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Lost: Michael’s Promotion

One thing that might come to mind when Ben sends Alex, Karl and Rousseau to the temple is Ben sending Goodwin and Ethan out to the plane crash. Ben must love it when a plan comes together.

"Meet Kevin Johnson" was a newer kind of flashback, a near-time flashback; the only other near-time flashbacks we've seen so far have been on the island (like with "The Other 48 Days," "Three Minutes," "Exposé" and "The Brig"). If a timeline of the Lost mosaic is being constructed somewhere, the flashbacks from "Meet Kevin Johnson" would overlap with events from the third season, and well before the third season's finale; one clue is the Christmas tree in the hallway of the hospital, which suggests he crashed his car some time in December.

This episode was one of connections and reveals, with three basic settings: the flashbacks, the freighter, and the barracks. If one were to identify any particular themes of the episode, they might be fatalism and war, with Michael squarely in realm of fatalism and the freighter and Ben in the barracks in the war zone. There were also a number of interstitial connections peppered throughout the episode. This wasn't a particularly difficult episode to follow, but that's due to some careful narrative crafting that reconnected the audience with previous story elements, keeping everyone well-oriented.

First with Michael: One of the big questions of Lost is the debate between free will and determinism (and the difference is split by David Hume's compatibilism). It's almost as if the island is an embodiment of these poles; Ben knows this, and uses it to his advantage. When Michael left the island, at some point he told Walt what he did to get them off the island. We don't know exactly how Walt responded, but he and Michael afterwards separated by a wider gulf than the island could create. This is enough to put Michael over the edge. When confronted by Sayid on the freighter, Sayid asks Michael why he's there, and Michael responds "I'm here to die."

But the island has made him fatalistically indestructible—he couldn't kill himself no matter how hard he tried, and try he did; "Did the bullet bounce off your skull, or did the gun just jam on you?" asks Tom. Michael seems unsure of his given mission until he witnesses Keamy and the other Freighties shooting trap with machine guns, and gets the hint that some on board have particularly negative intentions. This seems enough to convince him to follow through on his job, and he attempts to activate the bomb delivered to him by Tom when he boarded the freighter in Fiji, but he only gets that flag, "NOT YET."

The bomb, it seems, was a test to see if Michael had the fortitude to complete Ben's mission. When Ben contacts Michael on the freighter, he tells Michael that "When I'm at war, I'll do what I need to do to win, but I will not kill innocent people." When Michael challenges him on that claim, pointing out Ben had Michael take out Ana-Lucia and Libby, Ben simply responds "You killed them, Michael. No one asked you to. I don't blame you, Michael. We did have your boy. What wouldn't a man do for his son?"

This says a lot. Michael has been robbed of the fullest expression of his free will, the ability to take his own life. Ben has been cynically manipulating Michael to put him exactly in this position—one where he cannot die yet has nothing else to live for, has lost his innocence after committing murder, and has now proven willing to kill again. In chess terms, Michael is the pawn who by making it off the island has made it to the other side of the board and has been promoted; the pawn then takes on the same abilities of the most powerful piece, the queen. The most dangerous person is usually the one with nothing left to lose, and Michael has little left but the ability to destroy.

(Note that Ben contacting Michael in the guise of Walt recalls the episode "What Kate Did," when Walt seemingly contacts Michael via the Swan Station computer. Maybe that was Ben as well.)

The bomb scene is evocative of the first of a few literary references that sneak into the episode, but none that are new. Michael was hoping to blow up with the bomb, but this turns out to be a kind of mock execution. We've already seen Dostoevsky in Lost; Ben reads The Brothers Karamazov while imprisoned in the Swan Station. Readers of Dostoevsky may be familiar with the mock execution he went through in 1849. Dostoevsky was a member of the Petrashevsky Circle, a group of politically progressive writers, teachers, students, government officials, military members, and other intellectuals. The group primarily discussed socialism and focused on ways to resist the autocratic authority of the tsar (at the time, Nicholas I), and how to challenge the social structure of serfdom.

However, after the revolutions of 1848 (which philosopher-provocateur Mikhail Bakunin took part), Tsar Nicholas took to rounding up political threats, including the Petrashevsky Circle, and sentenced them to death by firing squad. However, the tsar ended up commuting the sentences to labor in Siberia, but the official in charge of the prisoners staged a mock execution anyway: The prisoners were marched out in front of the firing squad, who took aim and fired their empty weapons. One man died from shock. Another went insane. Dostoevsky himself developed epilepsy after the event. While in prison his political positions shifted, and he rejected revolutionary politics for being overly materialistic, and reconsidered the need for a strong tsar (one whose orders might actually be followed by prison officials).

It will be interesting to see what Michael does at this point, having his execution mocked once again with the NOT YET bomb. However, the fact that he's on the freighter in the first place is a kind of punishment for his crime of murder, a topic which Dostoevsky devoted an entire novel to.

That's just the first of a few literary nods. When Michael brings the bomb down to the engine room, we quickly see a sign for the fuel line, "WARNING NO OPEN FLAMES." We just saw Jules Verne's The Survivors of the Chancellor last week, where the ship was capsized by an explosive in the hold that sets the ship on fire. What if potassium picrate was a component of the explosive compound?

No open flames

The two other direct nods bring us back to Michael's fatalism. As he sits in his apartment and attempts to put a bullet in his head, a game show is showing on his television. The host asks who wrote Slaughterhouse-Five, and just after Michael pulls the trigger, some lucky contestant correctly answers Kurt Vonnegut. When Michael sits in his cabin on the freighter and bounces the tennis ball off the wall, Minkowski comes in and asks if he's "going Nicholson on us." We all know the reference by now, Jack Torrance in Stanley Kubrick's film of The Shining (by Stephen King, of course). This was cleverly set up by previously-seen freighter scenes of blood-stained cabin and an ax stuck in a wall. Like Jack Torrance, Michael also sees ghosts; he see Libby when he's in the hospital after his car crash in New York (with the touchstone eye-opening scene), and again when he's about to activate the bomb on the freighter. The opening sweeping, zooming shots of The Shining were also echoed in the opening shot of "Ji Yeon," with the deep sweeping shot zooming in on the freighter.

Shining reflections

In both the Vonnegut and Kubrick/King references, we also get a return to the idea of fatalism; Billy Pilgrim and the Tralfamadorians of Slaughterhouse-Five already know when and how they die and simply accept it (what else can they do?), and Jack Torrance learns from the butler Delbert Grady that he—Jack, the caretaker—has always been at the hotel, and is fated to repeat his cycle of going mad and killing his family. So it goes.

Michael doesn't know when he'll die, or even if he can, and even though in retrospect his fate has seemed pretty much determined for him all along, he still tries to act out of a place of free will. Desmond may share David Hume's namesake, but Michael may be the next embodiment of Humean compatibilism.

Next with the war: The developing war is becoming increasingly intriguing, with plenty of intrigue. Sayid rats out Michael to Captain Gault at the end of the episode, but long before then Sayid is constantly probing for answers from Michael and anyone else he talks to. On the one hand, it seems Sayid is going firmly into interrogation mode, but on the other hand, it almost seems as if Sayid is already working for someone. Given how far ahead Ben seems to work, we have to wonder if Ben predicted and planned for Michael to be turned in, and if Sayid is an accidental or knowing participant of that plan.

Tom also gets to play international man of intrigue in this episode by recruiting Michael to be Ben's weapon. Not only do we learn why Tom says "Kate, you're not my type," but Tom reiterates and expands on Ben's tale of Charles Widmore. He shows Michael the documents and photos from the cemetery Widmore apparently nabbed the 324 bodies from in order to stock his fake plane at the bottom of the Sunda Trench. Of course in a narrative that includes faked plane crashes, constant misdirection and a steady stream of false information, such "documentation" may be suspect.

The shot of Tom striding down the alley when Michael tries to top himself has the signature glint of New York noir all over it. The long shadows, the knife of light from the back of the alley, Tom only visible in silhouette save for the hands he's about to club Michael with, all recall a wealth of noir film narratives and the tropes they entail. There is no femme fatale in this scenario, but Michael is the one thoroughly entangled in the gears of a machine he did his best to avoid, and Tom is the agent who tightens the screws. (But didn't that scene also echo the opening of the 1980's show The Equalizer, especially when Tom's face comes into the light?)

Tom in the alley

Miles finally has the grenade removed from his jaws and gives up the mission to the barracks denizens. The Lostaways are expendable, unfortunate collateral damage in this war who are to be exterminated after Ben is captured. As such, Miles has become a (mouthy) hostage, the latest in a string of hostages: Walt (a hostage of the Others), Ben (of the Lostaways), Michael (of the Tailies and then the Others), Sawyer (of the Tailies), Jin (of the Tailies), Sayid (by U.S. soldiers), Cooper (by the Others), and a too many more to enumerate here. (Lostpedia has a page dedicated to all the hostage situations to date.)

We do know of two particular casualties of war, Danielle and Karl. What we don't know is who shot them, why, and if they're actually dead yet (the island seems to be a little stingier with its healing powers lately). We haven't seen Richard Alpert and the other Others in some time; they're on the short list of assassins. We haven't seen any other Freighties on the island except the ones already accounted for, so even though they're also on that list, they're farther down. One thing to note, however, is the silent zip of the shots; did someone get silencers?

Last with some other connections: A tangential point about Tom that quickly made it to Lostpedia is the Hotel Earle. There used to be a Hotel Earle in New York; it was a flophouse in the Village, and Bob Dylan stayed there in the early 1960's. Today it's the Washington Square Hotel. However, the Coen brothers used the name for their flophouse Hollywood hotel in the 1991 neo-noir film Barton Fink. This may be coincidence, but the Coens also just filmed Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men, and the Lost writers have put McCarthy on their own reading lists, so the name may be something of an homage.

When Ben tells Alex about sanctuary at the temple, he shows her a map, and the temple is represented by another DHARMA bagua. Is this the temple or the Temple (Station)?

