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Lost: The Shape of Questions and Answers

***I began writing this while experiencing turbulence in a 737 somewhere over New Mexico. I am attending a conference in LA from Thursday-Saturday, and that means a Friday post may not happen on Friday. I originally planned on putting up some questions and then try to get back to this in a day or two. After seeing the episode, a good deal of those questions were addressed, and I just couldn't wait.***

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The Short Time Mob moved in and wiped away six weeks.

Before the season picks up again, it might be useful to ask a few questions about what we know and don't know, and what answers we might look to for before this season is out. A list of a few head-scratchers is presented here, with some info divulged in "The Shape of Things to Come," and if you have any other problems you'd like addressed or think should be addressed in the next six episodes, add 'em.

So:

What about off-island events that seem island-generated? Juliet's husband Edmund Burke was squished by a bus, her sister's cancer was cured, and Oceanic Six can't seem to die for trying (Jack tried to jump off a bridge when he was distracted by a convenient car wreck, and Michael can't manage to crush or shoot himself).

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Let's talk about Hurley:

  • What about his seeing Charlie?
  • What does it mean that Hurley may be able to find Jacob's shack?
  • What does it mean that Hurley saw Christian Shephard in that shack?
  • Is Hurley becoming a problem for Locke, almost like Locke is becoming a problem for Ben?

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Why is Christian kibitzing in Chez Jacob in the first place, and what's he doing alive? Is he even alive?

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How did the Oceanic Six make if off the island, and what happened to the rest?

  • How does Aaron fit into this, and will Aaron have some sort of spokesperson function like his biblical namesake?
  • Is Jin actually dead in the future, or is he still on the island with the other survivors?

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I was going to ask how Sayid came to work for Ben, but now we know; Ishmael Bakir, a seeming employee of Widmore hunted down and killed Nadia. Why? No idea yet. Maybe Widmore is hunting down the loved ones of the Oceanic Six and Ben; after all, the Oceanic Six seem to be death-proof, so the next likely targets would be their friends and family. That leaves the question of why open for speculation, but it may have its origins in Keamy killing Alex and Ben threatening to kill Penelope as retribution.

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Widmore also claims to have once had the island, and now Ben has hidden it from him (and rooked Widmore out of some more, it seems). Is Widmore a descendant of one of the crew of the Black Rock? How did Ben hide the island? And who's really behind the planted wreckage at the bottom of the Sunda Trench? Is that Widmore's doing, or does Ben have a hidden hand in all that?

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Speaking of Ben and Widmore – rules? What rules? Are Ben and Widmore engaged in some kind of game, an existential worldwide version of backgammon? Are these rules part of the reason Ben can't kill Widmore? Marshall McLuhan has a nice quote in an essay about games that is telling: quote: Games are dramatic models of our psychological lives providing release of particular tensions. The game Ben and Widmore and locked in doesn't seem to bring any release, but it's certainly a dramatic model of psychological lives.

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Ben arrives in the desert wearing a Dharma parka and with a wounded arm. He just seems to pop up there out of nowhere (bamf!). It seems one of the Bedouins says that there is no trail, and asks where Ben came from. It's a safe bet that wound in Ben's arm came from the forthcoming war with Keamy and the Freighties. However, Ben tells Sayid that he took Desmond's boat The Elizabeth to Fiji and flew to Syria from there. It would seem not. So: How did he get there, and why the parka (which had the logo of another station on it)?

dharka logo

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Did Rousseau and Carl die from the surprise attack in the jungle? This episode suggests Ben didn't set them up, like he did with Goodwin. His brinkmanship seems to have found its brink when it came to Alex.

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What will become of the Maxwell's Demon idea (if anything)? Is it Smokey? Maxwell's Demon is the subject of Ken Kesey's book of short stories Demon Box, and one of those stories features Neal Cassady, who was fictionalized by Jack Kerouac as Ben's passport ego, Dean Moriarty. We saw Ben use that passport again, so we know this Moriarty thing isn't done yet, and it has at least one trail pointing back to Maxwell's Demon.

