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Lost: “Through the Looking Glass”

ALICE: "What sort of things do YOU remember best?"

WHITE QUEEN: "Oh, things that happened the week after next. For instance, now, there's the King's Messenger. He's in prison now, being punished: and the trial doesn't even begin till next Wednesday: and of course the crime comes last of all."


WHITE QUEEN: "The rule is, jam to-morrow and jam yesterday — but never jam to-day."

There is no easy entrance into "Through the Looking Glass" except through the past episodes. The author of the episode's namesake, Lewis Carroll, was a mathematician and logician whose own Through the Looking Glass is an exercise in mind-bending logic. All assumptions are turned inside-out, as if mirror-twins of their presumed originals, and the season three finale demonstrates how some of our own assumptions of the narrative are turned inside-out. Even time works wrong.


Many episodes of Lost seem to have an iconic image, one scene that encapsulates a particularly important theme or motif from that episode. "Through the Looking Glass" has a number of them — which would you choose as iconic? Drug-addled Jack getting ready to jump from a bridge? The line of Lostaways in exodus off the beach to the radio tower, moving up a mountain as opposed to down into a hatch the last time the Others came? The vicious Passover theme of the tent attack? The dedicated soldier Bonnie beating the face of Charlie? Jack getting kissed by Juliet, then telling Kate he loves her? The unknown coffin? Locke crawling through the horror of the mass grave, ready to top himself, and being visited by Walt? Ben getting hammered to meat by Jack, then introducing Alex to Rousseau? The indestructible Mikhail with a harpoon in his chest pulling a seeming-suicide bombing to destroy the Looking Glass? Hurley ramming the VW bus into the middle of the beach action? Sawyer killing Tom in cold blood? Charlie with his palm against the porthole window, "NOT PENNY'S BOAT"? Or the moment we get confirmation that Jack's backstory is an entirely new narrative device for the series, a flashforward?

There's probably more. But since the best way into this episode is through previous episodes, some of the mirror-twinned moments are worth exploring. But this mirror is inside out. Take the notion of heroes: Jack is the presumed, outward hero to the group, the Moses leading his people to safety. Yet it's Charlie who, as we saw from "Greatest Hits," is truly heroic, while Hurley is mock-heroic, performing his act more out of a desire to be accepted rather than some larger pressing need (and Sawyer gets on him for that, "Stay in the bus, hero"). Charlie was the drug addict who recovers and outstares his own death with a samurai-like sense of purpose, while Jack becomes the formerly purposeful man who becomes a drug addict and accidental hero and can't face his fate. In a way, Jack is like Moses; Moses was not allowed into the Promised Land, and when Jack gets there (off the island), he finds it's not what it promised to be. For him, the Promised Land is hell.

Biblically, "Greatest Hits" pointed in the direction of Shiloh in the Book of Judges, where the Israelites take women from Shiloh in order to replenish the Tribe of Benjamin. But marking the tents with white coral also recalls the biblical Passover, when the Israelites marked their doors with the blood of a sacrifice in order to be avoided by the plague-dealing Angel of Death — yet here the mark works conversely. If the Others were the Israelite Tribe of Benjamin in previous episodes, the mantel of Old Testament holy wanderers now goes to the Lostaways.

Even the black/white theme has shifted: the white of the coral paralleled with the red blood marking of the sacrifice echoes the geographically huge game of chess played in Through the Looking Glass, where one side is white and the other side is red. (Although Alice's kittens in the normal world are black and white.) In Carroll's book, Alice takes part in the chess game on request of the Red Queen, but as a pawn on the side of the White Queen. Ben sends his pawns to the beach and the Lostaways send their knights out to the Looking Glass station, while Juliet and Naomi play more sinister versions of Alice, agents provocateurs operating on hidden agendas.

Secret agendas often lead to torture in Lost, another past theme played with in different ways. Sayid was a torturer, and he was tortured by Rousseau. He later tortured Ben in "One of Them" — which is what Bonnie keeps calling Charlie while she busts up his head. Again, we have a mirror-twin reversal of fortune, with the Lostaway now being the infiltrating Other. What's interesting here is what Bonnie's character represents, the faithful servant soldier who implicitly trusts Ben, trusts Jacob, and declares, "The minute I start questioning orders this whole thing, everything that we're doing here, falls apart." Ben, the autocratic leader who maintains power through a cult of personality and by convincing people that they actually share some power, is beginning to lose his grip. His people begin to question him, his decisions become more rash, and little pieces of information he withheld, lies that he told for what he — not his people — determined was the greater good, are damagingly disclosed. In Bonnie's last minutes, knowing that she was in the Looking Glass for a lie and it cost Bonnie her life, even she turns on her leader. When Bonnie thought Ben told her the truth, she was fiercely loyal and aggressive to Ben's enemies, but when she learns Ben wasn't straight with her and Charlie was, that loyalty switches. Clearly a woman of certain principles, she makes sure she dies for something that she knows she can believe in.

Sawyer may not ever get that luxury. He wore his Sawyer mask for so long, it's unclear if there's anything behind that mask, or if that's what he has become. When he killed Cooper, he also seemingly killed that which drove his life, and may have left him at a loose end when it comes to his own humanity. He can now kill with very little compunction, and may be just as dangerous as he claimed Juliet was. And given the time weirdness, is anyone else looking back on the second season's "What Kate Did" and seeing Sawyer's delirious cry "Why did you kill me?" in a different light?

The killing in "Through the Looking Glass" and the third season has grown colder and more detached than a season ago (and a timeslot ago). When Michael went into a station and shot two women of his own group, it tore him apart. When Mikhail went into a station and killed two women of his own group, he was just following orders, and almost seemed to smile. (Props to faramir for writing with that mirror-twin moment.) The cyclopean soldier with the anarchist's namesake is still a conundrum; he seems to be questioning his leadership, but then again he's also seemed to die, more than once.

Death also keeps nearly finding Locke. As Locke lay in the mass grave — an obscene parallel to the Adam and Eve in the caves — he goes through the opposite of what he found when he first landed on the island. When he comes to and his eye opens, he finds his legs fail him, and the first thing he wants is to die; like the flashforward Jack, Locke's despair leads him to want to give up. But just as Locke nurtured Walt in the first season, Walt (is it Walt?) helps Locke tap a deeper potential. He even manages to walk, and throw a knife like he hasn't since the pilot episode. After "The Brig," though, it seemed Locke wasn't a killer, so we have to ask why he was able to shiv Naomi, but couldn't bring himself to maim Jack when it counted.

Those are some of the mirror-twinned moments, and there are doubtless plenty more that it takes a blog to find. But the clearly weird thing going on in "Through the Looking Glass" is the way time is being played with. The narrative itself twists inside-out, with the locus still on the island yet the flashes happening in the opposite direction. Like the White Queen of Carroll's text explains, we're seeing the future and its impact on the present. The big reveal here is when Jack tells Dr. Hamil: "You get my father down here, get him down here right now, and if I'm drunker than he is, you can fire me." Christian Shepherd was pretty dead in Sydney, and was missing from the coffin on the island — although it's never been clear if the body was actually in the coffin in the first place. Some amazing healing has occurred on the island, but no real Lazarus moments have happened. So is Jack just psychotic, or is Christian there on another floor of the future hospital, drunker than Jack? And if he's there, is this another one of the subtle changes that occurred from Des saving Charlie?

I'm planting a flag here — when Des saved Charlie, he changed that past and present as well as the future. Charlie couldn't swim in the first season, and he's all of a sudden a swimming champion who makes an impressive dive in "Greatest Hits," a dive that Mikhail needed scuba gear for. Like Charlie's newfound innate swimming ability, perhaps in the re-made past/present/future, Christian Shepherd didn't die. And maybe that's why Kate seems to be conspicuously lacking her trademark freckles. Go back and look, and try to find her freckles; they're non-existent (except for the scene when Jack tells Kate that Jin, Sayid and Bernard are dead, where the shadow of a couple nose freckles can be barely seen when the light hits right). If you watch the third season again, the last time Sawyer calls her "freckles" is in "Catch-22" when he barges into her tent while she's changing. From that episode on, Kate's freckles are pretty hard to pick out. She even seems to call attention to this when she asks Sawyer, "And since when did you start calling me Kate?"

Entertainment Weekly's own Lost columnist Doc Jensen published an idea I've been kicking around for a few weeks about how this past/present/future thing works. The idea is that time is another dimension of space, not separate from it. A mathematician named Hermann Minkowski came up with the idea in an attempt to provide a mathematical setting for Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity. If time is connected to space, then all time is occurring at once, just as all space is occurring at once. That means that there really is no past or future; we just experience it in a mediated way because our brains have enough trouble wrapping around time-bending in narratives, let alone in our walking-around lives. (Hence jam yester-day and jam to-morrow, but no jam to-day, because to-day is all that really is.) If spacetime is indeed the case (and Minkowski spacetime is accepted), then when Des alters the seeming future, he's also altering the seeming past and the entire present. Save Charlie from lightning, and Christian Shepherd didn't die because it's no longer the same world. Save Charlie from drowning, and Charlie becomes a swim champion. Save Charlie from an arrow in the throat, and Kate's freckles disappear.

This is also similar to how another character from another oft-alluded book, Alan Moore's Watchmen, experiences the world. Doctor Manhattan was caught inside the test lab during a nuclear physics experiment and was physically altered at the quantum level. Seemingly vaporized after the accident, his atoms slowly reformed themselves into a semblance of who the man once was. Only he now experiences physical reality at its most fundamental level, including the way all time is occurring at once. This engenders a deep degree of deterministic fatalism in the man, because he knows when and how all people will die, and does nothing to stop it (he could have saved JFK). Furthermore, the more powerful he becomes, the less interested he is in helping anyone. His altered perspective fundamentally changes his relationship to the social whole. He declares at one point that we're all puppets, but he's a puppet that can see the strings — which is nearly echoed by Locke in the second season finale, when he tries to keep Eko from the computer: "No — it's not real! We're only puppets — puppets on strings!" There are no better metaphors for this than a novel or film or television narrative, as the plot contains all the events — all time and all space — at once, yet we the audience experience it in a mediated way. But as we know, Lost has much but not all of its narrative apparatus in place, which is where the audience helps play a part. As such, it escapes Doctor Manhattan-like or White Queen determinism.

Where does this come back around to "Through the Looking Glass"? When Jack gets on Naomi's satellite phone and contacts the freighter, the man who answers says, "Minkowski."

That satellite phone was meant to contact the boat, and this is where we get some recuperation of The Lost Experience. Although it wasn't necessary to play the alternate reality game in order to get everything that's happened this season, The Lost Experience provided a good deal of ancillary narrative material and extra understanding. In it, we learned about Thomas Mittelwerk, an Austrian biogeneticist who was hand-picked by Alvar Hanso to work for the Hanso Foundation. (His last name is also the name of an underground rocket facility built by the Nazis with slave concentration camp labor.) Mittelwerk eventually overthrew Alvar Hanso and used the enterprise for his own purposes, which are still unclear. However, he was hell-bent on finding the island, and in order to get there, he ordered a special freighter called to be developed, a boat that could handle the rigors of the voyage to the unfindable island. And he hired Mr. Paik of Paik Heavy Industries — Sun's father — to build the ship, the Helgus Antonius. Is Naomi's boat the Helgus Antonius?

Finally, another recuperation seems to be the director Stanley Kubrick. He was first alluded to when Karl was locked down in the overstimulation chamber, a la Alex from A Clockwork Orange. Kubrick was also a director of exquisite use of symbolism, and the Looking Glass station itself points to a few of Kubrick's stylistic and symbolic moves. When Charlie is tied down to the chair watching Bonnie and Greta in the communications room, the point of view from the outside looking in makes a kind of double-eye image. It also recalls the scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey when Dave and Frank go inside a pod to be away from HAL, as the camera moves back and forth from within the pod to HAL's point of view.

click to enlarge

This suggests the Looking Glass is something more powerful than just another hatch, and given the time connotations with its name (the watch on the rabbit symbol) and the way this hatch controls all communication, maybe that suggestion isn't just an echo. The Looking Glass doesn't have its own will like HAL, but it controls and cuts off outside communication like HAL. Indeed, another echo occurs when Des looks through the grate of the locker; if the Looking Glass is a kind of underwater HAL, Des would be looking into it, just as Dave looks into HAL at the end of 2001:

click to enlarge

Of course we've had no end of symbolism throughout the third season, especially the eight-pointed cross-star symbol. And that comes up in yet another permutation in the Looking Glass hatch, complete with its eight spires, around the communication room's porthole window:

click to enlarge

The Lost audience has been scrambling to find meaning for these symbols all season. This may not add any insight into their meaning, but Stanley Kubrick also included such an eight-spired symbol in the background of the ballroom scene in Eyes Wide Shut:

Finally, there's the more clearly delineated echo of the 2001 hatch and the Dharma Initiative hatch logos:

click to enlarge

Is Stanley Kubrick an informing presence in Lost? In what ways? It's something to think about between now and next February.

And not to be outdone as far as symbols go, the numbers aren't gone — there were 15 people killed in this mirror-twin to the Dharma Initiative purge.

This is probably enough to reflect on for now and the next nine months. Would that we could flashforward and find out about that boat and who's coming to the island, how Walt helped Locke and if he's back, whether Michael and Walt made it out or were they picked up by the Helgus Antonius, if Sawyer will continue to be a cold killer and what that bodes for the rest of the island inhabitants, what the temples are for, and just what are those more atavistic secrets of the island.

And why does Jacob need help?

Guys, where are we?

*I'd like to offer my deepest thanks to Chris, Dave and Powell's Books for offering me this space to spill my guts and organize my thinking about this incredible show. This really has been an opportunity of a lifetime, and you've been very generous. Thanks to my publisher GK Darby for getting me the gig in the first place; that was a stroke of genius. And most especially, I want to thank the readers and those who've commented on this blog. I had no idea how this would turn out, what the level of discourse would be, and what my role would be. My somewhat vague expectations were exceeded from the start. You've been a particularly perceptive, intelligent and forgiving audience, you've pushed my thinking and each other's, and like hjortron flicka said in the "Greatest Hits" comments, this kind of interaction is a very real experiment that crosses the lines of pop culture, literature, philosophy, art, and democracy.*

Books mentioned in this post

  1. Through the Looking-Glass: And What... Used Hardcover $11.95

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

185 Responses to "Lost: “Through the Looking Glass”"

    TheBookPolice May 25th, 2007 at 11:20 am

    (carried over from the previous discussion)

    John Latham, with a New York connnection, a slave trade connection, a LOST Numbers connection and a number-of-power connection.

    gk darby May 25th, 2007 at 11:49 am

    a contrast-adjusted look at Des and the grate is here.

    Jeremy May 25th, 2007 at 11:52 am

    brilliant reading, J. I love coming to your blog after each episode and taking my LOST viewership to the next level. See you in February, I suppose. Thanks for your time and work.

    ElizaB May 25th, 2007 at 11:59 am

    J-Excellent thoughts as always. It's all about the Jam.

    The buzz around the name in newspaper clipping/man in the coffin seems to be pointing towards Jeremy Bentham. This seems to hold some weight as his utilitarian views:"the greatest happiness of the greatest number" is the driving force in a majority of the characters motivations in this episode.
    You mentioned that Locke could kill Naomi but not Jack. Locke kills for the Island: he sacrificed Boone, he's killed Naomi. Ben told Locke to kill his father for his own motivations, not the Island's, so Locke went a different route by using Sawyer. His motivation for this was partially closure, partially to get information out of Ben about the Island. Jack has some part to play in the Island's plan as evidenced by the line: "Jack-you're not supposed to do this."
    What is Jack "supposed to do"? I think it obvious that in the flash-forward he didn't, he knows it, and he is paying the price in 2006/7. "That's the effect of living backwards," The Queen said kindly: "it always makes one a little giddy at first-"
    The big question is can the future we see in this flash-forward be changed? I believe it can if we are talking about a Mankowski space-time, and if indeed Desmond is changing past/present/future by altering his flashes. I'm not sure if we have quite enough evidince for this yet, but I plan on rewatching the whole series very closely over the next 8 months.

    What becomes of your blog next season? Will Powell's be keeping this feature? I have thoroughly enjoyed your blog and plan on reading your book in the not too distant future.
    Thanks J!

    Lain May 25th, 2007 at 12:26 pm

    I think the Looking Glass is a remote viewing station. It does so by tapping into any number of elecromagnetic frequencies. I'm still not sure exactly why it was tuned to Penny's frequency... But it explains why it's so effective at jamming communications.

    And now...

    I'm not sure exactly *when* Penny is when Charlie talks to her. Is it at all possible that she doesn't know about The Island and the boat because this communication *for her* is happening before she gets a communication from the Antarctic Portugese station of an electromagnetic anomaly?

    Perhaps by flooding the communications room, Charlie has saved the world from Mittelwerk by ruining the equipment?

    Russell Thorn May 25th, 2007 at 12:36 pm

    J, I've been reading your erudite blog for the last couple weeks, and now plan on going back to the beginning to read all the installments. One thing I noticed was that the Looking Glass logo is a reversal of the rest of the Dharma logos like the Swan. Another mirror-reversal.

    I also noted that Kate's freckles disappeared in the future, but assumed it was because she'd not been baking in the sun everyday like she had on the island. Now it appears the freckles disappeared a couple episodes ago? That's just a stroke of genius on the writers' part.

    In case you haven't written about this before, I believe Desmond is a new Odysseus (whose wife was Penelope, too), the skilled mariner and architect of the Trojan Horse. Odysseus (Ulysses in Latin) gets trapped with the one-eyed Polyphemos in the cyclop's cave, but outwits him and gains his freedom. He also talks to dead heroes when he visits the Underworld. Also, Odysseus (according to Dante, not Homer) sailed out beyond the Pillars of Hercules (Columbus-like) into what was thought to be end of the world, and came across Purgatory. But then his ship sank.

    I wonder if there are other Homeric parallels in Lost.

    By the way, all this spacetime stuff is warping my brain. Keep up the great work!

    TheBookPolice May 25th, 2007 at 12:39 pm

    "it's never been clear if the body was actually in the coffin in the first place."

    The producers have told us that yes, we should be wondering where Christian's body has gone.

    Of course, pop culture literati have seen coffins land in lush landscapes only to allow their inhabitants to emerge revitalized. In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, the coffin carrying the body of Spock crash-landed on the Genesis Planet. The unique (man-made) properties of the planet brought Spock back to life.

    While I believe that Christian Shephard was, at the time the producers told us so, D-E-A-D dead, I don't believe that's necessarily the case anymore.

    J, your column today was as mind-reeling as the episode that inspired it. I think we can expect the rugs to be pulled out from underneath us many more times over, given the events of "Through the Looking Glass."

    CPT May 25th, 2007 at 12:40 pm

    Earlier in the season, I theorized that Des was unique to the castaways only in the sense that he KNEW he was seeing the future, probably due to some literal and figurative "enlightenment" from the imploding of the hatch. The castaways, however, may have also been seeing future events which they (and we) assumed happened in the past, but were actually future possibilities similar to those seen by Desmond. If all or some of the flashbacks were actually flashforwards, a lot of questions could be answered without complication, such as the appearance of characters in each other's lives seeming not so random, or the explanation of where Hurley's lotto numbers originated. As Desmond showed, the future could be avoided with a change to present conduct, but only if desired by the actor - which would explain Charlie's willingness to finally choose the future as explained by Des. Until the actor "corrects" their trajectory, they may be destined to live their misery - Jack's workaholic ways and marital problems, Kate's revenge on her stepfather, Sawyer's cons. Until they have achieved this self-awareness, it would be a mistake to leave - as Jack illustrated in his possible pre-self-awareness future at the end of the season finale. Perhaps the memories of misery have yet to occur, and is waiting for them if they leave too early.
    This theory could still be coalesced with others you have touched upon, such as the unique character of the island as a crossroads of possible futures, while suggesting that what they/we mistakenly believe are memories of past experiences could actually be insights into possible future experiences. In this sense, the future and past are both indistinguishable and subject to change, such that only the present is tangible/real. Carroll's Looking Glass may be grafted on to this theme easily, as may Baum's Oz (especially since the characters of our "real" life may play different characters in our "other" life).
    In any event, I believe the "shift-change" of the season finale isn't just an indication that future "flashes" may be forward, but that we should reconsider all of the previous "flashbacks" to reconsider whether they have occured yet.
    Thanks for your analysis.

    Tresbien May 25th, 2007 at 12:45 pm

    J, you said: "Mittelwerk eventually overthrew Alvar Hanso and used the enterprise for his own purposes, which are still unclear."

    I believe Mittelwerk wanted to prevent the end of the world but, unlike Alvar Hanso, was willing to do it by any means necessary. Following the failed attempts of The Dharma Initiative to accomplish it, he decided to unleash a virus that would kill a large enough portion of the population to change one of the core values of The Valenzetti Equation, but his plan was exposed by Rachel Blake, who turned out to be Alvar Hanso's daughter. However, while Alvar has been set free by Rachel, Mittelwerk and his deadly virus remain at large.

    Joe Hogan May 25th, 2007 at 1:09 pm


    Thanks so much for your blog this season. I look forward to it after each episode. Hope you are back with Powell's next season or find yourself another home for your thoughts on Lost.

    One pop culture reference that struck me as central to "Through The Looking Glass" was to "It's A Wonderful Life".

    In both, the hero is despondent and about to jump off a bridge when he is distracted by the need to save someone from harm. In the movie, it is the angel Clarence and in Lost it is the child and woman who crash behind Jack.

    Wonderful Life speaks of divine (or semi-divine)intervention providing a desperate man the opportunity to see the crucial role his life has made for those around him.

    Will the recovering woman connect with Jack and somehow provide him a less religious avenue for revisiting his time on the Island and undoing whatever led to his current state of misery?

    From a narrative point of view, the writers would be asking a great deal of the audience if we have now been provided with the absolute outcome of our hero's life. It will simply be not very interesting to puzzle our way through a series of events that will bring us back to a besotted, suicidal Jack. Nor will it be helpful to their Neilsen ratings.

    I believe, or more correctly hope, that some agency of that crash on the bridge will provide the avenue to change Jack's reality once he leaves the Island, or lets him live out his life there. I have faith that the Lost creative staff will provide some Minkowskian Space/Time Continuum basis for such a transformation of "reality".

    Ozzie May 25th, 2007 at 1:11 pm

    Thanks for taking the time to blog, I have found it very informative and well though out. Your discussion of Minkowski space piqued my interest:

    what if are seeing the past altered in ways that keep the Losties from ever landing on the islandin the first place?

    Charlie is a swim champ so he never joins a band and becomes a druggie

    Kate has no freckles because she has a different father so she never kills him & has to go on the run

    Jacks dad never dies so he doesn't have to go to Australia

    Perhaps there are other clues that some Losties pasts have already changed (such as Locke being able to walk again or the reversal of Jin's infertility).

    jazprof May 25th, 2007 at 1:11 pm

    I've read some speculation that the person Kate refers to when talking to Jack, the man she seems afraid will notice her absence, is Sawyer. I'm going to venture a different guess — I think its her Dad, the man she blew up.

    Obviously I'm going with the altered time line idea of the flash forward. I think that what has changed is the backstory event that got them onto the island in the first place. Jack's Dad is alive so he never had to make that trip to Australia. Kate never killed her stepfather. I think the twist about fate that the writers have added in is that the event for which the Losties needed redemption will, if reversed, not save them but doom them. Somehow Jack's Dad being alive means that Jack is now turning into his Dad. Kate's father being alive means she is trapped with him. I think one piece of evidence for this is the "Through the Looking Glass" idea that everything will turn out the very opposite of what one expected. Getting a "do-over" is not salvation but a curse. The other strongest piece is that Kate is not in jail.

    I don't know how it will play out — espcially what has happened to send Jack down that path — but that's my current guess. I have one other variation on this theory — if Sawyer is the "he" then he has become exactly like Wayne so that Kate is now in the same fated place she had escaped from.

    Lain May 25th, 2007 at 1:17 pm

    I still think all the "time travel" theories are pretty out there, and that all the time-travel references aren't clues to the narrative per se but to the narrative structure. *We* are becoming Dr. Manhattan, able to see all slices of time and space at once (more or less, more as we get to the end of the story.) And like Dr. Manhattan, there's very little we can do about it.

    The game changes in that the flashscenes could be from anytime before or after the '04 Island adventures - a game for us in trying to figure out where in the timeline the flash occurs. We are the recipients of the flashes.

    So '07 Jack is a drug-addict. And he made a mistake in engineering the rescue, in contacting the ship, and what have you. He's off the island.

    The game changes again: We no longer ask how or whether they get off the Island. We now ask, how are they going to get back? And redemption will come not from tweaking events in the past, but with our characters finally growing up and dealing with them in the present, in taking responsibility for cleaning up their messes, both within themselves and on the Island.

    They have to go back to the Island. Save the Island, Save the World.

    Knowing the ambiguity of Lost, I fully expect both the "rational" and the "fantastic" theories to be able to co-exist.

    Lain May 25th, 2007 at 1:38 pm

    The *real* timeline that has changed is our own. Oceanic is back in business, and has been for a while - how else would Jack have a gold pass? Of course, HansoAir and Oceanic are sloppy about maintaining their websites, so we haven't seen it all yet.

    Is this summer's Experience going to mess with us regarding the timeline we'd established with last year's Experience?

    Scott May 25th, 2007 at 1:43 pm

    Great entry in my favorite Lost-related writing this season. I hope you're back next season. One tiny nit: What Sawyer said to Hurley was actually just "Stay in the bus, Hugo." Hugo, not "hero."


    Jeff May 25th, 2007 at 2:51 pm

    Great post! Is there a place I can find a summary of "The Lost Experience"? I would love to hear some of the clues and insight that came out of the game.

    J Wood May 25th, 2007 at 2:53 pm

    Here's something to chew over: Is the future we see in the flashforwards determined? If Des can still alter things, maybe those flashes are only possibilities. In that way, we're now in Des's position; we see the *possible* futures, but not the determined ones (like we saw in "Catch-22" where the flashes with the arrow in Charlie's throat altered a little bit each time he had them/we saw them).

    I'm not sure if the past can change so drastically that Jack never went to the island. Only because analeptic moment (flashback, flashforward) is contingent upon their present moment on the island. And that's because it's all *present* -- there is no past and future in Minkowski space, only a mediated experience that we interpret as linear time. So as long as they're there on that island where Des can alter certain things, the events that led them there still exist. (But I think the possibility still exists that Christian was in Sydney, Jack went after him, and retrieved him before he died. We'll know for sure if Christian is introduced as a regular character on the beach without any explanation.)

    On Kate's "he" -- what about her ex-husband Kevin?

    Lain: I dig that reading -- that this is a metanarrative that we're part of. I'm in agreement that this new narrative paradigm is the game we're now playing. As far as the time travel thing goes, maybe this will help: don't think of it as travel, because it's all happening at once.

