombstone was 9.22.2004, the date of the Oceanic plane crash...this leaves possibilities other than death for Jin. Perhaps for now he only appears to have no future.

    allison March 15th, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    I'm glad you touched on the book Regina was attempting to read, since I was unfamiliar with it but still sure it had an important meaning.

    I believe Jin's tombstone marks his death as the same date 815 crashed, possibly a cover-up? I'm thinking Jin is still alive on the island, and wasn't one of the fortunate Oceanic 6. So does this episode confirm the Oceanic 6? (Kate, Jack, Hurley, Sun, Sayid, and ... Aaron) I'm still unclear on that.

    steveb March 15th, 2008 at 6:57 pm

    It's got to be Walt banging on those pipes.

    tony March 15th, 2008 at 7:01 pm

    great review as usual
    i am writting from Chile. ( please excuse my bad english)
    ... maybe it is not such a big deal, but you have yourself a fan down here.
    as i was watching the episode i was thinking about sept 11. they were just too many coincidences
    and i so glad that you mentioned it in your review.

    nowdays it is really difficult to find an american talking about sept 11 conspiracy theories withou fear of being fired.
    because America is the land of freedom, except for the fact that if you talked against government interests... you are not going to go to jail , or you are not going to be tortured..( like in other countries) .. you may just loose your job...which can eventually ruin your life and your family´s..

    ..i have watched cnn, cbs, abc..etc.. and there is no one reporter, who raises questions about the september 11th official report

    but you definitely have the cojones to do so.
    congratulations and keep up the good work

    Adam March 15th, 2008 at 7:18 pm

    If you want anyone to take you seriously as a writer, keep the Loose Change where it belongs - in your pocket.

    ruggerport March 15th, 2008 at 7:46 pm


    1. brilliant point about the audience getting to experience jumping around in time like Des

    2. very clear explanation of how all points in time could exist simultaneously.

    thanks for your continuing analysis

    mechteld March 15th, 2008 at 8:08 pm

    What do you make of the 9-22 date on the tombstone?

    Bhoutros March 15th, 2008 at 8:34 pm

    I enjoy J. Wood's posts very much, and do not have much to add. I love this TV show (I can't believe I LOVE a TV SHOW!, ga!)

    What happened to Naomi's body? I want to see if the Aussie "seer" at Ayres Rock will be a factor later. I do not trust Juliet at all.

    Thanks for all the great conversation on this blog. I look forward to reading t every week.

    joe blow March 15th, 2008 at 8:44 pm

    please note the date on jin's gravestone. it doesnt just say 2004, it says he died SEPT 22 2004!! i'm sure you know the significance of that date.

    KWeed March 15th, 2008 at 9:56 pm

    I'm not completely convinced that Jin is dead.

    If the crash site of Flight 815 was so meticulously faked and the public believed there were no survivors, it's possible that Jin's grave marker was placed in the cemetary while both he and Sun were on the island.

    Maybe there will only be a certain number of people who can leave the island (Oceanic 6 - due to helicopter capacity/gas or mechanical issues, the ship's systems failures, etc.) and Jin will stay behind so that prego Sun can escape the island's death sentence.

    In the future, Jin might still be on the island and could be one of the "friends" Sayid is trying to help by working for Ben.

    job77 March 15th, 2008 at 10:42 pm

    Here's what I'm wondering: Did Ben really stage the fake crash that was found with all the passengers dead, as Captain Gault claimed, or did Widmore actually stage the crash and just wants Ben for reasons of his own?

    Saule March 16th, 2008 at 12:38 am

    J. Wood tremendous respect for your work, but what about 9/22/04 date on Jin's grave? It seems like Oceanic 6 members, convinced the world, that Jin did not survive the crash initially...

    thaifly March 16th, 2008 at 2:19 am

    I'm not that sure that Jin will die after all. I got the feeling that Sun got off the island and Jin didn't. So the whole mourning scene at the graveyard was more like Sun telling Jin that she really misses him; it was the only place she could "talk" to Jin. Btw, wasn't the date of death equal to the date of crash??

    And let's not forget that the oceanic six have all agreed with the cover up. Sun needs to act that her husband is dead: if you look back at the labour scene, sun was quite unwilling to give her wedding ring to the hospital staff etc., which makes me think that she knows Jin is not dead, but stuck on the island.

    And J., wasn't there something weird going on in the labour scene????? The whole scene was creepy to me as Sun's doctor wasn't there and this other doctor wanted to make a c-section. At this point I was sure that someone (Widmore maybe) wanted to switch babies during Sun was out. Luckily this didn't happen :)

    Thank you for this blog! I've been reading this for two seasons already..

    kostino March 16th, 2008 at 4:14 am

    Hi, everybody. I was wandering is the name Lapidus correct? Because whenever somebody calls him it sounds more like 'Lepides' and not at all as Lapidus should be pronounced.

    VTMatt March 16th, 2008 at 7:18 am


    Jin's tombstone says he died on 9/22/04, the day of the plane crash I believe. So why lie about the date? Any chance he's still stuck on the island?