Temple map

The freighter is slowly becoming more mysterious. Not only is it turning into a floating Overlook Hotel, but its name changed somewhere along the way. While at port in Fiji, the name "KAHANA" is partially obscured; some other image is peeking out from under the swaths of paint, and only "KAHA" is visible. (One meaning of "kaha" in Hawaiian is to scratch or make marks.) In one quick shot, there are also some odd symbols seen on the hull of the freighter. There's no telling what these mean yet; are they nautical? Something else?

Kahana scratched out

Kahana hull symbols

Speaking of the port in Fiji, that location may be significant. The vile vortices were noted here in the post for "The Constant." Fiji is right in the nook of one of these vortices, and may be the gateway to wherever the island resides.

The number of Oceanic 815 victims at the bottom of the Sunda Trench, 324, seems to be popping up quite a bit. That number also provides a quick link back to Michael. When Michael and Walt first left the island, Ben instructed Michael to follow a bearing of 325 degrees if he wanted to make it out. If the unborn Aaron is counted as an Oceanic 815 passenger, there were 325 individuals on the flight, the same number as the bearing Michael takes.

The corpse-wrangling and crash-faking is the content of the Sunda Trench conspiracy theory (which was talked about in the post for "Ji Yeon"). Just to put a finer point on the idea of a conspiracy theory, Lapidus gives us this when talking to Michael on the freighter:

Lapidus: You ever hear about Oceanic 815?
Michael: Yeah.
Lapidus: What would you say if I told you the plane they found in that trench wasn't Oceanic 815?
Michael: What is it?
Lapidus: You know those nuts that think the moon landing was faked? Well this is like that, only real.

We have six weeks to chew over the implications, and this bit of insight from Carlton Cuse:

Occasionally people do stumble upon bits and pieces of things that are true and I think that is great, but it has to remain that viewers individual satisfaction because we're not going to ruin it for everybody else by saying "Yes! That's exactly what is going to happen.

Books mentioned in this post

  1. The Brothers Karamazov
    Used Trade Paper $10.00
  2. Crime and Punishment (Penguin Classics)
    Used Trade Paper $7.95

  3. Slaughterhouse-Five, Or, the...
    Used Hardcover $17.95
  4. The Shining
    Used Mass Market $6.50

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

85 Responses to "Lost: Michael’s Promotion"

    Deedee March 22nd, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    Thanks for another great post, J.

    I think that the title of this episode, “Meet Kevin Johnson,” is a nod to Frank Capra’s 1941 film “Meet John Doe.” It has been ages since I’ve seen the film, but it has similar elements -- a guy caught in the middle of a plot; a suicide threat; and a wealthy man who secretly manipulates everybody for his own ends. Here’s the link to the Wiki write-up:


    and here's a more detailed synopsis from TCM:


    The movie will be showing on TCM in May.

    Shaun March 22nd, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    "(W)ell before the third season's finale"? The flashback does have to be before then, true, since Tom dies in that finale. But how long before? I ask, because we just saw Dec. 24th in "The Constant"!

    At least a few days have passed between the season finale and Xmas. The flashback has to be sometime between Thxgiving (I think that's about the time Michael left with the boat?) and the events in the finale.

    The real question, unanswered here, is how, exactly, Michael (and Waaallt!) got back to the States, and so quickly! Was he rescued from the small boat Ben gave him (by whom)? Was the heading Ben sent Michael through a wormhole/vile vortice? How does he enter the country without ID (he's hiding his identity)?

    Perhaps the Others arranged for his re-entry (the same way Tom traveled?), and perhaps they took care Michael's medical bills as well.

    Joe Hogan March 22nd, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    In the scene on the freighter in which Michael is bouncing the ball, Minkowski specifically points us to "The Shining" reference. However, visually the scene is much closer to Steve McQueen bouncing the baseball in his solitary confinement cell at the prison camp in "The Great Escape".

    In that movie McQueen's character is driven to escape the camp, no matter the number of failures. At the end, he is killed during his last escape attempt.

    It struck me that the placement of the Kubrick/King reference into the mouth of Minkowski was a bit more insistent a reference than we have become used to. Could the creative team be purposely misdirecting viewers? Are they instead signaling Michael's inextinguishable desire to escape his present circumstances, either through a physical escape or a successful suicide?

    Only time will tell, so to speak.

    T. Allen March 22nd, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    The nature of Michael’s fatalistic indestructibility has been bugging me. It took me a little bit of time before I realized that Tom’s question to Michael—"Did the bullet bounce off your skull, or did the gun just jam on you?"—reminded me of some passages in a paper on time travel by a philosopher you’ve mentioned in your earlier posts, the recently deceased David Lewis. The paper is called “The Paradoxes of Time Travel,” and one of Lewis’s concerns is the fact that if someone were to travel backward through time, this would render impossible certain otherwise perfectly possible events. For instance, I couldn’t step into a time travel device today, go back 90 years, and kill my grandfather as a child, because my existence implies that grandfather grew up and had child who became one of my parents.

    As Lewis writes, of someone who, he imagines, tries to kill his grandfather: “It is logically impossible that Tim should change the past by killing Grandfather in 1921. So Tim cannot kill Grandfather . . . You know, of course, roughly how the story of Tim must go on if it is to be consistent: he somehow fails. Since Tim didn’t kill Grandfather in the “original” 1921, consistency demands that neither does he kill Grandfather in the “new” 1921. Why not? For some commonplace reason. Perhaps some noise distracts him at the last moment, perhaps he misses despite all his target practice, perhaps his nerve fails, perhaps he even feels a pang of unaccustomed mercy.” Or, one might add, perhaps the gun jams, or perhaps the bullet bounces off Grandfather’s skull.

    Something about the idea of the island having the power to deliberately prevent Michael from killing himself rubs me the wrong way: too elaborate, too mystical. I much prefer the possibility, particularly given the various forms of time-hopping that have been going on anyway, that Michael’s inability is rooted in the fact that he is “already” (from some perspective to which Tom, apparently, has some sort of access) present in the future. (Which compels us to ask: Does Tom have precognition? Perhaps he himself can time travel? Or Ben can, and has, and has reported back? This also opens interesting possibilities for answering Shaun’s question about how the Others managed to get Michael back to the mainland so quickly, and so forth. Who knows how long he’s been gone, in fact, if we throw out the assumption that he must have travelled there in a straight line, so far as temporality goes?)

    “The Paradoxes of Time Travel,” by the way, is reprinted in David Lewis’s collection ‘Philosophical Papers, Volume II” (Oxford University Press, 1987); the passages I quoted above are from page 76.

    Paul March 22nd, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    Great post J, as always.

    To follow up on Shaun's post: Lostpedia indicates that Michael and Walt leave the Island on Day 68 and that the Kahana left port in Fiji prior to Day 87 (the day Naomi arrived on the Island). So, this would suggest that in two weeks or so (1) Michael and Walt were rescued at sea (2) returned to land at Fiji, the closest port, (3) concocted a persuasive cover story that included new identities to hide their 815 connections, (4) made it from Fiji to LA, (5) then from LA to NY, all without money or credit cards, (6) became estranged, (7) Michael then found a place to live and a car (8) became despondent, tried to commit suicide via car crash, (9) wound up in the hospital, (10) healed very quickly, (11) went to see Walt one evening, was rebuffed, attempted suicide, (12) then was recruited by Tom and (13) made it back to Fiji to set sail for the island. This seems wildly implausible - how could all of this happened in so short period a time? Getting rescued, returned to Fiji, and crafting cover stories might take two weeks in and off itself. Although the possibility of a major continuity error is present, it seems unlikely given the care with which the narrative has been constructed so far.
    I could even see some compelling explanations for a few of these points. For instance, maybe the island somehow healed Michael very quickly. But I can't see how all this could happen as fast as it did. Therefore, it may be that bearing 325 returned them to a point much earlier than late Nov 2004 and/or they were "met" by a ship in cahoots with Ben. We need another Michael flashback to clarify matters.

    Re: the losties fate - the scene with the mercenaries on the freighter shooting trap was ominous. It seems clear that their mission is to kill our beloved losties. In a similar vein, Ben stated that the Temple is not for the losties. These developments suggest that Team Locke and Team Jack may need to band together to survive at some point.

    Re: the Widmore papers. I agree they are suspect- if Widmore set it all up through a shell company, why would Widmore Enterprises appear on the purchase order for the decommissioned plane. More broadly, if Widmore's goal is to find the island, why would he go through the trouble of staging a fake plane crash in the wrong location? All he needs is the island's coordinates, which he presumably got when the hatch imploded and the Portuguese men detected it from the Antarctic listening station. Why would he bother to risk drawing attention to himself by staging a fake crash that runs the risk of eventually being exposed? This is a long winded way of saying that Ben may be behind the fake crash, perhaps as a means to discredit Widmore in the real world and thus remove him as a threat.

    Finally, when Sayid turns Micheal over to Captain Gault, is this the "leading with your heart rather than your gun" comment Ben made at the end of the economist? Perhaps Sayid's desire for vengeance /justice will come back to haunt the losties in the not to distant future.

    K.V.C March 22nd, 2008 at 4:16 pm

    I'm sorry but didn't we see the axe in the wall when Michael boards the boat, so it is placed there all the time!

    Juno Walker March 22nd, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    J -

    "Michael doesn't know when he'll die, or even if he can, and even though in retrospect his fate has seemed pretty much determined for him all along, he still tries to act out of a place of free will. Desmond may share David Hume's namesake, but Michael may be the next embodiment of Humean compatibilism."

    I can't decide if Michael is a compatibilist or a fatalist - fatalism being the notion that no matter what one does, no matter what choices one makes, the outcome will be the same. I'm inclined to think that Michael has been changed from a compatibilist to a fatalist due in part (or perhaps totally because of) Tom's assertion that "the island" won't let him die - especially since Michael's gun "misfired" when he tried to shoot himself in his apartment. I still think there's something fishy going on with Michael not being able to kill himself. I don't think the island has powers outside its electromagnetic bubble. I think maybe Tom switched guns on him; or the pawn shop owner is in cahoots with Tom or something.