    A way to think about this might be a CSS file, if you're into web development. If not, a CSS file is a file that determines how the page will look (if you look at the source code for this page, it's using four different CSS files.) The idea is to separate content from style in the web page. So the CSS files for this page determine the colors, how the text appears, how the links appear, etc. *for every page on the Powell's Books site.* If you went into one of those files and changed one thing, say changing that dark tourgquoise color in the banner to deep red, that once change would alter *every* page on the entire Powell's Books site. Likewise, if all time is occuring at once, when Des alters one thing, he is in a sense altering the CSS file of fate, and the whole presentation is changed.

    J Wood May 25th, 2007 at 3:01 pm

    Did Sawyer say "Stay in the bus, Hugo"? I listened to that a few times, and was almost sure he said "hero." I guess I've been conditioned by Sawyer to just hear wiseass.

    Jason May 25th, 2007 at 3:30 pm

    I think you're getting hung up on Charlie's swim champ claims. I think he was lying to Jack about being a champion so that there wasn't any argument about him being the person to attempt the dive. I don't think it takes a great swimmer to take a suicidal plunge to the bottom of the ocean.

    And I think your getting hung up on Kate's freckles. Maybe the actress just had some skin treatment and the cameras + makeup makes the freckles harder to see. Besides, how could Desmond changing the future possible affect whether or not a person has freckles? Seems like a pretty trivial consequence for cosmic tampering.

    P. McGinley May 25th, 2007 at 3:43 pm

    I love the Minkowski catch -- and it certainly is provoking a good bit of speculation.

    Another hypothesis that hasn't been directly mentioned is Hugh Everett's "many worlds interpretation" (MWI) metatheory for resolving the paradoxes of quantum physics. More precisely, I speak of the attendant parallel universe(s) concept that sci-fi and pseudo-science derive from the MWI. As best as I can explain it (not having inherited the math-physics gene from my father) it postulates that for every subatomic "wavicle" that winds up spinning in one direction a new time-line (aka parallel universe) is created where the same wavicle spins in the other direction(s). This gets extrapolated up to the macro-level and we get ideas about every perturbation of existence resulting in two or more time-lines branching off from the original -- every time a butterfly decides to flap its wings at any given moment there is a universe where the same butterfly decides NOT to flap its wings at that same moment.

    Being a sci-fi, pseudo-sci kind of guy the parallel universe theory has frequently popped into my head when thinking of Lost. The crack in the damn came when Naomi told Hurley about 815 being found off the coast of Bali with all passengers dead. (Of course, we now know we can't trust the bloody Manc... but if it's a lie it's a weird one... Sydney to Bali to LA just isn't that fuel efficient.) The damn broke when Jack spoke of his drunk father upstairs.

    I'm pretty certain (as a Lost-theorist can be) that it confirms some sort of interplay with the MWI/parallel universe theory. Somewhere there is a universe where Particle A spins upward. Somewhere else there is a universe where Particle A spins downward. In the "Upward Universe" Jack's father drinks himself to death in Sydney; gets crated up and loaded onto Flight 815; which goes off-course then gets ripped apart over the Island spilling Dad from a banged-up coffin. In the "Downward Universe" Jack's father doesn't drink himself to death; Jack flies back to LA on 815; which goes off-course and (somehow) crashes off the coast of Bali killing all passengers.

    My theory is the Island is some sort of nexus that allows people to cross from one universe to another. What we've seen in the flash-forward is that the Jack and Kate of "Upward Universe" have gotten off the Island only to wind up in "Downward Universe" -- where their counterparts' bodies are laying dead in a four-mile deep trench in the ocean. When Jack tells Kate "we weren't supposed to leave" and "we have to go back" he's not JUST referring to the Island. He's talking about the universe they came from.

    But, as Rob Reiner would say, "enough of my yakking..." J. this has been great! Please do a "Living Lost v.2!" I need to send you some stuff on an interesting Bros. Karamazov angle that I don't think anyone has done yet. I've just got to find the essay that inspired it... and I'm starting to think I left it in my other universe. (brrr... that pic of Dostoevsky on wiki looks a lot like "Patchy!")

    Juno Walker May 25th, 2007 at 3:58 pm

    J -

    Not only am I disappointed that L O S T season 3 has come to an end, but that your post-episode blog has as well. Now what am I going to do on Thursday nights??

    Anyway, I like your idea about Jack's flash-forward being only a "possible" future. I hadn't thought of that. After the episode, I was wondering what the writers were going to do for season 4: would they now employ flash-forwards all season in lieu of flash-backs; or is this flash-forward going to be the only one, a teaser?

    I definitely agree that Jack f'ed up and he knows it - and given his predilection for 'fixing things', he absolutely HAS to go back. I'm dying to know what happened when the rescue ship came.

    Aside from brilliant acting by Matt Fox, I thought it was interesting to see that Jack had, in a sense, become like his father - though with a healthy dose of Oxycodone for good measure. In keeping with the "Desmond changing his flashes changes all time periods" theory, I'm wondering if the exchange between Jack and Juliet - in either Catch-22 or D.O.C. - takes on new significance: where she asks Jack if his dad never taught him to tie a knot, and he says no, the only thing my dad taught me was how to drink...


    Tresbien May 25th, 2007 at 4:04 pm

    Jeff, a good starting place is here:

    Something else to chew on is the whisper heard just before John sees Walt. I'd like to know what everyone thinks it says.
    It's near the top of this page:

    Brent May 25th, 2007 at 4:45 pm

    A couple of thoughts:
    - I agree with J - Sawyer said, "stay in the bus, hero." I had to re-watch that several times to be sure.
    - At first when Jack yelled to bring his father down to see how drunk he was, my thought was that somehow Jack's dad's body had gotten back to LA (and was not on flight 815) and was being kept in some sort of frozen chamber. (Why, who knows?) Thus, Jack was essentially saying, "even dead, my father's body upstairs has more alcohol in it than me," and this is why he didn't want the pharmacist to phone in a confirmation about Jack's prescription (since his dad was dead).
    - I'm hoping that this flashforward was a one-time thing. I'm hoping that season 4 of Lost occurs "now" in 2007/08, and the flashbacks themselves occur on the island. Thus, we get to see these characters off the island in the "present," thinking back to the mistakes they made when getting off the island.

    Nate B. May 25th, 2007 at 5:02 pm

    J, any theories on the funeral Jack went to? Why was he the only one that attended? Who the heck is the mystery person?

    preet May 25th, 2007 at 5:34 pm

    Hi J.

    Another nice set of interpretations like always. Next time I will be watching season 3 again I'll be looking for Kubrick references.

    Its sad that there is so much gap before the next season begins but I am hoping that you will be back with your blog when season 4 starts.


    PS: how much time you usually devote for your blog entry after each episode?

    P. McGinley May 25th, 2007 at 6:28 pm

    A coworker had an interesting idea about the format and progression over the next three "season-ettes:"
    * Season 4 chronicles the time between calling the ship and it's arrival (and whatever consequences Ben and Locke think will occur with said arrival) intertwined with fairly obtuse flash-forwards.
    * Season 5 covers the departure from the Island and it's consequences, all the while catching up via more flash-forwards until both story-lines are in synch.
    * Season 6 is about getting back to the Island and trying to set things "right."

    If that's not speculation then I don't want to know what is.

    As for "who's in the box" my first guesses were either Ben or Locke -- reluctantly taken from Fantasy Island; however the work done on Jack's news-clipping over the last 48 hours suggests it might be Michael (as above, see ... and to sin in further speculation this death sounds like the possible work of "Smokey" now somehow freed from the Island. What if Danielle had it backwards? The Monster wasn't the Island's "security system." The Island was securing the rest of reality from the Monster.

    DeborahD May 25th, 2007 at 7:54 pm

    J, thanks so much to you and all commenters for enhancing my enjoyment of Lost! I look forward to reading your book.

    Before the finale, I reviewed Through the Looking Glass, especially because I wanted to reread The Walrus and the Carpenter, which kept coming to mind. As I did, I thought, oh, no, Jack is the walrus. He's going to betray them all when they get to the top. He is the snake in the mailbox. We've already had a lot of hints that someone we know and trust would turn out to be a bad guy.

    It also seemed to me that Danielle, with her odd, detached personality, could be the carpenter.

    My assumption turned out to be wrong (what a surprise). However, elements of it may be true. Although Jack did not purposely betray those following him, he now feels he made the wrong choice in leaving the island and therefore betrayed their trust in him. He feels that his island "heroism" is as false as his apparent heroism in saving a woman whose car accident he caused.

    By the way, The Walrus and the Carpenter must have some significance to Lost because, according to Wiki, the poem has 108 lines.

    adam May 25th, 2007 at 8:11 pm

    You might want to think about John Irving's, "A Prayer for Owen Meaney." In the book, Owen works quite hard to learn all the right moves to stop a sequence of events predestined to happen (much like Charlie). When the moment comes, Owen, through a series of pre-practiced moves stops a group of refugee kids from being blown up by a grenade. He knew when he was going to die, how he was going to die and who he was going to save by performing a specific set of tasks.

    Thanks J.

    LostFanUK May 25th, 2007 at 8:46 pm

    Thanks, as always, J. for a great write up. It has made watching the show into an extremely affecting experience to be able to participate in all the various endeavors it has given rise to, including this one.

    One point I wanted to bring up was about the question of the identity of the narrative lens through which we, the viewers, are encountering the non-island scenes. I have long wondered whether we really had any absolute evidence to verify that the 'flashbacks' were, indeed, occurring in the past rather than, say, simultaenously with the on-island scenes. The way the show is constructed the first assumption one makes is that the flashbacks fill us in on some relevant episode from the character's past that somehow informs what we are seeing them do on the island in the present. However, is there a possibility that this is nothing more than an assumption on our part and that the 'flashbacks' were not moments from the past at all but always only glimpses into a simultaneously occurring present? Just as there may be a simultaneous present in which all of the survivors of Flight 815 are really dead, just as there is another on the island where at least 40+ of them staid alive, how are we to be sure that there wasn't a present in which Jack Sheopard was on the island and another in which he was marrying Sara?

    Since first entertaining this theory, I have given it up--since I couldn't see the producers doing something of this type. However, one residual aspect of this theory that I was never able to give up was the nagging uncertainty I have always felt about how to understand the narrative perspective from which the flashbacks were being told. Is it any different than the omniscient 3rd person narrator that tells us what is happening on the island? Or, if the flashbacks are, indeed, filing in bits about the characters' past actions, are we to understand them as memories they are recalling, as many viewers seem to naturally assume?

    In light of that uncertainty about the narrative perspective of the flashbacks, I was especially confused by how we are to regard this same question now that we are considering Jack's flashforward? Is this all the more definitely a simple case of 3rd person omniscient narration? Or may it be memory again, but something more like memories of the future? (In a way quite reminiscent of what happens to Bruce WIllis' character in the film _12 Monkeys_). For anyone who doesn't think this is crazy, I would suggest you go back and look at Matthew Fox/Jack's expression when Locke tells him "Jack, you are not *supposed* to do this" right before he makes contact with Minkowski. Jack looks a bit shaken--as if he is having a moment of deja vu or some other type of feeling that makes Locke's words stick in his mind and sound, somehow, familiar. Incidentally, the same word "supposed" is what Jack uses when he is talking to Kate at the end of his flash forward: "We were not supposed to leave."

    Lesley May 25th, 2007 at 8:55 pm

    Thanks J. for another superb analysis. I certainly hope we will see you on the web when Season 4 starts up next year (and maybe Part 2 of Living Lost this summer?)
    A couple of thoughts regarding Des and his ability to alter the timeline. It actually started in the bar after fail safe and continued on with Charlie. Did it cease when Charlie bonked him in the head on the boat? Perhaps Mikhail's "nine lives" can be attributed to that phenom as well. It certainly seemed backwards that Ben ordered the beach crew to shoot into the sand but Mr. Friendly, Tom was the one who wanted to kill our three Lostaways. And I would bet that Ben was actually telling the truth about Naomi and her freighter. Of course, Ben has cried wolf so many times and now some serious trouble is on the way. You are correct in flashforward, it was so obvious that Kate had no freckles and Jack had no gray in his beard (in contrast to the gray stubble he sported on the island). And Sarah was very pregnant! Jack's presence in the hospital struck me as odd too. The chief of surgery did not seem to know who he was and he never wore hospital garb. There was something odd about each scene there but I have not yet wrapped my mind around what I am missing. Certainly the episode lived up to the Looking Glass title.

    debbie May 25th, 2007 at 9:25 pm

    I love the concept of altered universes but cant rap my mind around how seemingly small events alter large thing i.e Des prevents Charlie from being hit by lightning and that keep Christian from dying 3 months earlier? I do think Christian is dead and the sins of the father are visited on the son, so when Jack is hollering about his dad, he is either drunk ,high or deluded.He definatly presented during the whole flashforward as a man who was teetering on the edge of sanity.

    Gabriel May 25th, 2007 at 9:55 pm

    Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see.
    It's getting hard to be someone but it all works out.
    It doesn't matter much to me.

    No one I think is in my tree, I mean it must be high or low.
    That is you can't, you know, tune in but it's all right.
    That is I think it's not too bad.

    Always, no sometimes think it's me, but you know I know when it's a dream.
    I think I know, I mean "Yes," but it's all wrong.
    That is, I think I disagree.

    Let me take you down, 'cause I'm going to Strawberry Fields.
    Nothing is real and nothing to get hung about.
    Strawberry Fields forever.
    Strawberry Fields forever.
    Strawberry Fields forever.

    ~John Lennon, 1967

    R.I.P., Charlie Pace. Never let anyone tell you your not a hero...

    JHamil0518 May 25th, 2007 at 9:57 pm

    re: Kate and needing to get back to "him". Maybe "he" is not an adult at all, but her son. Fathered by Sawyer on the island? hmmm...

    dharma bum May 25th, 2007 at 10:57 pm

    Ozzie: I agree with that line of thinking. I pointed out in a post for "The Brig" that Locke states, "Not anymore," when James asks him if it is true that he was paralyzed. According to "Minkowski-Lost" thought, Locke was literally stating that he in fact was never paralyzed in the first place after the real Sawyer's murder. I thought at the time that this may be a big indicator as to what was to come. In concurrence with J.'s theory, Locke who is so attuned to the island, understands that by killing the real Sawyer, right there right then, somehow has changed time-space so that the real Sawyer never paralyzed Locke, back there back then, in the first place. If this is true, then the motivation for killing his father is not so much revenge but rather properly resetting his own personal timeline so that he can live his life to the fullest.

    Jason: Whether or not Kate's freckles have anything to do with Minkowskian space issues, the actress has signed contracts for just such issues, and the make-up and script-supervising departments would not make any such egregious errors. If ther freckles aren't there, it is intentional. As to why, though, who knows. I haven't even noticed the subtle detail yet, so I still have to look back over the last few episodes.

    Mittelwerk features prominently in Gravity's Rainbow? I suppose in my off-time I shall look back through Pynchon's books, starting with the shortest, and report back next year. Tally ho and bully!

    Thanks again, J., for an interesting several weeks.

    Suzanne May 25th, 2007 at 11:12 pm

    I agree that Charlie's claim to be a champion swimmer was to be brushed aside by us viewers, and yet if one of his 'top 5' was a memory of jumping into a swimming pool as a child, it would be odd for him to be an adult who couldn't swim . . . did anyone else think this was a strange inclusion in his top 5 list? Was the pool jump in childhood important for his plunge into the Looking Glass perhaps?

    ooooohdoggie May 25th, 2007 at 11:34 pm

    Looked up Dicken's " A Christmas Carol "

    Chapter 4, The Last of the Spirits, has a scene when businessman talk of no one attending a funeral, but they consider attending if a lunch is served.

    With Dickens being a favorite author in Lost and talk of changing the future. I thought of a familiar scene. Where the spirit takes Scrooge to a graveyard.


    The Spirit stood among the graves, and pointed down to One. He advanced towards it trembling. The Phantom was exactly as it had been, but he dreaded that he saw new meaning in its solemn shape.

    ``Before I draw nearer to that stone to which you point,'' said Scrooge, ``answer me one question. Are these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of things that May be, only?''

    Still the Ghost pointed downward to the grave by which it stood.

    ``Men's courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead,'' said Scrooge. ``But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change. Say it is thus with what you show me!''

    The Spirit was immovable as ever.

    Scrooge crept towards it, trembling as he went; and following the finger, read upon the stone of the neglected grave his own name, Ebenezer Scrooge.

    ``Am I that man who lay upon the bed?'' he cried, upon his knees.

    The finger pointed from the grave to him, and back again.

    ``No, Spirit! Oh no, no!''

    The finger still was there.

    ``Spirit!'' he cried, tight clutching at its robe, ``hear me! I am not the man I was. I will not be the man I must have been but for this intercourse. Why show me this, if I am past all hope?''

    For the first time the hand appeared to shake.

    ``Good Spirit,'' he pursued, as down upon the ground he fell before it: ``Your nature intercedes for me, and pities me. Assure me that I yet may change these shadows you have shown me, by an altered life!''

    The kind hand trembled.

    ``I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach. Oh, tell me I may sponge away the writing on this stone!''

    In his agony, he caught the spectral hand. It sought to free itself, but he was strong in his entreaty, and detained it. The Spirit, stronger yet, repulsed him.

    Holding up his hands in a last prayer to have his fate reversed, he saw an alteration in the Phantom's hood and dress. It shrunk, collapsed, and dwindled down into a bedpost.

    Jeffrey May 25th, 2007 at 11:45 pm

    In an episode of the great Brit show "Red Dwarf" the lads alter history by saving JFK (he later becomes his own assassin on the grassy knoll) thus turning the USA into a mob-infested wasteland due to JFK's mafia pals such as Sam Giancana. Jack the drug and alcohol-addled, suicidal misfit and Kate - cold and looking very tarted up in thick make-up (perhaps the "he" she has to get back to is her pimp) - seem to live in this same debased world. They need to go back and re-right the wrong of saving themselves by dying on 815 much like JFK does by shooting himself and saving the world.

    Brandon May 26th, 2007 at 2:03 am

    Great work on what was the one of the most intelligent posts about the S3 finale. There is so much left unanswered as always, and yet this episode especially seems to have left many clues that you've expanded upon very well.

    I had my own questions to toss into the mix:

    Inside the looking glass hatch, does anyone else find it odd that the red flashing light says "incoming transmission", and then Penelope asks how Charlie got her frequency? It seems to me that the Looking Glass was directing it's attention at Penelope's frequency *before* Charlie, Desmond and Mikhail showed up.

    You brought up several great pop-culture references, especially Kubrick. In my own experience with Lost, I keep thinking back to Alias. I found it interesting how this finale used the same device that Alias did at the conclusion of season 2: jumping forward in time as a contrast to the writers using flash backs for the previous seasons. Sydney waking up 2 years in the future, paralleled with Jack and Kate encountering each other sometime in 2006 (marked by the release of the KRZR and the APL 2007 newspaper), which is 2 years after the Oceanic crash. Certainly the two shows have little in common in terms of content, but they share the writer J.J. Abrahms, so it's interesting to compare some of the broader plot similarities.

    There were two suspiciously unfulfilled "death promises" made in the episode. 1) Jack promises to return and kill Tom. This would seem impossible given his being shot in the chest, but we've also seen Locke return from a gunshot wound - and the closeup on Jack at the moment that he makes his promise suggests that there is more than meets the eye. 2) Ben states that every living person will die on the island if they make the phone call. In light of the flash forward to Los Angeles 2007 with Jack and Kate, this too seems to be a failed promise. What gives?

    What "decision" was Ben referring to when he mentioned making the call to "end the lives" of 40 people in a single day? If he is referring to the Dharma coup, then this suggests that he, not the "hostiles", was the orchestrator of the mass murder. On that note: Why would Ben order Tom to shoot the rifles into the ground (in effect sealing his fate and ending his leverage to convince Jack not to make the call)? Why does he hesitate to kill Jin, Sayid and Bernard when he doesn't hesitate at all to order the death's of Charlie and the other two women in the looking glass?

    Towards the end of the episode: If Oceanic has given Jack and Kate (if not more survivors) "golden passes", can it be somehow assumed that this may have been a way of shutting them up? Every post that I've read so far has assumed that the "hero 2 times over" comment was in reference to the plane crash and the bridge accident, but how will Oceanic cover up the fact that the wrecked plane and bodies were discovered already? I suspect there may still be some secrecy surrounding their "rescue" given Kate and Jack's strange behavior and Ben's morbid prediction for everyone on the island to die between the clash of the island "others" and the freighter "others". The fact that the plane's wreckage has supposedly already been found suggests that strong world powers may be working to disguise the entire situation and that their reach extends into the mainstream media.

    And some lesser questions: Why don't Charlie and Desmond simply jump in the Looking Glass pool and swim to surface the same way they dove down? Why don't the two of them close the hatch door from the outside?.. and even after the hatch door is closed, why doesn't Charlie make any effort whatsoever to take one last breathe and swim through the broken window? I understand the "accepting one's fate" theory, but this seems to go against the grain of him trying to beat fate at it's own game.

    Coming back to what your article brought up: I love the concept of alternate realities and time-space explanations, but I really am hoping for an explanation to the show that is a bit more grounded in reality and themes that I won't need a doctorate in quantum physics to understand. Don't get me wrong, the themes of alternate realities and time-travel are fantastic, but it just feels like an overly elaborate cop-out if that is where the writer's place the explanation for the show. As Juliette so elegantly remarked, it could just as easily be "aliens" if we are to stretch it this far.

    It feels more likely, given JJ Abrahms history with the Alias storyline (CIA + prophecy + next gen science and technology), that the Lost finale will combine these same themes of "secret world orders" with highly advanced, yet scientifically feasible technology: ie: nanoparticles, magnetic anomalies, cloning, next-gen medicine and viruses, etc. That is what the Hanso Foundation is being built up as is it not?

    joseph May 26th, 2007 at 5:20 am

    I am surprised no one has mentioned a dominant theme in the finale which is the willingness to sacrifice ones own life. sayid tells jack to not come back and that he would rather die than be captured again. jin closes his eyes/accepting death, when the gun is put to his head. charlie would almost gladly die, no matter what. but on the mirror side of things, locke would die for selfish reasons. locke has pagan beliefs. the lady in the looking glass station would die on word alone, and finally michael loves dieing, only to come back every time. and jack

    ka May 26th, 2007 at 7:24 am

    Something has been ringing in my ears since the Finale and I couldn't put it to words until I heard the Dharmalars podcast last night and one of them was describing how three seasons have past, and there are three seasons to go, and here we are the viewer at threshhold of passing through the looking glass mirror into another reality looking from the opposite direction. The looking glass station wasn't just a prop to move the plot along, it was also symbolic of the giant mirror twin of the first three seasons to the last three. Kate driving a new Volvo, Jack looking like Locke. Both time and space have been reflected chaotically into the future. I think I am suffering jetlag.

    Lain May 26th, 2007 at 7:38 am

    I thought it was interesting how Charlie puts his hand up to the glass for Desmond, much as Spock puts his hand up to the glass for Kirk. As we know, Spock is resurrected, but first his casket is deposited on New Genesis. Doesn't Kirk find the casket empty when he recovers it? Doesn't Spock seem to age in record time from boy to teen to adult? Which evokes Walt's weird aging, and Alpert's lack thereof.

    Does this indicate a rebirth of Charlie or a rebirth of Christian? How much are *they* twinned in this instant? Charlie, the drug addict, and Christian the drunk. Charlie the hero, and Jack the false hero. And Jack, both drunkard and dope fiend. They all tie together. Christian reborn, an anomaly of Minkowski space? Charlie reborn, perhaps an avatar of Jacob? Jack reborn, ready to try the Hero's Journey once again after his long dark night of the soul, this time aware of his responsibilities?

    On the theme rebirth... Charlie has been Christ-like before. In House of the Rising Sun, Charlie steps on a beehive curiously placed in the ground. The bees escape, chasing all away, with Kate and Jack stumbling upon the skeletons dubbed Adam and Eve in the caves. Perhaps an allusion to biblical apocrypha? The Book of Adam and Eve, The Book of the Bee, The Book of the Cave of Treasures, apocrypha all.

    Cave of Treasures is particularly interesting, detailing A&E's departure from Paradise and how they end up in a cave (with gold, frankincense and myrrh.) There they have their progeny, and are eventually interred. The book goes on to describe a direct lineage from A&E to Christ, implying that all who come from the cave are of Christ's line.

    In The Moth, Charlie emerges anew from the womb of the cave. So he is of the line of heroic sacrifice. And also the line of fantastic resurrection.

    On swimming...

    Charlie stands at the edge of the pool, but will not jump in. His father encourages him, says he will catch him. Charlie is afraid, he doesn't have confidence in his father. Brother Liam confirms his distrust. But Charlie eventually has faith in his father, and jumps in the water. His father does not catch him. Charlie swims.

    I think Charlie's swimming is a reflection of his faith. In White Rabbit, when he refuses the call to heroism, staying on the beach while Joanna drowns, he says "I don't swim. I don't swim." At this point in his life, he has no faith. He's an addict and a self-described coward. And he's lying to himself, "I don't swim," much in the same voice we hear softly in Pilot 1, the opening of the third scene (after the very first flashback of Jack on the plane) where the camera pans across Jack's face while blurry figures in the background on the beach discuss their initial theories of "the monster" that they heard and of its effects they saw the previous evening. The last voice, Charlie's, says unconvincingly, "Might be monkeys. It's monkeys."

    In contrast, his faith is at its apex in Looking Glass. Instead of ducking the call to heroism, Charlie boasts. A swim champion, eh? Perhaps neither tale is true, and the truth is in between, but then the tale is not really of his swimming but of his faith.

    How poetic and ironic that Charlie drowns, his faith intact and yet betrayed at the same time, that he ought not have unjammed the transmission, yet by relaying Penny's message he may offer yet salvation to his friends.

    J Wood May 26th, 2007 at 8:00 am

    I mentioned this above, but given some of the comments, maybe it bears repeating on how the past/present/future can all shift at once.


    Any web site has two basic elements, content and presentation. All presentation is controlled by a single file (or sometimes a few different ones, for flexibility). Think of the Powell's site; there are thousands upon thousands of pages, and they all have a consistent look to them. That look is controlled by about four CSS files If you look at the source code).

    Change one element in one of those CSS files -- like the color of the banner -- and the banners on all of those thousands of pages change.

    If we're dealing with Minkowski space (and I think we are), the past/present/future are all existing simultaneously, just like all the pages in the Powell's web site are existing simultaneously. We just don't experience them all at once.

    Something to consider is if your site isn't well-designed, you can break some pages when you change the CSS file. I've done it plenty of times.

    So when Des alters the outcome of one of his flashes, it's like he's hacking fate's CSS file. He makes one change, and the entire site changes, every page, past/present/future. But that raises the question: Is this a poorly-designed world? In a poorly-designed world, one CSS change could break the logic of some of the other pages in the site – like the dead having never died in the first place (like Christian).