    Shaun March 16th, 2008 at 8:11 am

    Excellent work again, as always, J! Chilling thoughts on 9/11 flight 93... The conspiracy theorist in me is certainly willing to entertain the thought. Nothing would surprise me after these last eight years.

    I've read Watchmen, Vonnegut, L'Engle and some Verne. Looks like there's more reading to add to my list though... Not sure if I can stomach Rand, but we'll see. I feel like I learned all I need to know about her when The Simpsons did an episode involving the "Ayn Rand Day Care Center." :-)

    One point of contention, J. Jin the next to die? No... I don't think he's dead at all. That date on the tombstone? It's 9/22/04. The date of the plane crash. That's a lie, of course, so why should believe that Jin is dead in the near future, after the 06 have made it back? More likely, Jin did what he needed to save Sun and their unborn child, and get them off the island. He stayed behind.

    Hurley's cryptic response "Good" supports that theory. Why is glad that no one else is coming? Because Sun, who's successfully given birth, wants to go back to the island to rescue Jin (and whomever else is still there) and Hurley's convinced of the need to go back as well.

    That places the flashforward long before bearded, crazy Jack, and probably before Hurley's back in the asylum. The O6 are hiding something, and Hurley and Sun want to break that agreement without drawing attention to themselves.

    Like you said... Talk about misdirection!

    Phutatorius March 16th, 2008 at 8:13 am

    Is there mirroring between Regina's leap into the ocean with chains wrapped around her, and Charlie's leap into the ocean with an improvised weight belt in "Through the Looking Glass"? In other words, is what appears to be a suicide simply another misdirection?

    Duzzi March 16th, 2008 at 8:29 am


    Nice job as usual. One thing I think you glanced over though, is that Jin's tombstone was dated 9/22/04 as the date of his death, which is the same day 815 crashed. I don't interpret this as Jin being the next to die, and soon (although he very well could). I see this is a cover up to the outside world that Jin is still alive on the island, and it is being reported that he died in the crash. Keep up the great work...

    GMaupin March 16th, 2008 at 11:16 am

    On Bernard's comment to Jin about Locke-as-murderer, and after some chatting about it around the house here:

    We did a quick count by memory, and thus far Rose, Hurley and Claire are the only non-redshirts that we're pretty sure haven't killed anyone (excluding Hurley's bad mojo and Claire's car accident for lack of intent). Have we included/excluded anyone unjustly?

    Kyle March 16th, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    I'm sure this clarification will pop up in comments above me, but the tombstone reads Jin's date of death as 9/22/04--the date of the crash. That's already one lie; what other lies is it covering up?

    Scott O’Raw March 16th, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    As ever, wonderful analysis.

    One thing about your post struck me, however, as it was interesting that I came to a different conclusion about Sun & Jin. We know that six people make it off of the island; the now famous Oceanic Six - thus far we know Kate, Jack, Hurley, Sun and possibly Sayid (although we know that Sayid ends up working for Ben so may be somewhat sub-rosa). We also know that the world thought that everyone died on flight 815.

    I thought it interesting that there was nothing in what either Hurley or Sun said that mentions Jin actually dying - indeed the writers make a point of having Sun call out for Jin during labor and also make a point of Sun telling Hurley this.

    The world is going to need an explanation of where these six - and only six it would seem - people have been in whatever period of time has elapsed between the crash and their return. I would think that it's fairly obvious that the six don't tell exactly what happened and that they must pretend that everyone else died on the flight (a condition of their escape, perhaps?).

    I, therefore, don't believe that Jin is dead. I just don't think he makes it off the island with Sun at the time where we see that Flash Forward. I am reminded of Jack & Kate's conversation in the original Flash Forward where Jack says "We need to go back" and also that all Sun said was that she "misses" Jin.

    I'd be interested to know your thoughts.

    L.J. March 16th, 2008 at 5:43 pm

    J, I love reading your explorations of all the literary allusions made throughout Lost, and look forward to your posts each week. Thank you.
    I take issue with one point of your post, however - though Jin's grave stone says he dies in 2004, note that the month (9) and the day (22) are identified as well. Since this is the day Flight 815 crashed, I would suggest that this brings into question whether Jin is really dead or just dead to the outside world, i.e., not one of the "Oceanic 6".

    23skidoo March 16th, 2008 at 6:53 pm

    I know I'm not the first one to say this, but I don't think Jin is dead. I'd wager he's still on the island, and the visit to the grave site was simply keeping up appearances for whoever might be watching.

    I'd also bet that it wasn't Ben who staged the fake crash. Maybe it was Widmore, maybe it was some third party. Ben's already a bit too omniscient and all-powerful for my tastes. Raising $3.2 million (interesting number) is one thing, dropping an entire plane filled with dead bodies into the ocean is another. But maybe I'm wrong. There is the magic box thingy.

    Maggie March 16th, 2008 at 8:59 pm

    The date on Jin's gravestone is 9/22/2004 which is the date 815 crashed...thus he may not be dead but still on the island.

    John Norris March 17th, 2008 at 5:57 am

    Now that Frank and the copter are off on an errand, I have to ask: What about Naomi?