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Locke got a bit of one of his questions answered, "What is the smoke monster?" It seems Smokey and Ben are a little closer than Ben would admit. There's a hidden passage behind the hidden room behind the bookcase in Ben's bedroom; when Ben emerges from it, he's covered in a kind of soot. This may be a clue to another formative background text, Willis George Emerson's The Smoky God: Or, Voyage to the Inner World (1908). It's notable for being about the first text to take on the idea of a world within our world, bringing Agartha the Hollow Earth theory to a broader mass audience. (Agartha is one of the names for the land inside the hollow earth; it's main city is said to be Shamballa). This twice-told tale of the discovery of a Norwegian fisherman, Olaf Jansen, relates how deep within the earth (which is accessed via the North Pole), another civilization lives. The inhabitants of this inner world are 12 feet tall, and electricity seems to charge the air. These people are sustained by "a mammoth ball of dull red fire" that gives off "an electrical cloud" they call "the Smoky God."

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What happened to :

  • Harper Stanhope
  • Isabel, the sheriff of Otherville
  • Richard

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Polar bear in Tunisia and a four-toed giant statue of a foot: Please to explain?

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Is the fact that Bernard knows Morse code just convenient or significant?

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Who's banging on the freighter pipes, and what's making the Freighties brainsick? Is the cause the same reason Radzinsky painted the ceiling of the Swan Station with the contents of his skull?

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What is Abaddon's function? Does he work for someone (Widmore?), and what's his interest in the island?

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A big question: TIME. Faraday found that there was a time gap between the island and the outside world. Is that gap consistent? Is it different between, say, the island and the freighter vs. the island and Manhattan? Is it even a gap, or is time moving at different rates on and off the island?

If there is a gap, or if time moves more slowly on the island, do we really know how long Michael was off the island? (This possibility was brought up by DS9Sisko in the comments, and the lads on the new Nerdtastic podcast CastaBlasta recently went so far as to claim Michael had to be off-island for a year if he was to recover from traction.)

Has the time shifting all been set aright, or does something else still need working out? While discussing time trouble one of the podcasts, Damon Lindelof said, "Even if you did something in the past that you didn't do before, somehow the sort of 'fabric of time' swoops in around you and fixes everything so things don't go off the rails." (As suggested by Mrs. Hawking.)

This is the answer to the paradox problem — if the past changes, something will happen to reset that difference. That reset was Charlie's death; because Charlie was supposed to die on a number of occasions, but was saved by Des, things happened in the past that hadn't happened before. Why? See Minkowski (Hermann, not the Short Circuit guy), or David Lewis (the philosopher, not the father of Charlotte Staples Lewis); spacetime isn't divided between past/present/future, they're all of a piece. Change the future, and you change the past and present. Des saving Charlie changes the future, and the past and present.

We've already seen some changes: Charlie not swimming in the first season, a champion swimmer when he makes the dive to the Looking Glass; Christian seemingly alive and drunk in a flashforward; the eight (8!) episodes of a freckless Kate (contentious, I know, but I'm sticking to it until confirmed false); picture frames along Mrs. Gardner's staircase being wooden on the way up the stairs, metal on the way down; etc. Have we seen the last of this? Ben had to double-check the date and year when he arrived in Tozeur, Tunisia.

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There are some other points worth addressing in this episode. First and foremost, the title comes from H.G. Wells' novel The Shape of Things to Come. Similar to The Smoky God, The Shape of Things to Come is a fictionalized chronicle of a third person's account of events. In this case, though, we're dealing with a history of the future. Wells had a dark vision of the future, and his book purports to be the collected notes of a diplomat from 1933 who had dreams of a history textbook from 2106. As a futurist, Wells wasn't half-bad, and in this text he predicts that submarines will one day in the future be armed with missiles that could cause mass destruction.