    If we go back to all the various theosophical/gnostic elements alluded to throughout the season, we can look at how those traditions view our world. And they're not kind. In fact, in the gnostic tradition, god didn't create this world, because god is perfect and this world is far from it. That tradition, laid out most clearly in the Nag Hammadi library, suggests that this is a poorly-designed world made by a demiurge that exists between us and the perfect god. Their line of thinking is that the way to get around this is through accessing wisdom, as opposed to faith.

    Taken all together, we have a poorly-designed (i.e. poorly-coded, poorly-programmed) world having its CSS file hacked by someone who isn't sure what he's doing, Desmond. And he's breaking some of the pages.

    Jeffrey May 26th, 2007 at 8:01 am

    On Kubrick - when I had mentioned before that Charlie in the Looking Glass looks like Alex the Droog, although strapped to a chair as with the Ludovico Treatment, he reminded me more of when Alex is getting his rocks off (literally) to Ludwig Van. There's a close-up of Charlie's face as he has just gotten pummeled by Bonnie in almost the same ecstatic effect. This SM threesome is mirrored (polar opposite) with those two groupies in Finland.

    Lindytx May 26th, 2007 at 8:16 am

    Re: Kate's freckles. I don't know if the Minkowski changes have changed Kate physically, but her memory still recalls a different name, because she asks Sawyer why he is now calling her Kate, which at least implies that she remembers he used to call her Freckles. So this seems to contradict that the changes in the past change the present - it may partially work physically but doesn't seem to change our or the characters' memory of the past as it was before the change!

    Re; the coming rescue by the freighter. I rewatched the show, and Ben's warning to Jack is interesting: every "living person on this island will die." This raises the question of whether there are some characters who are "living persons" and some who are not?

    Thanks for all the insights!

    J Wood May 26th, 2007 at 11:20 am

    Jeffrey, I know the scenes you're talking about. There's actually a few places in "A Clockwork Orange" that Charlie seems to be channeling; in the moloko bar, Alex gives just about the exact look when the woman sings Beethoven that Charlie gives when he tells Bonnie he dies. I'm not sure if this was Dominic Monaghan channeling Alex DeLarge or what.

    I dig that term “wavicles.” What's the Karamazov angle you're thinking of? I wrote about Dostoevsky's book in Living Lost v.1, but there's been plenty of developments since then.The main reason I'm reticent to go with the multiple worlds theory isn't because I have a problem with that theory in itself, but that it'd be so difficult to manage narratively, especially in Lost's story. That might come off like a cop-out (and some people are having a hard enough time swallowing Minkowski space).

    I didn't read the Wikipedia article on the Walrus and the Carpenter, so I didn't know it was 108 lines. It's a key mathematical number as well as having a religious dimension, and since Carroll (Dodgeson) was a mathematician, I wonder if he was thinking along those lines. (108 is they hyperfactorial of 3 – 1 to the first power * 2 to the second power * 3 to the third power.)

    Brandon, let's take a crack at some of those questions:

    The fact that the Looking Glass sent out a signal on the same frequency Penny was monitoring is strange. If Penny is using her father's equipment, well, from the Lost Experience I think Widmore was also working with Paik, etc.

    I thought of that Alias bit too; the Valenzetti Equation is also reminiscent of Rambaldi. Who knows where they're going with this, but it'd be interesting if we get some kind of cross-over. They could do it, too, since both shows were on the same network. I doubt it'd be overt, though; it'd be a subtle connection that fans of both shows might get.

    As far as people dying/not dying and who's doing the killing, it seems Ben is a lot more reluctant to kill than he lets on. Perhaps its karma? Ben's such a calculating individual, though, maybe he was hedging some risks.

    The secrecy around their rescue may also be some secrecy about what they went through, or some other events that we have yet to see. Jack says at the end that he doesn't want to lie anymore. Either they're hiding something, or he/they don't talk about what they really saw.

    The “why didn't Charlie save himself” question is coming up a lot. But it's important to remember that he's thinking no one else is rescued unless he dies. And Des's flash with Charlie drowning is directly tied to their being rescued. I think Charlie is trying to make that happen.

    As far as the physics goes, check out my comment about Des hacking fate's CSS file. It's not quite as complicated as it may first seem – it was even part of a popular comic book, one that Lost has referenced more than once. And that Minkowski space explanation doesn't include alternative timelines (just altered ones) and no parallel universes. I'd agree that parallel worlds would seem like a cop-out, but if we keep everything in one world – albeit a malleable one – the narrative remains cohesive.

    I'm shocked no one said sooner how surprised or shocked they were that what they noticed wasn't already talked about. I look for that post every week.

    Lain – remember that J.J. Abrams is also doing the new Star Trek movie. There's another echo. (Who's playing Spock?)

    Where can those apocryphal books be found? That's fascinating; I've not seen the Book of Cave Treasures/The Book of the Bee (Macabees?).

    I see the point about Charlie having faith, but I'm still nearly certain that he just couldn't swim. Not only because he says “I don't swim,” but when Des saves Claire out in the surf, it's because in his flash he saw Charlie drowning. Charlie would certainly run into the water after Claire if she was in danger, and if he didn't swim, he'd drown. So I think there's two bits of evidence showing Charlie couldn't swim. And the argument – not yours – that non-swimmers could have made that dive doesn't, um, fly. For one, non-swimmers don't hold their breath that long under water (and it's a dive that can require scuba gear). That takes training and practice, and just before he dives, he's prepping himself with breathing exercises. I doubt he picked that up sleeping with two women at once (well, maybe). Also, it's a deep dive, and there's pressure; a non-swimmer wouldn't know how to deal with that. Last, would a non-swimmer know the breast stroke?

    JMP May 26th, 2007 at 11:25 am

    J. Wood-

    Thank you for the weekly insights. I had spent the first two seasons of LOST thinking that each episode required a thoughtful, literary analysis. Though I would have loved to beat you to the punch, I am grateful that this blog exists.

    More to the point: I'm going to risk writing this, since I haven't read all of the analyses and, indeed, you may discuss this elsewhere, but w/r/t the more recent episodes I'm surprised that Ursula Le Guin's two late-60s/early 70s sci-fi masterpieces The Lathe of Heaven and The Disposessed haven't been mentioned. The later obliquely informs the utopian Dharma project in general, and specifically seems to be an influence on the scenes of the Dharma compound featured in "The Man Behind the Curtain". When Ben's father "Roger Workman" is told that he will be a janitor on the island he becomes agitated and complains about giving up his life on the mainland to work as a janitor. The woman who gives him his position mentions something about work pools and the fact that everyone will have to work as a janitor at one point or another. What I found interesting about this episode, in contrast to the previous depictions of the Dharma group, was how sympathetic the whole project seemed: no sinister films regarding incidents or buttons, no panoptic observation…the whole project had a vaguely benign, hippyish, utopian aspect to it. Thus the mass execution at the hands of the others (?)/original inhabitants of the island (?!) inverts the Jim Jones like image the viewers had initially had of the Dharma project (that perhaps all of the members were brainwashed and had destroyed themselves), imagining an adversarial relationship between the naive utopian collective and the "outside" world. This mirrors the relationship in Le Guin's book between the moon utopia and the "savage" earth — made explicit by the "classless" assertion that everyone will eventually have to become Roger Workman.

    Lathe of Heaven, on the other hand, seems a much greater influence on the show. This would seem logical since the creators, somewhere I recall, discussed the influence of Philip K. Dick on the show — with Le Guin's book being her most overt homage to Dick's work. In it, the protagonist, George Orr suffers from "effective" dreams that alter the course of history. These dreams not only change the future but erase and alter the past: i.e. if George dreams that Kate doesn't have freckles then, as you pointed out, she never had them — and Sawyer never called her freckles. Of course, George (and people who experience this effective dreaming first-hand in the novel) know that things have changed and thus exist in a type of split reality. Orr, unable to tolerate this unwanted power, eventually seeks the help of a psychoanalyst who uses Orr's power to alter the world for good (shades of the Dharma project). George, who's viewpoint more often than not reflects Le Guin's own deeply held Buddhist beliefs, only wants to get rid of the power since he understands that life is that which is and we are only a part of it.

    So, the obvious echoes with Le Guin's work (esp. LoH) raise a few interesting questions about the island, the Lostaways and the Dharma project. Since the Dharma project seems to be informed by Buddhist beliefs, what if rather than trying to control (in a totalitarian way) the obvious powers of the island (which, as it now seems, can situate itself as a nodal point between potential pasts and futures) the project, rather, seeks to destroy it precisely because of these powers. To exert control over these powers, as the "others" seem to have wanted to do, would be to arrest the movement of the world and man's place in it. The Lostaways would be the island's natural defense against this, since every single person on the island, as you have pointed out, has everything to gain from having either the past or the present altered. Thus the "mistake" that Jack mentions at the end of the episode is the mistake of having believed that potentiality is something subjectively controllable.

    Okay, I'll shut up now. I'm not sure where I was headed. Oh, and what's up with all the empiricists? Is sense-certainty getting ripped another one on this show (as it should — although it's obvious that, like all people who hate the empiricists, the writers have a soft spot for Desmond "David Hume")? I just hope that the guy who saves them all in season six is named Spinoza.

    Zach May 26th, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    Great blog all season.

    What I dont get about the Minkowski space and the interior universe of Lost is the idea presented on the show of Fate. If Charlie was supposed to die from a lightning strike then drowning, and then arrow in throat; then who was supposed to die in the Looking Glass hatch? If fate is self correcting as Ms. Hawking states, fate should have no plans for Charlie after he is killed by the lightning bolt.

    I also feel that invoking Minkowski space-time might be a cheat for the writters. Unexplained things could happen or not have happened as convienient for them only to be explained by Des changing the Minkowski space-time.

    DeborahD May 26th, 2007 at 3:19 pm

    Here's another instance of mirror-twinning that I don't think anyone has mentioned --

    When Ben was held prisoner in the hatch, he exploited the tension and mistrust between Jack and Locke. When Charlie is in the Looking Glass, he exploits the tension and mistrust between Ben and the Others.

    Chris T. May 26th, 2007 at 3:26 pm

    Always look forward to this blog. Very well done.

    I haven't commented before, but wanted to mention a couple thoughts I had.

    There was an abundance of poker motifs used throughout the show, especially in this season finale. Maybe you've talked about this in older blogs.

    Poker is a lot like chess, except much more individual (you against everyone else), misrepresenting yourself, a lot less information available from your opponents, and a large fortune and gamble factor. Cards also play a big part in Alice in Wonderland. Ben tells Jack "I'm not bluffing!" (Not the best thing to do when you are indeed bluffing, by the way.) Ben might be good at chess--but I'm not so sure about poker. Jack, who we know is good, gambled--he didn't care if Ben was bluffing or not. I thought I remember someone else say "I'm not bluffing," maybe in The Looking Glass station?--I haven't watched the episode again yet.

    I really liked your chess analogy, and it seems it could also be applied to backgammon as well (big fortune factor again) trying to get all of your pieces to your base, blocking your opponent... I'm not a backgammon player, though.

    Just some thoughts. Thanks, and look forward to next season.

    Sam May 26th, 2007 at 4:59 pm

    This is by far the best I've seen written about Lost.

    Great observations all around.

    Late bloomer May 26th, 2007 at 6:53 pm

    Well, I hope that people are still checking this. I just got to watch the final episode today and so am kicking myself for missing out on the discussion.

    The Minkowski theory is a good one. If I'm understanding it right, it means that every time Desmond saved Charlie - altering the "present" - it was like throwing a rock into a pool. The ripples would spread "forward" and "backward" (although without the chronological line of time these terms aren't applicable), changing the entire dimension. It seems, though, that the island is the key, the pivotal point in the time/space continuum, the only place where rocks can be thrown into the time dimension puddle, as it were.

    This also makes sense in terms of the island's conception problem, because babies conceived in the juncture of time/space that is the island (due to its electromagnetism) wouldn't exist in the time stream that flows around the island. Maybe the island is a place where creation (and destruction?) are impossible, because it would be throwing a rock into a puddle that either never existed or has ceased to exist.

    My analogy is stretching thin, I know. Bear with me.

    If the Losties didn't have "pasts" and "futures" independent of the island, there would be nothing to affect in either direction. Therefore, babies born on the island would be an anomoly in the normal relationship between time/space and in order to preserve the integrity of the relationship, they wouldn't be able to exist. It also seems that people cannot die on the island for the same reason - their "futures" would be non-existent, much like the non-existent "pasts" of the babies conceived on-island. Maybe we'll see those zombies yet.

    I have no idea if that made any sense whatsoever.

    Swimmer May 26th, 2007 at 8:22 pm

    J--you are right that a non-swimmer couldn't make that dive and would be too afraid to even want to, but a non-swimmer could swim something that resembles breaststroke as it is the most natural, intuitive way to swim underwater. I've never been a non-swimmer, but I imagine that if I didn't know how to swim and was forced to, that's how I'd do it.

    Jeff May 26th, 2007 at 8:48 pm

    "Since when did you start calling me Kate?" Sawyer says "Stay in the bus, Hugo." That's what I heard the first time, and that's what I heard when I re-watched it after reading J's recap. Nicknames and smart-ass comments have been missing since "The Brig."

    Since J loves the Star Wars parallels - Sawyer and Juliet going to rescue Jin, Sayid and Bernard parallel Han and Leia going to blow up the station on Endor.
    SW: "It looks like there's only 4 guards" "It only takes one to sound the alarm" "I'm afraid our furry friend has gone and done something rather rash" "Not bad for a little furball, there's only one left"
    LOST: "There's only 3 of them left" "There's only 2 of us, and we don't have guns" "Wait a minute, do you hear that" HURLEY! "Stay in the bus, Hugo (Not bad for a little furball, there's only one left)" Only one left, if you consider that Tom was disarmed and during Hurley's invasion.

    Last thought - Why does everyone have a problem with "I'm tired of lying"?? He's not lying about the island, he's not lying about getting off the island, he's not covering up for Oceanic, Dharma, Mittelos, Hanso, Paik or anything/anyone else. JACK is TIRED of lying to HIMSELF. He's tired of saying that getting rescued was the right thing to do. He's tired of telling himself that leaving the island was for the best. He's feeling like Brooks after getting released from Shawshank - unable to cope with the "real" world. Watch Kate in this final scene. She, too, is telling herself that getting off the island was the right thing. She's convincing herself that they didn't make a mistake. Jack is TIRED of LYING, and wants to admit that it WAS a mistake.

    Ginny May 26th, 2007 at 8:51 pm

    J...I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog every week after Lost and hope that you will be back next season. Your literary references are priceless and I have added many to my reading list. I too made the 2001 Space Odyssey connection with the astronauts talking behind closed doors as Hal reads their lips. Thank you so much for your wonderful insights and I look forward too reading your book this summer!

    Jeff May 26th, 2007 at 8:53 pm

    Sez Ms Hawking(s?): "Why Jack, you've always had the ability to get back to the island. Just close your eyes, click your heels together 3 times, and say..."

    Garry May 26th, 2007 at 10:13 pm

    The "golden ticket or pass" that Jack told Kate about was a little dig at American Idol which forced "Lost" into it's current later timeslot.

    Thea May 26th, 2007 at 11:36 pm

    J: Will your blog stay? Or, am I wishful thinking? I won't be able to forget about Lost for eight or nine months. Here's what I plan to do. I'll read Living Lost. I'll rewatch all the episodes and try to pick up on clues I've missed and explore points of symbolism, such as horses, rings, birth, the four-toed statue. I'll go back to the beginning of this blog and start reading from episode one, and then I'll catch up on reading what the Lostaways have been reading.

    I'll bone up on string theory.

    I'll ponder why we didn't see Des' flashforward of Claire's rescue. Could he be lying, and if so, why? And, if Charlie sacrificed himself for a lie, how would that alter the future or the rescue--Jack's a loser drug addict and Kate's a suburban-housewife-Volvo-driver without freckles? Or will it turn out to be Groundhog Day? Hope so. I've been depressed for days.

    I'll drag out Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit and consider the Absolute Idea (maybe).

    So, J--there's another question besides, "guys, where are we?" It's, guys, where will we go until February to hash out our thoughts and theories? (Am I clinical?)

    Anyway, thanks so much for this blog, J. Your writings and those of contributors have truly been inspired and reassuring throughout this emotional roller coaster of a season.

    Mark May 27th, 2007 at 1:37 am

    J Wood, thank you for some very illuminating and stimulating blogs this season. i do hope you're back in '08.

    a few thoughts -

    as a result of charlie's last note, des will surely warn the losties off the helicopters, rendering jack's flashfoward merely one possible future, as you imply.

    much is being made of des changing minkowski space through charlie's fate. but isn't it more likely he caused a broader event when he failed to enter the numbers and originally caused the jet to crash? that is more likely the moment the losties entered into a parallel universe, one where locke is not paralyzed (thus his instant 'healing'), one where rose does not have cancer, one where jin is fertile.

    and then, multiply on top of that, the 'purple sky' event, and changing charlie's fate, and now the permutations become mind boggling.

    and in fact, this is where they are truly "lost," in a multitude of parallel universes with no means to reconcile their known experiences with the many new ones they're now living, with their ability to return to their original universe fading with each destabilizing event.

    it does render the island's magic more reasonably simple: a portal/nexus between the many parallel alternate universes.

    perhaps i'm being redundant here. but there are subtle differences that seemed important to me.

    this truly is a groundbreaking, intensely exciting narrative these magnificent bastards have created, isn't it? : )

    Mark May 27th, 2007 at 1:43 am

    oh, and one other thing - am i the only one that thought the "J" in the obituary was a nod to our favorite blogger, J Wood? i'm not sayin' i'm just sayin'.

    Sandra May 27th, 2007 at 4:09 am


    Thank you for these wonderful and insightful weekly blogs. So much happens in one episode that it's a blessing to be able to read your writings and at least get started on some ideas that were as clear as mud before I read it! February 2008 is a long time to wait for the next season and the next episode, but I have the DVDs, and Season 3 is pre-ordered even though I've downloaded it from iTunes. I have read most of the books that have been shown on Lost, but I'd like to reread The Third Policeman and finish Desmond's last Dickens book, Our Mutual Friend. I found this one to be harder to read and concentrate on than other Dickens novels. And of course, all of the J.Wood blogs that I missed from the first two seasons are waiting.

    I do question the numbers on the show, though. I read that the producers or writers came up with the idea of the numbers as something not to be taken that seriously and that they were shocked that teeshirts and coffeemugs were appearing with the numbers on them. Now they seem to have more meaning as the show goes on.

    I hope you come back in Season 4! If not I'll be so disappointed!

    All the best to you.

    janet in venice May 27th, 2007 at 5:49 am

    I had the impression that this episode was like the fold in the middle of a rorschach blot. a mirror twinning of the entire layout of the show. i woke up the next day and found that my mind had decided to organize its understanding of all of LOST by putting Jack's bearded images as the present storyline, and now regards all Island tales as telling how the present day came to be the truth.

    i think in finding out that ABC would give them 48 more episodes, [ being called "the other" other 48 days' by some], the producers decided to split those into 3 seasons of 16 episodes each [see, the Numbers aren't gone-- there's 16, making a brief appearance], which made this 3rd season finale the midpoint of the entire series. it had to be the fold in the inkblot. it had to be the line in the center, where the edge of the mirror is held against the image, in order to reproduce it in reverse. this is where we go thru the looking glass.
    maunderings about the logo for the looking glass Dharma design: another white rabbit. Ben has a thing for rabbits. Alex was butchering one with bloody hands: a revolt of the young in teenagerhood, rebelling against and ripping apart everything their parents hold dear, tearing it apart, savaging its weaknesses, the more they learn to see with their own eyes and draw their own conclusions.
    the logo rabbit has a hole where its heart should be. Is the rabbit heartless? Is it lonely? incomplete?
    Ben told and showed sawyer he implanted rabbit #8 with a pacemaker, the same as he claimed he had done to sawyer. What does a pacemaker do? Controls the heart. So Ben is so heartless, he is obsessed with controlling things, even those he loves the most, to their very hearts.
    But the pacemaker con turned out to be a bluff. He didn't actually implant one-- in either the rabbit, nor sawyer.
    He just carefully made it look as if he had.

    thoughts on CSS code and how drastically one little change can massively alter everything:
    let's talk about DNA. let's talk about genetics. let's talk about that half or quarter of the X chromosome that makes a living creature a female if it's present and male if it isn't.
    wanna have a funny mental exercise?
    picture how calamitously it would affect LOST if all the male characters woke up to find they were females. All the females woke up to find they were males.
    all i can say is, there'd be some uneleivably ugly women-- and some gorgeous men. well, gorgeous NEW men--to look at, living out this story.
    but aaron wouldn't change.
    ok. i'll wait till the hysterical laughter subsides, over that bomb.

    J Wood, i just KNEW you'd be the one to let me in on the immense significance, of the answering voice on the satphone giving his name as 'minkowski'. didn't know it b4 the episode, will never forget it, now.

    a funny comment on the significance of mikhail's having 9 lives and seeming to keep getting up again after surely being dead 'this' time:
    anarchists are like that. they're diehards. time and again, powermad figures decree that beleivers in anarchy have to be stamped out, they clobber them, make war against them, think they've wiped em out, and here they come again! you'll never be rid of them. the individual exists before the group can occur. you have to have 1 before you can get to 2.

    I'm beginning to think that mikhail must have died on the battlefield in afghanistan and woke up again, and realized with a certain grim, wry joy, that what makes him, him, isn't the parts of his body. he can live without an eye. he can live without a finger, a hand, both hands, both arms, his toes, his feet, his legs, no appendix, no spleen, one kidney, maybe one lung, have his ears cut off, his nose, his balls, and have various sections taken out of various organs, and he will still be him, still be as alive as he ever was, and I think it gives him a kind of glory. I know people who live perfectly well without an anus, without pieces of their brain, up to and including a full hemisphere of it; have had large hunks of muscle removed, have let their larynxes be cut out, have given up their gall bladder,their entire lower jaw, parts of their'd be amazed at how much of a human's body could be let go of, and still be fully alive, be the same person you always were.
    it's astounding. i think mikhail has that kind of verve about his life and knowing himself, knowing what makes him, him. what makes him alive.

    you guys: all these great comparisons to other works in our cultures are like mind candy for me to see and delight over. keep em coming. i thought i'd been out of the loop, but i see to my great glee that i'm not. i know a lot of these when you bring them up, and the ones i don't, i rush off to go bone up on, so i can revel in them along with the gang.

    j wood--how about you start your own blog about LOST, so we can all repair over to your place and keep this 'salon' going there if powell's moves on?

    SeaMar May 27th, 2007 at 5:51 am

    J. Great blog...appreciate the insights of many....several thoughts ideas.

    J ntham...Jeremy Bentham....philosopher, unitlitarianism..."The greatest good for the greatest number" The concept certainly fits into the storyline.

    Jack is Jacob. Jack figures out how to somehow come back, and instructs Ben to foil the Losties attempts to leave, as Jack from the present now realizes it was a mistake to leave. In otherwords Jack is working against Jack...a perfect mirror-twinning.

    On the island, everyone has a purpose, and before the island everyone was searching for a purpose. That is why it was a mistake to leave.

    Lost-look beyond the obvious...the people are lost. But what else has been "Lost"?
    "Paradise Lost" by John Milton. And if Paradise can also be seen as the Garden of Eden, man had everything he needed in life. Just as the island somehow provides people with what they need, so did Eden. And remember the two skeletons dubbed "Adam and Eve"? What if they in fact, were Adam and Eve?

    The Fall...when Adam and Eve sinned against God they alienated themselves from the Father...a recurring theme throughout Lost.

    Just a few thoughts...things seem to be coming together.

    CRoche May 27th, 2007 at 6:43 am

    J thanks for your blog ... I look forward to it every week.

    Just some thoughts.. Sawyer made a promise to Tom ..."You and I ain't through yet Zeke." He carried out that promise. "That's for taking the kid off the boat." In a sense he also was making amends to Michael as he had always felt guilty about shooting the flair and catching the attention of the Losties.
    I also thought I heard Hugo not Hero.

    I've always operated on the premise when you change the past you change the future and the present.

    Now Des see's a flash but we're still not privy. I wonder if Charlie was NOT supposed to die in this flash. That Des told Charlie that because of another reason. Has Des finally made Charlie do something the opposite of his flash for other reasons? What did Des actually see in this last flash? Did he lie to Charlie?

    Thanks for the blog... It's more than inciteful.

    Lpalmer May 27th, 2007 at 7:57 am

    I don't think I've seen this mentioned before, but if it has, sorry for bringing it up again. But did anyone notice the allusion to Stephen King's Dark Tower series in the obit Jack carries with him? I thought it was great that I was able to pick out the words 'The Tower' (in New York, no less) and 'beam' very distinctly. And that series is about parallel universes and time shifts as well. As much as I'd like to argue that there's no monkey business being made of timelines in Lost - the writers (known King fans) seem to be throwing out so many clues that are hard to explain away.

    I also found it interesting that one of The Dark Tower's main characters (Susannah) in the end of the series gets to live out the remainder of her life in a parallel universe where things are similar to her own but not exactly the same. I agree that the Jack and Kate of the flashforward may not be in their own when. Maybe that's why Jack's so crazy.

    J. - I absolutely love your blog and all the comments too! This makes Lost even better getting such wonderful analysis by such a great group!

    jun May 27th, 2007 at 8:34 am

    hey J,

    LOST has diehard fans all the way here in Singapore, catching every single episode right after it airs. i love coming here to your blog, your analysis is incredible. love every single post of yours. see ya next february yeah.

    Lain May 27th, 2007 at 8:46 am


    Here are links to the referenced apocrypha:

    They are translated by E.A. Wallis Budge, and in them (as well as in The Kebra Nagast, also on that site) you'll find some very interesting Egyptian hieroglyphics. Budge was an Egyptologist, so I'm curious as to whether the Swan hieroglyphics appear in any of his other works. I know the official translation for them is "Underworld" per TPTB, but I'd be surprised if there isn't some myth or fable where these symbols pop up (which I think would be more interesting than a literal translation.) Sadly, his three pieces on the above website don't have those particular pictures.

    It was really a treat diving into all those references this week, perfect appetizers before the main course of Charlie's final sacrifice.

    I'm still really torn about Charlie's ability to swim. The Minkowski reference is pretty persuasive. But, still... At the beginning of season 1, Charlie is such a liar. He lies about the bathroom, about his ability to fish, about his drug use... Charlie never seems to tell the truth. It makes total sense that he would lie about his swimming ability rather than admit he's too scared to go save Joanna. He believes he's a coward, not a hero.

    Furthermore, that scene also demonstrates that even an accomplished swimmer like Joanna could drown out in those waters. The hapless Boone, who claims an admittedly dubious knowledge of being a lifeguard, practically drowns there himself, and it isn't an easy swim for Jack, who seems in much better physical condition than Charlie. So when Desmond says Charlie would have drowned had he gone off to save Claire, it might not have anything at all to do with Charlie's ability to swim and everything to do with the strange currents. And just about anyone would have drowned smashed against the rocks where Desmond recovered Claire's bird.