    Naomi's body was aboard the copter when it left the island. Since Frank/Sayid/Desmond landed on the freighter there's been NOT ONE WORD about it.

    In three full episodes, there's no indication her body was removed from the 'copter. Frank didn't say anything about ferrying her body, or how she died. No one is shouting, "They killed Naomi! The bastards!"

    It's as if she has disappeared, and no one remembers her life or death. On another show, I'd call that evidence of sloppy writing. Here, I call it damned suspicious.

    Challabuck March 17th, 2008 at 7:12 am

    Woah there, J. Heavy connection to real world conspiracy - I'd be shocked if Darlton et al treaded so ledenly onto 9/11 conspiracy ground. Then again, the idea of Ben or someone else hijacking a second plane in the Lostverse to get 324 bodies seems like the perfect explanation. As the good captain failed to add, the conspirators also needed a Boeing 777 to complete the staging. Given the the state of things globally, I'd argue it might be easier to come up with 324 bodies than a 777.

    Re: Michael's return, yes it was terribly unsurprising to all of us who've been paying too much attention since Comicon. Think of it in terms of the timeline, though. For those in the future watching Season 4 on their nice new Box DVD set, this may turn out to be one of the great shockers of the first four seasons. Darlton have said in the past they have a longterm view of these kinds of things....

    Lost Fan March 17th, 2008 at 8:03 am

    J -
    Great literary references as usual.

    I'm surprised that no one has posted so far and I hope it's not due to the 9/11 tie-in.

    One thing I wanted to point out is your reference to Jin's tombstone. The date of death is 9-22-04 - the day of the crash. Is it possible that the day that Sun and Hurley visit the grave site is the 1 year anniversary?

    Vicki March 17th, 2008 at 8:37 am

    Clever the Jin flashback (which I assumed was a flash forward, of course). According to Lostpedia, "Jin's tombstone has the date September 22, 2004, on it, the day of the crash." Anyone know???

    If that is the case, perhaps he stayed on the island to give Sun a chance to get away and safely have the baby. Which may explain why she was calling for him during labor. If she knew he had died on the island, that wouldn't make sense. (Make sense -- what am I saying???) The date is reasonable considering the tale of only 6 survivors of the plane crash. Sun's family might have expected a tombstone so she used the crash date.

    Regina's jump -- thanks for pointing out the chains -- I didn't notice them when watching the episode. I thought the actress was just trying to convey zombie-like behavior.

    Dave March 17th, 2008 at 9:27 am

    According to several sites, Jin's tombstone says he died on the date of the Oceanic 815 plane crash. Since it's obvious he didn't die on that date, it seems very possible that he's actually still alive, and the tombstone that Sun and Hurley visited is just part of the elaborate lie that the Oceanic 6 are having to go along with.

    Also, what do you think about the idea that Jin's "flashback" of his stuffed panda odyssey wasn't a flashback in the traditional sense (as in, the way we experienced flashbacks in the first three seasons); rather, it was a flashback in the way "The Constant" was a flashback for Desmond? Maybe, in the future, Jin's consciousness is stuck in the past, and he is actually time-tripping like Des was in "The Constant".

    J Wood (Post Author) March 17th, 2008 at 10:02 am

    Only half-way through the first 30-some comments, but the 9.22.2004 comments are dead-on; we don't know when Jin will die.

    J Wood (Post Author) March 17th, 2008 at 10:17 am

    thaifly: The labor scene was a bit odd; I was half-expecting them to take her baby and deliver her to some shady figure.

    kostino: Yep, Lapidus is the correct spelling for the name, and the pronunciation sounds like "Lepeedis."

    Everyone: I'm going to try to make an edit about the tombstone date. I just didn't read that correctly, and the point is well-taken.

    Also, the comments are monitored for spam, etc. before they're posted; there were no comments about two hours ago, and then about 37 comments. The lack of comments earlier was only because they had yet to be verified before they were posted.

    Thomas March 17th, 2008 at 10:22 am

    I'm pretty sure that Jin is dead. Sun looked and sounded like she was still grieving his death in the graveyard scene, at least to me. There are certainly survivors still on the island post rescue of the Oceanic 6, but I'm betting he's not one of them.
    Also realize that there are probably 316 versions of that marker, all of which list the 9-22-04 date, so I suggest caution in putting too much significance into it. Their cover story demanded that they confirm everyone else died on that day except for 2 people at most.

    yogi March 17th, 2008 at 10:55 am

    Great reading as always. One thing that I found interesting was the name Gault. When reading Atlas Shrugged, was I supposed to read Galt's name as pronounced as Gault?

    When I did a quick google search of Gault, I found that this is old English for "clay" and in fact "Gault Clay" is a type of clay found in southeastern England (wikipedia mentions Kent) that was formed from during the lower Cretaceous period. In the Isle of Wight, it is often thought as the cause for many land slides (land sides also have been known to cause tsunamis if you wish to go down that route). The Gault is also known for containing many fossils, and here on Lost Captain Gault gives us a 'fossil' of the flight recorder. It'll be interesting to see what Captain Gault has in store for us.