    Anyway, Michael may have decided to work for Ben because, among other reasons, he desires to have some measure of control over his life, to exert what little (compatibilist) freedom of the will he has left. In Dostoevsky's "Notes from Underground," the protagonist makes the claim that human beings have an innate desire for such freedom, and that they, in agreement with some of Nietzsche's ideas, want some kind of authentic free will, and that a human being will oftentimes will nothing than to not will at all. Maybe this partly explains Michael's desire to agree to Ben's attempt to blow up the Freighter...


    L O S T, Hearts & Minds

    OttoZilch March 22nd, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    Not sure whether you've stated it this way but someone else pointed out to me that the first flashforward (Jack/Kate in S3) seems to be the furthest in the future; each subsequent flashforward has brought us closer to the present (2004). If we took each of the flashbacks, would they be in sequence up to the crash?

    Great blog!

    Juno Walker March 22nd, 2008 at 5:11 pm

    Regarding the island not letting Michael die: I suppose there is one possibility in the realm of "speculative science" (which Darlton seemed to indicate in the beginning of the series when they said that everything can be explained by science or "speculative science", or something like that); namely, the idea of bioelectromagnetics - the study of the effect of electromagnetism on the human body.

    Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is currently being studied fairly extensively. The studies typically center around affecting migraines, stroke, depression and auditory hallucinations. It's described as a method for affecting the neurons of the brain. And since we know (or most of the scientific community believes) that the mind (that is, the personality) IS the brain, then electromagnetism (at least in the LOST Universe) may alter one's personality or thoughts in such a way as to do its bidding, so to speak. Maybe the Smoke Monster (whoever or whatever it turns out to be) is able to implant memories or induce visual "hallucinations" in those it encounters - maybe we can even consider the emphasis on eyes in LOST to represent the pathway to all these visual apparitions or visual hallucinations that people are having both on-island and off-island.

    Here's a link to an interesting article that may have some relevance to LOST:

    "Could magnets make the mind grow stronger? In mice at least, stimulating the brain with a magnetic coil appears to promote the growth of new neurons in areas associated with learning and memory."

    Here's another link to some type of project that states:

    "Create a community that designs the core technology for a safe, highly functional, inexpensive, efficacious noninvasive transcranial magnetic stimulator (TMS) device for stimulating the central nervous system.

    Facilitate experimentation and exchange of ideas, on the topic of modulation of brain function in a variety of people and contexts, so that we can learn more about the neural circuits mediating our subjective experiences, and improve mental functions (aka hacking your brain)."

    Maybe the Smoke Monster is hacking into our Losties' brains.

    But that's just theory speculation...


    L O S T, Hearts & Minds

    Patton McGinley March 22nd, 2008 at 5:56 pm

    I am convinced that Danielle and Karl fell afoul of Widmore's thugs, Keamy and company. Obviously, we're supposed to assume Ben set them up but I think that's misdirection... and perhaps something more.

    The thing that hit me hardest was Alex surrendering and shouting, "I'm Ben's daughter." This echoes Ben's earlier comments to Alex, Danielle and Karl about how the people coming to the Island would use Alex to get to him. I think on April 24th we're going to see a very human side to Ben; and, a nice bit of ironic justice since he'll be in the same position Michael was in when the Others had Walt.

    The next hint was Michael's brief flash-back confrontation with gun-nut Keamy (who just screamed "mercenary" in that scene). A more subtle series of hints occurred in "Ji Yeon:" Keamy snarling "don't be late" to Frank, followed by the notice of the copter being gone the following morning (Freighter Standard Time). Frank's on an "errand" indeed. He landed the mercs on the Island and Alex and friends had the misfortune of stumbling across their path.

    To end this screed, I have to say that to assume Ben set up Danielle, Karl and Alex is a big mistake. Something LOST has pointed out again and again: don't assume you know anything about another person. In his own weird, twisted way Ben really cares about Alex and simply wouldn't put her in a situation where she could have been accidentally killed.

    Paulo M. March 22nd, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    I guess like everybody else I was kind of disappointed not to find out how exactly Michael and Walt got off the island, not that it would have affected the number of unknowns (sometimes I feel this show is just about expectations. I've been getting some of the same frustations I had with Heroes). As per how he entered the US without ID, I think that could have easily been arranged by the Others, the same way they did for Tom. Did anyone notice how Libby called Michael "Mr. Johnson" in his dream? Was that some sort of precognition? Only later did Tom tell Michael that he would use that name when he said "Meet Kevin Johnson". Also, when Tom said "the island won't let you die", I wondered "is he really talking about the island"? Because that would be giving God-like powers to a place. One thing is having cancer cured or going to remission (Rose) by electromagnetic properties, or whatever, being healed of paralysis (Locke). Now, if the island has the power to stop people from dying, it should also have the power of bringing them back from the dead (Patchy??).

    shipwreck March 22nd, 2008 at 6:35 pm

    Something else to keep in mind, when thinking on the shootings of Karl and Rousseau, is the 'errand' that Lapidus is meant to be on, as referenced in the previous episode. I fully believe Ben knew that Karl and Rousseau would be shot if they headed to the Temple, though by whom I'm not so sure.

    If it were the Freighties then its sheer happenstance that they shot the only two of the three in the party who weren't related to Ben (ala Goodwin), unless they somehow know about Alex. If it was the Others then it makes sense that Ben gave them the orders to do away with the thorny Karl and Rousseau.

    Always a great read, by the way.

    Phutatorius March 22nd, 2008 at 7:50 pm

    Like my stubborn conviction that Kelvin has some larger role to play in this tale, I’ve also thought that the watch Jin gave to Michael will have some larger role to play. In this episode the watch changed hands again when Michael “hawked” it for a gun and ammunition. The pawnshop or “hawkshop” Michael visits reminded me a bit of Mrs Hawkings shop, which seemed to be an antique shop or perhaps just a glorified London “hawkshop.” The New York pawnbroker seemed understandably reluctant to provide Michael with a gun. After it fails to fire in Michael’s second (or third?) suicide attempt Michael opens the chamber and finds it loaded with six rounds, none of which bear a mark from the firing pin, the sort of mark with which any gun owner would be familiar, as well as with the fact that revolvers don’t jam. Strange. I thought maybe the gun had been tampered with, that the New York pawnbroker was playing a role similar to Mrs Hawking’s role – just making sure that the universe self-corrected and that Michael survived to carry out his role on the freighter, whatever that role is. But on a second viewing of the episode I noticed that the gun actually had fired one time in the alley.

    That’s an interesting tidbit about Dostoevsky’s fake execution. I’ll take Dostoevsky over Dickens, any day. I’m in the process of re-reading The Devils/The Possessed/Demons, depending on which translation.

    Phutatorius March 22nd, 2008 at 8:16 pm

    After posting that last, I got out my OED (and my magnifying glass) to verify the usage “hawkshop.” Although “hawking” can mean “peddling,” the word for a pawnshop should have been “hockshop.” So the wordplay I attempted between Mrs Hawking and hawkshop was not well-founded. So it goes.

    Leah March 22nd, 2008 at 8:48 pm

    I just saw an interesting bit on Lord of the Rings (Two Towers) that reminded me of one of one of our many mysteries on LOST: "Folks used to say there was something in the water that made the trees grow tall... and come alive. Trees that could whisper... talk to each other... even move." And in the movie, who was the character that said these words? Merry, played by none other than our very own Charlie, Dominic Monaghan. Maybe that's been brought up before, but it's interesting.

    Thursday's episode also reminded me of another movie: Unbreakable, in which Bruce Willis plays a character that cannot be killed. Samuel L. Jackson plays a crippled guy who owns a comic book store and is looking for a superhero in the real world. Thinking he found one in Bruce, he contacts him and tells him his theory. (Spoiler) Turns out he has been looking for a superhero so he could play the role of anti-hero/villain. I don't know if it has any relevance to the show, but unkillable Michael reminded me of that.

    Leah March 22nd, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    Also, re: how Walt and Michael got back to the States so quickly, if they followed 325, maybe they found rescue within one day, and then at the first port flew back. They could have feasibly been back within a few days, but still had time to discuss what had happened on the island. Maybe they didn't touch on it because it's unimportant, or maybe it will be explored in a later episode. It would be interesting to see what happened in the boat leaving the island. (Storm? Lightning? Nosebleeds?) And, yes, how did they make it through customs? And furthermore, with the sub destroyed, how is Tom travelling back and forth?

    J Wood (Post Author) March 23rd, 2008 at 6:06 am

    Shaun, those were all questions I had written down, but didn't think we had enough yet to go on -- how long were they in that boat, were they picked up out in the ocean or did Michael just keep going to New York (someone must have picked them up), who might have picked them up, etc. We'll have to wait six weeks before we learn anything more about that. I think there was about a two-month window between departure and re-entry, but that's a guestimate. (But when two episodes often deal with one day, "well before" takes on a specific sort of meaning. And that flashback pretty much spans most of the entire third season for us.)

    I've not seen Meet John Doe. Deedee, is there anything in particular about Capra's film that resonates with this episode?

    Thomas March 23rd, 2008 at 9:58 am

    The kind of small touch that I like about this show. Libby was in the hatch to get blankets for her picnic with Hurley, and when Michael first sees her, she's offering him a blanket.
    "The island wont let you die." The explanation was that he had work to do, and makes the producer's tease from Doc Jensen's EW column this week even more significant, because we were told that we'd learn why Jack couldn't jump off the bridge. That has to mean that the car crash that interupted him was caused by the island(?!), which is a stunning concept. Is the island sentient, or is Jacob running this show?
    I'm also assuming at this point that each one of the escapees has a ghost, or whatever Charlie, Christian Shepard, Libby, etc... are, giving them variations on they need you messages.
    Kate & Aaron/Claire?

    Can't wait for April 24.

    Juno Walker March 23rd, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    Regarding Michael's timeline, I think there is a clue in this epi where they show Ben (calling as "Walt") talking to Michael when he is on the Freighter. Compare this pic of Ben from this episode to the one in "The Man from Tallahassee."

    In the pic of Ben talking on the phone to Michael in this epi, you can see that he is still in his wheelchair - he's even wearing the same pajamas as in "The Man from Tallahassee" epi.