The Iraq War also figures into the background of this entire episode. Lost hasn't directly taken on the Iraq War, but has found some ways to weave it into the seams of the narrative. Ben is in Tikrit — Saddam Hussein's home town — in 2005, and we see U.S. Soldiers patrolling the streets. But more interesting here is Ben's bio of Keamy, a former U.S. Marine from 1996-2001 who then became a mercenary, operating primarily in Uganda. Mercenary firms who hire soldiers of fortune have become a major issue with the Iraq War, particularly with the firm Blackwater. The soldiers of such private military companies (PCMs) do not have to operate under any particularly national laws or guidelines; Blackwater soldiers are not subject to the same rules as the U.S. military, and this has become a real problem for both Iraqis, U.S. soldiers, and the Pentagon. In fact, it's not very clear under whose rules PCM's should operate.

One particular PCM group worked in Uganda during Keamy's time there. The Canadian firm Heritage Oil and Gas is directed by the industrialist Tony Buckingham, who also helped set up the PCM's Executive Outcomes and Sandline. Sandline's manager was a former British special forces officer — in the Royal Scots Regiment, like Desmond — named Tim Spicer. Sandline shared offices with Heritage Oil and Gas, and closed its doors in 2004, but was known for being contracted to stage a paramilitary takeover of Bougainvillea, Papua New Guinea in 1997; contracting with the ousted Sierra Leone president in 1998; and aiding in a rebel coup of Liberia's president Charles Taylor.

Of note is that in 1997 Heritage Oil and Gas started to explore western Uganda, and in 2002 secured a contract for 3.1 million hectares of easter Democratic Republic of Congo from President Joseph Kabila, land bordering Uganda. The extent of paramilitary activity to help secure the contract isn't known, but 3.1 million hectares is an astonishing amount of land for a nation to parcel out to a private company, especially if that land is oil-rich and the country could use the resource.

After Sandline and Executive Outcomes folded, many of the major players, including Spicer, were folded into another British PCM, Aegis Defense Services. In 2004 Aegis was awarded a massive three-year contract with the Pentagon to work in Iraq, alongside Blackwater. The 2007 videos of a security detail driving through Baghdad and shooting at passing vehicles — to the soundtrack of Elvis' "Mystery Train" — were leaked onto a website run by an employee of Aegis. Aegis sued to have the web page taken down. Both the U.S. military and Aegis conducted investigations, but since Aegis is a private company, the results are confidential.

Is this the kind of outfit Keamy worked for in Uganda?

Journalist Jeremy Scahill has a one of the most detailed studies of one PCM, Blackwater, in a recent book: Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army.

(Body count in this episode: +6)

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ADDENDUM

* I made notes about Ishmael Bakir and the Moby Dick link, and was searching for some significance to the name Bakir, but didn't find any. In my haste I failed to get the notes into the post, and Ike caught me up short about it in the comments. Ike, this one's for you! *

Call him Ishmael. The man Ben tracks down in Tikrit, Ishmael Bakir, works for Widmore and killed Sayid's wife, Nadia (yes, it seems Sayid makes an honest woman of Nadia when he gets off the island). In the bible, Ishmael was the illegitimate son of Abraham and the servant Hagar; when Abraham's wife Sarah was barren, she offers her servant Hagar to Abe, and the offspring was Ishmael. Abe loved Ishmael, but when Sarah finally did get pregnant and gave birth to Isaac, Sarah became a little more jealous of Abe's fatherly attention, and demanded that Abe cast Hagar and Ishmael out. In Moby Dick, Ishmael is the name of the narrator, or the pseudonym the narrator chooses to be identified by — he just asks to be called Ishmael. Melville chooses to name his castaway protagonist after a one of the earliest castaways.

Ishmael's first name is evocative, but the Moby Dick theme isn't focused on him, his name is just the marker. The overarching theme of Moby Dick is Captain Ahab's monomaniacal revenge quest, to the point that Ahab sacrifices his ship and crew just for the chance to run a harpoon into Moby Dick's side. Some of Ahab's most famous lines (and Khan Noonien Singh — KHAAAN!) show how he's willing to rip apart his world just for the chance to hurt the whale:

Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee. Sink all coffins and all hearses to one common pool! and since neither can be mine, let me then tow to pieces, while still chasing thee, though tied to thee, thou damned whale! Thus, I give up the spear!