    I don't know, I just think we should rely more on the direct evidence we've been presented rather than stretching out metaphorical allusions into literal explanations - a problem rife in most if not all religions. Then again, the Island does seem to be a place where metaphor is more likely to become literal, isn't it?

    In the end, I do like the ambiguity of it all. Lost is unique in its ability to maintain and present a polyphrenic perspective. Even the flash-forward presents multiple options for understanding the Island. If Jack makes it back, it's like Percival returning to find the Holy Grail. If he doesn't get back, the Island is more of a Shangri-la, only to be found once in a lifetime.

    Nine months to wait. I'm actually grateful for the hiatus!

    Lain May 27th, 2007 at 9:08 am


    Maybe both stories of Charlie's swimming, or lack thereof, are simultanously true. Maybe, in the beginning, Charlie couldn't swim, so he doesn't go after Joanna. Desmond changes the universe, and then Charlie can swim. But he still doesn't save Joanna, because of his character flaws! Which would be another example of the Universe course-correcting to make sure that Joanna dies in the waters off the coast of the Island.

    This also ties into the black/white/mirroring symbolism of Lost, and again the episode following Joanna's drowning. In the caves, Jack finds the black and white stones on Adam and Eve. And the apocryphal Book of the Bee was written by Bishop Solomon, who was a Nestorian. That doctrine maintains that Christ was two persons, both the man Jesus and the divine son of God. This sounds almost like a theory of bi-location (echoed in Walt being in two places at once?) The condemnation of this view at the Council of Ephesus led to the Assyrian Church of the East splitting from the Byzantine Church, echoed by the "splitting of the hive" courtesy of Charlie's clumsy footwork.

    So black and white are not diametrically opposed (the stones are found in one pouch). Like the Tao symbol or the pieces in a backgammon set (another Mesopotamian influence), black and white are always in relation to each other, both part and parcel of the whole picture.

    DeborahD May 27th, 2007 at 9:44 am

    About the Ben/Charlie mirror-twinning instance I mentioned earlier -- I forgot to put in the reversal. Ben did it so he could live and escape, and Charlie did it so he could die.

    Also, a comment about Minkowski spacetime (J, you probably know that the spiritual/metaphysical equivalent is the Eternal Now) --

    Desmond is not the only one who has saved Charlie. Jack did when Charlie was hanging from the tree. You could say that this doesn't count because it's the first time it happened, and Jack was not altering reality. He didn't have prior knowledge. But if all time is happening at once, is there such a thing as a first time?

    Lastly, here's my vision for Episode 1, Season 4:
    Desmond puts on scuba gear, swims into the control room, and re-jams the equipment (sorry, Charlie). He then makes his way to the beach, gets the walkie-talkie, and tells Jack (who is staring at the satellite phone, which has turned red) about the boat. In the meantime, Walt and Michael have stepped out from behind the trees and told Jack that leaving the island is a mistake. Suddenly, a helicopter appears but instead of landing it starts shooting. However, under the influence of the electromagnetics of the island, it crashes before it can do any real harm. Then everybody -- Lostaways, Others, Danielle -- goes to the temple, where they finally start TALKING to each other. Locke tells about his healings, Rose her cancer, Jack his visions of his father, Hurley the numbers, Desmond his visions, etc. And then they start asking the right questions, and Ben starts answering! Okay, forget that. But they do start learning about the island. Oh, and they also find the guy who was with Naomi and nurse him back to health and get info about the boat. They find an alternative to torture! Okay, forget that. But at least they don't hurt him too much, and the island heals him.

    Seasons 4, 5, and 6 all take place on the island. Desmond alters reality so that they never get off the island. In the Season 4 finale, they figure out the pregnancy mystery and Sun doesn't die. And Penny makes her way to the island.

    There. That's as far as I've gotten.

    Lain May 27th, 2007 at 9:50 am

    The set of the Looking Glass has really been reminding me of something, and I haven't been able to put my finger on it. It's the scene at the end of Greatest Hits, where Charlie first enters the LG, and the two women immediately come in and draw their weapons on him.

    It reminds me of some kind of computer game - maybe Doom or Quake, by id Software? Cuse and Lindelof are really into computer games, aren't they? If it's a Doom reference, does it presage Charlie's doom? If it's a Quake reference, does it presage the tsunami quake of '04?

    Phutatorius May 27th, 2007 at 11:50 am

    I wasn't gonna carp about verisimilitude, but J's discussion of Charlie's swimming ability, or lack of it, seemed to open the door. Much as I like the series for its emotional impact and its mysteries, its literary allusions, and even for the possibility that something profound might actually be "in play" on TV, I've always felt dissatisfied with Lost's lack of verisimilitude. The radar setup on the raft seemed like a real howler to me: a 360 degree nautical radar display from a non-rotating aircraft radar antenna jury-rigged to a mast! Really! Swimming in salt water with semi-auto pistols tucked into their belts! Really! But what bothered me about the S3 finale was how water came in the broken porthole of the LG causing Charlie's drowning. What was preventing (I ask)the water level in the moon-pool from rising and flooding the LG? Air pressure. Break the porthole and what should've happened was pressurized air escaping through the porthole while the water rose through the moon pool until it was up to the level of the broken porthole. Since the area of the broken porthole was small compared to the volume of air in the LG, this process would've taken some hours, probably. Oh well, I still like the show, but I wish they'd hire a technical adviser to help them out on certain points.

    P. McGinley May 27th, 2007 at 12:06 pm


    I'm having a "dickens" of a time trying to retrace the steps to my Bros. Karamazov "angle." I'll just go ahead and spew it out so I can get it out of my system. And, yet, here's another wonderful bit of coincidence (or synchronicity or quantum entanglement or fate): it all starts with the aforementioned Ursula K. LeGuin. In either an essay by her (most likely in The Language of Darkness) or about her, the embedded story of the Grand Inquisitor gets mentioned as inspiration for a scene in The Dispossessed, as well as the entire short story "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas."

    Here's where I stumble a bit, never having read The Bros. Karamazov. Apparently, there is some concept in "The Grand Inquisitor" or later in the book, but provoked said story, that asks the question would it be acceptable to imprison a single innocent child if it meant that the rest of the world could live in a state of idilic bliss?

    When Locke gave faux Henry Gale a copy of Karamazov to read in his makeshift cell this business of the parable of the Grand Inquisitor hit me. In the episodes where we are still wondering whether this man is an Other we witness the full concept of having a scapegoat. Sayid can easily put aside his disgust for his torturing skills in some ill conceived attempt to avenge Shannon's death. Ana tests her desire to kill. Jack sees an opportunity to conduct a "prisoner swap" for Walt. I believe there's even a point where Ben says something to effect of "locking me up isn't going to solve whatever problem these people (the Others) have with you." (paging Mr. Rumsfield: you're wanted at Gitmo)

    This may be a bit weak. It just felt like something was there when we were shown a possibly innocent prisoner receiving a copy of The Bros. Karamazov to pass his time with.

    Speaking (and I AM cutting this short) of LeGuin as JMP does: I thought it was really weird and cool that Bruce Davison played Hurley's shrink in Dave. Davison played George Orr in the 1980 TV adaptation of Lathe of Heaven. Talk about role reversal! Here he's a psychologist trying to help a young man overcome, among other things, a delusional solipsistic concept of reality.

    synchromystic May 27th, 2007 at 1:44 pm

    2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY analysis

    synchromystic May 27th, 2007 at 2:41 pm

    there's that pesky eye again

    2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY analysis

    AJ May 27th, 2007 at 7:18 pm

    Thanks for the very interesting posts. My copy of Living Lost arrived recently and now that the show is done I'm looking forward to reading your book. Maybe your next Lost book can enfold all the commenters like Lessig did with Code 2.0 (

    Re Sawyer using Kate: I think ever since the killing of Cooper he has stopped using nicknames generally and voluntarily-almost like that Sawyer identity is finished.

    I have a different interpretation of Hurley/Charley and am curious what you all think.

    Given the last scene with Jack convinced they made a mistake leaving and need to return to the island and the unresolved nature of the rescue, I suggest Hurley is the heroic figure and Charley who, if not mock-heroic, is at least ambiguous.

    Hurley's actions save the lives of his friends and represent an act of confidence in his own abilities after being rejected by Charlie and Sawyer. He is also moderated and knows when to stop as when he rejects Sawyer's execution of Tom.

    Charlie's actions seem more ambiguous. Charlie's acts allow the phone call to be made but from the gloom of the flash-forward it's not clear that this was a good thing. Certainly Jack doesn't seem to think so. Neither do Locke or Ben.

    In addition, Charlie seems to have become caught up with the idea of becoming a hero. He seems to have traded the idea of following one system for another: from the system of Catholicism to the authority of heroin to Desmond's predictions. He almost seems elated at times in the Looking Glass. And Desmond's flashes aren't shown to us. This could be for dramatic purposes but it also puts us in Charlie's position.

    There are a variety of deaths and near deaths in the episode and this seems significant. Charlie's death in the communications chamber is not necessary as those who know their physics have shown. Therefore he chooses to die (perhaps in order to conform to D's vision). This is one of several self-sacrifices or near suicides in the episode: Jack on the bridge, what you describe as Mikhail's suicide bombing, Ben's unarmed solo trip to meet the Losties. These all seem to be playing off each other. M has an anarchist's name but decides to follow orders to maintain the system while Ben seems to be losing control and making bad decisions. Jack seems to have lost his purpose and I would argue Charlie dies so he can have one.

    Charlie turns away from Desmond to face drowning and crosses himself. This seems like a strange mixture with his Catholicism which frowns on suicide. It almost seems a hubristic attempt to sacrifice himself like a martyr or Jesus when it isn't clear that this is God's will, only Desmond's. Charlie's willingness to die when he could escape seems especially egregious and contrasts with Mikhail who has been repeatedly "killed" but refuses to die or with Locke who rises from a literal grave.

    Also, didn't Ben use the words "by any means necessary" perhaps linking him to a division between violent/non-violent means to achieve a goal.

    Lesley May 28th, 2007 at 6:35 am

    Having watched the finale again last night I agree J, Saywer calls Hugo hero. I was also struck by the black and white theme in the funeral home and especially when the black funeral director set the vase of white roses on the table. Wikipedia provided some interesting information!

    "White Roses" is the 10th track on an album titled "Don't Be Afraid" by Information Society. All the track names are interesting (such as "Empty", "Closing In 2.0", "On the Outside 2.1"). The "White Roses" track it seems, sounds like 55 seconds of modem noise. When decoded it reveals clues for an internet scavenger hunt to collect 16 files that when put together make up the song. The song is described as a "dark synth and acoustic guitar...with an overt Alice in Wonderland theme of delusion and disorientation". The wiki entry provides the following website for information and a recording of the song (

    Lesley May 28th, 2007 at 6:43 am

    Here are the lyrics to White Roses:

    Do you feel small
    Do you feel like nothing
    Do you feel like you're wasting your time

    Can you stand sunlight
    Do you feel too much
    How will you know when you're broken

    But you know that the fear you feel
    Comes back this time each day
    And you know if you live a thousand years in silence
    You'll still feel this way

    Can you see home
    Can you see tomorrow
    Can you see the sun anymore

    Do you walk the world
    Waiting to be discovered
    Do you want
    What they said you can never have

    And you know that her tears were taken
    And cooked up for the queen
    But you will never find her now
    She's gone and her trail is far too clean

    And every single moment feels like everything is wrong
    And everything around you says that this is not your home
    And everybody else just seems to be already there
    And you can't get from here to there
    Without some sort of help you've never seen

    It's the white roses
    It's a spinning sky
    It's a field with the sun in your eyes

    And do you ask yourself for help
    To get you through the day
    And when you're on the street you find
    The world's moving away
    Spend all day under water
    Spend all night curled in a ball
    And when you're all alone what reason
    Can you see for trying at all

    Miss Gretchen May 28th, 2007 at 8:20 am

    Lesley, it's funny you bring up that band, as last week I mentioned in passing a song called "Dark Companion" and I later learned that many internet sites list this song incorrectly as being by Information Society. It is not, it is a song by Tuxedomoon, and on their greatest hits CD "Solve et Coagula." I can't determine if Information Society did a cover, or what. . .

    I haven't had a moment to really try to articulate thoughts on the Minkowski time vs or in addition to parallel worlds, or more mundane theories; in part because I'm not such a "puzzle person," especially when I have very little information with which to speculate. Perhaps I'll watch the episode again.

    But one place I can jump in is where AJ above talks about Charlie. I've complained about mysteries in the show, but one place where I am in full support of ambiguity, is in the idea of "what is heroic" or "how does a person know what is the right thing to do." Because of my own spiritual beliefs, I think that you can do what you think is right, and then later when you "meet St. Peter at the pearly gates" you can find out it was selfish or actually harmed others, etc. So that only through a lifetime of self-development, whether a moral system out of secular humanism, or through a path of spiritual development, can one hope to become "Uebermensch" enough to even have a glimpse of what is the Right Action.

    Right Action, BTW, is one of the Eighfold Paths. If one develops along this path, then one is developing the 16 petal lotus flower, the throat chakra. 16 is not only one of our precious numbers, but if one is able to develop along this path, then according to Buddhism, one is able to realize one of the Four (another in the number series) Noble Truths, and therefor the cessation of suffering (and incarnation.) I like how the show's scientific explanation and also perhaps the motivation of the original Dharma Initiative, as JMP talks about above (thanks for your great descriptions of Le Guin JMP!) might be a kind of physical manifestion of this spiritual principle. It also may be a kind of psychological profile underpinning for what the characters go through. Plus, back to show iconography, any kind of eight pointed star would fit in with this model.

    So, to get back to Charlie, I think everyone who watched the episode wondered, "are you doing "the right thing" Charlie?" As far as the mythic persona of the hero, I read an interesting article on a political prisoner in another country where his sister paints a psychological profile of just such a person, one who is motivated more to be a hero rather than motivated by principle. And going back to talking about karma, the thing which really struck me about Charlie's "death," was how when he was ostensibly drowned, he lay back and appeared to be "on the nod." I don't know if it was meant to look that way, but I thought how profound it was showing, that karma is still there and must be paid for, even if a person "redeems" themselves later. This theme seems to resonate with Jack and our other Losties.

    PS TheBookPolice and Lain, it was funny that you mentioned Spock as I was trying to remember what that scene at the window reminded me of, and the sick thing is I was sitting with a rental copy of The Wrath of Khan I had gotten for the kids for the weekend. But when I gave it to them to watch, I forgot that he does not regenerate in this movie, but the next one, so there were some tears for the death of beloved Mr. Spock. Oops.

    SYael May 28th, 2007 at 11:21 am

    If this has been suggested previously, I apologize for the repetition,

    Since so far we've seen no evidence that the island's regenerative
    powers extend to bringing someone fully back to life, that kills (no
    pun intended) that explanation for Mikhail's apparent invulnerability.

    My guess: we're not seeing the same Mikhail. Since the island is
    apparently the nexus for alternate universes, what we're actually
    seeing is Mikhails from different realities.

    OR, Mikhail is some sort of incarnation created by Jacob (who seems to be trapped between realities) to
    keep the various realities separate ... to keep them from merging
    through selected applications of chaos/anarchy. Mikhail Bakunin is
    considered one of the fathers of anarchy, after all.

    JMP May 28th, 2007 at 1:06 pm

    P. McGinley,

    Thank you for the tip on the PBS adaptation of LoH. My used paperback copy of the book was published around that time and, indeed, Bruce Davison plays Orr! I suppose one could chalk it up to coincidence, but given the fact that Davison played (plays?--perhaps we haven't seen the last of him) a psychiatrist on Lost I believe the producers know exactly what they are doing.

    Given this exiciting reference, I believe that there is another doubling/mirroring going on between Hurley and Desmond. Given the absolutely startling revelation regarding Hurley's character from the last two seasons (i.e. that he may be effectively imaging all of LOST in his head), I found it a bit odd that he was almost non-existant this season (or rather he seemed to revert to the "aw-shucks-I'm-just-the-jolly-fat-guy-who's-everybody's-friend" character). However, given the connections between Hurley's story and the LeGuin book I now think that Hurley and Desmond fulfill the same role on the show: to determine the past and present from the island. For Hurley it was his relationship to the numbers that manifested his ability to alter reality--his own watermark or genetic code that let's him know what has been altered.

    Now, I know there has been much discussion on the meaning of the number sequence, as well as much discussion of the fact that the numbers seem to be a red herring for the plot. Yet, the numbers function as a red herring the same way Hitchock's McGuffin does: they may be empty in and of themselves but essentially give birth to the story (ies) of/on the island. Hence the constant (and, frankly, occationally annoying) discussion regarding Hurley's luck, fate, etc., which often falls into the rather pointless philosophical "paradox" of free will vs. determinism.

    Thus, in this season Hurley's function as creator/dreamer is taken over by Desmond who certainly seems more adept at using this power. Whereas, Hurley seems to have a George Orr like passivity towards his own role in shaping the futures of those on the island (it will take nothing short of having himself killed to get Hurley to "wake up"), Desmond lucidly sees his role in shaping the past and the future and effectively seeks to change it, whereas Hurley (so far at least) has refused to acknowledge it.

    Okay, that's it. We should all collectively take over one of those "Lost and Philosophy" volumes that are being written/dreamt up right now.

    Jennifer Wicke May 28th, 2007 at 1:55 pm

    A small comment to add to Joley's magisterial blogging this season, and to the exceptional community of commentary that interlaces his: isn't Charlie's band's hit single a key to his status as a sacrificial figure or putative hero in this final episode? As a song lyric "you are everybody" seems less than sheer poetry, but as a metaphysical-cum-political notion the line really rocks: "you"--which could be Charlie, or any of us, or perhaps the Island--"are" in the sense of Dasein, existence--"everybody"--the whole is represented in the individual fragment, the ritual death undertaken for all, etc. In Joyce's Finnegans Wake the key character whose wake it is, HC Earwicker, is otherwise or also known by a play on the initials as "Here Comes Everybody." Somehow in the Looking Glass episode Charlie has to break out singing his band's song as a feint to distract his guards from hearing Desmond's watery arrival; he shouts out "you are everybody" with the gusto of his former rock singer self, yet this time the lyric also points to the inner meaning of the phrase, one of those instances of a seemingly pop cultural "throwaway" that in the fullness of the moment achieves mystical grace.

    TinaMc May 28th, 2007 at 4:16 pm

    Regarding Mikhail. When Ben said, "I thought you were dead" he replied, "Unfortunately the pylons were not set to a lethal level."

    Sarcasm? Or was he disappointed?

    koolmoeb May 28th, 2007 at 4:35 pm

    J -- I'm no physicist, but I think Minkowski space is another way of expressing the concept of spacetime. We already live in a four-dimensional universe; general relativity explains how space and time are connected, and time's arrow is still very much in effect. I don't think coupling time with 3-D space would allow backward and forward actions, since you're still limited by special relativity. However, in quantum mechanics there doesn't seem to be a distinction between past and future, and that's partly why it's been so difficult to reconcile it with relativity.

    I'm leaning toward the idea that the anomaly that brought down the plane, or the purple-sky event, opened the door to a slightly different universe. That's why Ben didn't want his own people to communicate with the outside world. That's why Jack referenced his drunken father. That's also why Jack said he's sick of the lying. After all the time he spent trying to come to grips with his relationship with his father, whom he thinks is dead, imagine seeing him alive and well -- and then dealing with that every day. That could certainly knock what few marbles he had left loose. He knows they have to go back to the island to make things right.

    Tresbien May 28th, 2007 at 6:53 pm

    I strongly encourage anyone who did not participate in The Lost Experience to watch the Hanso Exposed video on youtube. Alvar Hanso explains the purpose of The Dharma Initiatve and the meaning of the numbers. I think this may be central to what's to come in season four, the military action Ben writes about in his journal.

    Miss Gretchen, your comment about meeting St. Peter at the Pearly Gates reminded me of Mitch Albom's novel "The Five People You Meet In Heaven" as it's about the myriad ways our lives affect others in ways we don't understand. This week's scenes with Jack illustrate this well. There he was on the bridge about to commit suicide when he was seen by another driver who then lost control of her car and crashed. He saved her and her son and enabled him to begin to regain his sense of purpose. Jack needs to find himself again because there's something important for him to do back on a mysterious, hard-to-locate island.

    Lain May 29th, 2007 at 6:34 am

    I wonder if Jack's fate is already sealed. But maybe it's a case of him sacrficing not his living life to save others, ala Charlie, but sacrificing a life worth living to save others. What if at the end of it all, everyone gets what they need, everyone except Jack? If Jack's life of eternal torment is the price that must be paid in order for the rest of our Losties to live good and happy lives, would that not be heroic of him in the end?

    On Hurley and the Numbers: One of the numbers of the Valenzetti equation must be changed to save humanity. Maybe that number has to be changed throughout time and space? Maybe it's a number in Minkowski space, a part of the univeral CSS file. In this conceit, Desmond has access to the CSS files.

    What would happen if he changed one of the numbers? Well, Hurley wouldn't have won the lottery, and his life wouldn't have gone down the toilet... Or maybe he would have won the lottery without his life going down the toilet!

    Miss Gretchen May 29th, 2007 at 8:28 am

    Prof. Wicke, thank you for your illuminating comment. As a long-time rock groupie, I'm always inclined to read big meaning into simple pop songs (I have played my 45 of "Good Vibrations" all week; notwithstanding that no one thinks of this as a simple pop song.)

    Tresbien, thanks for the link, I refuse in principle to do "extra credit" work for Lost but if someone else does the work for me, I'll spend 6 minutes watching. ;-) I guess I'd better woolgather today and post some thoughts and thank yous, as there won't be any new post this Thursday. . .

    (PS Since "deathbed reading" is tangentially related to Lost, I'll just flat out ask Prof. Wicke and J my burning question: is there one book about, or an annotated version of, Joyce's "Finnegan's Wake" which I could read, where if I read it beforehand, I wouldn't spend my entire deathbed time hopelessly confused?)

    zot May 29th, 2007 at 9:41 am

    Jennifer: about the song that Charlie's band sings, the line is actually "you all everybody" And per the producers, it's an inside joke: it comes from an episode of the old Phil Donahue show...and the producers would crack eachother up saying it while filming the pilot (I think the next line is "acting like the stupid people wearing expensive clothes") to amuse themselves they had that be what Driveshaft's hit song was.

    That doesn't change your analysis, which I think is interesting. But, for me, it shows the problem of all such analyses for Lost. Do the intentions of the creators matter when doing such an analysis?

    Obviously, many argue that in art, the intention of the artist might not matter, once they put that art out into the world. I see the point...but I'm more pursuaded by that argument when you talk about a static piece of art (movie, novel, etc.). But Lost will eventually become static once the series ends. So where that leaves us....

    susan May 29th, 2007 at 9:53 am

    Surely, with such a focus on detail, it's not an accident that the writers had Charlie cross himself BACKWARDS and with the wrong hand? No Catholic would do it this way unless they only had one functioning hand. So there must be a reason for if?

    calvirt May 29th, 2007 at 10:20 am

    On a lighter note... I thought it was a nice "nod to Charlie by Kate" during the scene of the Lostie's on the cliff - after Sayid, Bernard and Jin have their "shoot out" on the beach. It's night time and looks breezy and during the whole scene Kate has the hood-up on her sweat shirt. The camera shots make a point of showing this!!! Thanks J for all your time and effort in putting this great blog together.

    Miss Gretchen May 29th, 2007 at 10:21 am

    All your base are belong to us.

    guy May 29th, 2007 at 10:23 am

    Miss Gretchen: check out Joseph Campbell's A Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake.

    nutmeg May 29th, 2007 at 11:27 am

    Question regarding Jack's addiction to the pain killer Oxycodone. Isn't Oxycodone usually prescribed for those suffering back pain after surgery?

    Could Jack, the spinal surgeon, have hurt his back getting off the island? Could Jack have done something cowardly (having no spine?) to get off the island? Was the weight of leading the Lostaways too heavy a burden for Jack to bear, causing his pain?

    Mike May 29th, 2007 at 12:41 pm

    Mikhail needed scuba gear to reach the station because he was coming from the shore, not from a boat above the station, like Charlie and Desmond.

    Phutatorius May 29th, 2007 at 1:08 pm

    Miss G: You could also check out "Joyce's Book of the Dark" by John Bishop (Univ. of Wisconsin Press, 1986). I must admit I've never gotten through it, but it sits in my bedroom bookcase, looking fascinating in its handsome black covers.

    Halfs May 29th, 2007 at 3:13 pm

    Maybe I am a heroin addict, but I feel like the point of Charlie dying in the final episode was to show the evolution of his character....

    Why is this 4th dimension of time and space theory floating around, bc of Charlie's swimming and Kate's Freckles?

    Is it that hard to believe that the self serving Charlie would lie about being able to swim into the ocean? I am pretty sure at that time (which has already been altered multiple times, right?) CHARLIE IS A STRUNG OUT DRUGGIE.

    By the end of this season Charlie has accepted his fate, and believes that in order to save Claire he has to get to the looking glass station. Charlie's dialoge in the Looking Glass with Bonnie and Clyde is some of the best of the season. Why? Because he is convinced that it is his fate to reach the station and save Claire.

    So what if Charlie can't swim, or if he lies about being a champion swimmer, or if he can't hold his breath for 4 minutes. We have proven Charlie a liar, why must one sentence in Season one be true to make this theory of back to the futuresque space time continuum theory fit?

    Charlie makes it to the station because that was his fate according to Desmond's flash. He would have sprouted wings and flown there if thats what needed to happen.

    Desmond has saved Charlie from death multiple times, why didn't Kate's freckles disappear after the lightning strike, or after Claire's drowning rescue.

    I am sorry, but if the time theory works, then all the flashbacks in season one through 3 have or haven't happened multiple times and no longer exist as we have seen them. What's the point in that?

    hjortron flicka May 29th, 2007 at 3:30 pm

    "There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm." Willa Cather

    Quite a finale! The comments about Mikhail's nine lives made me think about Santa Lucia (referenced in the episode with flashbacks about Kate when she went by "Lucy.") In Sweden, Sankta Lucia day is observed as a way to welcome back the return of the light (the nights become shorter and the days longer around Dec. 13), and the story goes like this: the original Lucia was betrothed to an Italian Prince whose father-in-law disapproved of her desire to share her wealth with the poor of the community--she disobeyed his direct order and distributed many of the wedding gifts she received but didn't need, and consequently her father-in-law ordered that she be burned at the stake because she was disobedient. But though she was tied to a stake and a fire lit, the flames refused to touch her. Then, he ordered a group of sharp shooters to kill her with bows and arrows. To no avail--all the arrows deflected off her body. Finally, the father-in-law commanded that a soldier drive a spear into her heart, and this did her in. But Santa Lucia was a "good" person, rather than one who was blindly obedient, and this is why it was so hard to kill her. Mikhail? He does not seem to be unambiguously a "good" guy. He also seems to be not overly driven by a sense of duty/obedience, which was a theme explored in this final episode. The anarchists I've known have been fiercely principled people; what Mikhails' principles are we don't really know yet. I wonder what is behind his incredible survivability?