    According to Lostpedia, the Tallahassee epi covered up until about Day 82; and we know that Ben was out of his wheelchair by at least Day 91 (in "The Brig"), or even sooner.

    So Michael was on the Freighter at least 10 days or so before the events taking place on the island. That also means Ben has had at least 10 days to prepare for the Freighties...


    L O S T, Hearts & Minds

    zachor March 23rd, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    Alex is not Ben's biological daughter. Rousseau gave birth to her on the island after she and her husband ran aground and were marooned. The Others kidnapped her and apparently Ben raised her as his daughter for reasons unknown. I can't imagine that he has an emotional attachment to her. She is probably necessary for some aspect of his bigger plan and my guess is that he probably feels more as though she "belongs" to him, just as he has told Juliet that she is his property.

    DS9Sisko March 23rd, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    " As he sits in his apartment and attempts to put a bullet in his head, a game show is showing on his television. The host asks who wrote Slaughterhouse-Five, and just after Michael pulls the trigger, some lucky contestant correctly answers Kurt Vonnegut."

    But there is a question asked by the game show host right after that, just before the breaking news story about the discovery: "For extra credit, can you name the female protagonist?"

    That second question was not put in (and so clearly audible) without purpose methinks. Given the massive misdirection "Lost" has been engaged in this season, methinks the Vonnegut answer is a red-herring. What did Locke say to Ben in "Eggtown" when he gave en the copy of Valis? You might catch something you missed the first time around...

    If the reference is to Slaughterhouse Five, who could it be a direct reference to?

    Montana Wildhack, Valenicia Merble, or Barbara Pilgrim?

    Paul March 23rd, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    Thomas says "we were told that we'd learn why Jack couldn't jump off the bridge. That has to mean that the car crash that interupted him was caused by the island(?!), which is a stunning concept. Is the island sentient, or is Jacob running this show?"

    To follow up, two more off-island events from Juliette's season 3 flashbacks seemed difficult to understand prior to "Meet KJ". First, Jules told Richard Aplert that she could only come to the island if her ex was run over by a bus. The next day he was. Second, Ben promised Jules that Jacob would cure her sister's cancer, and evidently, he did. Perhaps Jacob/the island, either independently or under Ben's direction, was reaching out to make these things happen b/c Jules has work to do on the island.

    Another Ben-Michael parallel. When Ben told the Losties that the freighter people were going to kill everyone on the island in "Through the Looking Glass", it comes as no surprise that he was not believed. His actions and deceptions in in seasons 2 & 3 ensured any credibility he may have had was long gone. So too with Michael. Given our access to his back story, it seems likely the freighter people are indeed dangerous, but since he killed Anna and Libby and sold out his friends to get Walt back, Sayid had no reason to trust him. So, at the precise moment when each needed to be believed, the choices they made ensured they would not be believed.

    Kadayi March 23rd, 2008 at 5:00 pm

    @Joe Hogan

    I'm pretty sure Steve Mcqueen lived at the end of the great escape (although he got caught again) where as the brits who got caught got slaughtered. Still I do agree the scene had a lot more of the great escape in it that the shining.

    ruggerport March 23rd, 2008 at 6:37 pm

    T. Allen: Thanks for the D Lewis tie in. Interesting stuff. I'd like to read his theories.

    Query: When Mrs. Hawkins told Des (paraphrasing) that if he bought the ring and proposed to Penny "we'll all be dead" was that metaphorical on her part? How does the comment fit with Lewis' theory?


    Deedee March 23rd, 2008 at 7:03 pm

    J, you asked for parallels with Meet John Doe. My memory is fuzzy, but with help from TCM, I’ll give it a shot. (Spoilers ahead.)

    - Although Wiki describes the movie as a comedy/drama, I don’t remember any comedy in it. I remember it as rather dark. It’s too folksy to be called film noir, but it is noir-ish. It was shot in black and white, stars quintessential femme fatale Barbara Stanwyck, and is full of backroom politics and intrigue. It probably has an alley scene because when they are looking for someone to play John Doe, they look for tramps in the backstreets. The main bad guy is played by heavyset actor Edward Arnold, to whom Tom bears a resemblance.

    - A down-and-out man (Gary Cooper) is asked to pretend to be someone else.

    - It turns out that he’s a pawn in a scheme to gain power.

    - Cooper doesn’t know who to trust (even Stanwyck seems to be in cahoots with Norton).

    - Norton exposes Cooper as a fraud.

    - Cooper feels like he has nothing left to lose.

    - To redeem himself, Cooper decides to commit suicide -- on Christmas Eve.

    - Norton thwarts him by using his behind-the-scenes power.

    Locke_on_wood March 24th, 2008 at 12:22 am

    I have done some research into the Michael timeline using a timeline that I have been developing and tweaking along the way.

    Michael and Walt leave the island on November 27th

    On November 30th, Tom is there for Colleen's surgery but is not there for her funeral that night.

    The next time we see Tom is at Ben’s surgery on the 6th of December. He transports Jack to the bear cage on the 7th and is seen playing football with Jack on the 10th. Ben leaves Otherville on the 12th of December.

    Since Tom recruited Mike before Ben talks to him on the freighter, the only possible window Tom would have to perform his off-island duties is between the evening of November 30th and the morning of December the 6th. Not quite a week. He could have skipped the funeral in order to catch the submarine off the island, met up with Arturo and Michael and caught the submarine back to the island, arriving in time for the second surgery.

    It also becomes quite clear that the reason Ben was taking the troop to the temple station was because he knew the freighter was almost there since he was just talking to Michael. Jack and his dynamite put a kink in his plans slightly so he had to intercept them at the radio tower. The temple is the last safe place on the island, but Ben is in the second best place – with his hand placed firmly on the steering wheel of his own fate.

    Faramir March 24th, 2008 at 4:07 am

    I think the matter-of-fact kind of narrative that played out in 4x08 should lead us to assume that:
    - the killers in the jungle are indeed Keamy and the other armed boaties, brought to the island by Lapidus - the ones we conveniently witnessed shooting things from aboard;
    - Tom may have exchanged a jammed gun with Michael's one in the alley, to prevent him from killing himself;
    - Sayid may indeed have made a big mistake bringing Michael to the captain - the same mistake Ben will refer to in their common ff of 4x03.
    Let me point out that we - the audience - are experiencing a mirror-twin situation to the one lived by Alex: surrounded by corpses (2 or 324 is the same), we still don't know who is responsible for them.

    chinadoll March 24th, 2008 at 7:39 am

    So if Jack and Michael can't kill themselves, I find myself back at "Who is in the coffin?" Who CAN die?

    Also, zachor, why couldn't Ben have an emotional attachment to Alex? Just because she's not his biological child doesn't mean he hasn't grown to love her as her adoptive parent. I keep thinking of all those photos of her in his house...

    Joe Hogan March 24th, 2008 at 8:01 am


    You are correct. McQueen's character is recaptured and returned to the "cooler" at the end of "The Great Escape" according to Wiki, with his baseball and glove. Thanks for the correction.

    Deedee March 24th, 2008 at 8:30 am

    For anyone who's interested, The Great Escape will be on Turner Classic Movies this coming Saturday, March 29, at 5:00p PT/8:00p ET.

    Rafa March 24th, 2008 at 8:51 am

    Great reviews J

    Could the Freighter Captain be Ben's spy and Michael just a pawn/insurance??

    Gault seems too calm when he's listening that KJ was the one that stopped the engine & communications

    J Wood (Post Author) March 24th, 2008 at 10:03 am

    T. Allen, that's an astute David Lewis link. In fact, that notion of Michael already being present in the future may play into the time problems Paul wisely pointed out. This is going to be interesting, because that 19-day gap seems just too important to gloss over.

    But on Paul's breakdown of Michael's timeline: Michael did have that apartment before he ever left for Sydney; we don't yet know where or how Michael and Walt were rescued (and if we're dealing with vortices/wormholes, it's possible they left the island and were zipped over to Bermuda); and Ben seems pretty adept at setting up cover stories. However, the quick hospital recovery is problematic, unless he was never all that injured to begin with and that was a precautionary hospitalization. But if the island is protecting him...

    K.V.C. Kudos, you're right. I took those screen grabs from previous episodes. Yes, the axe has been there for a while. (References to Kubrick and The Shining have been going on for some time.)

    Juno, compatibilism and fatalism: Maybe we could even call Michael a nihilist at this point. That may work; a nihilist at least has a will to nothingness, rather than a complete relinquishment of all will. In fact, there may be a fine line between compatibilism and nihilism.

    By the way, that TMS info is fascinating. It also got me thinking about something that may take care of all these Michael/Walt issues. If the DI was so into wetware hacking, who's to say that the entire experience of going back to New York, losing Walt, unsuccessfully trying to top himself, all that wasn't some sort of programming, and he never really got much farther than Fiji? If that's the case, that would also help explain why Walt is seemingly still on the island looming over Locke in the mass grave. After all, the Others had an intense interest in Walt.

    OttoZilch: Yep, there's been a bit of discussion about the direction of the flashbacks/flashforwards. There's a bit of debate about what the shape of the narrative will end up looking like -- an N? W? A figure eight with the crash at the nexus? The cool thing is we won't know until the end of it all.

    Patton: Agreed that we don't want to assume too much about how far Ben would risk Alex, but that also assumes that the killers are indeed Freighties, and that the Freighties have no interest in Alex. There's some more warrants to parse out, and we just have to sit on our hands for now...

    shipwreck notes that about Alex as well; maybe the Freighties have an interest in her, which would provide a nice mirror-twin moment to the Others and their deep interest in Walt. zachor's comment suggests the same idea; maybe Ben raised Alex as his own because she's special like Walt is, and possibly doesn't know it; perhaps this specialness is why the Freighties are after her, why she's isn't shot, and why everything comes to a seeming halt when she announces she's Benjamin Linus's daughter.

    Leah, I almost brought up Unbreakable (and its natural inheritor, the cheerleader from Heroes). The difference is the Bruce Willis character's physical makeup is such that he cannot be injured, whereas with Michael, nothing can get to him in the first place. Whenever I think about people who would be interesting directors/writers for Lost, Neil Gaiman comes to mind, and M. Night Shyamalan seems like an obvious choice, but then I cringe back from that. I don't have much against Shyamalyan, but I don't think he's the right kind of writer for this narrative (even though he thinks on parallel lines). Basically, I don't know if he could end an episode with the right kind of answers divulged/questions asked.