Compare Ahab's drive to destruction with Ben's, who is systematically whacking Widmore's people, and is determined to kill Widmore's daughter Penelope. He's let his grief become anger, as he tells Sayid. But is he the only Ahab figure? Widmore is plenty driven as well; it seems he was willing to spend a small fortune and express a fair amount of power to plant a fake plane crash at the bottom of the Sunda trench. He's trying to retake the island by any means necessary, and at least prior to "The Shape of Things to Come," seems as monomaniacal about finding Ben and the island as Ben becomes about taking out Widmore's empire.

When one thinks of the white whale in this context, though, it's hard not thinking about the black smoke as well.

Books mentioned in this post



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

76 Responses to "Lost: The Shape of Questions and Answers"

  1.  
    Kyle April 25th, 2008 at 12:46 pm

    We've been busting the theory that Ben and Charles are playing Risk with the world. Hurley's throwaway line about Australia being key seems, well, key.

    Damon and Carlton matter-of-factly announced on a podcast that Isabel is dead. Harper and Richard...dunno. Richard's probably rocking the Temple. But why didn't Ben want to tell Sawyer that's where he was sending Rousseau and Alex?

    Sayid's also got history in Basra, per Juliet's veiled threat of disclosure at the drop-off tree.

  2.  
    John Norris April 25th, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    Widmore in the half-darkness, unshaven, facing down Ben, struck me as a hard man indeed - hard enough, perhaps, to be the captain of the slave ship Black Rock, one Magnus Hanso.

    Driven from his island kingdom, maybe, by his long-suffering crew, the Hostiles? Led by Richard Alpert, the first mate whose journal Widmore bought at auction? Aided by Jacob-communing young Ben Linus?

    Or maybe Hanso is Jacob, and Widmore the perfidious mate who seized power, leaving Jacob in a shadow life. Either way, the island's mojo could make a man rich and powerful in the outside world.

    Another question unanswered: What happened to Naomi's body?

    It hasn't been seen or referenced in any way since the helicopter took off from the island with Sayid, Desmond, Frank and corpus Naomi aboard.

    If her body made it back to the freighter, no one has said a word about it. Does that make any sense?

  3.  
    Annie April 25th, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    Questions...

    Is the doctor from the freighter actually dead (to the people on the freighter), and the Morse code message a lie to placate the people on the island? Or, if it wasn't a lie, (and he's still alive in freighter time...wow!) could this mean that Christian Shepard is possibly alive in some other parallel/time-thread/make-my-head-explode reality? And what about Jack's tummy troubles? Are they the onset of the legendary 'sickness'?

  4.  
    Scott April 25th, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    I would tend to think that a variety of people with connections to the island cannot be killed, at least as long as the island does not want them to be. This would include Michael, the Oceanic 6, both Ben Linus and Charles Widmore, and probably others. This could explain while the mercenaries are not attempting to kill Ben and would explain why Widmore tells Ben that he can’t kill him. I don’t know, though, what this would have to do with the island’s healing powers yet the lack of healing Ben experiences for his spinal tumor and recovery from surgery.

    I wonder how many people travel to and from the island in ways similar to how Ben seems to have done so when he arrived in Tunisia in a Parka. Does Richard Alpert travel in this way? Is this how Juliet initially traveled to the island, although she was unconscious when she did so? If so, is the idea that people travel by submarine sometimes or always a decoy? Does this travel make some kind of connections between various vile vortices like the poles, Tunisia, the island, etc. ? Is there supposed to be a vile vortex near the Pacific Northwest, through which Julia traveled?

    I keep suspecting that, since Locke was soaking wet in the scene where the submarine was to have blown up, the submarine was not really destroyed, but left out in the water away from the dock. If the submarine is later discovered or accessed by Locke again, maybe it will be discovered that it is often, or always, a decoy.

    The conflict between Ben and Widmore over the island, where each thinks or says, “the island’s mine” bring The Tempest to mind again. The unleashed fury of the smoke monster brings Forbidden Planet to mind again.