    Alas, the time has come to bid you all farewell, this being the last week of the Season 3 Lost blog with J Wood on this great website!

    Love you, Powell's! (I am pro-Powell's, since it is an independent bookseller, and am decidely anti the other online bookstore; I'm sure you all know the one I'm referring to--support independent's whenever possible! Independent booksellers are so important in a democracy, and Powell's is vital when it comes to the viability of small presses!) Thank you, Powell's!

    Dear J Wood; I know I'm not the only one who's smitten. Your groupies are now legion! You are wonderful--if you ever teach an on-line course, on any topic, I'd like to take it. (I bet there are others on this blog who would, too.) You are a wonderful teacher/writer/speaker--last night, I spent quite a bit of time going through the Garrett County Press news page looking up interviews you've done/other places you've lent your expertise re: Lost--this is how I learned you are also a good speaker! You are an excellent, clear, original thinker and also unusually reflective and respectful in the way you listen to/respond to others. It is bigger than you, but your example and ministrations are what created the foundation for the on-line community that has evolved on this blog during the last few months. Thank you for all you've done to challenge and inspire the lively exchanges on this blog. It's also nice that you are such a modest fellow and that you have a sense of humor. I'm only sorry there wasn't more overt political commentary, because you are very sharp in this arena, too. (I visited the Wafaa Bilal site you referenced in the "Greatest Hits" week's posting--people, check this out, it is VERY sobering...)

    Sister/brother commenters: Thanks for all your input and contributions. An impressive, inquiring, fun and astute bunch--it is an honor to be able to participate with you all. I was so happy to see janet in venice back this week--you are always sage; the Rorshack inkblot fold concept was brilliant! And, the idea of sharing titles for summer reading last time, is great, Miss Gretchen: thanks to you, too!

    So, J Wood: surely you know that you've got lots of fans and we'd love to be able to join you again next season in Lost blog-land. Will you have the time and the inclination to do this again when Season 4 rolls around? Powell's would you be willing to host another Lost blog with J Wood? Please say yes!

    Hoping for an affirmative reply...many, many thanks.


    hjortron flicka

    Tresbien May 29th, 2007 at 4:34 pm

    Halfs, I'm also having trouble with the whole Charlie dying situation today. If the universe course corrects itself, wouldn't Claire and Aaron be saved some other way if Charlie didn't die? It concerns me that Charlie didn't simply flick a switch as Desmond said but instead had to use the keypad to input a song. I can understand why they didn't show Desmond's flash for dramatic purposes, but I'm not sure that's the only reason. I hate to question Desmond's intentions but I do.

    And, Susan, that was a great catch of Charlie crossing himself backwards with the wrong hand. Perhaps that was just an error like the lostaways walking along the beach in different directions.

    I'm all questions and no answers today!

    CPT May 29th, 2007 at 4:51 pm

    A couple of issues not yet touched upon . . .
    Why did Desmond try to stop Charlie from diving in at the last minute? Probably because he lied to him again. As someone noted, we did not see Desmond's flash, although we did see it come true to a certain extent (yellow flashing lights and switch). What else would compel Desmond to send Charlie down? Desmond probably also foresaw contact with Penelope. In a previous episode, we know that Desmond had considered sacrificing Charlie to get news from Penelope. Desmond chickened out the last time (the whole Abraham/Isaac thing). This time Desmond tricked Charlie into complying by saying that Charlie's actions would save Claire and Aaron. At the last minute, Desmond again had second thoughts and tried to stop the sacrifice, but this time Charlie stopped Desmond from stopping him. Again, Desmond fell short of intentionally sacrificing Charlie. It remains to be seen if his intent was sufficient to prove his faith a la Abraham. Finally, if this theory is true, then the part about Claire and Aaron leaving by helicopter is untrue, which would allow for an abort of the "rescuers" next season. This last scenario is consistent with Desmond's prior flashes which do not reach too far into the future. Did Charlie die in vain? Does it matter? He died for what he believed was a noble cause, which is likely sufficient.
    The other issue is whether Ben really wanted Jack to call the ship off-shore. We know that Ben has previously lied to Jack to get him to do things. Certainly Ben knows how to pull strings and knew that just pleading for Jack to do something would not get him to do it. (By the way, perhaps Ben is a Sicilian because death is on the line). It would certainly seem that Ben and Locke would not want the same thing at this point, i.e. the boat. Locke certainly was sincere when he tried to prevent the contact, but Ben . . . we don't know. This must also tie into Ben's earlier comment to Alex that the Losties "can't" leave the island. Does he mean they physically can't, or they can't because he needs them, or they can't because they must first fulfill some purpose. In any regard, Ben certainly knows who is on the ship, and whether he played Jack like a fiddle again is certainly clearly within the realm of possibilities.

    Nick in SF May 29th, 2007 at 9:01 pm

    Quick point of correction to CPT, Ben doesn't say that the Losties can't leave, he says that HE can't LET them leave. The exchange goes:

    Alex: Why won't you just let them leave?

    Ben: Because I CAN'T, Alex.

    This doesn't clarify why he can't, but it makes me wonder once again, did Ben really let Michael and Walt go? If so, why could he let them go and not the rest of the Losties? And, had Locke not blown up (or faux blown up) the sub, would Ben have really let Jack and Juliet go home?

    On the question of whether Ben actually wanted the Losties to contact the ship, it's my opinion that he really didn't. He told Richard that he was setting out expressly for the purpose of talking them out of it. He instructed Mikhail to kill Charlie (and Bonnie and Greta) to ensure that the Looking Glass would still jam the signal. Also, he arranged the deception about shooting Sayid, Jin, and Bernard, as his last bargaining chip to get the phone from Jack. And, finally, he screamed at Locke to shoot Jack so that he wouldn't complete the call to the ship.

    On the question of Desmond's vision and whether he might have been manipulating Charlie, we still don't know, but, assuming that his flashes occured more or less as he described them, the final part of the vision -- Claire and Aaron climbing into a helicoptor -- may be accurate. But the way he described it -- as their rescue -- could very well be a wrong assumption on his part. That assumption would have made sense when he thought that Naomi was working for a group sent by Penny. But if Naomi was really sent by the real "bad guys", all bets are off.

    One final note: just as Charlie was able to warn Desmond that is was "not pennys boat", he also communicated to Penny that he was among the survivors of flight 815, that they were on an island, and that the island was in the same location as Desmond.

    zot May 29th, 2007 at 10:09 pm

    Miss Gretchen--"All your base are belong to us."????

    I had to Google that (which took me to wikipedia) to know what in the world that meant...

    Oh and and let me add my voice to thank Joley Wood for this great blog. Hope you'll be doing it again for season 4.

    BrightGuy May 30th, 2007 at 6:34 am

    I also re-watch it last night w/ Closed Caption turned on. Sawyer did say "Stay in the bus, HERO".
    Another thing that stood out was Jack saying to Kate, "I thought YOU would be there" at the funeral.
    Thanks to J for this look into Lost. I feel it is on of the best, if not the BEST sites on the subject. I am just sorry I found it so late in the season. I will have to "Go Back" to catch up on what I missed earlier this season.
    I love the hole "It's A Wonderful Life" thing. Could we possibly see what Island Life would have been like without some of the key "Heroes"?
    Has any one thought that when to guy at the Funeral Parlor asked, "Friend or Family" and Jack said neither, it is because it is Jack that is dead and that is why he said not to open the casket?
    My top 5 people that no one would go see dead:
    - Ben
    - Sawyer
    - Locke
    - Richard
    - JACK
    Well. see you all in February

    Miss Gretchen May 30th, 2007 at 9:09 am

    Zot, sorry to be so confusing. It was a multi-layered joke which got thinned out, (very thin!) in the layering process.
    The first part of my allusion was that I actually stole the jibe from another Lost board, this guy darkufo I think he's called? has a site where he posts lots of screen caps etc. So after the finale he posted a sound file of The Whispers Locke heard when he was in the pit and saw Walt. People on the site then began to comment as to what they heard the whispers say; there were some very different interpretations, some heard two voices, people were putting the file in ProTools to hear it better, there was some bickering (which is why I can only read a moderated blog like this one, thanks Powells!) and then someone, to break the tension, wrote in "I heard 'All your base are belong to us.'" It really made me laugh.
    So, even if you didn't happen to follow that on another board, the other part of my allusion, has to do with internet memes. As you saw on Wikipedia, that phrase blossomed and grew into not only a piece of slang but to mean all kinds of things. So what I mean to say, is that if lots of us watching the show think the song goes "you are everybody," then part of the metaLost Experience might in future be known to include that meme as a bit of "truthiness." I think that when the show is over and someone wants to experience Lost, they will not only watch the box sets of DVD (or downloads, or whatever the medium is) but as well will have to get one or more books, or collections of posts from message boards, in order to really re-live the metaLost.
    (If you want to really learn the insanity of fandom as well as the nuttiness of internet slang, look up [my hed is] "pastede on" [yay!] at -- it even has a Lost one degree of separation as the subject is our own Dominic Monaghan.)
    (PS Speaking again of music, I asked my resident psychedelic rock expert about Geronimo Jackson and he assured me it was a spoof -- I see that someone at the show has a copy of "Fuzz,Acid, and Flowers!")

    Mrs. Friendly May 30th, 2007 at 9:33 am

    J -

    Des hacking fate's CSS file ... brilliant, really.

    Thanks so much for your insights into the show.

    CPT May 30th, 2007 at 9:35 am

    (Thanks Nick in SF for well-taken corrections)
    Like many, I'm sure, I have begun reading your "Living Lost." Is there somewhere we can discuss this?
    One HUGE point that I'm sure you noticed is your reference on page 100 of "Living Lost" to the paragraph halfway through "Bad Twin" (on page 130). I won't rehash it all, but it provides in part, "You're hurtling toward the solution - and you realize you've still got half the book to go. . . . Turns out that, halfway through the book, the thing is solved with airtight reasoning -but the solution just happens to be wrong. . . . Turns out there are OTHER references, other deductions that are equally correct. So the second half of the book UNDOES the first half, puts the pieces back togehter, and solves the crime even more brilliantly. It's a masterpiece."
    It sounds familiar to our point now halfway through the series, no? Although "Bad Twin" may not have offered many insights thus far, perhaps this is the turning point. If so, how else does the "Bad Twin" advise us to re-interpret the clues already provided? Returning to my current pet theory, can we possibly re-interpret former flashbacks as potential flashforwards?

    J Wood May 30th, 2007 at 9:57 am

    Quick answer to "Will this blog keep going?" Yes. I'll be writing again here when the season starts again next February, so watch this space. And I'll post other blog info in a bit.

    JMP: On Ursula LeGuin -- I don't really know the texts, and her work may be good summer homework. But I think Miss Gretchen mentioned the Lathe of Heaven in a previous post's comment.

    Zach: It would still have been Charlie who was supposed to die in the Looking Glass. Des's flashes just allow him to see beyond the immediate space (and remember, if space and time are caught up with each other, if Des sees the future, he's seeing beyond both a immediate space and time). When Des saved Charlies from, say, the lightning bolt, he didn't just change the future, he re-arranged all the playing pieces, so Charlie is still the same Charlie. Charlie just didn't make it to that spacetime when he would have been zapped, and by altering that part of spacetime, Des (unknowingly) altered all of it.

    This leads to another question about Des -- how does he get this supra-human view of spacetime? And do others have this ability? Does Ben?

    I wouldn't worry yet about Minkowski space being a cop-out. It's not like parallel worlds or time lines -- it's just one world, and one that is malleable. The cop-out would be if you always had an "alternative world" escape valve. This, however, is solidly one world. That actually makes it a little more difficult for the writers, because any changes have to be accounted for -- there's no saying "well, it's a parallel time line, so..." Actually, I think this move in itself will be the latest step in the game with the audience -- an extension of "The Lost Experience." And that game will consist of us following these subtle alterations and tracking their significance.

    (DeborahD, nice mirror twinning grab -- absolutely right.)

    Chris T: I didn't bring up poker in this post, mainly because Carroll's book is about chess. But "Alice in Wonderland" dealt with cards, and we've seen Jack take Sawyer in poker. That game (especially the bluffing) is always present.

    Late Bloomer: There's quite a bit about electromagnetism both in the book and in some of the prior posts here. In brief, you need a massive amount of electromagnetism to power a superconductor, and with a superconductor you can run experiments that have lead to and proved theories like Minkowski space. We'll get back to electromagnetism eventually, but the way things are turning out, it makes me wonder if part of the DI's/Others experiments were about finding ways to manage/manipulate spacetime. After all, it'd be a way to buy some time if you haven't yet cracked the Valenzetti Equation.

    Jeff: With the 30th anniversary of Star Wars now upon us, how many more references do you think we can get? Maybe they'll reach 2007 by the end of the series and the characters will be talking about that themselves. And Jin will pull some of the Lostaways from a Dharma trash compactor.

    Garry -- or someone -- can you explain the golden pass/American Idol thing? I confess, I've never seen an episode of American Idol (personal quirk), but given the wallpaper coverage it gets, I don't think I need to. But I want to know about this golden pass thing. Is it a pass a bad singer gets on the show?

    Mark: Des may warn the others off the copters *if* he makes it back. We still don't know what Bakunin is up to.

    I don't think we're really dealing with parallel universes. Locke lost his legs a couple times on the island, and there's already been allusions to Watchmen and Dr. Manhattan, which brings us back to Minkowski space. And the guy on the freighter who answered the sat phone with "Minkowski." But as some of the other comments say (and I understand some may feel one way, some the other about this), parallel universes/parallel time lines may be *too* easy an answer. It's been a long time since I read The Stand, but I remember feeling cheated at the end when the "hand of god" knocks out the missiles. Talk about your cop-out deus ex machinas. But one thing Lost has managed to do so far is to play against expectations, take us down one road, and whip us around to someplace else. (Like the way they toyed with the notion of Christian sleeping with Jack's wife after people spent the summer discussing that online.) Given the track record, I think they'll go with the more difficult solution and present it in a way that makes sense (at least withing the show).

    And I'm willing to bet the "J" was "Jeremy Bentham" before it was me, but it's a nice thought. Hell, I was absolutely *thrilled* they said "Minkowski" in the finale after it was already brought up here and at EW.

    Sandra: One of the funny things they did with the numbers, once they seemed to take on a cultural life of their own among the fans, was use them in the narrative all over the place, and they're especially noticed by Hurley. It's a mirror-twin of our own experience with the show; we invested a lot of effort into parsing those numbers before they were explained, and that gave the numbers a lot more potency than they originally had. But it plays well with the dynamics of paranoia that are operating in the narrative, and we're also demonstrating that dynamic (and they're now feeding it). It's kind of like conspiracy theorists who make one connection and then see it everywhere; I recently saw one theory that the letter K was originally a sigil for a serpent, and the individual then went on to associate every tribe that had a hard "k" sound in their name with serpent tribes, including Native American tribes who didn't use our alphabet. It was a model of paranoid over-reading, and since we already demonstrated that with the numbers, I get the sense that our paranoid over-reading is being toyed with a bit. But that also serves to keep the paranoid tension in the show ramped up, so it has a function. And who knows, they may recuperate them because of the audience investment.

    Janet: Have you read Watchmen? There's a main character named Rorschach who wears a constantly-changing ink-blot mask. He's a vigilante, his mind snapped, and he has a violently black/white view of the world. But the image of the Rorschach test as a model for the narrative is dead-on; you get the mirroring aspect and the reflection of the perceiver's (our) own projections.

    Funny you mention DNA; I was explaining the CSS idea to someone who doesn't code web pages, and compared coding to DNA -- DNA is just a program. I saw something a few years ago about circuits being made in test tubes out of organic material. They looked like neural networks, but worked like regular computer circuits. Imagine if those things made it into production; let Moore's Law kick in, and pretty soon you have something exceedingly small and organic that is mirroring the programmatic functions of life at the cellular level.

    On Mikhail being indestructible: Liz and Jen at the Washington Post Lost blog brought up the figure of Rasputin, the 19th C. Russian occultist and political advisor to Czar Nicholas who JUST WOULDN'T DIE. When he was assassinated, it took enough cyanide to kill 10 dudes, they beat him, stabbed him, shot him, he still came back, and they finally drowned him under the ice of a river. The autopsy showed he died from hypothermia.

    It'd be interesting to find out Mikhail is a kind of super-solder, a Russian six-million-dollar man who was brought to the island as an experiment in testing the island's healing abilities.

    Jack as Jacob... interesting. I think that may be more plausible that Locke as Jacob, if only because I don't think Locke's profile matches Jacob's. The one thing people seem to be reluctant to believe is that Jacob may be his own person. I'm not sure what to think at this point (and I like it).

    Strange but true, we don't know the accuracy of Des's flash because we were left out. If Charlie wasn't supposed to die, maybe Des set things even more sideways. But then we have to ask what his motives were. What's more, we have to ask where that leaves us as an audience; do we just trust what Des says about his flashes?

    Lpalmer: Not sure if it was mentioned in this post or not (I didn't bring it up), but I've seen a few comments about the Dark Tower series. Did you know that Damon Lindelof has been tapped to write the scripts for the Dark Tower films?

    Thanks for the apocrypha links -- some nighttime reading. Agreed on Charlie being a liar and coward (at least early on), but I think we *do* have some direct evidence of the Minkowski space thing at play (including the name-drop). It might take some digging, but I wonder if there were any throw-away scenes in previous seasons where Charlie talks about his swimming prowess. What you said in your follow-up -- I'm with you there.

    DeborahD: The question you ask, about "first time," is the one that gets way beyond Lost and into our own existential understandings. That's the thing we really can't know; the science and mathematics points to an eternal now, but our heads have a hard time living in that. Meditate enough, or undergo some ritual to help you transcend, and you just might glimpse it, but its not our normal state of being. If knowing the eternal now is heaven, we're all fallen.

    On verisimilitude: Remember Charlie shut the door before Mikhail blew the portal, so that room was sealed off from the pressurized area. No doubt they're bringing in air from someplace, but you don't really need to pressurize it. We did this trick when I was a kid: Take a small boat out into a lake, capsize it upside-down, and pull it straight down to the bottom. An air pocket forms in the hull of the boat, and you can walk along the bottom and breathe (for a while). When I saw the moon pool, that's the first thing I thought of. (If you don't have a little dingy and a body of water, you can do the same trick with a big bucket.)

    As for guns in salt water, no idea. Hasn't James Bond done that too?

    *SINGAPORE! I hear Tom Waits singing already...*

    Phutatorius May 30th, 2007 at 11:39 am

    Well, if Bond did it then it must be okay. :-) But in my (limited) experience of guns and salt water and corrosion, if the things fired at all after salt water immersion, they'd certainly be prone to frequent jamming. I'll have to re-watch the finale to see when Charlie closes the compartment door. That would change things if he closed it before the porthole was breached.

    As to "all your base are belong to us," I was not aware of its provenance. It reminded me of the fractured English you see on those SPAM subject lines that you know you don't want to open - The ones that seem to come from marginally failed states in Africa.

    And, I'm glad to hear this blog will be back next season.

    Miss Gretchen May 30th, 2007 at 11:47 am

    OK! No Lost tonight, so I'd best wrap up. As to above posts, thanks so much guy and Phutatorius for your FW recommendations, I read so much Joseph Campbell back in the day but I'd completely forgotten he wrote about FW. I see both books you mention are available here at Powells. ;-) nutmgeg, re: oxycodone, it's not only for use after a surgery, a few years back doctors were encouraged to give housewives who'd broken their ankle many months worth of oxycodone, which prompted the scourge of rural areas known as "hillbilly heroin." But yes, good call in regards to Jack's possible spinal problems: one thought which comes to mind, is that a person can get a compression fracture of the spine from jumping from a certain height -- even though on TV Mannix (there, I show my age again) was always jumping from a second story window, sometimes a person can break their back that way (being able to walk around normally but then in constant pain.) Perhaps in that future, Jack had to jump from a helicopter etc. during the "rescue."

    Well, what to say about the finale. I guess I was glad that the ("good?") Grail Maiden (or "bad?" Flower-maidens -- I'm still on my "here time becomes space" Parsifal kick) who was so brutal to Charlie was not the one called Gretta. Thanks to J for your description of Minkowski space as a CSS sheet -- a very good analogy -- as well as your other thoughts on this episode. And thanks to other comments above who attempt to flesh out alternative ideas in regards to multiple timelines. I can't make a prediction as to how things will go -- I will say that yes, Kate at the end no longer had freckles, Jack's fake beard disturbed me throughout the episode, and I'd thought that Kate as well as some of the other Losties were looking "weird" or "plastic" in the past few episodes. At the end of the show, before I read this blog, I guess I thought that next season we would be "through the looking glass" and that most of the episodes would take place in the "modern" time and that the Island events, like the "rescue," would be in flashback. In my cynicism, I figured it would be cheaper for the production and I figured the actors were balking about how much time they were committing to the show on Hawaii. However, this prospect was a bit unappetizing to me and so I'm glad to see that many people assume we'll be back on The Island and seeing what happens after the phone call is made.

    Back in another lifetime, I watched that show "China Beach" -- wasn't the fourth and final season told in a kind of backwards time format? The beginning of their season four skipped ahead about 15 years, then each episode showed more of what happened during the intervening years, as well as an ongoing story progressing from the time of season 4 episode 1, until you saw in flashback what happened around the time season 3 ended. (did that make any sense whatsover?) This season of "China Beach" shows the characters trying to adjust to life "off the island." Not saying there will be direct parallels to Lost, just following a train of thought I'd had. . .

    I guess my problem with the Minkowski-scenario, is if it is like a CSS sheet, then *whew* talk about existentialism, what about all we just watched for the past three years? Was it for nothing? Why would anything in the future have anything to do with what we saw in the past? But, I think we can all agree, this would be dramatically untenable. The most I could say, is that for dramatic purposes the writers would have the new future comment on what we saw already, and having to do with themes of karma and redemption. As to multiple universes, I was working on a possible theory of this two weeks ago, but it became just too confusing, dramatically speaking. I tried to winnow it down to two possible universes, in a binary way, with The Island being some kind of place outside time and space of either (something like, since we were speaking of the Tree of Life, the Ain, the Ain Soph, and the Ain Soph Aur.) But I'm just not sure.

    Aspects of The Mysteries which I like: I enjoy it when they give clues that seem to indicate that the Losties are in some kind of eternal recurrence "Groundhog Day" kind of feedback loop, albeit one where unlike Bill Murray remembering his past, the Losties don't know it was they who programmed the Looking Glass code, or became Jacob, etc. (I love "Groundhog Day" so much I can't tell you.) Whether or not they follow up on this is OK with me; as one thing as I've said I enjoy about the show, is the presentation in dramatic form of metaphysical concepts we're all familiar with in our daily lives, like deja vu, or so-called "six degrees of separation." And any popular entertainment which can get people to think about questions of right and wrong is OK by me. In the past, I would watch an episode like "The Brig" and be very disturbed by responses I would read on blogs (not just this one) where viewers were so trigger happy to kill Cooper and I'd think to myself, "hello, do we live in a Civilization here or what?!" And then I'd wonder just what was the POV of the writers and whether I wanted to continue. But after reading the comments on "The Brig" of hjortron flicka and dharma bum (the post about O'Quinn breaking the fourth wall made my head explode like in "Scanners") at this blog, I'm more comfortable with the idea of the show's being the not only the Rorschach but, what would you call this metaphor -- the irritant in the oyster of people's consciences which can produce the pearl of transformed thoughts. (In other words, a viewer might initially think "kill him!" but then later be haunted by the death of Cooper and wonder "what would be the right thing to do?") And so thanks again to J Wood and to Powells, I hope this experience has been fruitful for you both, and to the other commenters, for providing "pearl-fodder." I might just rent season One to watch tonight!

    Phutatorius May 30th, 2007 at 12:14 pm

    Ditto to what Miss G. said about metaphysical concepts, dramatically presented. Desmond's eternal recurrence in the "Flashes" episode, which I thought was the best of the season, reminded me more than any of the movies or books which have been mentioned of P.D. Ouspensky's little novel "Strange Life of Ivan Osokin." First, it was about eternal recurrence, but beyond that it was about poor Ivan's agonizing over his missed opportunity to marry the girl. That's why he keeps wishing for a chance to go back and do it all over again. He's just certain he'll get it right this time. A bit like Desmond, and also perhaps a bit like Jack, given his distraught emotional state in the S3 finale.

    JK May 30th, 2007 at 12:57 pm

    What about the fact that the producers had hinted the fact that the tsunami would be portrayed on the show? Could it be that a team of invaders with a mix of hired guns and scientists (including Mr. Bentham perhaps) respond to Jack's call (and do pick up Claire and Aaron) only to have the ship wiped out by the tsunami and the helicopter return? This would leave the Lostaways and Others working together against these new villains.

    As for Charlie's swimming ability, I still believe he was just lying to make Jack feel more comfortable in letting him go. Also, regarding Kate's missing freckles - several of my family members HATE their freckles and spend much time and makeup covering them up - and we could clearly see that Kate was wearing make up in the flashforward.

    Regarding Mikhail - I tend to agree that he is the result of a Dharma experiment. Didn't one of projects on the Hanso Homepage refer to immortality?

    I truly hope the writers can live up to the expectations they have created with this finale. I am encouraged by their bold choices, but I am nervous b/c of the weak beginning to Season 3. As the Matrix sequels proved, it is easy to create great mysteries and possibilities, but it is far more difficult to draw them out to logical and entertaining conclusions.

    Miss Gretchen May 30th, 2007 at 1:41 pm

    Phutatorius, good call on the Ouspensky book. JK, I'm assuming that events on The Island next season _cause_ the tsunami. And yes, you mention The Matrix, earlier I'd mentioned The X-Files and Twin Peaks, and I finally realized that one reason I was so freshly bitter about such things is the recent po-mo copout ending of the Lemony Snicket series. So, let's just hope that the writers of Lost will aim higher because of these previous failures. (Frankly, I'd throw in the last book of His Dark Materials as well. But I digress and should probably have posted my snarky comment in the Brockman blog mentioning Pullman.)

    synchromystic May 30th, 2007 at 2:33 pm

    even it the coffin contains J Bentham (alias or otherwise), J Latham is a fascinating synch

    CW May 31st, 2007 at 9:57 am

    J Wood,

    I'm very glad to hear that you will be back next season.

    My question to you and the group here is about the date that the Losties are at in island time. A couple of episodes ago, it was December 22nd. Do you think there is any relevance that the timeline is now around Christmas Eve/Christmas Day? With all of the religious references, I would think Christ's birthday would be significant.

    I'm hoping you are still reading the comments here, even though were are a week out. I would love to know what you think on this question.

    Thanks again for your very interesting blog!