    DS9Sisko, I wish we could find out if that game show was staged for the episode itself, or if they just nabbed Vonnegut footage from some previous game show. Looking at the footage, it looks like it might be from the 1970's or 1980's.

    Deedee, the Meet John Doe film is pretty suggestive. Might be good to keep an eye on it.

    Locke_on_wood: Thanks for the timeline. I just started trying to make a kind of quick-reference spreadsheet of episodes/days/dates, but I haven't added any details. (Isn't this exactly what AJAX and the Sakai web development projects are good for?)

    Faramir, one thing that stuck in my craw with Sayid taking Michael to the captain was maybe that was the plan all along. Either Ben intended for Michael to be outed at some point (why? who knows yet), or Sayid is already working for Ben (or someone). That whole scene just bothers me right now. I kind of like the idea that Gault could be Ben's spy...

    One of the cool things about The Great Escape (besides Steve McQueen) is that it's a true story. And it always seems to be on heavy rotation on TCM.

    tom emery March 24th, 2008 at 10:07 am

    The odd symbols on the side of the ship are indeed nautical. Lloyds and other insurers require all commercial vessels to have such symbols on them to indicate the depth to which the ship can be safely loaded. They are sometimes called Plimsoll lines.


    J Wood (Post Author) March 24th, 2008 at 10:43 am

    Thanks for clearing up the nautical symbols. The few times I've been on ocean-going vessels, I've either been fighting the weather or fighting my stomach because of the weather (think Perfect Storm). I'm no sailor, and didn't recognize the symbols.

    Deedee March 24th, 2008 at 11:13 am

    A correction/clarification to my post about Meet John Doe.

    The bad guy, played by Edward Arnold, is named Norton. Since I was calling the other characters by their actors' names (Cooper and Stanwyck), I should have called him Arnold, not Norton, all the way through.


    Vince March 24th, 2008 at 3:21 pm

    Let me preface the following with, "I need to watch this episode, again, for clarity." Today is Monday, I saw the episode last Thursday, lost a few brain cells over the 3 day weekend.

    Anyway, one of our lostees was told, aboard the freighter, that Widmore had the resources to find out who planted the fake plane and bodies found under the ocean. And it is Widmore's intention on doing so. It was said in a honest, forthright manner, making me believe that Ben masterminded the fake plane and Widmore is the guy trying to find the truth. It makes sense, too, that Ben would try to fool the public with a fake plane to throw Widmore off the scent of the island. Does anyone remember this exchange on board the freighter? Who were the two parties talking?

    It seems as though Walt and Michael transported to a specific place, in time, when they headed on the course of 325. Did they transport through a worm hole on that course, arriving in N.Y. without any assistance of rescue? Remember the way Juliet arrived to the island, in a sub, through some heavy turbulence. It doesn't seem as though anyone comes and goes from the island without being "transported" to a different place/time. This is why Michael's mom is spooked about their quiet return, without fanfare and the secretive way it's all played out. In her mind, how could they return from the dead? And if they didn't die in the crash, how is it that the authorities don't even know they're back in the U.S.

    In addition, both Walt and Mr. Friendly seem to be able to transport themselves at will, mentally or physically, from island to other places. Curious to know if Michael has that ability too. I think Mr. Friendly set Michael up, somehow, with a gun that doesn't shoot real bullets and some bogus stories to gain his trust. It's funny how Mr. Friendly knew Michael was in the alley, and stepped in as a savior at Michael's lowest point. Mr. Friendly and Ben seem to know how things will unfold and where people will be at any given moment. Not sure how he kept Michael from dying in the car crash though, maybe the island does have far-reaching abilities. If so, at least part of Mr. Friendly's story is true.

    tom emery March 24th, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    re your comments about the load line symbols - (1) I am amazed that I knew something that you didn't - and (2) it makes me think there was a DHARMA logo stuck in there somewhere that we both missed. Consulting Alan Moore's tube map in LEGE Black Dossier - maybe the Plimsoll Line runs by Widmore's HQ.

    chinadoll March 24th, 2008 at 5:49 pm

    J-I giggled at your use of the word "outed" in reference to Michael and Capt. Gault, since we also get the official outing of Tom in this episode---another mirror twin!

    Thomas March 24th, 2008 at 6:16 pm

    As to how Michael and Walt got back to civilization with no questions apparently asked, there's a very simple answer. A boat run by allies of Ben was waiting to "rescue" them, so that Michael would be in position for Ben to use him later without knowing he'd been set up all along. Considering the lead time required to get Kevin Johnson hired for the boat crew and the fake documents, I'm convinced that Ben had everything planned before Michael got his boat. Granted, it's not as sexy as time travel, but it makes sense, and fits the Ockham's Razor concept.

    kostino March 25th, 2008 at 12:44 am

    I was wondering, if the island has such abilities as protecting or preventing someone from killing oneself on the island or half a planet away (e.g. Michael Bakunin/Dawson?) causing one's death (e.g. Juliet's husband?), or bringing dead or persons (kind of like another Kurt Vonnegut novel SOLARIS, see also Andreij Tarkovksij's film) then what is Ben's role in all this? Is he a pawn himself or he has control of the island?

    kostino March 25th, 2008 at 1:55 am

    Sorry, Stanislaw Lem's novel Solaris...

    Leigh March 25th, 2008 at 5:57 am

    Somebody may have already picked this up, but there is an old maritime superstition stating that it is extremely bad luck to change a boat's name. The boat also seems to have another strike against it in that both its original name and new name end with a letter "a."
    I had also heard that the luck gets worse if one scratches or damages the original name on the boat to change it instead of just painting over it, but I have never heard this anywhere else, so I think this might have been that persons personal superstition.

    Lots of other nautical superstitions listed here: http://www.csicop.org/superstition/library/sailors.html

    Perelandra March 25th, 2008 at 8:31 am

    Something that hasn't been referenced since it happened last season is Claire's banded bird. If the Island is so difficult of access, how do migratory birds get there? Do they just happen to find the right heading or are they, too, being transported to different points in time? Maybe the message attached to the bird arrived pre-2004 and will be found in the future. I just have a suspicion that it may play a significant role in the final resolution of the story.

    Ian March 25th, 2008 at 9:12 am

    "I'm sorry but didn't we see the axe in the wall when Michael boards the boat, so it is placed there all the time!"

    The ax is NOT stuck in the wall. Believe it or not, that's exactly what a bracket for an ax looks like on a ship. Compare a screenshot to the bracket in the link below and you'll see it. Besides, if an axe was put into a wall by a person, the handle would be much further away from the ship. You'd never put an axe through steel at that angle. Sometimes, things in the background are just things in the background, rather an nods to literary references.


    Ian March 25th, 2008 at 9:19 am

    "So if Jack and Michael can't kill themselves, I find myself back at "Who is in the coffin?" Who CAN die?"

    Jack and Michael can't kill themselves because they, along with Locke, "Have work to do." I'd guess that whenever this work is done, they can most certainly kill themselves, or die in any other way. I'm still guessing that once Michael, or possibly Locke (since he and J. Lantham have the same initials), have completed their work, they may end up in that coffin with an empty funeral.

    Jeffrey March 25th, 2008 at 10:04 am

    Mr. Friendly is also right out of another Capra film: "It's a Wonderful Life" as Michael's guardian angel (Clarence).
    Vince, what you said about Michael's mother could be another mirror to "The Shining" - as with Dick Halloran's ESP experiences with his grandmother which also mirrors the Miles shakedown scene at another grandmother's house. And since rabbits seem to be a correlative I can't resist noting Scatman Crothers' impression of Bugs Bunny for the benefit of Doc/Danny (who gets chased like a rabbit through a warren by his Elmer Fudd-like papa.) And no matter how beat up Michael/Elmer/Jack gets, he's always back for another episode.

    ron March 25th, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    Maybe the correct Mcqueen movie reference movie your looking for is Papillon? I think that Ben can see into the future. He can't change or correct the future himself. What he does and is very skilled at is manipulating the people that he follows or views (don't know how)in the future. Look how Ben turns Locke, Michael, Syaid and even Jack into doing his wishes. The trail to the temple that leads to the killing of Karl/Rousseau and the landing of the freighter hit squad happen to cross paths by chance/accident/destiny? Or did Ben view the future of Frank Lapidus so he knows exactly where, when and how the freighter folks access the island? Ben sends his daughter knowing that in her future nothing will happen to her or maybe that Rousseau's future will include a Mikhail style comeback to lay waste to the freighter folk.

    KWeed March 25th, 2008 at 7:46 pm

    "How can you possibly not understand that you're mine?"
    —Ben to Juliet (in "The Other Woman")

    I replayed this creep-o line over and over again in my head during (and after) Rousseau's and Karl's executions.


    Because Ben doesn't like to share.

    Ben sent Goodwin to his death...because he didn't want to share Juliet.

    Ben shot Locke...because he didn't want to share his power to communicate with Jacob.

    Ben tortured Karl back in 'Otherville'...because he didn't want to share Alex.

    Ben likely set Rousseau and Goodwin up to be killed...because he didn't want to share Alex.

    I think Goodwin's death sentence mirrors that of Rousseau's/Karl's, and foreshadows a potential showdown between Ben and Jack over Juliet.

    Although, Juliet's feelings for Jack might end up being the mirror twin of Ben's feelings for her...both experience not whole-heartedly reciprocated feelings (since Jack loves Kate).

    KWeed March 25th, 2008 at 8:02 pm

    In regard to my previous post, in paragraph 8 I mean to say Karl instead of Goodwin.

    Hence, Ben likely set Rousseau and Karl up to be killed...because he didn't want to share Alex.

    Asilgrass March 25th, 2008 at 8:29 pm

    This may have been covered, but has everyone noticed that when ABC shows the lost LOGO now it shows LOST in front of the island, and then reflected in the water it shows LOST in front of a city skyline? THat may have been going on forever, but I just caught it.