    It will be interesting to see what we learn next about the smoke monster and Ben’s relationship to it. In an episode long ago it was connected to holes in the ground and Locke was once almost pulled down into a hole by some kind of tentacle. It makes sense, then that Ben would access is through an apparent underground passage. The question is, just what did he access? Was it a control room from which he could give orders, or did he instead request its help—something less than giving it orders?

  5.  
    Eric Tokubo April 25th, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    The picture of the blond woman in Ben's house has also changed (for a 3rd time - see Doc Arzt's blog), so you can add that to your list of changing easter eggs along with Kate's freckles and picture frames.

    Wasn't Bernard in the military previously (Navy dentist?!?)? I thought that was revealed in TTLG ... Isn't that why he was picked to be a shooter along with Sayid & Jin?

  6.  
    Markus April 25th, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    Thanks for the blogs about the show, by the way, makes for interesting reading, not to mention an ever-expanding list of books I need to buy.

    Regarding Ben's appearance in Tunisia. It seems as if the Dharma Initiative researched physical teleportation of some kind. One of the scientists in the Orchid video was named Halliwax (the name on the parka Ben was wearing) and they had been playing with multiple versions of the same rabbit (#15). Maybe the process of being physically 'teleported' subjects the passenger to extreme cold over longer distances? It'd explain why Ben was wearing a parka, and I'd assume he knew what he'd be in for due to his 'preferred guest' status at the hotel. (Wonder who else has a preferred status in the hotel guestbook.) Being subjected to extreme cold could also explain why the polar bear ended up in Tunisia. Why not use a polar bear as a test subject? They could endure the cold. Also, Ben seemed like he was in a hurry, as his wound is still bleeding on arrival. Perhaps teleporting is an emergency escape tunnel?

    Does the song Ben is playing on the piano before the phone rang of any significance?

    I was curious to note that Ben lied to Sayid about how he got off the island. Why lie? It seemed as if Ben planned to recruit Sayid anyways, and his attempt to dissuade him from joining 'his war' wasn't a true gesture, if his smile as he walked away was any indication.

  7.  
    warplayer April 25th, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    "This is the answer to the paradox problem — if the past changes, something will happen to reset that difference. "

    I'd like to suggest that Ben went into the ancient tunnel, traveled back in time, killed off Keamy's team, and returned. This caused a paradox, riff, whatever you want to call it, and it was "course-corrected" by the smoke monster.

    I could poke some holes in my own theory there, but I'm just going to throw it out there and see what you guys think.

  8.  
    Ike April 25th, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    I thought for sure you'd be picking up on the Moby Dick references going on in this episode, J. Ben's speech to Sayid about how if you let your grief become anger it will never go away, and his single-minded and destructive plan of vengeance against Charles Widmore by killing his daughter which will surely end in tragedy, all reminded me pretty strongly of Captain Ahab. Ben's decided on a specific course of action rooted in pain and loss, and he's essentially going to bring down whomever he recruits with him on this path, which looks like Sayid at least right now.

    I picked up on the reference when we learned that Widmore's cohort who murdered Penelope was named Ishmael Bakir. I suppose it could be a coincidence, but I thought that was a typical Lost way of earmarking the literary allusion in this episode.

  9.  
    23skidoo April 25th, 2008 at 6:48 pm

    This idea is certainly nothing original, but it's becoming increasingly clear that the island is the equivalent of the axis mundi, the world navel, Chapel Perilous, the Grail castle or whatever term you wish to use. It is that from which all things flow.

    And like Parzival, the Oceanic 6 arrived by happenstance (or fate) at the Grail castle, didn't understand it for what it was, left, realized their mistake and then struggled to find it again. They will have to prove themselves worthy in order to get back.

  10.  
    Gail April 25th, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    Music was by Rachmaninoff Piano concerto #2 in C Minor.

  11.  
    Gail April 25th, 2008 at 8:08 pm

    Sorry that should have been Prelude Opus 3 Number 2 in C# Minor by Rachmaninoff

  12.  
    John April 25th, 2008 at 8:19 pm

    Eric:

    After looking at the Doc Arzt blog, I'm not sure the picture has changed a third time. I think what we are taking for longer hair on her right side in the blurrier "2nd version" pic is really just the back of the chair as can be seen closely in the "3rd version."