    Mrs. Friendly May 31st, 2007 at 10:07 am

    Dharma Bum,

    I’m tracking with you on the following:

    “I pointed out in a post for “The Brig” that Locke states, “Not anymore,” when James asks him if it is true that he was paralyzed. According to “Minkowski-Lost” thought, Locke was literally stating that he in fact was never paralyzed in the first place after the real Sawyer’s murder.”

    I was leaning in the same direction there … BUT … if that was in fact the case, how might we explain Locke’s apparent paralysis when he woke up in the pit (and struggled to reach the pistol)? Somehow I’ve always associated Locke’s paralysis with his moments of doubt or a lack of faith (in the Island’s ability to heal). A bit of encouragement from Walt, he rises from the pit faith and will renewed.


    “The looking glass station wasn't just a prop to move the plot along, it was also symbolic of the giant mirror twin of the first three seasons to the last three.”

    Wowser, great insight.

    Bill Fnord May 31st, 2007 at 12:24 pm

    About the references in the newspaper article Jack was holding in the finale and the Dark Tower Series by Stephen King. (WARNING: IF YOU HAVEN'T READ THE DARK TOWER AND PLAN TO- PLEASE STOP READING- SPOILER ALERT!)
    The very first shot in the first Season of Lost was of Jack's eye. Judging from the sudden "leap forward" in the timeline as well as the various references to altering timelines- is it possible the writers have just tipped their hats as to the final ending of the show?
    In the Dark Tower Series, Roland goes through the entire adventure only to get flipped back to the beginning of the first book after it is revealed he cannot "win" the Tower without a horn that he actually lost before the narrative begins. The story of the Dark Tower is the story of Roland trying to improve/avoid/fix the mistakes of his past attempt and move closer to the goal of finally truly saving the Dark Tower. It is directly implied that Roland has been through the loop of the story told in the books several times and we, the readers, are only getting a single iteration. For instance, as the "reboot" occurs at the end of the last book, Roland's newest lifetime finds him in possession of the horn (the assumption being that he'd leared enough to come one step closer to a final resolution to his story).
    I think Lost might be working on a simlilar track. Thus, it may turn out that Jack (or Kate- or really any of the characters) are trying to set the right combination of factors in motion so that everything "works out" in a way that prevents them all from looping back and starting over again? (In the Dark Tower, as in Lost, neither Roland, nor our Losties are aware this is what they are doing)
    Will the last shot of Lost be the same as the first shot? A close up of Jack's eye?

    Athanamar May 31st, 2007 at 12:32 pm

    It's my first time on this blog and I can say it's very interesting to "hear" what other people think about the fasinating world of Lost!

    Mr. Wood, I enjoyed your opening article very much. It opened a lot o perspectives for me.

    I' m sorry that I haven't red all the blog's messages but I' ve red more tha 70%. I'll continue after sharing some thoughts:
    Could we suppose that the funeral was Kate's? She was a wanted criminal. How else she would be free of that? Someone also inticated that Jack answered "either" and not "neither" when he was asked "Friend o family". That also expains to me the feeling of desper that led him at the edge of that bridge.

    There is also another character -exept Jacob of course - that is the most enigmatic: That lady that visited the other when Kate and Sawyer were still inside cages and was sth like a judge and talked with Ben about Juliette's "bad attitude" when she asked Jack to let Ben die on the operating table. Wasn't her also the lady in s3ep8 that revealed Des his future?
    Could she have sth to do do with Penny's father or even Liby that gave so easily her boat to Des?

    The mysteries are so many and there's also so much knowledge behind! I just wish that this plus a big amount of imagination gives 3 more great seasons...but , God, please, not more!

    Athanamar May 31st, 2007 at 1:17 pm

    It's my first time on this blog and I can say it's very interesting to "hear" what other people think about the fasinating world of Lost!

    I totally agree with what "Halfs" wrote on May 29th.

    I'll continue by sharing some thoughts:
    Could we suppose that the funeral was Kate's? She was a wanted criminal. How else she would be free of that? Someone also inticated that Jack answered "either" and not "neither" when he was asked "Friend o family". That also expains to me the feeling of desper that led him at the edge of that bridge.

    Maybe Jack made a deal with this Mon...sth that answered the superphone for him an her so the can return to civilization and then return with help.
    But they couldn't. And at the end he feels guilty. It's aweak theory, I know, but, then again, why not? At this season I am convinced that we are not watching a realistic show, artically speaking.

    There is also another character -exept Jacob of course - that is the most enigmatic: That lady that visited the others when Kate and Sawyer were still inside cages and was sth like a judge and talked with Ben about Juliette's "bad attitude" when she asked Jack to let Ben die on the operating table. Wasn't her also the lady that revealed Des his future when he wanted to buy the ring for Penny?
    Could she have sth to do with Penny's father or even Liby that gave so easily her boat to Des?

    The mysteries are so many and there's also so much knowledge behind from the side of the creators! I just wish that this plus a big amount of imagination gives 3 more great seasons...but , God, please, not more!

    Mr. Wood, I enjoyed your opening article very much. It opened a lot of perspectives for me.
    Thanks all for this great blog!

    Green Drake May 31st, 2007 at 6:35 pm

    10 Quick Observations - FWIW

    1. Mikhail said to Ben after Ben asked Mikhail to kill the Looking Glass hotties: How do I know you didn't say the same thing to them (Greta and Bonnie). Ben's response: IF I DID, YOU WOULD ALREADY BE DEAD BY NOW. This answer suggests Ben doesn't know Mikhail can survive death -- which seems at odd with what we would assume. (Ben and Mikhail seem close).
    2. At the funeral jack said in response to friend or family -- either. I have no idea what that means. But love to hear more on this.
    3. Where was Desmond's last flash that you all are talking about?
    4. Seasons biggest mystery: Richard. Just how old is he?
    5.Michael Emerson (Ben) has some of the toughest (and oddest)lines on television and he delivers them with ease. The mysterious narrative on the show and the producer's penchant for easter eggs seem to deprive the viewer of some damn good acting (Matthew Fox and Emerson).
    6.Okay this is stupid but maybe LOOKING GLASS episode is an ode to the one hit wonder 70s band. The irony of Charlie the one hit wonder dies in the looking glass.
    7. HOFFS/DRAWLAR Funeral Home - next time I see a weird name like this during the show...I need to pause the DVR and do an anagram search.
    8. J. Wood -- your the best. Thanks for the time and energy.
    9. Everyone who chimed in - Thanks - this is the most literate Lost forum around. 10. Many thanks!

    suzee50 May 31st, 2007 at 11:43 pm

    Did anyone notice the license plate number on Kate's car when she met the Doc at the airport. And who was she runni ng back to ? She made a direct statement about gettng back to "him" right away. Any info or am I just starting to see things?

    Phutatorius June 1st, 2007 at 8:29 am

    I paused the machine and re-listened several times to see whether Jack answered "either" or "neither" to the funeral directors query. "Neither" was the only response that seemed to make sense. I think it was Locke's funeral for several reasons. First Jack was neither friend nor family of Locke. But the thematic material of the S3 finale put Jack and Locke at odds in some important way, and Jack has apparently come to believe that Locke was right in the flashforward. This would create a link between Jack and Locke that is neither friendly nor familial. Second, Locke is old and has only one kidney. He'd be likely to precede the others in death. Third, Locke was socially isolated and was the person most likely to have had nobody attend his funeral.

    As to Jeremy Bentham (whose body, according to Herman Melville in Moby-Dick, "hangs for candelabra in the library of his executors") I think it's a red herring. It wouldn't be the first one the Lost viewers have had tossed to them.

    Lastly, I stand corrected regarding how the Looking Glass hatch would fill with water. Charlie closed the water-tight door before the grenade exploded.

    Tresbien June 1st, 2007 at 10:26 am

    suzee50, Kate's license plate number is 4QKD695 according to Lostpedia. I haven't seen anyone come up with a special meaning for it yet. Please let us know if you do.

    Athanamar, Ms. Hawking, the lady Desmond met at the jewelry store is not the same person as Isabel, "the sheriff" of the Others.

    Green Drake, you must not have played The Lost Experience because if you had you'd anagram every name you see! I think it all started with Gary Troup (Bad Twin author) being an anagram for purgatory.

    Susan June 1st, 2007 at 11:51 am

    It did sound like "either" to me, too, which, cryptically, could mean that Jack felt both friend and family to the deceased and so "either" was appropriate. My vote is for Locke, too, in the coffin. Jack's tears don't make sense for anyone else, unless it's Juliette--and the obit is for a man--or Michael, which is a reach becasue if the deceased was African-American, why did the guy at the funeral home give Jack a choice of answering "family"?

    Athanamar June 1st, 2007 at 12:39 pm

    Thank you Tresbien for making clear to me about Ms. Hawking, and Isabel!

    J Wood June 1st, 2007 at 1:34 pm

    I've been reading all along, but am the only staff working at my job over the summer, so I've been pretty busy. So here's me catching up.

    Charlie vs. Hurley as hero; Charlie couldn't have known that his actions would have negative results. This is *real* tragedy, like G.B. Shaw wrote about in St. Joan -- there's no Greek hamartia, it's people doing what they think is best, and it still ending up sideways. But was Charley trying to play the role of hero? He didn't announce to anyone that if he went through the Looking Glass that they'd all be rescued a la Desmond's flash. Any kind of hero-seeking ego was private, between him and Des, so you have to ask what the use is in seeking to be a hero if you're not around to bask in the glory. That's why I think Charlie just accepted anything and everything when he went down -- and why I called him a samurai; the samurai were trained to act as if death were already immanent, which freed them from anything that might hinder their actions. Whether Charlie's death was *necessary* or not isn't really the point -- for Charlie, it was absolutely necessary to conform to Desmond's vision, as you state.

    Been a long time since I heard Information Society, but I remember they were one of the first groups to play with the digital side of their CD's like that.

    Jennifer, leave it to you to take a pop song find how it can be a mystical experience. Whether the word is “are” or “all,” it doesn't change the reading all that much – Charlie is doing what he's doing for everybody else at that point. For a fairly selfish person throughout the first two seasons, he certainly does achieve a state of grace. What I like about this is how it plays with the argument developed here about how the audience is worked into the narrative – you, all, everybody. And the actor Dom Monaghan is about to leave the state of grace as an actor on that show and join the ranks of the rest of us. (Jennifer Wicke teaches English at the University of Virginia, and I've studied philosophy and literature with her in the past. She has an unparalleled grasp on the literary use of advertising – check out “Advertising Fictions: Literature, Advertisement, and Social Reading.”)

    Zot, this also gets to your question of if the intentions of a creator matter or not. According to the majority of critics, nope, they don't. I'm reading Michael Levitt's book on the Rhetoric of Modernist Fiction right now, and he says creators are often some of their own worst critics. The creator of something is kind of a social-historical channel, and its the critic's job to see how well the work expresses something about that social-historical moment. To assume the author's intentions are of utmost importance is what they call the “intentional fallacy.” (And I've read critics who argue the exact opposite.) But sometimes creators even offer bad info because they don't want intentions to drive a reading – a work should exist, they think, in order to generate audience response and imagination. Sam Beckett once told a French interviewer that he never read philosophy; Sam Beckett studied philosophy at Trinity College -Dublin. By offering the false response, Beckett managed to avoid offering any pat interpretations of his work, and left the interpretative possibilities open (although he would say what something wasn't if directly asked). I mentioned someplace earlier that I once interviewed Joe Sacco about his books “Palestine.” I noticed that when he lost his translator, the text boxes in the splash pages were arranged to form a question mark – so I asked him about it. He said he never saw that before, but he'd take credit for it.

    Sorry if I wasn't clear before about Minkowski space, but it is spacetime. Time's arrow is in effect at least in the way we experience it, but if time is space and all space is occurring at once, then all time is occurring at once. Again, just from the literary allusion point of view, this was also a major component of Watchmen.

    Let me see if I can add a bit to the Finnegans Wake syllabus: Campbell's book is a good starter. I was dang lucky, and had the chance to read the Wake with Joyce scholar David Hayman at the University of Wisconsin. Two of his books may be a bit scholarly for an introduction, but are very useful for understanding how the book is structured -- "A First-Draft Version of Finnegans Wake" and "The Wake in Transit." Hayman developed a theory of thematic nodes that underlies the various parts of the chapters and create a kind of narrative webwork across the book. There's slso "Narrative Design in Finnegans Wake" available at Google Books, but it's a limited preview.

    Susan: Nice catch on the reverse-cross. What might that mean? It almost looked like the film was reversed.

    As far as Jack being hooked on back medicine, it might just be because as a spinal surgeon he has access to oxycodone. Kind of like dentists who have access to ether. (Do they still?)

    NIck in SF: What your saying about Ben also suggests he may have Desmond's ability, but has control over it.

    CPT: Right on with "Bad Twin." I never really thought "Bad Twin" was supposed to be a good story or reveal secrets about the narrative, but was more instructional on how to read the narrative. And in light of recent events and the flash-forward that makes everything else look different in retrospect, I think "Bad Twin" may have more to say that it did last summer. That doesn't excuse the air of Don Johnson hanging over the last 70 pages. The book itself doesn't jump ahead like we saw in Lost, but it does double-back on itself thematically and undo itself (which is why many wondered if Paul Auster was the ghost writer).

    By the way, the first time I saw that “all your base” meme, it was spun "All your cookies are belong to us."

    Phutatorius: What you said about Ouspensky's book is also what drove Kierkegaard; he missed his chance with his one great love Regine, never stopped burning a torch for her, and a good deal of his work was developed out of trying to figure out just what kind of existential space his "missing the boat" left him in. If you've read Dubliners, think the sequel to "Eveline" and "A Painful Case."

    JK: Your comment about the tsunami made me think something -- what if something these others on the freighter do *causes* the tsunami? Say if they cause an earthquake or something?

    And the Matrix kind of lost it when Neo couldn't bring himself to question if the previous reality he was in was false, how does he know the next one is real? The Wachowski's maybe should have read more Philip K. Dick and less Baudrillard.

    CW: They're at about Dec. 23, so they have a couple days to go. I'm pretty sure the characters won't miss Christmas, and what we'll probably get (in a nice confluence) is the birth of the fourth season coinciding with the narrative hitting Christmas.

    Bill Fnord: Given the "Dark Tower" / King connections already extant, I wouldn't be surprised if they're working with some kind of similar structure. The same sort of thing also occurred in 12 Monkeys/La Jetée, and was already there in (say it with me now) Finnegans Wake. The final paragraph of the Wake drops off and picks up again with the first paragraph of the book.

    The other side of that -- what you're describing -- is samsara, the wheel of pain. The idea is that you have to keep revolving around this wheel until you get things right and can escape it. The idea comes from the eastern / Buddhist traditions, which are present and accounted for in Lost. The problem if we're in samsara (and according to those traditions, this life is samsara) is we don't know what we got wrong last time around, so we may end up making the same mistakes. If some of the characters (and it looks like Jack) recognizes that, has consciousness of what went wrong in the past, they have a chance to break out of samsara.

    Anthanamar: I think the person you're talking about who suspected Juliet is Isabel, while the person who told Des his future was Ms. Hawking.

    Green Drake: After checking the scene again (and the transcript), Jack's saying "neither," not "either." The last flash people are talking about is the one no one saw, but Des told Charlie about -- that he swam into the Looking Glass, turned off the jammer, and then drowned. That's all Des saw.

    I checked Kate's license plate in the last scene, and it's a California plate, 2SAQ321.

    hjorton flicka: Thank you very much for the kind words. I'm not too good at responding to compliments, so I'll leave it at that. I was just impressed I had readers to begin with, and the way this blog developed surpassed anything I could have imagined. If you're really interested, I've taught courses in literature, film and media studies in the past, and I keep my materials online. A media class I developed has been turned over to other teachers here at UVA for other teachers to teach.

    - My university homepage. There's some more political work on there, especially the Middle East Timeline. (I haven't doctored up my homepage in some time; it'll get a major facelift this summer.)
    - Media Matters, that media course I developed.
    - The film class; there's some topics in there that should be familiar to anyone who read this blog.
    The rest of the stuff is there in the links on the left of the page.

    Now, to try to follow up on the arguments for/against Minkowski space (for Halfs, Miss Gretchen, Tresbian,

    Evidence for:
    - Charlie prepped himself for the dive with breathing exercises -- non-swimmers don't know those
    - Des's flash of Charlie drowning was most likely because Charlie couldn't swim. That's the simplest conclusion here; to claim that he lied that he couldn't swim, and then that he lied that he could swim, makes it all a lot more complicated
    - Charlie didn't lie about not being able to swim. If he did, you need to account for his memory of swimming lessons.
    - Charlie swam just fine when he was under water. For proof, take a non-swimmer and drop 'em in 20 feet of ocean, and see how they do.
    - Kate has been missing freckles for a number of episodes, not just that flashforward. The last freckles I could find (clear freckles -- no cover-up) were when she was handcuffed to Juliet in "One of Us." As of "Catch-22," they're gone (actually if you look closely it looks like Evangeline Lilly is wearing makeup to cover them).
    - All of these elements are changed because of the way Minkowski spacetime works. By altering the future, Des altered everything (but in minor ways and ways we --not them, but we -- have yet to see)
    - Minkowski spacetime is a major theme dealt with in Alan Moore's Watchmen, which is a text alluded to in the past and noted by the Cuselof as well.
    - The person on the freighter that Jack talked to on the sat phone answered "Minkowski." The one thing we've seen in Lost is that names mean something.

    First, Minkowski spacetime *doesn't* mean multiple worlds/multiple timelines. It's just one world, one big blob of time. The more I think about it, the more a website seems to be the appropriate model; all the code is sitting in one place and everything is contained right there, we just experience it in a temporally and spatially mediated way. That's also how books and film works. Look at a film sometime – not the screen and what goes on in the plot, but the actual loop of celluloid. Everything that's going on over the span of two hours is there existing in one object. All that time is right there contained, and you can hold it all at once. So set that aside for a moment – that the medium itself has a kind of artificial phenomenology.

    This isn't regular old television; given the way its set itself up, it's probably more accurate to think of Lost as a kind of video game. The events happened for *us* in the audience, but if we assume they happened the same way for the characters, we're assuming Lost is real-life, and not something more like artifice. Last summer, the game element was The Lost Experience, where clues were out in cyberspace. Now that the online community is established, perhaps the game element is now for us to track what did and didn't change, and see how our own assumptions are turned inside-out, and where that takes us.

    But this doesn't mean that what we saw for the last three seasons was for nothing; part of this game is with the audience -- it's our participation in the narrative, and yes this is new narrative territory and an experiment. We don't yet know how much something is tweaked when Des changes spacetime. We know from what Jack says at the end that no matter what they do or don't recognize as changed, he thinks they need to go back to the island and set something right. For all we know at this point, Jack may realize that things have shifted, the CSS file was hacked, and wants to go back and find some way to re-write the code. But that's all part of the cliffhanger, and we have to wait to find out. Knowing that he's on to something, though, means that he -- like us -- also knows that something is amiss. I can imagine a storyline developing where someone learns that they're messing with the fabric of reality and works to set it back straight -- in which case everything we saw would easily be recuperated. But the important thing to note is that this isn't multiple worlds/multiple timelines. It's one world, one time, one game, and the game pieces were just shifted around on the board.

    Some of the texts Lost has alluded to are also important here. Take Flann O'Brien; At Swim-Two-Birds deals with characters who come to realize that they're part of the artifice of a book, and that if the author changes something, everything that was set up in their lives up to that point could go wrong. So they spend their time trying to drug the author asleep. Beckett's narrator in The Unnameable dies part-way through the telling, and the characters complain about being half-finished. Cortazar's “Hopscotch” works no matter what order you read the chapters – again, calling attention to the book's own artifice. Characters generally don't recognize that they're part of a narrative (sometimes they do – look at Malcolm in the Middle, or Fight Club, when Ed Norton talks to the audience while Tyler Durden splices porn into family movies). But in general, characters in a drama aren't calling attention to their own fictiveness. But that doesn't mean the audience can't recognize it – like with Hopscotch, or with Lost. (Which is why so many people got excited when it seemed Locke looked into the camera and acknowledged the audience.) So the characters don't necessarily have to recognize that their pasts have changed. The point isn't just what's going on with them; the point is also what's going on with us, what we recognize, and how that changes up and challenges our reading experience. We still have the experience of the past three seasons, no matter what changes. The game now is to read those changes against the past we the audience know, and see what that yields.

    What's the point in regular TV when we've got this?

    I don't see why we can't keep some conversations going, either here or my Vox blog (I put some multimedia elements up at that blog, and just made announcements over there that a new Powell's post was up). I also have the obligatory MySpace, Virb and Facebook pages, but to be honest, I don't do a whole lot with them. (Just search for Living Lost.)

    I'll be checking in, but right now my beagles are banging on the bell to go outside. Time to take my transparent skin back out in the sunshine.

    Miss Gretchen June 1st, 2007 at 6:42 pm

    J! I told you that Finnegan's Wake was my deathbed reading and you didn't say *SPOILER ALERT* when you wrote "The final paragraph of the Wake drops off and picks up again with the first paragraph of the book."
    Thanks alot!!!
    (seriously, thank you for the recommendations.)

    Tresbien June 1st, 2007 at 7:23 pm

    J, you said: But the important thing to note is that this isn't multiple worlds/multiple timelines. It's one world, one time, one game, and the game pieces were just shifted around on the board.

    Are you certain this is so? The producers made a point about the Mittelos anagram lost time being important. And we have these curious statements by Locke about how things are supposed to be, like to Jack saying he's not supposed to make the call to the freighter. And Ms. Hawking telling Desmond he's not supposed to give Penny the ring. And Kate and Jack saying here we go again a couple of episodes back. And, in the finale, Jack tells Kate they weren't supposed to leave. It seems to me like they may already be repeating this experience but are not exactly sure what right actions to take to change the course of events. Perhaps it's hard to do because we're creatures of habit, thought patterns and personal ethics, which makes it difficult to do things differently. Jack relies on his instinct to seek rescue, which Ben and Locke implore him not to do, but it's the only choice he can make.

    Thank you for your further explanation of Minkowski spacetime, J. I think I have a better grip on it now, but I'm having a hard time reconciling it with our storyline. I'll think more about it tomorrow!

    Thea June 2nd, 2007 at 3:40 am

    Back to Des and Flashes episode. He seems to know the future—the numbers in his encounter at reception in Widmore's building, meeting Charlie the street muscian, the score of the football game, the flogging in the bar. He recognizes back on the island that his flashes are of the future, but he doesn't necessarily piece the events of the puzzle together correctly (wrong day, sequence of events, wrong person, and so forth).

    The monk had a photo of Ms. Hawking and "fired" Des, not because he drank the monk's cash crop Reserve, but because Des had something important to do and living at the monastery wasn't where he was supposed to be to do "it."

    So. Is he flashing back or flashing forward? If the spacetime one word theory is as you excellently suggest J, a sort of post modern pastiche of concurrent existences, then for us the audience, he is flashing forward in this episode (because he has already met Charlie, etc.) and flashing forward through his visions on the island. But it doesn't matter for him, considering the multi-dimensional aspect of his past/present/future exists more or less simultaneously—for him. "See you in another life, brutha," has new meaning, maybe?

    This also makes me wonder if each character is experiencing his or her own past/present/future randomly--but simultaneously with other characters who are experiencing their own random point in spacetime. In other words, we may be seeing Desmond in one dimension of time and Charlie in another dimension of time at the same time; the same with Ben, Jacob, Richard, and so forth. Ben may be in his present interacting with Richard who is in his own future.

    Digression: the ebola virus as it first presented itself was a huge threat a few years ago. But only if the virus evolved in such a way that it solved the problem of how to infect humans. The assumption was that the virus would mutate deterministically--on a positive course to solve the problem of animal to human infection. In fact, it mutated randomly, toward no particular end, except maybe toward it's own replication and survival in it's current host. The threat to humans was minimized. The same for the (potential) bird flu pandemic. The virus has to mutate positively and provide a mechanism for bird to human contact (at least in current thought) to become a full blown threat. Evolution is funny that way. The value at any given point in the process isn't necessary positive or negative.

    I refer to this mechanism of evolution—mutation--because it illustrates (in its randomness) the possibility of neutrality and impotency, the possibility of going backwards, sideways, up, down, nowhere, or forward. As defined in human terms subjectively or objectively. The lostaways may be experiencing their time sense in this same way, randomly and chaotically.

    So as events occur on or off the island, whatever drives those events may be random, and therefore changes the outcome of things to no particular fated end. So our friends find themselves in this random pastiche, where they could be in the present, past, or future or any point in spacetime. And it doesn't necessarily make sense. In Jack's flashforward, he, and at least Kate, are living in a random point in timespace, maybe the future, but maybe not. Is Jack beginning to realize that they are not only Lost in Time, but Lost in SpaceTime. In other words, they don't necessarily end up in a deterministic future destined to any expected end. After all, Jack is a junkie, and Kate is not in prison--she's driving a Volvo and wearing lots of makeup.

    I think on some level Jack is understanding that existence, time, and space is chaotic, not ordered. As the producers said (I'm not sure where, but a while ago), time is not what it seems in Lost. Jack isn't comfortable with (C)haos, which he perceives as negative, judging from his flashback coping skills. In fact chaos is neither positive or negative, it's random—hence the free will theme. Jack needs to order, to fix, to expect, things to unfold with some certainty. Kate has never allowed herself that luxury. She may be comfortable in the flashforward because in her conscious past she's been good at creating chaos. But the expectation of what rescue would mean, i.e., going back to life before the crash, has gone south for Jack. He needs to go back and make adjustments.

    I'm not sure I'm making sense, but I'm attempting to understand the spacetime concept and multi-dimensions occurring simultaneously. Also I'm a romantic and very sympathetic to Jack and Kate. Will she ever love him??!

    It was a long ramble. Thanks for the indulgence. Any thoughts, corrections, clarifications most welcome. I'm a night owl, so who knows what my tired mind is conjuring.

    Tresbien June 2nd, 2007 at 7:49 am

    I know they can't do this, but I think it would be hilarious for Jack to come into work on a Thursday morning and overhear a watercooler conversation about a TV show involving plane crash survivors on a mysterious island. Okay, I just needed some comic relief while thinking about Minkowski spacetime.

    Jon June 2nd, 2007 at 10:41 am

    I like the idea that events on the island change the past, but lets not forget about determinism.

    So the real Sawyer is dead = Lock was never paralyzed. Then James Ford wouldn't be a disturbed con man, right? And he wouldn't have been in Australia looking for the real sawyer...guess not.

    This must be how they bought themselves two more seasons. If they have changed the past, determinism gave them a whole new past that still guided the whole gang to Australia...and perhaps the new past is even worse. Everyone is a little more cold blooded and disturbed (chicken or the egg?).

    Codemorse June 2nd, 2007 at 12:14 pm

    J -

    I've been enjoying this blog since Jeff Jensen suggested it in his column a while back, and I wanted to let you and your loyal commenters know how much I appreciate the analytical work you've done on Lost. It's been a treat to watch an episode and come here to read your thoughts, and the thoughts of the many intelligent posters afterward. Also wanted to let you know that I picked up your book today from B&N. I'd ordered it for a friend who enjoys the show and could use a 'guide' of sorts to some of the allusions, thematic elements, and literary references, but I've ended up starting it myself, and he may not recieve it for a while.