    Also, what song was playing when Michael's car crashed and who was it by? Is it some kind of clue?

    Jeffrey March 25th, 2008 at 9:25 pm

    Okay, per my last post, I'm on a cartoon jag right now. In "The Shining" Danny (who I think is Tony at this moment) is eating PB&J and watching a RoadRunner cartoon (70's promo jingle BTW) which got me thinking about that nefarious Acme Co. and how that would connect to all the Big Biz enterprizes and their dirty tricks that dominate "Lost".
    Per KWeed... Didn't Ben give a jealous gander at Karl's arm around Alex a few episodes back? Seems Ben's doing some course correcting of his own.

    John March 25th, 2008 at 9:51 pm

    Re: KWeed

    I was thinking about the Ben's line regarding not killing innocent people. I think maybe we take that for granted a bit that Ben is a liar and manipulator... so everything that comes out of his mouth should be taken with a huge dose of salt. However, I think that we should assume that this statement is true at least in Ben's mind (otherwise, it undercuts the whole reason for the fake bomb).

    In the same episode we see Karl and Rousseau shot (and speculative evidence indicates that Ben is likely behind it in some way). If Ben is responsible for their murders (or attempted murders), it begs the question: how is guilt (or bad people or unworthy people) defined? What, exactly, is Karl's crime? Who decides this? A running theme is that morality is gray and the recurring black/white motif is dependant upon a given character's point of view.

    As far as course correction goes and the island causing and preventing deaths... while one could argue that the convenience of an spinal surgeon appearing on the island just when Ben needs one is and example of the island providing, you still have to wonder why the island (or Jacob or whoever) would have allowed Ben to develop cancer in the first place. Especially when you consider the seeming immortality of Richard Alpert. For some reason, just saying that God (or the island or Jacob or whoever) works in mysterious ways doesn't cut it. I hope that there is some deeper machination going on in the narrative and it isn't just a plot device.

    Faryn U March 26th, 2008 at 2:58 am

    @Joe Hogan

    Steve McQueens character does not die in the end of the Great Escape, he's one of the "lucky" ones that are brought back to the camp (where he's immidentatly sent to the cooler)

    But you're right, Michael bouncing the ball of the wall reminded me of the Great Escape aswell

    Matt March 26th, 2008 at 5:45 am

    J- another instance of the number 324 is Miles' demand on ben for 3.2 million to report that ben is dead. The number seems so random, but as Miles seems to like to shake down the dead for cash perhaps the 3.2 million is $10,000 a head for the "crash" victims.

    Faramir March 26th, 2008 at 8:20 am

    The song tha radio is playing in Michael's car is "It's geting better" by Mama Cass Eliot, whose "Make your own kind of music" Desmond was listening to at the start of season two. Just an ironic nod to a memorable lost moment, I think.
    Capt. Gault doesn't look surprised, I agree: this may not imply that he's with Ben too, but just - perhaps - that he's not *in it* at all... I think Sayid is acting with no hidden agenda: he's made *the* mistake he well regret for a long time.

    kool March 26th, 2008 at 8:26 am

    I also wonder if the captain is working with Ben, and already knows about Michael. But, if not, I think this could be the moment that Ben refers to in the flashforward when he tells Sayid "remember what happened the last time you thought with your heart instead of your head." Sayid's hasty reaction to seek revenge on Michael may have put everyone in grave danger.

    I think Ben sincerely cares for Alex. She may not be his bio-daughter, but he's raised her for 16 years. Perhaps Ben and Annie were together after the purge, and perhaps Annie died during childbirth. Ben stole Alex when she was a baby to replace his lost child.

    I'm leaning toward it being the Others that killed Karl and Rousseau. Ben had already banished Karl, fearing he'd get Alex pregnant and she'd die, and he obviously doesn't want Rousseau around "his" daughter. As Ben said, "the temple is for us, not for them". He may have meant only Alex and himself. Of course, Alex will hate Ben even more if he had Karl killed, so maybe I'm wrong. Maybe it is the Freighties. For now, both options are open.

    RE: Vince -- I think that conversation on the freighter was between Lapidus and Michael. Lapidus tells "Kevin Johnson" that Widmore wants to find the plane and rescue the survivors. I think that Lapidus honestly believes this, but I don't think that proves anything. Lapidus knew the fake plane wasn't right and was making noise about it...so Widmore hired him for this mission to get him away from civilization...to "shut him up". They probably plan to kill him when the mission is done and they don't need a pilot anymore. Even Ben said that some of the freighter crew are innocent, but some aren't. Lapidus, Faraday, maybe Charlotte, Minkowski, Regina, they could be innocent. Keamy, Omar, Miles, Naomi (Abaddon was insistent that there were no survivors...I think meaning "make sure there are no survivors"), not so innocent. That's my theory.

    Dave March 27th, 2008 at 9:39 am

    My ideas on Michael's timeline.
    If I am correct, this eases the time constraints addressed by Paul and others.

    Michael's story opened with a car crash. He seemed very injured in it. The next scene showed him trying to see Walt, with no obvious injuries. I know that if the island keeps him alive, then he could have healed quickly.

    But it seems to me that the car crash occurred after his other attempted suicides, maybe even after his trip on the freighter.

    I say this because when he tried to visit Walt, he still had some hope. However, immediately prior to the wreck he seemed completely despondent and without hope.

    Also, a car crash is a pretty strange way to attempt suicide. I think that the car crash was a last ditch effort, after knowing that the gun had failed him and Tom had told him the island wouldn't let him.

    I am told the car crash is similar to a scene from 1993's Fearless. It is a movie about a man who feels guilt after surviving a plane wreck. I have never seen it, but I would love to hear someone's take on the similarities between Michael and the protagonists from Fearless.

    Anyway, if I am right about the car crash, then that means Micheal either failed miserably, or he still has work to do. I vote for failed miserably, since Sayid turned him in at the end of the episode. (Did anyone else catch themselves yelling at the TV? 'No Sayid, Don't do it!!')

    Jeffrey March 27th, 2008 at 11:23 am

    "Fearless" dealt with reckless behavior and feeling unbreakable if you will after a near-death event as well as coming to terms with surviving. I don't think it applies to Michael other than the scene where Jeff Bridges and Rosie Perez (who loses her child) walk around a mall like ghosts. Bridges denies his family for those who survive the crash including a boy he himself gave aid to. At the end he gets too cocky and eats a strawberry that almost kills him due to allergies and his wife ends up saving him thus bringing him fully back. I do believe it was directed by Peter Weir who made some interesting films involving missing Aussies (Picnic at Hanging Rock) and apocalyptic events (The Last Wave).

    Scott March 28th, 2008 at 10:55 am


    On the idea "that the car crash occurred after [Michael's] other attempted suicides, maybe even after his trip on the freighter" — Cuse and Lindelof made a point on one of the recent official podcasts of saying that flashbacks and flash forwards, within a given episode, proceed in chronological order. I believe, though they didn't explicitly say so, that their comment might have been prompted by J. Wood's own speculation, in his blog entry for "The Economist," that the initial flash forward in that episode might have been set after all the others.

    So I guess that idea is out.

    Thomas March 28th, 2008 at 11:27 am

    When the topic of whether the events in a flashforward/back are shown out of order during the episode came up during the Sayid episode a few weeks ago (did he shoot the man on the golf course before or after his dealings with Elsa was an issue), the producers said in their ew.com interview that the events in a narrative are always shown in chronological order. That means the car crash came before the scene where he tried to see Walt and not after. Cuse and Lindelof are good at clarifying things like that either in interviews or their podcasts.

    Asilgrass March 28th, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    I don't think that the car crash took place after the freighter, but I wonder how Cuse and Lindelof would justify that comment about the flash backs/forwards taking place in chronological order, after they mixed flash backs and flash fowards in the Ji Yeon epi.

    Juno Walker March 29th, 2008 at 1:20 pm

    Hi all -

    If anyone is bored during this brief LOST hiatus, I've just posted a new entry on my blog, L O S T, Hearts & Minds.


    Hollywoodaholic March 31st, 2008 at 7:54 am

    Just had to chime in a moment to correct Joe Hogan (March 22) referencing Steve McQueen from "The Great Escape" as the inspiration for Michael's baseball-bouncing freighter moment. That may be true, but McQueen's character, Hilts "The Cooler King," does not die at the end of the film as Hogan claims (Hollywood's not crazy). He is recaptured and put back in the cooler (solitary), where he resumes bouncing the baseball against the wall again as the film ends. Sorry to be picky, but it's one of the most iconic characters in film, who will forever live on with the boomers who grew up with that film and had McQueen's motorcyle poster on their walls.

    Joe Hogan March 31st, 2008 at 1:42 pm


    Yours is the third correction of my "Great Escape" faux pas. The first appeared in these comments on 3/23 and I provided my sincere mea culpa on 3/24.

    It would seem that the sin lives forever no matter how much the sinner repents. It's beginning to feel like I've been here before. My only salvation may occur after April 24's new episode when J's readers will have something better to dig into.

    SW April 2nd, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    Could the symbols on the boat relate to the Egyptian hieroglyphs we saw on the countdown clock in the hatch?

    These hieroglyohs on the boat are a more detailed, but there could be a relation to the island, and a code.

    Dave April 3rd, 2008 at 7:31 am


    I understand your criticism of my idea. I have this to say in defense, though.

    In Ji Yeon, Sun and Jin's stories were told parallel to each other. This made it seem to us that the events were occurring at the same time. However, at the end we learned that Jin's was a flashback, and Sun's was a flash forward. In my opinion, the producers technically broke their rule that events would occur chronologically.

    The I took a looser look at the "rule". and realized that in the context of each story element, the events were chronological. Therefore, if the car crash in 'Meet Kevin Johnson' is a flash forward, and the rest of his story is a flash back, then the producers did not break their "rule".