    Mo-T March 17th, 2008 at 11:34 am

    Did anyone else notice that Sun was packing a bag in the initial scene when she went into labor? Was that the standard prep-a-bag-for-the-hospital prenatal drill, or was she planning on going somewhere? Like to an island? Or somewhere else to have the baby?

    Vince March 17th, 2008 at 11:35 am

    I'm surprised no one has mentioned the other birth date on the tombstone. On the left side of the tombstone, opposite Jin's date of death, there is another birth date, but not a date of death. I assume this to be Sun's info. So the tombstone must have been completed and put in the cemetery after Sun was rescued. If not, wouldn't her date of death been displayed on the tombstone too? This leads me to believe the Oceanic 6 need to continue to keep secrets and lie about the events that took place on the island. Since Jin lived passed the date of 9-22-04, and presumably the tombstone was crafted after Sun returned, most likely Jin is still alive. In addition, It seems too obvious that Jin would be the one to die this week on the island. I think we'll see that Jin is not dead and won't die this week(someone is suppose to die in the next episode).

    The note that says don't trust the captain makes me, "not trust the captain." I do not believe the cover up story the captain is trying to sell. I think that we're dealing with dual outcomes of the plane crash. One under the sea, one on the island. The people on board all died in one scenario, but some lived in another scenario(crash on island). The airline captain was different in the crash into the water because Des and possibly others have changed history thru their time travels. The two separate crashes might be a plausible theory, based upon the ability to change the past, which affects the future. The freighter captain, and Widmore, may not want the lostees to know that time travel is possible, even though Des already knows. Maybe they are down playing the power of the island and trying to keep the lostees from gaining more control of their situation.

    Paul March 17th, 2008 at 11:40 am

    J - terrific work, as always.

    Re: Jin's status, I too believe, and hope, that he is still alive. However, there is a line of dialog that gives me pause. When Jin reconciles with Sun (a great scene) he states he will do everything he can to protect Sun and their baby. This reminds me of Charlie's decision with respect to Claire and Aaron. Perhaps Jin does die on the island in order to save those he loves?

    Re: Michael, I believe the 325 bearing Ben sent him and Walt on led to some temporal gateway into the past, where Ben was waiting for him. At that point, Walt was again taken from Michael, who received instructions to get himself in position to act as the man on the boat. This is the only reason Michael would agree to help Ben and the only way Ben could get Michael to help him - by finding out what he's emotionally invested in (Walt) and using that to exploit him. Because of this, we might hesitate in trusting Michael's word that the captain is not to be trusted. Michael sold out his friends once before to save his son, why wouldn't he do it again?

    Re: the 815 crash and remains being found near Bali. Another odd thing about this is why go through the trouble of planting a fake crash? Look at a map of the Pacific Ocean and you'll see there's a lot of empty space between Sydney and LA. If a plane lost radio contact, flew blind for several hours, then disappeared over this vast ocean expanse, wouldn't that be a great alibi for someone who wanted the plane gone? So, the notion that someone would go through the trouble of faking a plane crash - and doing so in a location where the plane was not supposed to be (the Indian Ocean), makes no sense. I have tremendous respect for the writers ability to ties things together, but this one really puzzles me.

    Vince March 17th, 2008 at 11:58 am

    Just a little clarification...

    I meant to say, "since Jin lived past the date of 9-22-04..."

    Also, Sun most likely would have corrected the date of Jin's death on the tombstone, if Jin actually died on the island. She left the date "as is", which she knows is not the date he actually died.

    I'm sorry if I'm too repetitive.

    Messenger88 March 17th, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    Good call on the other date of birth on the tombstone. It does indeed make sense that Sun would have erected the tombstone after her return from the island and the fact that Jin's date of death has not been corrected seems like another subtle visual clue. I think that most viewers would prefer that Jin is on the island and is not the next to die, I certainly feel that way. But given the writer's penchant for misdirection, I don't think it is safe to make assumptions in regard to his fate (or anything else on Lost, for that matter). Hurley seemed to be relieved that no one else was coming to meet he and Sun and I have no doubt that we will find out why he would feel that way---perhaps the Oceanic 6 are beginning to regret the lie the must keep telling. Regardless, it was a strange reaction, "whatever the case may be".

    Melody March 17th, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    Nice Job Mr. Wood ~ I faithfully read you every week =]

    KWeed March 17th, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    Maybe the pipe banger is Naomi? I do like the comparison drawn between the Walt's birds and the suicides on board the freigther, maybe it's Walt.

    Do you know if anyone has taken the sound bite of the banging of the pipes and tried to determine if it is a message in morse code? I'd be interested to learn what the banging said (if applicable).

    About Regina - for a moment I thought she might be purposely sinking to the bottom with the chains (like Charlie) to reach an underwater vessel...which might explain the Captain's reaction to her "suicide".

    About Sun's delivery - I also found it creepy. I thought the fill-in doc might have been sent to make sure Jin didn't show up. Afterall, the math on the due date probably wouldn't match up with the date of conception, meaning they (Widmore?/Ben?/Paik?) might think the baby is not Jin's or they might think that Jin is still alive (hence why Sun goes to the cemetary after calling out for Jin during labor).