    Thanks for your efforts, and I hope to find the whole group back here when Lost returns in February.

    olive June 2nd, 2007 at 6:08 pm

    susan, just a note that families can include more than one race, so whoever turns out to be in the coffin could be Jack's relative. That being said, I think he said neither.

    Juno Walker June 3rd, 2007 at 7:47 am

    Hello everyone -

    I've posted a few comments on this blog here and there, and I've absolutely loved the discussions this blog has generated. Thanks again, J. Wood!

    I'd like to invite everyone over to a new blog project I've created called L O S T, Hearts & Minds. I have other blogs, but J. Wood's blog here has inspired me to continue to explore the human condition through the characters and narrative of LOST. To be sure, the mystery and mythology of the show is exciting and fun; but my true predilection is for the philosophical, psychological, and the societal.

    If anyone is similarly interested in such things, please come on over and let's start a discussion! Maybe we can satisfy some of our LOST fix until the next season in February :)


    windsor June 3rd, 2007 at 7:59 pm

    first timer i have been watching season one again and trying to catch things i missed, LOTS, BUT someone else let me know if this is a connection but Micheals girlfriend, walts mom aka susan, Looks IDENTICAL to Naomi. AND Naomi spoke Italian to the boys when they first found her. Susan took walt from micheal and headed to amsterdam then to ITaly then on to Sydney where she "died". What was Susan doing while she was traveling with Walt??

    hjortron flicka June 3rd, 2007 at 10:52 pm

    THRILLED to hear that this blog and J Wood will be back at the beginning of season 4! Thanks to all concerned!

    Also, J Wood, I appreciate your willingness to share the info about material from your UVA website, Media Matters and film class, + your VOX blog, (the latter which you've let us know about before); but when I checked now, the links didn't work...I'm sure that'll be sorted out by Powell's in due course, however.

    Susan: I just wanted to respond to your remark about Jack not being able to be family to an African American; it really is entirely possible. For example, one of my husband's sisters is white and her partner is African American and their two biological children are biracial or African American, depending on one's point of view. So these children with a black dad and a white mom have 4 white aunts and 4 white uncles, 1 black aunt and 1 black uncle, 1 set of grandparents who are African American and one set who are white and we are very much family to one another...

    halfs June 4th, 2007 at 5:59 am

    J -

    Thanks for your help with the explanations. The time theory can make your head hurt. Throw the flux capacitor out the window.

    "And that Minkowski space explanation doesn't include alternative timelines (just altered ones) and no parallel universes"

    I am trying to put this in terms I can live with as a viewer.

    Butterfly effect maybe? We as the audience are watching ever evolving glimpses of time, different versions of time, flashbacks, forwards, without the awareness/perspective of all of the events that are altering time?

    Des altered the loop, now Charlie can swim, but we never watched how that change took place? The loop has changed, Kate's not in jail after she gets off the island bc shes not a criminal?

    I still think that is a hard pill to swallow. When Des changed the loop, other events changed, how does that fit with the flashbacks, what other events are altered?

    And most difficult to comprehend, What events Can't be altered. Are there events that are final? Des' flashback implied that minor things could be changed along his path, but he would still not marry Penny, and would still end up on the island.

    If Des' actions altered the past, present, future, then what is left untouched? Is death final?

    Do the flashbacks from Season 1-3 actually coincide with the altered time? What about the flashforward?

    kamapua’a June 4th, 2007 at 8:49 am

    I hate to get tripped up on a possible red herring (or to spawn one myself), but did Kate have her trademark freckles in the pilot?

    I don't have the DVD so I only have this image to go on:

    newmark June 4th, 2007 at 6:26 pm

    I think this John Latham is a better match (based also on the time concepts from this blog article):

    "John Aubrey Clarendon Latham, (February 23, 1921 – January 1, 2006, born in Zambia) was a conceptual artist whose work was founded upon his personal ethical and scientific beliefs. For instance he believed that violence and conflict between the people of the world is the result of ideological differences. He wed fellow artist and collaborator Barbara Steveni in 1951 and together they devised the idea of 'flat-time', based on the theoretical physics of Event Structure."

    Born_of_Fire June 4th, 2007 at 9:19 pm

    I think even further evidence for space-time manipulation is the fact that the producers decided to make the fictional date for the plane crash the same as the the actual date that the pilot episode aired. It seemed strange to me at first that they would do this given the fact that time throughout the rest of series does NOT correspond to real time. It makes more sense now though if time is being played with.

    Tresbien June 5th, 2007 at 6:23 am

    Someone's created a fun game that begins with Jack's and Kate's license plate numbers (below). He's got some interesting items on his wishlist including "Hippolyte's Island" and "Headlong Hall," the latter of which has been mentioned here, I believe. and http://www/4qkd695

    Jeffrey June 6th, 2007 at 7:53 am

    Suggested summer listening:

    Frank Black's "Teenager of the Year" esp. the songs "Bad, Wicked World", "Headache", "I Could Stay Here Forever", "Ole' Mulholland", "Superabound".

    Sample lyric from "Whatever Happened tp Pong?":
    Now if they take it H.G. Wells
    Well, I'll be on the first flight
    To a time before the Kong
    Whatever happened to Pong?

    Mrs. Friendly June 6th, 2007 at 9:19 am


    LOVE that idea (watercooler conversation).

    Mrs. Friendly June 6th, 2007 at 9:31 am

    Sorry to just post another thank you, but Thea, your viral evolution illustration was very helpful. It prompted me to revisit basic chaos theory. You made some excellent points.

    J Wood June 7th, 2007 at 9:52 am

    The comments keep on coming here, so I guess we'll keep this rolling.

    First, my sincerest apologies about ruining Finnegans Wake. But rest assured, what I gave away is the least of what you'll encounter in there.

    Tresbian: I can't be sure of anything, but the Minkowski spacetime idea (which is what Des is toying with) doesn't *itself* deal with multiple timelines/worlds. What I mean by this is that when Des changes the past-present-future, he's not pushing everyone on into some alternative universe; he's just changed the elements of *this* one. I hope that help; I listened to a debate yesterday between to physicists about the 'brane (membrane) version of the universe vs. the big bang, and from what I could gather, nearly every model of the universe going today includes the theoretical/mathematical possibility of other universes. But that wouldn't necessarily change how Minkowski spacetime works. All time and space would be of a piece in the other universes, as well (just look out when the branes do the bump).

    And I'm completely with you on Jack hearing about a TV show about a plane crash... my god would I dig that. I've been reading Grant Morrison's graphic novel "The Invisibles," and in one sequence he has a character who looks a bit like him being interrogated. The character uses a pseudonym of Morrison, who moonlights as a writer. In the interrogation, the character's lungs collapse, and they infect him with a nanotech that eats away at his cheek. That was written and done some time before it appeared. The week before/during that issue hit the stands, Grant Morrison himself was struck with an illness that collapsed his lungs, and a flesh-eating virus ate an abscess in his cheek. He was living what he wrote three months earlier.

    Thea & halfs: I think the pastiche idea works, here. Try this on: Since everything seems flashbacked, but the monk and Hawking seem to be aware of Des' future, that seems to support the idea that the past/present/future are all a kind of present (we have past and future existing in a present). What's interesting here is how it's the one time Des seems to be able to skirt along time outside of any linear experience, and he's only able to do this when he's unconscious. Later on, he consciously manipulates the outcomes of his unconscious flashes, and unconsciously alters more than he thinks; in that way, "see you in another life" does take on new meaning, because he keeps recreating certain lifetimes.

    As far as characters each existing in their own point of spacetime -- past characters interacting with future characters -- I'm not touching that one right now. I think I stirred up enough with Minkowski spacetime and CSS files. But one thing to consider: We probably all of us experience spacetime randomly, but our brains rationalize it as a logical narrative. That's what the story of everyone's life is about. The events that occurred in anyone's past, if the events are listed out, seem pretty random, but in retrospect, each thing was built upon the last, creating a kind of shape -- but only to us. It's still random. for instance, the only reason I know about the CSS stuff is because in the same week, the state of Virginia nixed the university's printing allowance and my department's copy machine broke. Completely random events totally independent of me. But I had to find a way to get handouts and content to my students, so I ended up having to make my first web pages. Because of that, I learned about CSS files, sue them (badly), and that understanding helped me come up with that metaphor for what Des is doing. Seems to make sense in retrospect, but neither the Virginia state representatives nor Xerox were planning on me coming up with that idea or you all to develop it in a blog about a television show that was still in development at the time.

    Jon: Determinism was brought up a few posts back (in the Des-related episodes), and it's not really what they're dealing with. David Hume rejected determinism and free will, and argued for a version of fate he called compatibilism. (Basically, you can't have free will without a measure of determinism, because past events determine your range of choices to freely choose. I'd love to write this in Hungarian, but I cannot choose to because of my range of choices to freely choose from.) We don't really know yet if Locke saying he wasn't paralyzed was literal or metaphorical (they've been very cagey with these "tells"), and we don't know yet to what extent things changed when Des did his thing.

    Windsor: You picked up on one of the other tricks the producers keep throwing in -- casting characters who look like each other. There's a Juliet look-alike, a Michael look-alike, Jacob looked like Locke, and now a Susan look-alike. It keeps the twinning theme alive and kicking.

    hjorton flicka: Some of the links on the UVA web page most likely are a bit dead. I've not taught in a year and haven't had to update it. I'll get on that this week. I want to make the layout cleaner too.

    halfs: I tried to answer some of your questions above, and believe me, it's all hard to swallow (in television, in books wherever; 12 Monkeys took a view viewings and even more boxes of Junior Mints to piece out). On how changed events fit in with flashbacks: We may see some flashback material that we've seen before, but altered a bit. In fact, I'm almost expecting it -- I think that'd be an interesting extension of the game idea. We don't have a lot of direct recognition of flashback material by the characters, so what we see and what they know/understand can be different. But this is where it gets fun -- the flashbacks weren't for the characters, they were for us. It may not be necessary for the characters to really follow up on much of any of this stuff. Take Jack: He just said his dad was a problematic drinker, but didn't go into his whole breakdown of a background with the islanders. So all that Christian Shepherd material is for us. Whether something in that flashback material alters wouldn't necessarily mean a thing to anyone on the island -- even Jack, until he comes to learn how/why things have been changing (and I think he has some idea, given the finale). Those changes *do* mean a lot for us, though. What can't be changed? Good question; we'll have to wait nine months to find out.

    kamapua: Kate's always had the freckles in the past (and you can see them on her cheek in that photo). It's why Sawyer called her "freckles" all the time. I was waiting for Des to call her "murfles" -- that's what they call them in Scotland.

    Okay, I went to the license plate website, and have some news/more summer reading.

    This from Thomas Love Peacock's book 'Headlong Hall' (1815):

    "I PERCEIVE " said Mr Milestone, after they had walked a few paces, "these grounds have never been touched by the finger of taste."

    "The place is quite a wilderness," said Squire Headlong: "for, during the latter part of my father's life, while I was finishing my education, he troubled himself about nothing but the cellar, and suffered everything else to go to rack and ruin. A mere wilderness, as you see, even now in December; but in summer a complete nursery of briers, a forest of thistles, a plantation of nettles, without any livestock but goats, that have eaten up all the bark of the trees. Here you see is the pedestal of a statue, with only half a leg and four toes remaining: there were many here once. When I was a boy, I used to sit every day on the shoulders of Hercules: what became of him I have never been able to ascertain. Neptune has been Iying these seven years in the dust-hole; Atlas had his head knocked off to fit him for propping a shed; and only the day before yesterday we fished Bacchus out of the horse-pond."

    J Wood June 7th, 2007 at 10:01 am

    (We should probably note that Peacock's statue had four toes *remaining* while the island's statue had only four toes to begin with.)

    Phutatorius June 7th, 2007 at 12:58 pm

    Because of the talk of Finnegans Wake that has appeared here, I've plunged back into John Bishop's "Joyce's Book of the Dark." There's a chapter on the Egyptian Book of the Dead that includes a brief discussion of canopic jars - jars used to contain the liver, lungs, stomach, and intestines of the deceased. There are always four per person/mummy. Perhaps the four unappealing looking, fluid-filled jars in Jacob's cabin could be related to this bit of Egyptian lore, especially considering the suspected Egyptian component of the island's mythology.

    (I'll be away from computers for the next ten days or so, so I won't be looking into this further for a while.)

    Sarah June 7th, 2007 at 2:09 pm

    I saw a couple of posts which stated that Ben ordered Tom and the others to shoot the sand in order to trick Jack into thinking Jin, Sayid and Bernard were dead. Does he say this somewhere that I missed?

    The way I took it was that Ben really made the order to shoot and kill them, but Tom and the others decided to disobey Ben and shoot the sand instead. This would go along with the hints in recent episodes that the troops are starting to question the calls of their leader, Ben. I thought in the scene where we first see that Jin, Sayid, and Bernard are really alive, Tom seemed to be upset that they didn't follow Ben's orders. I will have to rewatch this part!

    Thouroughly enjoy this blog. Thanks for everything this season, J!

    J Wood June 7th, 2007 at 4:37 pm

    Phutatorius, I've seen that sort of organ harvesting for mummy-making before. You may be on to something. Or at least something's in those jars that's not helping Jacob.

    Sarah: We see Ben say into the walkie-talkie to shot Jin, but never saw Ben give the original order. Later, on the beach, Tom complains that Ben doesn't know what he's talking about and they should have killed Jin for real, while Ryan says it was Ben's order and they had to follow it. So we can presume Ben's order before he left was to fire into the sand and scare them and Jack when Ben order's Jin's execution.

    And if they're in keeping with their Dostoevskian roots, that makes sense. Dostoevsky was once at a firing line with a few other prisoners, and didn't know they'd been pardoned. The squad was ordered to go through with the firing, but not kill anyone. One prisoner died right there of fright, and Dostoevksy's epilepsy got significantly worse after that.

    Jeffrey June 7th, 2007 at 11:11 pm

    J, I'm feeling what you said about randomness (CSS files) as I have just started a Tom Robbins novel "Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates" whose main character belongs to a club that meets "periodically to imbibe strange beverages and discuss 'Finnegans Wake'." Like Miss Gretchen, I've been holding off on this last bit of Joyce until my shamrock starts a-wiltin', but now all this serendipity is just too much (or is that synchronicity - in honor of The Police on Tour '07!) and I'm gonna have to break down and make sense of baba-toohoohoodenenthurnuk!

    Jeffrey June 7th, 2007 at 11:31 pm

    Oh, yeah - in Walker Percy's "The Moviegoer" the main character shapes the random events in his life by connecting the dots from the last time he did something specific to the next time he does it. (Seeing "The Third Man" then seeing it again). His life begins to make sense only in the interval between those times as he compartmentalizes his experiences thus showing the arbitrariness of time. Harry Lime's 5-Year Plan, if you will.

    Brian Mc June 10th, 2007 at 8:04 pm

    I doubt, that many of things in "Lost" are as deep as many people here think. It's just a soap opera without all the little dramas of the characters banging each other.

    One thing is certain. In the beginning of the next season, nobody will be getting off of the island. Because in order for the show to continue, the characters have to be "LOST". Oh sure, a rescue plane could come. But if it does, it might just crash on the island as a plot device for more characters to appear.

    Though I'll end up watching the first couple shows of the next season, that stupid Locke and Ben meeting with the super natural being in one of the last episodes was way too much over the top for me. Now, that Sawyer and Kate have been banging, and we found out, that Jack has been in love with her, the whole thing could be on its' way to becoming another boring TV drama.

    Dall June 11th, 2007 at 2:05 am

    Nice blog. If you want some entertainment why not join us on

    Lain June 11th, 2007 at 7:20 am

    Thank you, J. Wood. I've become obsessed with mirrors and twins, mirroring and twinning. I think mirrors and twins (and smoke) have been with the show from the beginning. The very beginning!

    In Pilot 1, we open and close with shots of reflections. In the opening, we see Jack's opening eye, reflecting the sky and trees above. The episode comes to an end with Kate picking up the pilot's wings from the mud, and seeing a reflection in the pool of water on the ground, showing us an image of the sky and trees above, which hold the dead body of the pilot. Jack, who is not a pilot, was alive on the ground. The pilot, who is not Jack, is dead in the air. The dead pilot is "responsible" for the predicament - he's the one who turned the plane off-course. The living not-pilot (Jack) takes responsibility for the predicament, running on to the beach and saving people's lives. So not only do we have "mirrors" in the first episode, we have mirror-twinning.

    The episode is structurally split in half, twinned and mirrored.

    First, the twinning. The first half begins with Jack (running to the beach) it is daylight out, and realism is at the forefront. The half ends at night, with an appearance (unseen) by "the monster", and a comment by Charlie ("Terrific.")

    The second half begins with Jack, on the plane, with realism... and then moves to the beach, and it's daylight, and we're seeing Jack's eyes looking out towards the horizon. The episode ends with "day turning into night", an appearance by "the monster" (unseen), and ends with a comment by Charlie - "Guys, how does something like that happen?"

    Now for the structural mirroring. The first half begins with Jack talking about counting to five to face down Fear, the second half ends with Kate counting to five to face down Fear. The first half opens with the plane crashed on the ground, the second half opens with the plane in the air - and alternatively, the plane "crashed" is featured at the beginning of the first half, while at the end of the second half, the cockpit crashes down off the trees. The first half has no commercial breaks, but the second half does. And of course, the first half begins with a "mirror shot" and the second half ends with a "mirror shot."

    The appearance of "the monster" stands at the middle of the episode, and serves to invert our expectations of realism. Likewise, the "flashback" at the beginning of the second half serves to reinforce expectations of realism, as well as providing a mirror into the past. The "monster" and "the flashbacks" both serve as mirrors, in a sense.

    Smoke has also been in the show from the start. Kate tells Jack that she saw smoke in the valley, assuming it's from the cockpit. But there is no evidence that the cockpit was ever on fire.

    Smoke and Mirrors from the very beginning, folks.

    JK June 11th, 2007 at 11:24 am

    After spending the last few weeks reading up on Minkowski's works and other time/space theories, and especially after reading what Brian Mc wrote earlier, I have to say that although it makes for fun blog/message board fodder, I can't see the writers making the explanation for the events on the show as complicated as most of us are hypothesizing here. I certainly enjoy analyzing all of the literary and philosphical references as much as most of the people on this board, but we also have to consider the vast majority of people like Brian Mc and my wife and my wife's friends who simply want to talk about how hot Sawyer is and if Jack and Juliette are going to get it on or how funny and fat Hurley is. These type of people made up 99% of "question-askers" at Comic-Con last year, mostly blabbing on about how much they loved Hurley and Jin (who were speakers at the podium).

    And all along, even though the writers have deliberately included many literary and philosophical references, which have clearly influenced the plot and the character development on the show, they have kept the show just that - mostly plot & character driven, without too many esoteric musings. I certainly wouldn't put it past Darlton to throw in "Minkowski" at the end there, just to keep these message boards burning up til next season.

    In some ways, I am hoping for a complex time-bending explanation, but in other ways, I would not look forward to explaining those time-bending explanations to my wife. And I am in no way insulting my wife's intelligence, but when she (and I'm sure most people like her) sits down to watch TV at 10pm at night, she does not want to have to wrap her head around complicated theories. And hey, I consider myself fairly intelligent and I've had to read J's Minkowski explanation ten times and I STILL don't know if I understand it. I tend to think the writers are aware of this part of their demographic and will avoid making things too complicated. It doesn't have to stop us from discussing and analyzing the writers' litany of alllusions on this board, but I don't know if the payoff will be what we are expecting. Just my opinion.

    DTinMB June 13th, 2007 at 12:28 am

    a few thoughts...

    "...the Losties don't know it was they who programmed the Looking Glass code, or became Jacob, etc."

    Have you noticed lines that imply everyone knew each other before? ... like when Mikhail said, "that's not the John Locke I know." ... Locke: "You just don't know it yet." etc.

    Freckles. I'm thinking Sawyer doesn't remember ever calling Kate that. Which can mean not only has their timelines been screwed with, but that they each might not be on the same one.

    Michael & Walt were never allowed to go. I suspect the coordinates brought them to other Others, perhaps to the temple.

    I personally do not believe the flashbacks are flashbacks (and, now, the flash forwards flash forwards). I think these folks are all unstuck in time a la Billy Pilgrim, only they don't know it. They bounce around in time in the blink of an eye. The twist here is that events change. The jewelry store lady clearly had lived that scene with Desmond time and time again. She was aware of it. He was not. But because he is now aware of it, remembers it, and because of his visions (which are really just other memories, only fragmented now) he is the only character who is catching on. Altho, hey, Locke might know, too; I dunno.

    I love the idea that we are on the fold of the Rorschacht test.

    Lastly, I believe the writers and producers are so clever they will end this thing in a way that will satisfy both of their audiences: The seekers/analyzers who see it as nuanced literature, and the rest who see it as an interesting yarn about a bunch of people stuck on an island.

    Chango June 13th, 2007 at 9:13 am

    Who wants to bet that the temple to which the Others are trekking turns out to be...

    The Lost City of Tobanya?

    J Wood June 13th, 2007 at 12:13 pm

    Hmm... Lost is just a soap opera... if you like soap operas, there's probably more operatic soap out there, depending on what kind of soap you like to put in your noggin.

    Lain: That pilot episode is supposed to work as an overture for the entire series. As you're noticing, if you go back to it, you find more things in that episode that relate to later episodes as they're developed – which makes the pilot episode ever-changing. The one thing I've always been curious about is the shot where Jack runs out of the jungle, the camera is from his p.o.v. and it pans around, and as it comes full circle it's looking at him. It's almost as if there's two Jack's, and the one whose head we're inside disappears and we end up in the other's head.

    JK: We can only go with the evidence so far, but I'd say that the people who want to argue the Minkowski spacetime thing is too complicated have to answer a few questions: Explain Charlie's swimming lessons; explain the guy on the freighter saying his name is Minkowski (and then give evidence where historical names were meaningless in the narrative); and explain why at least three formative influences on Lost actively use Minkowski spacetime, influences which were written for younger to adult audiences – Watchmen, A Wrinkle in Time, and The Invisibles. I may not be explaining it well enough here -- I think the idea is better demonstrated than explained (because it defies our typical sense experience). But those three books do a great job of demonstrating the idea through their form, especially the graphic novels.

    I remember A Wrinkle in Time being on 4th grade reading lists. If 4th graders can handle that material, we can probably give the writers and the audience the benefit of the doubt that the idea may be presented in a manageable way. I for one think you're all a lot wiser than I was in 4th grade. Back then, I couldn't even keep my shoes tied or my elbows in their sockets. (Thank goodness for Roos, the first stars of velcro world, and thank you Dr. Egan for showing me how to pop my elbows back in place.)

    But consider: Lost is locked in for three seasons. They got weird with Desmond and the Others last year and lost some audience share, and just rolled with it. They now have some flexibility and some safety. If the mass of audience members don't want to think too hard about the show, the writers may not care at this point. Given all they've packed into the show so far, all of the philosophical and scientific and social apparatus they've built up, why would they worry about putting people off by maintaining that approach, especially when they've got their contract and an end point? If they go with it, they may alienate some, but they'll gain other audience members, and it'll be something that TV has needed for... ever – narratives that make us think and work a bit, rather than vegetate. Books can do it, movies can do it, music can do it, why not TV?

    DTinMB: Nice observations; completely with you on Sawyer, especially if Kate now doesn't have freckles. Did Mikhail know Locke through the dossier the Others amassed? And y'know, it makes a kind of narrative sense that the flashbacks and flashforwards were not actually what they seemed to be, at least not for the characters. More than anything, those flashes are there for us. Notice how the characters say next to nothing about the flash material to each other. Who besides us knows just what kind of a bastard Jack's dad was, about Eko's thuggery, or Ana's first kill? Maybe the Others (from the dossier), but that info hasn't been communicated.

    Chango: The Banana Splits! If they find Tubania, I hope Joop is there.

    DTinMB June 13th, 2007 at 10:15 pm

    I agree they're unaware of the events in the flashbacks - clearly not memories, clearly events that made them who they are. But I just love the idea that they're also not a literary device, either. And I love the idea that everything is happening at once.

    Dig this snippet from Slaughterhouse Five: "The most important thing I learned on Tralfamadore was that when a person dies he only appears to die. He is still very much alive in the past, so it is very silly for people to cry at his funeral. All moments, past, present, and future, always have existed, always will exist. The Tralfamadorians can look at all the different moments just the way we can look at a stretch of the Rocky Mountains, for instance. They can see how permanent all the moments are, and they can look at any moment that interests them. It is just an illusion we have here on Earth that one moment follows another one, like beads on a string, and that once a moment is gone it is gone forever. ... Now, when I myself hear that somebody is dead, I simply shrug and say what the Tralfamadorians say about dead people, which is 'So it goes.'"

    I guess the Tralfamadorians got that "permanent" thing a tad wrong. Or maybe they were/will be/are right, unless someone fails to push a certain button.

    I think we should consider, btw, that having the guy on the boat be named Minkowski might not be a confirmation of time-space goings on, but rather a statement that it's NOT that. These guys like to throw stuff out there at us to tell us, "we know what you're thinking and no, that's not it." e.g. Dave's speech, and most recently Julia with her landing-strip-for-aliens line.

    On Jack's dad: I've had the thought that it was Jack who was the screwed up one in the past. Remember when Jack burst into a self-help group Jack's dad was in? Why assume that was a group for alcoholics? Why couldn't it be a group for the family of alcoholics (or whatever). I swear the look on everyone's face was, "Man, I see what you've been dealing with." I think we'll find that Jack was screwed up big time and his father (and wife) didn't know how to deal with it. I don't see Jack's dad so much as a bastard as someone who didn't know how to deal with a lot of things. He's one of my favorite characters.

    One banana, two banana, three banana, four... hey, as long as we're on dopey Sat. morning shows of the '70s, maybe the temple's on the Island of Pigi-Pigi.

    DTinMB June 13th, 2007 at 11:01 pm

    I forgot to put in a few cents about Penny. I don't trust her anymore than I trust Naomi.* Like father, like daughter. Penny is up to no good. Why is she connected to the Looking Glass at all? Because she is behind something. I think she duped Des into going off on the boat with the express purpose of getting him there. Why? So she could find the place? Being unstuck in time, maybe he told her something about the island, something that can help her father or bring her power over her father ... and if Des has already BEEN there, has already failed to push the button, she has make sure he sets sail, has to arrange for the boat... ouch, my head hurts.

    * I think Naomi lied about everything - she said whatever each person wanted to hear. Hey, maybe she IS working for Penny.

    halfs June 14th, 2007 at 4:31 am

    I will have to echo DTinMB.
    I can't count how many times I have finished an episode (and as much as i love the characters) wondered how come these people don't freaking talk to each other. I guess thats the beauty of the show, the audience seemingly learning and knowing more than the characters do.