    Thanks for considering these ideas, and helping me either prove or disprove this theory.

    jsh April 3rd, 2008 at 8:42 am

    There's no reason why Ben could not have let Michael and Walt leave the Island on a boat that was already supplied with fake passports (like the one Tom later gave Michael) and even with cash/credit cards (as we know Ben has plenty of secret money, as well as resources to create false identities). They could then have been picked up by someone that Ben had waiting to transport them to the U.S. with minimal delay.

    And there is no reason to assume Michael had to spend days physically traveling to Fiji from New York. Tom told him that "some of us" can "just come and go" as they please. We also know both Juliet and Anthony Cooper were knocked out for their trips to the Island.

    I believe the submarine is not necessarily how either Cooper or Juliet got to the Island. In fact, the sub may be simply a ruse, the cover for a time/space portal that allows Ben, Tom and Richard to travel to and from the Island and anywhere else they need to be.

    Ben's "magic box," which he told Locke about before showing Anthony Cooper to him, is just that: the time-space portal. And that's why Charles Widmore wants the Island so desperately, and why Ben is so determined to keep it to himself, and keep it a secret.

    Asilgrass April 3rd, 2008 at 7:33 pm

    @ Dave

    I was actually saying the same thing you said, that I thought they had broken their rule. However, what you said in your response makes sense. At this point, little should surprise us!

    Jeffrey April 3rd, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    Dave... I think the rule applies to each character's flash back/forward and not to story elements. So Sun's was true to hers and Jin's to his. BTW typing the word "flash" made me think of Desmond's gift. These can't all be HIS flash backs/forwards for his own epic narrative, can they? Nah.
    Also, back to "Fearless" I will say that both that film and "Lost" have very similiar and realistic footage of a plane's cabin breaking up so if it's a crash that's being alluded to it's not the car wreck which in the film was about absolving Rosie Perez's guilt.

    Scuba April 4th, 2008 at 2:38 am

    I found just about all the comments on this sight very well thought out and at the very least very novel and inciteful. But going back to a particular comment of J. Woods'; that being the Dostoyevsky reference... Do you know by chance what 'Petrashevsky' means in our languauge? I'm probably barking up the wrong tree. I just thought that with so many literary references tied in with all of this that maybe 'shevsky' meant 'black' in Russian the way that 'schwartze' means 'black' in German. I know that 'petra' means 'rock' and now you can see what got me going. I'll be proven an idiot or lucky soon enough, but I did find your blog quite inciteful. Thanks for that.

    “Dennis” April 4th, 2008 at 8:07 am

    Ben can easily lie to Michael that "When I'm at war, I'll do what I need to do to win, but I will not kill innocent people" because Michael doesn't know abiout Bonnie and Gretchen in the Looking Station or the order Ben gave to "kill anyone who is foolish enough to stand in your way." Once again, Ben is full of it. And I don't believe him for a second when he says that Widmore is behind the fake Oceanic 815.

    DS9Sisko April 6th, 2008 at 7:38 pm

    Forgive me if someone has already posted these musings about Michael's timeline, but here goes:

    This is what we believe — Michael's mother said he showed up in New York two months after the disappearance of Oceanic 815. The general consensus is that this means Michael and Walt were back in New York in late November of 2004.

    But is that what she ACTUALLY said and is that what that ACTUALLY means?

    Watch the scene again. Michael's mother says, "I thought you were dead. They said your plane crashed in the middle of the ocean, but you show up here just fine..[snip]...so until you can tell me where you were for over two months and what happened, you gave up your rights [regarding Michael]."

    I submit the following the following is a different explanation for Michael's timeline:

    Theory A: We take this on face value and chuck Michael's timeline to narrative compression, in effect that everything that we assume happened to Michael (and Walt) between leaving the island, New York, the accident, recruitment by Tom, getting back on the frieghter and travel time to the island took place within about 6-8 weeks. There was only two months between when he left the island and when he returned home...and back to the island. Easy enough and just might be true. But there is something that makes a bit more sense timeline-wise...

    Theory B: We go back to "The Constant." Daniel says to Jack & Kate in the most important statement of the season, "Your perception of how long your friends have been gone....is not actually how long they've been gone."

    We already know from Daniel's rocket experiment (which I submit is the most important act this season) that there is conclusively a time differential between the island and some point off shore (the boat is 40 miles away with a 31 minute lag between the time the rocket should have landed on the island from when it was launched from the boat). Given this crucial bit of information, it is possible that the island's electromagnetic/time distortion properties act in waves, rippling out from the island to the outside world, the distortions getting wider as the waves fow farther away (as I believe Mr. Wood and others have long theorized). Now, go with me here...

    What if those distortion ripples are NOT uniform? The way we imagine waves are like those formed by throwing a rock in a pond; they ripple out in the same pattern...but only if you throw one rock in the pond and wait for the waves to dissipate. But throw several rocks in a pond from different angles and those waves intersect, clash, and form different patterns. Or, more specifically, throw a rock in a pond, then wait, throw a larger rock in later, and then a smaller one, then a larger one and you get different patterns. Quake, aftershock, larger aftershock, small quake, etc. Or electromagnetic burst, smaller electromagnetic bursts, a larger one and so on.... If this is true of how the island's "waves" are sent out into the world, it might it be possible for someone to "map" the waves and/or their constant areas of calm and stability. Say, someone like Ben...who would then give Michael the coordinates -- SPECIFIC coordinates -- to take him home....to a different place in time. Others have theorized this as well. But how does this explain the "two months" his mother mentions he was away?

    Take everything together and it becomes possible that, once again, we've been misdirected as has happened so much this season. It is possible that Michael and Walt arrived in the future and that Mama Dawson was referring to the two months Michael and Walt had disappeared and not two months "ago."

    But what about Tom? Doesn't his presence invalidate the theory?

    Not at all. If Ben has figured out how to navigate the island's time distortion field, Ben could safely send Tom into the future to deal with Michael because Tom will eventually get killed when he returned to the island, thus avoiding a possible time paradox. (Remember, Ben "knew" that Goodwin was going to get killed when he sent him to the Tailies, just as he's "known" that certain Lostaways would make certain decisions, especially when it has come to Ben himself, i.e. not killing him).

    Imagine the coordinates that Ben gave Michael as a "horseshoe," where one end is Point A and the other end is Point B. Michael starts out at Point A (leaving the island), then travels out at some point in time in a horseshoe-like curve to the near future or Point B, where he is picked up and TAKEN to the States/New York. Soon after Tom is sent to the future to "recruit" him for the mission to kill all the folks on Widmore's boat Back to Point A. But when Michael returns on the boat, he is not just going back to the island, he is going back in TIME to the island.

    One final thought about the "horse shoe" as time metaphor: what if "island-time" itself is in a horse shoe shape and the island is inside it. The electromagnetic bubble would cover the island shielding it from the world, including its ONE entry point by which to navigate to and from the outside world within its OWN timeline, but providing navigation points to OTHER points in time...if one knows how to map it all out.

    leviathan1 April 8th, 2008 at 9:56 am


    this is a bit off topic from the thread, but i just finished reading VALIS. i'm convinced this narrative is the predominate influence on the show which i think is further re-enforced by the fact the writers explicitly referenced it twice.

    in addition to its current relevance i also saw a lot of direct connections to some past episodes that i thought would be worth possibly exploring some during the break. the one i'm most itching to discuss is Season 2's "Dave" which opened up a lot of still unresolved issues, but also ties directly into a lot of what is discussed in VALIS. your posts didn't start until season 3.

    there were some specific exerpts that i think deserve to be mentioned, but i'll spare the space here. if you like and/or have the time email me (mstockto@pcc.edu) and i can point them out. i think your input would be a great benefit much like your posts. thanks for your time.

    J Wood (Post Author) April 11th, 2008 at 4:54 pm

    This break couldn't have come at a better time; the end of the semester is always a crush of work, and I've had two conferences to prep for, so even though I miss the show, the break has been a boon.

    But I wanted to respond to some comments here. I'm also going to put up a post collecting some of the problems that have bee identified, to see if any of these things get somewhat resolved.

    Vince: It was Capt. Gault who was speaking on the freighter about Widmore. But the the context doesn't really suggest that Ben is the one who planted the wreckage. Right after Gault tells Des and Sayid that "it took a considerable amount of Mr. Widmore's resources to procure" the black box, he goes on to say "The wreckage was obviously staged. Now can you imagine what kind of resources and manpower go into pulling off a feat of that magnitude? Faking the recovery of a plane crash? Putting 324 families through a grieving process based on a lie? But what's even more disturbing... where exactly does one come across 324 dead bodies?" Gault's focus hasn't shifted of Widmore's resources, so it appears that he's suggesting Widmore shelled out an astonishing amount or capital and pulled an orchestra's worth of strings to stage the wreckage. If Widmore's wiling to go that far, "that, Mr. Jarrah, Mr. Hume, is just one of the many reasons we want Benjamin Linus."

    But on Michael and Walt's leaving, it seems like that heading was the way through the eye of whatever electromagnetic storm exists on the perimeter of the island.

    kostino: Funny you mention Solaris, whose main character is named Kelvin. That's a book/film that I don't think has been discussed much in the Lostverse.

    Perelandra: That's a fantastic question. The helicopter has a hard time getting to the island, why not the birds? I wonder if the writers saw the research that came out a few years back that migratory birds can actually see the earth's magnetic field, and they follow this to navigate the globe. If that's the case, then, maybe the birds can actually see the right heading to get to and away from the island.


    Ian: I believe you!

    Karl, that's a great observation. To say parent issues are driving Ben's behavior is a little too simple; something like a high-functioning level of sociopathy and envy seems a lot more apt.

    John, maybe the island judges a persona's morality in relation to the island's own survival. Ben was raised to a position of power after the purge, a very immoral act from our perspective, but if the DHARMA Initiative was actually on a path to harm or destroy the island, Ben's act would have been seen as laudatory by the island. But that kind of behavior would be a two-edged sword; when Ben's moves toward self-preservation and self-benefit cease to benefit the island as well, perhaps the island then punishes Ben for immoral behavior. Even then, it suggests that morality in this narrative is very situationist, and not absolute.

    Matt, have you heard of condolence payments? The U.S. government pays Iraqi and Afghani civilians a few hundred for a severed limb or some such injury, up to $2,500 for a death. That'd be interesting if there is a direct connection between the staged dead and Miles' demand.