    Part of me wonders if all of Ben's flashforward stuff in this ep occurred in the five minute that he disappeared into the hidden tunnel. We assume that he just went to activate the smoke monster. What if that tunnel led to the Orchid as well and he immediately did all of his time traveling then?

    Also of note (as mentioned in the Doc Jensen blog) October 24th is the day that in 1593, Gil Perez supposedly teleported from the Philipines to Mexico City.

    And, with regards to the morse code bit, the first U.S. transcontinental telegraph line was completed on October 24, 1861.

    Lastly, I still think Michael was only off island for a month. The Freighter calendar is 2004 and this is the correct time as confirmed by Desmond calling Penny. This would mean that Michael would have to travel back to a month after he left. I suppose that he COULD have done, but he seems to be pretty clueless about that sort of thing and gave no indication that that sort of thing happened.

    So it begs the question. Was he really in traction, or is it possible that when the EMTs pulled him unconscious out of the car that they were just taking standard precautions with a patient? I don't know. Are there any medical professionals out there? What do you think?

  13.  
    John April 25th, 2008 at 8:25 pm

    Oh and I just came across this little interesting tidbit from the Lostopedia website:

    In Mayan Astrology, the sign CIMI, pronounced the same way as Martin Keamy's last name, means DEATH.

  14.  
    Jeffrey April 25th, 2008 at 10:31 pm

    When Ben was at the piano, did anyone else else think of the Phantom of the Opera? Tunnels, secret rooms, disfigured face, bed is a coffin (prefiguring the LA funeral home). But most of all masks.

    "Shapes of things before my eyes/just teach me to despise..." The lyrics of this Yardbirds classic seem fitting as they deal with time and destruction: "Please don't destroy thses lands/Don't make them desert sands." And as for the lyric "Come tomorrow, may I be bolder than today?" Ben (channeling Indiana Jones yes, but I think Jack Nicholson's -still "The Shining"- character in "The Passenger" who assumes another ID in Africa) certainly will be bolder as Jack Shepperd won't.

  15.  
    Thomas April 26th, 2008 at 6:34 am

    Thoughts:
    In the Watchmen comic book series, when the one suppowered person Dr. Manhattan teleported his wife somewhere, she always threw up. Deliberate reference when Ben did that?
    What made Alex's death so jarring is that Ben clearly never saw it coming. The one constant of his character is that he was always one step ahead of everyone else. It was instructive to be reminded that he is in fact fallible.
    Hurley spoke for all of us when he asked if Ben called the smoke monster. Did he call it and order/ask for help? Did he call someone else who does control it and ask them for help?
    In the Orchid orientation video, a 2nd rabbit identical to the first appears out of nowhere, there's a reference to a test and a frantic statement to keep them apart. Any connection to the apparent existance of 2 ship's doctors? Is that station behind the apparent teleportaion of Ben to Tunisia?
    Fun as always.

  16.  
    Lesley April 26th, 2008 at 7:07 am

    Thanks for another great analysis! I got the impression Ben realeased Smokey but does not have control. He suggested they run as far away from Keamy's crew as possible. Ben went to Iraq after seeing Sayid on television, so why did he travel in the first place? Just to escape a fight in progress? I get the impression we will soon see that fight. Why does Widmore call Ben boy? How old are each of them, really? I hope we see Richard again and why does he not age compared to Ben and Widmore? Other questions from the episode include why Widmore cannot find the island...is it traveling in time/space as a result of the failsafe? And why can't Ben find Penny? Ben has always seemed to be one step ahead and I always assumed he had the tools to view the future but does Alex's death somehow change that? Thanks to this blog my reading list is expanding. A great way to fill the time waiting for new answers!

  17.  
    KWeed April 26th, 2008 at 8:35 am

    I don't know about you guys, but seeing Ben kick some ass and stroll about Tunisia and Iraq in an Indiana Jones hat and scarf left me giggling...