    Juno Walker March 17th, 2008 at 5:17 pm

    Just a quick, alternative take on the concept of "karma": the Center for Pragmatic Buddhism, in their 1st installment of their newsletter "The Pragmatic Buddhist" defines "karma" as:

    "From a moral standpoint, dependent origination implies that nothing in the universe occurs at random, or apart from anything else. “Randomness” and “accident” are names given to events that are too
    complex for human beings to fully understand from our limited perspectives. Though a person does not always intend to take a particular action, there are very specific causes that converge and allow given consequences to emerge. Thus, while most events are beyond our personal control, the insight of dependent origination allows us to better understand the types of actions that will elicit positive or harmonious consequences, and those that will lead to negative or disruptive results. This recognition of balancing actions (equilibrium) is acknowledged by
    modern physics, and is what Buddhists call karma."

    So "karma" needn't be a supernatural concept in the LOST universe.

    I think this description is very relevant to Jin's situation - we are privy to the causes of his actions toward Sun.

    On a different topic, I think that Ben was genuinely pissed off when he saw the sky turn purple at the end of Season 3. I think Widmore is in cahoots with Mrs. Hawking and Desmond's monk - especially since Widmore had Penny buying wine from the monastery where the monk had a picture of him and Mrs. Hawking on his desk. I think Mrs. Hawking led Desmond to turn the fail safe key so that the island could become visible, and therefore Widmore would be able to find it.

    Just my pet theory.


    Gail March 17th, 2008 at 6:17 pm

    GMaupin: Didn't Hurley kill someone with the van on the beach? Has Jack killed anyone?

    Thomas March 17th, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    Jack euthanized the Air Marshall, so even he's killed someone, although was was for merciful purposes.

    Jeffrey March 17th, 2008 at 9:50 pm

    How can we reconcile the fact that Jin said he would go where Sun goes but then he stays on the island? Either he goes against what he said he would do for the sake of one other Lostie or he's dead. I think the latter.
    Another clue of Jin being in flashback mode was his very violent response to the taxi thief. When I heard him making threats I thought he was a new assassin like Sayid until that great ending proved otherwise. As noted before, the viewer is now part of the game with this episode and "The Constant".

    LauraBG March 17th, 2008 at 10:25 pm

    Didn't we see part of the obituary for the mysterious person in the coffin during the funeral episode? Wasn't there part of a name or some clue?

    Phutatorius March 18th, 2008 at 3:22 am

    If, in fact, the flashforwards are being shown to us in reverse order, that would be a technique similar to the one used with great effect in the film "Memento." In Memento the audience relied on clues such as the protagonist's tatoos and what car he was driving to make sense of the narrative.
    The March 5, 2007 issue of New Yorker magazine ran a article called "The New Disorder" which discussed such films.

    kool March 18th, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    Another great episode; another great write-up from J.

    I noticed a few of the clues to Jin's flashback (the old model cell phone, his angry reaction to the taxi thief) but didn't put 2 & 2 together until the big reveal.

    I noticed the date-of-death for Jin as 09-22-2004, but we can't draw any conclusions from that. The "official" story is that only 8 people survived the crash. We have the Oceanic 6 (Jack, Kate, Hurley, Sayid, Sun, Aaron?) plus 2. Why would they claim there were 2 other survivors, and what's the official story for their deaths? Perhaps 8 people are rescued, and 2 die on the way back to civilization. Maybe those 2 are killed on the freighter. So the official story is that those 2 died on the island. The world is told that everyone else died in the crash. So, if Jin does die on, say, December 30, 2004, the official cover-up story would say he died in the crash...not that he was murdered by a mysterious group of people on the island. Remember, when Jack decides that "we must go back", he can't find the island. It's still hidden. Everything that happened there is kept secret.

    Or, maybe Jin is alive and well on the island. Maybe he stayed behind to make sure Sun had a spot on the rescue craft. Or maybe he was forced to stay behind. All I'm saying is, "Jin is dead" and "Jin is alive on the island" both make sense, and the "official" date-of-death proves nothing.

    Leah March 18th, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    I've been trying to wrap my head around the big picture here. It seems the scope of this whole "conspiracy" is bigger than we know. Every new season we get a wake-up to a bigger picture than before. First season was one group of survivors of a plane crash, their back stories, some weird happenings on their new island home, and hints of some "others" on the island. Season 2 we get another group of survivors, a hatch that leads to... where? and more questions. Season 3 we are finally introduced to these "others" and we see them living a normal, modern life on an island we thought was deserted. And some hints that there is some conspiracy with the outside world. Now, season 4 we have indications that it is a world-wide conspiracy with far reaching implications for our survivors and everyone else. they seem to be building up to quite a monumental conspiracy.

    Enough for the word conspiracy. I'm thinking about the order of the flashbacks, and now the flash forwards. Just from what I remember, it seems the flashbacks may have started out closest to the flight/crash and went backwards in time from there. anybody know? And now, if the flash-forwards are starting far out in the future and backtracking to where we are on the island... what does that mean? It isn't exactly centering around the crash or the time on the island... so where is the center?Or is there one? That's as far as I got.