    I have to hope that they will start to tie them all in. It would be extremely disappointing if the writers copped out and pretended like the flashbacks weren't real or had been completely erased by altering time.

    My two biggest questions:
    What really happened to Micheal and Walt?
    Will they ever explain Libby?

    SmallQ June 14th, 2007 at 6:22 am

    J, there is nothing to explain abou Charlys swimming lesson! he could swim the hole time!.
    In season 2 ep.12 Fire and Water Charly has the dream with Aarons cradle on the waves. He swims out and brings Aaron back to the shore with no problems at all.
    Now you could say it just was a dream...
    But Charly didnt seem to have any thought about swimming out there should be a problem, althoug, at this point you say he isn't able to swim because of what he (the drug addict who doesnt belive in himself!) said in season 1.
    I think if you're not able to swim, and in a dream you'd have to save somebody from drowning, it would horror you to do so. You might be able to save the person (its your dream :) ), but I bet you would struggle and not swim as perfect as Charly did.
    I like your Minkowski theorie, but I don't think that is how it will turn out because it is a little too much for a TV-show. The writers threw that name in the final because they knew we would have something to talk about for a while.
    Thats my opinion on the charly topic.
    greets from germany, smallq

    DTinMB June 14th, 2007 at 3:40 pm

    What if Penny was trying to find the island as much as Jack was - i.e. had been there and wanted to get back - was unstuck in time and on one of her jaunts to her past (aware of it like the jewelry store lady is), knowing Desmond was the guy who eventually didn't push the button, decides to put a tracer on him. Maybe she even has to wrangle him there, arrange for the boat. That'd be neat. that his action in the future affected the past. I swear I read something odd in her voice when she said, "He's there?" (like "it DID work.") Can't imagine why she can communicate with them but not know where they are.

    I like to think that the cradle dream was Charlie's wishful thinking. We're all heroes in our dreams. (ok not me, but you know.)

    Thanks, J.

    DTinMB June 14th, 2007 at 3:43 pm

    Make that "...that his action in the future affected the past, that affected that very action in the future."

    JUtah June 15th, 2007 at 12:23 pm

    J -- interesting point on the pilot and the camera turning inward on Jack. I recently rewatched All the Best Cowboys have Daddy Issues. There's a very strange line in that episode. Ethan has just kicked Jack's ass, and Kate brings him back to reality. At that point, Jack starts running after Ethan again and the following conversation happens:

    Jack: I'm not letting him do this!
    Kate: Not letting him?
    Jack: Not again!

    That "not again," has quite a few connotations. One perhaps is that Jack equates Ethan with his father, for whatever reason. Another could be a literal deja vu.

    J Wood June 15th, 2007 at 2:07 pm

    Halfs: That's something that the writers joked about in a podcast a while back, about the characters never seeming to ask the right questions. The fact that the writers brought it up makes me think that they're writing the characters in that way for a reason, and will most likely do something with it.

    SmallQ: Yes, Charlie was dreaming in that sequence. But it's not clear how deep the water is, because as Charlie gets to the cradle, it looks like he stands up (and then the scene cuts very drastically to Charlie walking out of the water). As far as having a dream where you needed to swim and found you couldn't; I've had dreams where I've flown, and I know I can't do that.

    But if you want to argue Charlie could always swim, you have to explain why Charlie said he couldn't swim in the first season. Saying that he was just a junkie doesn't cut it (and I never argued that was why Charlie said he couldn't swim). And if you want to argue Charlie could never swim but was somehow able to make the miraculous dive, that needs more explanation, like how did he know how to prep his breathing. The reason this whole Charlie thing is important is because it's of a piece with other changes that happened after Des started saving Charlie.

    And like I said above (and think I'm about done repeating), if 4th graders can read about tesseracts in "A Wrinkle in Time," and teenagers can get Minkowski spacetime in comic books, and if the dang Tralfamadorians get it, I don't think it'll be too hard to work it out with the 18-45 demographic. There will be plenty more comments about how Minkowski space hurts people's heads, but I'm just going with the evidence provided so far, and I've not seen any real convincing arguments to the contrary beyond "it's too difficult." Do I know for certain that this is going on? Hell no. Does anyone know for certain that it's not going on? Nope. But there's evidence there that's not easily dismissed.

    (There are a few places where Minkowski spacetime is always clearly in effect; books, film/TV, and web pages. When you hold "Slaughterhouse Five" in your hands, all of the events are happening at once, and hundreds of feet of print are all there at once. We just experience the events in a mediated way through reading, but our mediated experience doesn't change the fact that all the events are still sitting there occurring at once. The same holds for a strip of film, or digital data sitting on a server.)

    DTinMB: What you're saying about Penny is along the lines of what I'm suggesting Des is doing, too. You may be on to something. And if this is something more people than just Des cops on to, it makes me wonder who Adam and Eve are in the caves and where they came from.

    JUtah: Did Jack say that about Ethan because Ethan already knocked around Charlie and took Claire?

    DTinMB June 16th, 2007 at 5:21 pm

    I so love the notion that everything in a book, film, web site, etc. embody all their events at once. Nicely done. (also very Zen, this, so you get the coveted Namaste Award). Maybe that's just why these art-forms--when their parts are woven together so well--work. It feels as if, as the thing unfolds, we arrive at some level of truth, doesn't it? Put THAT in your geodesic dome and smoke it.

    (And I fully expect that ALL of them will eventually cop onto it. That'll be way-fun.)

    George Case June 17th, 2007 at 3:30 pm

    I just want to tell you how much I enjoy reading your Lost blog every week, yours is definitely the most thought-provoking and in-depth analysis out there. I was also curious to know how often, if at all, you plan to revise your book as the series progresses?

    Lain June 18th, 2007 at 7:10 am


    I've come around on the Minkowski thing. Like you say, there are just too many references that point in that direction. What's really exciting about it is that they've practically "flipped" Desmond's experience with Minkowski space from Dr. Manhattan's. Desmond is still very much willing and able to "use" his ability to make changes, whereas Manhattan just became passive. A nice use of the mirror, I think!

    I have to disagree (strongly) about the deployment of mirroring and mirror-twinning in the narrative. I really do think they've had that in mind from the beginning, and they rolled it out in a lot of different ways in season 1. Don't you think the mirror-twinning of Jack and the pilot is compelling? (I also just realized that both Jack and the pilot are sprawled out in the same way, Jack alive on the ground, the pilot dead in the air - another twinning presented to us visually.)

    In Pilot 2, nearly every scene in whole or in part has some kind of mirroring or twinning going on, usually an inversion or reversal of expectations. Like, Jack is worried about Mars waking up as he removes the shrapnel; instead Hurley loses consciousness after seeing blood. The appearance of a "polar" bear. The backgammon board, and Walt and Locke. All three flashbacks from the Pilot episodes begin with an interaction with a stewardess, but each drink is different, and the Marshal drinks his coffee black.

    In Tabula Rasa, Kate is mirror-twinned with Richard Kimble - "The Fugitive" is given as a reference from Hurley.

    In White Rabbit, Jack is mirror-twinned with himself in his flashbacks. "Live together, die alone" is introduced here, a mirror-phrase.

    In HOTRS, I think Sun is mirror-twinned with Kate. Kate won't "dig in", won't move to the caves, won't stay with Jack, and in general has problems with sticking around. Sun moves to the caves, does stay with Jin, and in general has problems with leaving a bad situation. The title is a reference to a song which has changed in the last hundred years from being sung from the female perspective to the male perspective.

    In The Moth, Charlie is mirror-twinned with his brother.

    If you look for the mirrors or reflections in every episode, you'll find a treat, something important. Whether it's Kate looking through the rear-view mirror to find her past catching up to her, or Claire flipping her decision on whether to keep the baby or not, the mirror-shots are juicy-delicious. I've been rewatching (I'm through Raised by Another) and there's at least one juicy mirror-shot in every episode.

    I just have to thank you for introducing the conceptual framework for "mirroring" in your Living Lost book; it's opened up a whole new way of looking at the show for me!

    Lain June 18th, 2007 at 8:24 am

    If anyone wants a really good example of some full-blown mirror-twinning in Season 1, check out Solitary!

    Sayid walks alone, Danielle lives alone. They both use torture. On the Island, we see a woman torture a man. In flashback, a man is supposed to torture a woman, but we never see it.

    Both have names which reference philosophers. Both discover each other's names because they see them written down somewhere - and the dialogue for this is mirror-twinned.

    Both have "mirror boxes" which symbolize their hearts - Danielle's music box is from Robert (who's dead at her hands) and Sayid's envelope of pictures is from Nadia (who's actually alive at his hands.) The music box has a mirror on it; Nadia's name is also "Noor", which is a Sufi term for "light reflected off the mirror of the heart." When Danielle opens up Sayid's envelope, Sayid opens up to Danielle. When Sayid opens Danielle's music box, Danielle opens up to Sayid. Danielle's music box is fixed, but Sayid's is left behind. Sayid's picture of Nadia has writing on it, a mirror-phrase: You'll find me in the next life if not in this one. (Has anyone identified the tune on the music box? Lostpedia says it's Intermezzo from Bizet's Carmen, which would place that song at the half-way point of that opera.)

    Sayid is "the hanged man" at the beginning of the episode, which begins during the day, and he's speared in his leg to boot - it's a reference to the Prose Edda (a written source), which has the story Odin, who hangs from Yggdrasil (the world tree) from one leg with a spear in the other. After nine days of hanging, Odin brings writing to the people in the form of runes, a "Dawn of Humanity" story.

    At the end, at dusk, Sayid hears the whispers in the jungle that Danielle has talked about - compare to Wagner's Ring Cycle (a musical source) which has a famous except called "Forest Murmurs," a character named Wotan (another name for Odin) and a final act called "Gotterdammerung" - which means Twilight of the Gods. Oh, and Danielle's dug-out has a banyan tree running through the middle of it - banyan trees are also mythologically important "world trees."

    (BTW, The Ring Cycle is well known for its use of musical leitmotifs - Lost employs this convention as well, and quite beautifully too!)

    There's also some gender-mirroring going on in this episode - Jack is called "Dr. Quinn" (a woman), Danielle's voice sounds male as Sayid is waking up, Sayid mistakes "Alex" for a boy's name, Kate asks if there's a ladies tee at the new golf course. If Edward Said is the male Middle-Eastern scholar who comments on "otherness" on Sayid's side of the mirror, I think Simone de Beauvoir must be the female French scholar who comments on "otherness" on Danielle's side of the mirror. (J. Locke is the enlightenment philosopher on the "beach" side of the mirror, J.J. Rousseau is the enlightment philosopher on the "jungle" side of the mirror.)

    The theme of disease is referenced on both sides of the "mirror" - the guy with the rash who Jack declares a hypochondriac, versus the team Danielle killed due to "the sickness". And check out the scene where Danielle and Sayid are pointing rifles at each other - one shoots, the other doesn't; it's mirror-twinning Danielle's story of shooting Robert (both times the firing pin is removed from the man's rifle) but this time the man isn't shot - unlike Robert, Sayid isn't "sick". Sayid shot Omar, but didn't shoot Danielle. Nadia asks Sayid to come with her but he refuses; Sayid asks Danielle to come with him, but she refuses.

    Even the golf has a bit of a reversal - it's generally a solitary game, but the castaways all gather together to watch, and early on it looks like Jack and Michael are teamed up against Charlie and Hurley. (The castaways coming together mirrors the solitude of Danielle, too.) The group on the beach is on Sayid's side of the mirror; the "Others" who took Alex are on Danielle's side of the mirror.

    If this episode isn't an example of full-blown mirror-twinning, I don't know what is.

    Lain June 18th, 2007 at 8:29 am

    Let's call it Mirror Island.

    Before the Island, Jack is a well-off, clean-shaven rational and respected doctor. After the Island, Jack is a drug addict, bearded and possibly delusional. I really don't think he's a doctor anymore; if anything, he's the one who needs treatment.

    Before the Island, Kate is a poor tomboy on the run. After the Island, she's wearing makeup and appears to have settled down, and that car she's in isn't cheap.

    Will the other survivors who leave the Island find their lives turned upside-down? Hurley broke, Sawyer a law-man, Claire married, Juliet pregnant and Ben brain-dead? Jin a happy fisherman, and Sun free from her father?

    Lain June 19th, 2007 at 9:42 am

    "The one thing I've always been curious about is the shot where Jack runs out of the jungle, the camera is from his p.o.v. and it pans around, and as it comes full circle it's looking at him. It's almost as if there's two Jack's, and the one whose head we're inside disappears and we end up in the other's head."

    Isn't that such neat shot?

    We see Jack emerge from the bushes. He looks to his right (clockwise) and the camera follows his line of vision, rotating counterclockwise. Jack disappears off the right side of the screen, and it's like we've just entered his head!

    I never really thought about it before. Is this a common convention in filmmaking, following a character's line of vision until it seems we are in the character's POV? I would imagine it is, it comes across so naturally.

    We pan across the ocean, we hear Shannon screaming, and then Jack appears again, this time on the left - we've now left his head. He's still looking to the right, but then he too hears the screams, turns and dashes away.

    I always get disoriented on that shot. It's rather unconventional, isn't it?

    It all reminds me a lot of the end of Tabula Rasa, where we're seeing Michael bring Vincent back to Walt. The camera POV breaks from just showing us them to showing us the same scene but from just to the left and behind Locke's head, implying that we were in his head looking at the reunion. Then the camera rotates around his head. It's really a bit ponderous, but it seems fast because of how of the background quickly pans by. It's also a bit disorienting, because the camera is looking "in" to the center of rotation rather than "out" of the center. The camera isn't actually in the center of the circle, but on the circle itself.

    What's neat about the shot of Jack, though, is how the shifting POV isn't broken into multiple shots. Rather, it shifts seemlessly and continously into and out of Jack's POV.

    I wish I was in college again, if only so I could write about Lost for credit!

    Katattack June 20th, 2007 at 12:44 pm

    HI all,

    This may sound ridiculous but bare with me: I have a thought about Naomi and the fact that it wasn't Penny's boat. What if this all goes along with Desmond's flashs and his hacking of time. What I mean to say is, what if when Des changed things, Naomi's boat was altared to no longer be associated with Penny, instead it was a bad boat, either related to Widmore or Dharma. Naomi wouldn't have known that it had changed if before Des messed around with time, it was a mission to rescue Desmond, but it could be possible that he changed things so royally that Naomi's boat is now bad news for the Losties. I know this sounds like a stretch for Des' abilities/mistakes because a lot of the alleged signs of him changing things around have been subtle... but think along the same lines of the possability that Des' messing with time could also have made it so that Charley could swim and more importantly that Jack's Dad could no longer be dead. We've got an empty coffin from season 1, missing freckles and possibly the wrong boat showing up. This could be crazy if it's the case. Thoughts?

    synchromystic June 20th, 2007 at 7:23 pm

    so J, J Locke, J Rousseau, and J Bentham all have connections to the J(acobin) Club

    but if you insist we look for Egyptian connections there was a King J(acob)

    Bob June 22nd, 2007 at 2:13 pm

    First, I'd like to say that I've just discovered this blog via Wikipedia, and after reading a few posts I'm astounded at the amount of subtext Lost has (at least if the writers truly put as much thought into this as J Wood seems to). I used to watch purely for entertainment, but now I've found many more reasons to love this show.

    I have a few thoughts, but forgive me if they're already been brought up or if they seem ridiculous; I'm mostly just grasping at straws...

    About Mikhail's namesake... I believe there may be a connection between Mikhail's seeming invincibility and the fact that he shares his name with an anarchist. I don't know much about the real-life Mikhail's philosophy, but anarchists generally want a world without laws or authority. In real life, this is applied to government, but with regards to the Lost Mikhail, it might apply to science. The usual laws and order of nature may not apply to him. Thus, nature may not have any AUTHORITY over him. ("Only fools are enslaved by time and space," anyone?)

    Also, with regard to Minkowski space-time: it seems to me to support a pre-determined future. If everything is happening at once, then the future has always been what it is (rather, will be), meaning that there is only one future (thus, also only one past and present). If the future is not pre-determined, then it would be in a constantly changing state, and any given point in time would have its own distinct future. If this is true, then this seemingly contradicts Minkowski space-time, in which the future occurs at the same time as the past and present; if everything is occuring at any given point in time, then everything remains the same.

    Whether or not Minkowski space-time exists in reality, it is clear that it governs the Lost universe. Assuming that Mnkowski space-time supports a pre-determined future, this means that the Lost has a pre-determined future. Thus, instead of changing the future, Desmond is actually creating the conditions necessary for the real future to occur. This would mean that Desmond's precognitions are actually a false future, and by acting upon them he is creating the actual future, rather than vice-versa (mirror-twin?).

    Another interesting thing is that if it is an assumption of Minkowski space-time that time is analogous to space, then time might have dimensions, a space does. The obvious idea to be taken from this is that the flow of time is a dimension (past > present > future). Though this may seem to contradict Minkowski space-time, it might not. Space's dimensions are relative, for example, if you are upside-down, then down becomes up and up becomes down. Similarly, if you were to view time from a different perspective, the future would affect and flow into the present and past, as is what seems to be happening on Lost. This could also help to explain what happened to Desmond when he re-lived his own past, and why he couldn't change his own past, if it is to be accepted that the Lost universe has a pre-determined future.

    The idea of a pre-determined future can also be used to solve the paradoxes related to time-travel, such as the Grandfather Paradox. The idea is that when you go back in time, you are not going back to a point in time in your own timeline, but rather to an alternate universe where any interactions you have are the way things will play out anyway. If you went back in time and killed your own grandfather, you would still be born, but when you travel through time you go to a universe where the futureis meant to play out that way. No paradox. And of course, all of this is applicable to Desmond's situation. The conclusion to be drawn fron this is that if we accept that the Lost universe has a pre-determined future, it also must have parallel universes consistent with the multiverse theory.

    And this brings us all back around to the determinism vs. free will theme that is played around with in Lost, particularly with regard to Desmond. An interesting thing I've thought about is that the whole purpose of the flashbacks might be to play off this theme, they show how the experiences of the characters shape their decisions and free will (which is consistent with the philosophy of David Hume, taking us back to Desmond).

    Now, one final thing about the changes to time that have been occuring of late: if events in the past, present, and future keep changing each other, it is possible that in the future entire characters' backstories may change. We could have flashbacks and forwards that are completely inconsistent with previous establishments of characters and events. If these changes keep occuring with increasing frequency, we could end up with a scenario where time is changing so much that it would be impossibly hard to follow; every episode would become radically different from all previous ones.

    If this does turn out to be the case, then the whole purpose of the series might be to gradually introduce the audience to the concept of Minkowski space-time. The series starts out as a fairly linear narrative (representing our "mediated" point of view) and ends in a hectic coming-together of past, present, and future that is the reality of Minkowski space-time.

    These are just some random thoughts I had to get off my chest, sorry if they're completely ridiculous or inconsistent with facts; my only knowledge of most of these philosophies comes form this blog.

    Jeffrey June 23rd, 2007 at 9:33 am

    I'm sure I'm way behind the times (so to speak) on this but having read Tom Robbins' "Fierce Invalids" got me into the Egyptology of the "Corpus Hermeticum". Hermes: the patron of explorers and thieves; Hermetic logo of the AMA (the Doctors Shephard); Hermes as the World Snake - ruler of time (they had to cast Terry O'Quinn!); "The All" is God (You=God=Everybody); the Others have no children - per "Corpus" children = creations.
    From Wiki:
    Book 9 of "Corpus"
    "adultery, murder, violence to one's father, sacrilege, ungodliness, strangling, suicide from a cliff (how about a bridge)" comes from the demons; everything good comes from God.

    motrin junior strength June 27th, 2007 at 1:07 pm

    I haven't gotten anything done. Shrug. I've pretty much been doing nothing worth mentioning. So it goes.

    JK July 26th, 2007 at 9:39 pm

    I was at the Lost symposium at Comic-Con today and thought I'd just drop the highlights for anyone still checking this message board. Not much ground breaking stuff. 1. As most people already knew, Michael is returning "early in the season" and in "an awesome way" and will be a full time cast member. 2. There will be more flashforwards (as well as flashbacks). 3. The rest of Libby's story will be told sometime this season through flashbacks and Cuse implied she works for Dharma. 4. The Kate/Jack future scene is not the end of the show - meaning we will see more of what happens in the future. 5. Next season will NOT take place in the future with flashbacks to the island. 6. It will be revealed why Ben was crossing the Island when he was caught by Rousseau (he did not deliberately get himself caught to infiltrate the Losties). 7. Cuse implied that Jack and Claire will find out they are siblings. 8. Friendly says in what appeared to be an extra for the season 3 dvd that when the Losties see the "animals that are coming to the island" (people on the freighter) something to the effect that the Losties are going to really miss the Others. 9. The actor who plays Richard Alpert is joining another TV show and won't be able to be used that much this year. 10. Rousseau will probably get a flashback episode this season or next, but they have to wait to "synch up" some pieces of information from her story with things that haven't been revealed yet. 11. The smoke monster was referred to as Cerebus on the blast map door - also they said they thought the explanation behind the creature was cool but then launched into a tangent about how some mysteries will never be explained enough to satisfy everyone. 12. The biggest thing they showed was a clip at the end that they said came from a film strip found in an abandoned building in Norway. It was another Dr. Candle video - I'm sure it will be on the web soon, but a quick summary - the first scene shows him being made up and he says "I'm a scientist not an.." then it cuts off. Next he is holding a rabbit with the number 15 written on its side and he says he is Doctor Waxman (something with Wax) and this is the orientation video for Station Number 6 - The Orchid. He says something like, "As you know this is not a hordicultural station, but deception was necessary." then suddenly things start shaking and crashing and it looks like another rabbit labled 15 appears in a cage behind him (things were happening very quickly) and suddenly he tells the cameraman to stop filming.

    Those were pretty much the highlights. THere were a ton of wasted questions with people just saying how much they loved the show and no one asked anything about literary references, time-space issues, or the tsunami. they showed clips from the Lost Video Game coming out next year and said there might be another Lost Experience and more webisodes. They also went on and on about how excited they were to have an end date. Overall it was interesting, but I'd love to be able to watch the Dr. Candle again in slowmo. Keep an eye out for it on the web.

    DTinMB August 7th, 2007 at 10:09 pm

    JK - hey glad I checked the site again. thanks for posting. lots of info there - I love the two #15 rabbits. Can't wait to dissect that one (the video, not the rabbit.)

    DTinMB August 9th, 2007 at 1:24 pm

    Okay, having now seen the clip on the abc site... two #15 rabbits in the room appear to be the SAME RABBIT. From the future or a copy? I'm betting from the future. And Dr. Candle is calling himself "Dr. Holowax." There is mirror-twinning everywhere now. - Through the Looking Glass indeed.

    Lain October 10th, 2007 at 1:24 pm

    About Dexter Stratton...

    Dexter means "left". Stratton means "road". Maybe together "Dexter Stratton" means "the left-hand path."

    When Charlie accepts the ring, he begins his journey on the left-hand path. He gives up his right-hand religion and involves himself in drugs and earthly delights. Even as given, it's encouragement to live an earthly life, albeit a nicer one, a life as a father. Charlie eventually finds himself in that role, even though he is not the "father" of baby Aaron.

    Only when he finally gives up the ring does he give up the left-hand path to accept his role as self-sacrificing Hero, much more apropos of the right-hand path as defined above.

    I miss Charlie.

    Miss Gretchen November 5th, 2007 at 9:52 am

    Hey guys. re: the WGA strike, I just wanted to pop in here today to say as much as I was looking forward to Lost in 2008, I do fully support the strike even though it might affect "my" show.

    Lain, interesting what you say about the left hand path, but I'm still haunted by that left handed crossing himself that Charlie did before he died. If you are raised Catholic, it's just not something you can do without thinking.

    Thanks JK for your recap of the The Orchid station video, I read it this summer and it was helpful when I didn't have time to hunt down the videos on YouTube.

    For myself, I watched season 1 on DVD this summer and I have to say, the show comes across much better to me in this format -- the ability to watch two shows at a time and no commercial breaks. The emotional power of season 1 is quite amazing. I think in the years to come people will refer to these initial episodes as a premier example of an ensemble show, and that culturally, this season will be remembered as -- it's hard for me to put into words -- but as you've said J, in Living Lost, a kind of reaction to the Iraq war where people who were watching the show every week, who were a bit more "from all walks of life" than the more niche audience nowadays, could participate in the kind of "one world/we're all in it together/how can we all get along" emotional paradigm that some say the first photographs of the Earth from space engendered in people of that time. (Relating to the war in that the US forces were supposed to be there not for a war against all Iraqis but for a quick humanitarian action.)

    Since I'm talking about the show's writers here, I suppose this might be the place I could make a case for the actors to the writers: Please try to let them know a bit more about what is going on. If this continues this way, the actors will be forced to continue with bad soap-opera-acting quirks, like saying a line and then "looking mysterious." It's unfair to the actors and it's unfair to us the viewers. On a throwaway daily soap those quirks are forgiven, but remember, this is a show which is supposed to stand up to repeated viewings on DVD. Not to beat a dead horse by naming a certain other show who had its last season recently, but there was a lot of secrecy on that show as well, and the acting in the last episodes was surprisingly lousy at times -- my supposition is, that it was because the actors had no idea about the inner life or thoughts of their character. I know that some writers have said "on Lost it makes it more like real life because we don't know what someone is going to say to us or what's going to happen" -- so sure, don't tell the actors on Lost what the smoke monster is, fine. But a person in real life does indeed know their own back story, or what they are planning to do tomorrow, even if they don't actually do what they planned. It affects how the actor gives a performance. In any case, to reiterate, good luck to the writers for a successful end to the strike.

    Two Doc Jensen links, FYI:,,20050425,00.html,,20151394,00.html

    Maximilian De Selby November 22nd, 2007 at 8:13 am

    Living Lost is really a great book, the best among the Lost-related published till now!
    Just a question: anyone knows if an updated version covering the whole season 3 is going to be published?

    Lain December 3rd, 2007 at 2:51 pm

    The Whispers Are Beautiful.

    katVianda December 7th, 2007 at 4:08 pm

    I’d prefer reading in my native language, because my knowledge of your languange is no so well. But it was interesting!

    Valerie January 24th, 2008 at 10:07 am

    Since this is the only place I know of to ask the question...Hey J. Wood will you be re-starting your blog next week after the Season 4 episode on January 31st..... Can't wait

    Brockman January 25th, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    Hey Valerie (and everyone else who's wondering about J. and Season 4) — here's some good news!

    Daz Voss May 5th, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    The news item that Jack is holding when he is sitting in the car is not very clear, but it does seem to say:

    LOS ANGELES (something)
    Man found (something)
    The body of (something)-ham of
    (blah blah) loud
    (blah blah) n's loft

    I think the dead person's name (or alias) probably ends with -ham.

    Muhammad Akram December 18th, 2012 at 11:40 pm

    Its very difficult to sort out the things very clearly...
    interesting blog..

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