    J. Wood (Post Author) April 13th, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    (continuing some commentary)

    I dig Dave's idea that the car wreck might have been a flashforward, but I wonder if mixing a single character's flashforwards and flashbacks in a single episode would be playing fast and loose with the chronology rules.

    Such a combination wouldn't be breaking the chronology rules, per se, and we have a kind of precedent with Ji Yeon, but it also may be a stretch of an interpretation. Although I think it'd be cool, the writers may also risk breaking part of the contract with the audience.

    But it's the sort of thing we can watch for in future episodes; if there are other instances that clearly lay out flashforwards and flashbacks with a single character in a single episode, showing us that it's a fair play without trying to trick us, then we could go back and apply the same logic to prior scenes. Then, if some other scene that's clearly a flashforward ties to Michael's car crash, we'll know.

    Scuba, I like your thinking on Petrashevsky. Unfortunately, it seems "rock" is pronounced the same in Russian, and that -evsky ending is like the Polish owski or a number of other -ski variations. As far as I know, that ending serves the same function as Mc/Mac or O in Gaelic, or -son or -sen or -dottir in Germanic languages, basically meaning something like "descended of".

    DS9Sisko: Your "two months" clarification is fantastic -- I think it's an important distinction.

    The more I think about this, the more I think that the writers kind of shoe-horned the "time passes differently on the island" idea into the Kevin Johnson narrative because of the writer's strike. They said they needed to compress some things in order to get out enough information to keep the story moving along at the right pace. I'm wondering if the Kevin Johnson reveal was one of those elements that needed to get out, but the only way to do that was to compress the time that Michael as actually off the island.

    Enter Faraday's discovery that island-time is very different from off-island-time. Our primary experience as an audience is island-time. Many people have questioned or kvetched about Michael's cramming so much life into two months (he'd have to spend at least a week in the hospital, one would think, unless island healing extends to former islanders who are excluded from the category of death).
    Doc Jensen recently suggested "Michael's mother said he showed up in New York two months after the disappearance of Oceanic 815", and I think this is how most people probably interpreted the point. But we do know that the writers choose phrasings very carefully, and as DS9Sisko points out, Mama Dawson didn't actually say this, she only said he was gone for two months.

    So for all we know he'd been in New York for six months at the point we saw him in the Kevin Johnson flash, because we don't really know exactly how long he was off-island. If time is passing differently on the island, those two months of island-time may be more like four months in off-island time. This introduces some other problems, though, like when exactly did the Oceanic Six re-appear in the off-island world?

    Then again, if we can get combined flashforwards/flashbacks with a single character, then there's the possibility that the car crash, etc. occurred after Michael had already returned as Kevin Johnson (which I don't buy at this point, because of reasons stated above -- contract with the audience and all that).

    By the way, as for time shaped as a horseshoe, I believe one of the going theories right now is that the universe is shaped something like a saddle (which is rather like two bent horseshoes touching end-to-end). Harvard has a quick review of that here. Another going theory is that it's shaped like a toros, or donut. But this is all to say that in spacetime, the shape of the universe also determines the shape of time.

    J. Wood (Post Author) April 13th, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    Dave and Valis is an interesting connection. I went back and watched Dave again (from the second season, the episode where Hurley was seeing his imaginary enabler in the institution).

    Here are the direct links I see on first review:

    • The foregrounding of a split or doubled consciousness;

    • The institutional setting which gives rise to larger questions that end up shaping the entire narrative (like how do we know we can trust the information we're receiving);
    • Corollary: Ben tells Locke in that episode that he (Ben) never entered the code into the Swan Station computer and never hit the button to reset the clock. We now know that he must have, because the station didn't implode. "All Cretans are liars..."

    • Both Dave and Gloria Knudson from Valis take headers, Dave off a cliff and Gloria out of the tenth story of a building. Both are acting fairly rational at the time;

    • The idea of being "rationally insane," or when what is believed to be sane is seen as clearly irrational by a subject, and that subject finds what is considered to be irrational actually helps events make more sense;

    • Horselover Fat is all concerned about the nature and power of god, and Ben tells Locke that god can't see the island or know that they're even there.

    If you have some more to add to this, please do, Valis is a dense book. Someday soon I'm going to dig into the second volume.

    John April 18th, 2008 at 10:18 pm

    Regarding the Michael time problem:

    I have a sinking suspicion that Michael's timeline, truncated as it was, is largely true as presented and there is no other hidden agenda with how long he has really been gone from the island. I'm going to have to side with Occam's Razor on this one. Chalk it up to the writers writing themselves into a logistical corner.

    The big problem with the "Michael traveling through time" theory is that he can't plausibly go back before the plane leaves without causing all sorts of complicated paradox. The lines that Michael's mom has root it pretty squarely sometime after the crash.

    Certainly we could argue that the car crash incident is a flash forward, but why? What is gained dramatically from this? Nothing as far as I can see. It still doesn't change the fact that Michael has returned home, left Walt with his grandmother, been visited by Tom, and joined the freighter crew in about a month. To make it work in a longer timeline would mean that because of the visual clues we have been given (the Christmas tree in the hospital, the 2004 calendar in the freighter, Ben giving Michael instructions from his wheelchair) we would have to create an overly complicated mess of an explanation just to make a slightly implausible timeline work.

    I think we have to assume that Ben made sure that there was some way of efficiently getting Michael and Walt back to NYC. He certainly seems to have the resources.

    Consider the harrowing ordeal that Michael has been through that began with Walt's capture and not just at leaving the island. Upon reaching civilization, for some yet to be fully disclosed reason, he has had to change his whole identity and with it, everything that he was before boarding Oceanic 815. So in one fell swoop, he has lost his job, his name, his social structure (both pre and post crash), his moral compass (he is now a murderer and traitor), and finally his son. When you look at the facts and assume that Ben had planned to use Michael as a spy from the beginning (and I think we have to... otherwise, why not set him up with some cushy identity somewhere safe and buy his silence) it becomes clearer that however seemingly unlikely the short timeline is... it is, at the very least, somewhat plausible (and, in fact, probable from the writer's standpoint).

    J Wood (Post Author) April 19th, 2008 at 10:00 am

    Funny -- this makes complete sense to me, except for the time it took to heal and come back from being in traction at the hospital. (I just don't know how long that takes to recover from traction; it just seems to me it'd take longer than a few days).

    But I also recently listened to a podcast that argued Michael must have been off the island for about year.

    Whatever the case is, it seems to me that Michael's truncated off-island time is in part a result of the writer's strike. It may be something that either needs a little audience suspension of disbelief, or maybe even something that will be extended out in the dvd's -- which I doubt, but that would be interesting.

    Paul April 20th, 2008 at 9:29 pm


    One possibility for a quick recovery from traction by Michael - the island healed him b/c he still had work to do, and he had to be ready to do it quickly insofar as the freighter was to be leaving from Fiji very soon.

    Miss Gretchen April 21st, 2008 at 5:57 am

    J, wanted to thank you for continuing with your comments during this break time. Just now reviewing everything in preparation for this week's upcoming episode. Do we know how many more episodes we'll have this "season?"

    yogi April 21st, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    Miss Gretchen, from what I've read, there will be 5 more episodes that consist of 6 hours (two hour season finale).

    allison April 22nd, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    Juliet claims she's been on the island for 3 years. Is this island-time or off-island-time? Had she just realized time passes differently on the island because of Faraday's comments?

    I've been rewatching episodes from season 3, and Juliet repeatedly claims she's been on the island 3 years. Seems significant to me.

    Thomas April 22nd, 2008 at 6:15 pm

    I had a thought the other day that I'd be interested in what ya'll think of it. Ben Linus has a potentiallly fatal tumor in his back. He can't go to a mainland hospital because the risk of Whitmore's group finding him is too great. Conveniently, a plane with an a-list spinal surgeon crashes on and around the island and the surgeon saves his life.
    Michael and Jack were not able to kill themselves because they had work to do and the island wouldn't let them die.

    Did the events leading to the crash of Flight 815 occur because the island wouldn't let Ben Linus die?

    J. Wood (Post Author) April 25th, 2008 at 10:54 am

    Just a quick update:

    I'm on the road for a conference, and had wanted to get a post up just posing some questions we can look for answers to. End of the semester banananess, and I didn't get a chance to write that until I was on a plane to LA. I submitted that yesterday, then saw the episode, and quickly retracted what I wrote, because "The Shape of Things to Come" answered many of the questions.

    So I re-submitted early Friday morning. It should be up soon.

    I'm glad people were still hanging here and hashing this stuff out. Michael's timeline is still a problem, and Thomas, I like your thinking on the island finding a way to heal Ben's tumor. It does introduce a problem, though; the island can heal Locke's spine, and can cure Juliet's sister's cancer from afar, but can't heal Ben's cancer?

    (Miss Gretchen! My publisher and I were wondering if you were still around.)

    Last thing: I drank some microblogging kool-aid and worked up a twitter and pownce account, j_wood on both. If you're there and you follow, I'll follow.

    Robert April 19th, 2014 at 10:46 pm

    So close and yet so far in connecting "Lost" to the work of A.C. Doyle. The cx is not via "The Lost World" but via "The Lost Special" and other Doyle short stories collected with it. (Some Sherlock Holmes as well, notably "The Empty House" in illustrating the supposed power of Miles in detecting spirits, but mostly non-Holmes literature.) The use of the name Dean Moriarty reflects the frequent fan speculation that Mr. Moore in "The Lost Special" was a Moriarty.

    See also the numerous adaptations of "The Lost Special" for radio & film, and realize that "Watchmen" is also such an adaptation, as clued by the use of the J. Slater name and role in the plot. Also see numerous plots of the British TV series "Dept. S" (hence Charlie's "DS" signet ring). The inspiration for it all was the real-world disappearance of Engine (locomotive) 115 on Sept. 22, 1892 in Lindal, England.

    These are all clues to the underlying plot of "Lost", never made explicit on the show itself, which was the attempt to keep an enormous secret by killing those who shared it and substituting for them a set of doubles.

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