    Juno Walker March 18th, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    This has nothing to do with anything really, but I followed up on the "Utopian Social Engineering" allusion in Marvin Candle's Swan Orientation film in Season 2, and I came across this website. The banner of the website looks strikingly familiar to the panned out picture of New Otherton in the season premier of Season 3. I wonder if Darlton got the idea from this site...


    GMaupin March 18th, 2008 at 6:29 pm

    Ah, yes. Hurley's Dead Van Other. Thanks - that brings us back to Rose and Claire as non-killers (so far).

    I don't want to join any of the "Jack-vs.-Locke" cheerleading camps, but besides the marshall euthanizing, it should probably at least be mentioned that Jack publically shot Locke point blank in the face with a gun he believed was loaded. I'm still a bit confused as to why no one on the island but Sayid has even seemed to take note of that. For that I think Jack gets a place in the killer list with a Maris Asterisk.

    DTinMB March 19th, 2008 at 12:28 am

    Ten random thoughts...

    1) Every time I worry this might turn into a tv show (see: superfluous fight scene #73) J Wood comes along and reminds us it's still literature/philosophy. Keep 'em on the straight and narrow, J.

    2) Vince is onto something about the captain's story. The captain keeps them locked in a room for hours and hours then lets them in on a great secret? On the other hand, let's say they work for Widmore like Ben says. Letting them think they're being let in on a great secret might make them trust you.

    3) That captain scares the crap out of the people on the boat, doesn't he? Wonder why.

    4) Here's what I don't get: we're told the world thinks they're all dead at the bottom of the Indian Ocean, but we're also told, via Jack's testimony, that they crashed in the South Pacific. Last I heard, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean were two different oceans. Does this mean the story changed, or that the world knew one thing, course corrected, and knew another, or that there are two divergent timelines?

    5) Are we all sure the Oceanic 6 is Jack, Kate, Hurley, Sayid, Sun and Aaron? If we don't count Aaron (cause personally I don't think the media would), what if the 6th is Ben?

    6) We are seeing sides being drawn up. Ben/Sayid/etc., vs. Widmore,Abaddon/etc? Good vs. Evil a la The Stand? Or shades of grey a la the real world?

    7) Having Fisher Stevens play Minkowski was cool. "Who should we get to play the guy whose head shorts out?" "I dunno. Google 'Short Circuit' and see what you get."

    8) I thought the delivery doc was going to pull off a mask and go all Little Grey Dude on us. Not as creepy as the psychologist lady (or Jack kissing Juliet) but odd.

    9) I keep thinking about Hurley when he picked up the Expose script saying something along the lines of "You don't find out who the real villain is until the final episode of Season 4. It was the guy you'd never expect." When is last ep? Least guy we'd ever expect? Hurley. HE'S rich.

    10) Here's something weird: A couple nights ago in the middle of a dream I can't remember, someone in the dream turned to me out of the blue and said, "There are six numbers. There are six survivors. Don't you get it?"

    Bridget March 19th, 2008 at 6:56 am

    There are at least two theory postings at about particle accelerators. Read about the real thing, in NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC magazine, March 2008: “The God Particle.” The Large Hadron Collider has been built under the French-Swiss border. “Starting sometime in the coming months, two beams of particles will race in opposite directions around the tunnel, which forms an underground ring 17 miles in circumference. The particles will be guided by more than a thousand cylindrical, supercooled magnets, linked like sausages. At four locations, the beams will converge, sending the particles crashing into each other at nearly the speed of light. If all goes right, matter will be transformed by the violent collisions into wads of energy, which will in turn condense back into various intriguing types of particles, some of them never seen before.”

    J Wood (Post Author) March 19th, 2008 at 8:49 am

    Jin being dead or alive is fast becoming the next "who's Ben's man on the boat."

    Mo-T: I've not had any babies, but it seems nearly everyone I know is, and they've all had a bag at the ready to go, just in case of premature births or any other emergencies.

    Vince: I'm not sure how common it is, but I've seen a lot of spouses sharing a tombstone like that (the first thing I did when I saw the tombstone was work out that Sun was six years younger than Jin). It's perfectly plausible that Sun just said Jin had died in the crash, and she mourns because she just can't be with him again -- and his being stuck on the island alive but apart from Sun and Ji Yeon might be worse for Sun than Jin being dead, if indeed there's no hope of seeing him again. But as Jeffrey suggests, either Jin goes with Sun and Ji Yeon, or he's dead, if we take Jin at his word.

    As far as the Sunda Trench crash goes, I believe the writers have confirmed that it's a fraud, and not a dual universe outcome or anything else. It's something Lost does quite a bit, suggesting some pretty complicated possibilities but then usually going with the most tenable explanation. Ockham's Razor.