  18.  
    J. Wood (Post Author) April 26th, 2008 at 10:14 am

    Kyle: Yep, Isabel's a goner. That seems a little odd, because she seemed to have a somewhat significant role. I wonder if she'll pop back up in a flashback.

    Annie, if the freighter doc is alive on the freighter and not doing so well on the island, then we have ourselves a good ol' paradox, and can expect some other course correction. See warplayer's post; I'm curious how Smokey would have been the agent of the course correction. (It seemed to me that Ben just released Smokey, because we saw Smokey whomping one of the mercenaries.)

    Scott: There's not a vile vortice right near the Pacific Northwest, but there is one just east of Hawaii, so it's not too far away.

    But the Tempest line made my spidey sense tingle a little bit. In the post for "The Other Woman" the parallels with "The Tempest" were kicked around a bit. Ben has some Caliban-qualities, especially in his advances toward Juliet. Caliban was struggling for dominion over the island; this puts Widmore into a Prospero position, which could have some interesting future implications.

    Eric, I don't think Bernard was in the navy. In the episode where we see his shooting prowess, there's a scene before that where he's making knots with Rose, and tells her she needs to make a sheet bend, not a sailor's not. Except his knots don't work. Rose also suggests he learned to shoot from pheasant hunting. Was this where you thought he might have been in he navy?

    Markus, I'm not sure if the song Ben plays is significant or not. I thought it was kind of interesting to see he had yet another side; maybe he's the one who painted those portraits in his house. The song is Sergei Rachmaninoff's Prelude in C sharp minor, but also went under the "The Day of Judgment" in Britain. If a viewer was sufficiently conversant in classical music, they might have picked up on the foreshadow.

    But Ben's smile after recruiting Sayid was great, and it reminded me of a scene we talked about in these pages last year -- in The Brig, when Locke recruits Sawyer to kill Cooper. As Locke is walking off-camera, he kind of glances at the camera and smiles in that same way. (The look at the camera was incidental; I got that confirmed by Cuselof.)

    But there's another mirror-twinned moment; Locke and Ben both have a certain connection with the island, they're both jockeying for the title of island guru, and they've both recruited another survivor to kill for them.

    Ike, you're right you're right you're right. I actually did make notes on Ishmael Bakir, and was heading somewhere with it, but I was also looking for something on Bakir and came up blank. I'm at a conference right now, and in all the rushing around, when I went back to my post to finish it up, I just missed getting the Moby Dick stuff in (and I think it's rather interesting). I submitted my bit on that, and it should be added to the end of the post as an addendum soon.

  19.  
    J. Wood (Post Author) April 26th, 2008 at 10:27 am

    John, I looked at that Emily painting as well and wasn't clear on any new changes. But good call on the 2004 calendar on the freighter -- I think that's good evidence, the time shifts shouldn't be happening to the off-island freighter, so off-island Michael must be within normal timeline parameters.

    The Cimi/Keamy connection is wild. If they're going to dip into Mayan mythology, things could get messy. Cool, but messy. It'd be interesting if the entire series ends someplace in 2012, because that's when the Mayan long count calendar says the whole cycle of ages ends and resets.

    Thomas, thanks for reminding me about the throwing up, that's a good catch. The Watchmen movie is well on its way. Also, we need to find out about the Orchid soon. Was there some sort of technology there that made the rabbit pop into two places at once? Did the Freighties somehow get that? Was that part of Lapidus' errand?

    That seems like one of the best explanations for the two doctors at this point, that it's connected to the Orchid rabbits.

  20.  
    Ken April 26th, 2008 at 11:10 am

    Re: Ben's smile

    Both Ben's smile in "The Shape of Things to Come" and Locke's smile in "The Brig" are mirrors of the same walking-away-from-a-patsy smirk that Sawyer has often displayed after pulling off a con. But as Ben himself told Sawyer about his con-man skills, "You're pretty good, 'Sawyer.' But we're [I'm] better."