    Paul's question about why go through the trouble of staging the crash in the first place is a good one, and one of those things we'll probably find out before the season's out (I hope). As far as why out in the Sunda Trench and not in the Pacific, maybe this is because the island is in the Pacific, and we know people are still looking for the crash. By placing the crash in the Indian Ocean, it puts any who might be searching for the island via the crash well off-course.

    Juno's point about karma is well-taken. Karma is a more subtle concept than just the results of making choices. As far as it being connected to/reflecting findings in physics, Juno -- does The Pragmatic Buddhist give any examples? I know there's the whole problem of observing phenomenon actually influences results and the discovery of non-local action/reaction, but I'd be interested if they have any specifics. (That Los Horcones website is damn interesting -- the behavioral psychology work looks eerily familiar.)

    Phutatorious, thanks for the article suggestion. I teach a film class, and Memento is on my syllabus; I'll use this.

    kool, dead-on about the cell phone; cell phones are kind of a temporal give-away in Lost. I can't say for certain if it's an homage to X-Files, but there was flashback episode of X-Files where Mulder had a cell phone the size of a shoe. One of the give-aways on Lost is whether the cell phone is a one-piece or a clam shell phone. (But I'm a bad judge of phones; mine is probably older than Jin's, my dog has chewed on it, and it's almost always off; my teeth grind every time I have to turn it on.) Another give-away was the man at the toy store said it was the Year of the Dragon, which marks it in 2000-2001. (We're currently in the Year of the Rat, and on the island I believe they're in the Year of the Rooster.)

    Leah, sometime/someplace back, Carlton Cuse mentioned that the flashbacks/flashforwards had a kind of shape, but that they weren't going to lay that out. In fact, he said he was hoping the audience would sort of construct a timeline. It's something that definitely needs to be done at some point. But we'll need three: One for the island time, one for the flashbacks, and one for the flashforwards. considering the way certain events parallel other events, I get the sense that if you graphed the timelines, the image would have a shape like an N or a W.

    I didn't pick up any code in the pipes, except maybe I-I-I-I. But consider this; sound travels farther in water than in the air. That banging may be intended for someone near the island or elsewhere, maybe in another station. (I'm secretly hoping the pipe-banger is Joop.)

    I wanted to address Adam's point above about the 9/11 conspiracy theories, because he actually (and probably unwittingly) proves the point. I specifically stated that what I wrote was not an endorsement of any theories, and I specifically did not mention Loose Change because I don't wish to endorse it (besides, many of its claims have been pretty successfully challenged or in some way debunked). My point was how such theories work their way into the cultural subconscious, and the fact that Adam gleaned "Loose Change" out of that part of the post proves that such theories are subconsciously pervasive, whether you agree with them or not (otherwise he wouldn't have known enough/cared about it enough to make a comment). But there is no debate that the 9/11 Commission left a lot of questions either unsatisfactorily answered or just unanswered, for any number of reasons, which has left a blank space for people to fill in with their pet theories. It's also pretty clear that the 9/11 truth movement is a mess of contradictory aims, methods, and interpretations that often end up working against its own goals. Rather than condemn either side of that dynamic, I just want to point out how that dynamic is in a way reflected in the development of the discussion around Lost. Lost is also one of the first artifacts of mass entertainment culture that's engaging with the post-9/11 world in a more complex and subtle ways beyond the easy us/them dynamics.

    But consider this: If we were watching a television show, a film, or reading a book, and a political leader was shot by a sniper from the window of a nearby building, how many of us would NOT have echoes of Kennedy conspiracies dancing through our heads? There's a very good psychologist named Vamik Volkan who does work on large group psychology and how large groups psychologically metabolize national traumas (he looks at political conditions in places like his home Cyprus, Northern Ireland, and Israel/Palestine). In some of his work he noted how Slobodan Milosovic recruited a past Serbian national trauma by invoking a 1,000 year-old battle where Serbs were slaughtered. The recruitment of that national memory (a stronger version of "Remember the Alamo!") helped him to coalesce his support during the Serbian/Bosnian war, in part because that trauma hadn't really been dealt with.

    One thing we have going for us is our mass entertainment culture, which invokes national tragedies on a regular basis, and by doing so provides multiple venues for thinking about what a tragedy might mean and how we relate to it. (In recent years, we've had "Vantage Point," "Shooter," "The Manchurian Candidate," and Oliver Stone.) If our only options for thinking about a post-9/11 world are The Daily Show and episodes of 24, we'll be stuck with a fairly narrow imaginative perspective of the defining moment of our generation. At least Lost blurs the black and white lines.

    Mrs. Friendly March 19th, 2008 at 10:03 am


    "There are six numbers. There are six survivors. Don't you get it?"

    Now that will have me occupied for days.

    Each number presumably corresonds to one of the the core values of the Valenzetti Equation, "a mathematical formula designed to predict the end of humanity. The numbers in actuality are said to represent human and environmental factors in the equation".

    It would be fun to try to map each of the factors to the member of the Oceanic 6 who is the world's best hope for disrupting the equation (thus, saving the world).

    Or maybe I'm just a nerd. Haven't found anything detailing precisely what each of the numbers/factors is yet .... Any suggestions?

    J Wood (Post Author) March 19th, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    DTinMB, Mrs. Friendly:

    A couple weeks back I tried to parse out the numbers with the survivors. I tried to line up the numbers with their representative episode numbers, the days on the island, and a handful of other elements, and got nowhere. I'm sure there's a key; I've just not had time to dig it up.

    J Wood (Post Author) March 19th, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    (that should be 'parse out the numbers with the Oceanic Six survivors.')

    Paul March 19th, 2008 at 7:13 pm

    DTinMB says:

    world thinks they're all dead at the bottom of the Indian Ocean, but we're also told, via Jack's testimony, that they crashed in the South Pacific. . . . Does this mean the story changed, or that the world knew one thing, course corrected, and knew another, or that there are two divergent timelines?

    Another possibility - the 815 remains discovered in the Indian Ocean will be exposed as hoax, perhaps attributed to Ben Linus and whoever is backing him off the island. If so, Ben will prove to be hard to catch.

    DTinMB March 19th, 2008 at 8:10 pm

    J, Don't you think the most interesting shape the FBs/FFs would take is a circle?

    I think my point about the two stories about the fate of 815 taking place in two oceans is that, as far as we know, both these stories (Naomi's and the Captain's, Jack's) are off-island public knowledge. We know the Naomi/Captain has been on the news (Lapidus, Faraday saw it), and we know Jack told a different one in court. Was the public told both of these stories? And when? This is what confuses me.

    Mrs. F, I like the idea that the equation leads to the answer, that the O6 are the human factors in the equation. Still, maybe it's "six of one and half a dozen of the other." ha ha

    Jeffrey March 19th, 2008 at 11:12 pm

    I've been perusing my musty collection of antique Harvard Classics and have failed to locate any philosopher or physicist by the name of Kevin Johnson. All I've found 21st Cent. style is a former Cleveland Cav and some obscure movie that was Dudley Moore's last although it was about a disappearance. Seriously, what a stroke of genius to throw a change up on our little name game. Unless J. will mine some golden nugget and come up with the right allusion...he's good at that!
    Huxley, who thought that "crowd intoxication" is the worst of our mood-altering vices, felt that media and compulsory education (since the masses can read lies) are tools that can easily be used by demagogues to maintain the status quo, writing that "Never before have so few been in a position to make fools, maniacs or criminals of so many." What the Widmores/Bens/Slobodans/Neo-Cons do to keep up (dis)appearances is nothing new and should be fodder for any intelligent form of entertainment no matter the tragedies it's based on. Although I still can't explain the existence of "Hogan's Hereos".

    Courtney March 20th, 2008 at 10:27 am

    DTinMB: The two versions of the crash story has been bouncing around in the posts for a few weeks. I'm glad you're following up on this so thoroughly! I too wondered what happened to the version of events aired on the news in "Confirmed Dead." It doesn't strike me that this version would be totally forgotten by the time Jack gives his testimony in "Eggtown" Looks like we'll have to wait and see what unfolds.

    Jeffrey March 20th, 2008 at 10:42 am

    re: "X-Files" and conspiracy crashes. Didn't the spin-off "Lone Gunmen" (sic) have a 9/11-type crash (it was aborted) well before the actual event? And wasn't our John Locke a Fed agent on another Chris Carter series? Hmmmm.

    Leah March 20th, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    so we're supposed to "know" who the Oceanic 6 are by this time, but there's still a lot of confusion. Have we any official confirmation that Aaron is one of the 6? If he's not, I guess there isn't really any other viable person that we "know" of. Just wondering.

    KWeed March 22nd, 2008 at 9:40 am

    No confirm on Aaron, but the preview for April 24th does claim that we "know" the O6 and it flashes through 6 people...including Aaron.

    Again, could be smoke and mirrors, or could be true.

    J Wood (Post Author) March 23rd, 2008 at 8:01 am

    DTinMB, I actually kind of think we'll see something more like a figure 8/infinity symbol with the crash as the nexus, as opposed to a circle. But I'm hardly certain.

    On the Lone Gunmen: That's absolutely right, the pilot episode of the X-Files spin-off "The Lone Gunmen" featured a plot to hijack a plane and crash it into the World Trade Center in New York. This in 2001.

    As for the Oceanic 6, they were first all announced in a commercial; we were to intuit that Aaron was one of them. So it's Jack, Kate, Aaron, Sayid, Hugo, and Sun.

    (I've only come up with the Cleveland Cav's Kevin Johnson. There is one Scottish writer, but it's so far off-key that I think this is of a piece with throwing the numbers everyplace; not every colorful rock is an easter egg.)

    mercedes von uppity March 30th, 2008 at 4:50 am

    This is minor, but I don't find anything mysterious about Jin's English improvement.

    From personal epereince I can tell you that 3 months is a LONG time to be completely immersed (save one, sometimes reluctant translator) in another language. It's entirely plausible that his English would be this good or even way better.

    peppermint March 30th, 2008 at 9:21 am

    Either Jin isn't dead, or the props guys messed up. Korea redesigned it's currency in 2006. Jin paid for that panda with the newly designed money, not what would've been available in 2004.

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