  21.  
    leah April 26th, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    I also had a sneaking suspicion that maybe Ben hopped on a vortex when he ducked into his hidden closet, and that his “flashes” during the epi were during that little trip, right in the middle of our episode and right after his daughter was killed. That might explain why he went to Widmore to threaten Penny, as the wound would have been fresh, as opposed to nursing his grudge for 10-11 months (although that’s not unlikely). What it wouldn’t explain is why he had a wound on his upper arm, or he was wearing a jacket we didn’t see him wearing in the house.

    Would the Tunisia vortex be closest to London (eg, would seeing Widmore be his primary objective for the trip and he visited Sayid “on the way” after seeing him on TV?)?

    When he arrived at the hotel in Tunisia he asked the date, and seemed unclear on the year. This might indicate that 1. he was time/vortex traveling when he landed in the desert, which some have suggested, and 2. he doesn’t have total control over it, and when he arrives to a certain locale.

    By the way, do we know the current IST (Island Standard Time)? After Christmas but before New Year 2005? Or after the New Year?

    Also wondering how the polar bear ties into this. When Ben landed in the desert, that was the first thing I thought of. Was C.S. Lewis’s little discovery in the same location in the past, or in the future?

    What a shocker that Ben has been playing by rules. Has he always been playing by some hidden rulebook, or do the rules only apply between himself and Widmore (not the Losties)?

    When J. mentioned a game between Ben and Widmore I thought back to the game of RISK at the beginning. Do you think the writers are making a statement about Ben & Widmore’s game with that little scene?

    At least we got some answers about the Ben/Sayid partnership.

    Now I've got to find and read The Shape of Things to Come.

  22.  
    Marty April 26th, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    Is Jack's new tattoo around minute 34 new to anyone else?

  23.  
    leah April 26th, 2008 at 9:08 pm

    Another thought... reading John Norris's post above... it seems possible that Widmore has connections to the original crew of the black rock, but from the conversation with Ben last epi it also seemed as though he was the funder of the Dharma initiative (he seemed to be accusing Ben of hi-jacking that project). That would raise some questions... it doesn't possible he's connected to both. I also still wonder why, after the genocide, the Dharma drops continue. Is it possible they were all sent long ago through the vortex, and somehow staggered to arrive at differing points in time? If so, they would not be stopped for any unforseen event. But I remember some mobisode or something that said the drops were to be made in perpetuity... so it would be difficult to send an infinite amount at one time... unless somehow they are being reproduced within the vortex? I dunno.

  24.  
    Miss Gretchen April 27th, 2008 at 9:17 am

    Talk about a "portal" in the Pacific Northwest has me thinking about Ben's backstory. I'm wondering if there is a kind of portal in that location to The Island, and if it's possible that Ben's parents stumbled upon it while hiking. I'm wondering if Ben was indeed born on The Island. I'm also wondering if we'll see some questions about his paternity arising -- we don't know for sure if Roger Linus was his genetic father, and his actions (as well as Ben's actions towards him) suggested a man who is not sure if he is the genetic father. If such a storyline comes up, I would imagine we would be left to wonder whether Locke and Ben have the same father.

    Can anyone tell me, if I'm having a generation gap? Is my lack of video game playing a factor in my lack of enjoyment for this season? It's just so many meaningless deaths all the time, rack 'em up, blam blam blam. Does this seem normal to y'all younger folk?

    23skidoo, I'm with you on the Parzival theme.

  25.  
    kostino April 27th, 2008 at 11:37 am

    Since the first thing that happens after Ben returns is the appearance of Smokey and since Ben is expecting this to happen (he warns the losties to stay as far away as possible from the mercenaries), then we can only assume that what he did in the tunnel is related to it. His sudden appearance in the desert with a parka can only mean that before that he was in a cold place that had to do something with the Dahrma project. The only possible place I can think from what we know so far is the north pole station where the signal from the island was picked up in the season 2 final episode. I am guessing that he visited and destroyed that station. All we see is Ben's (and Sayid's) flashforward scenes tying up loose ends from previous episodes.

  26.  
    Monica April 27th, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    J - The Three Dog Night song "Road to Shambala" has featured prominently in several episodes also, most notably the one where they find the Dharma van and Roger the Workman (a.k.a. Ben's dad).

  27.  
    David April 27th, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    I don't remember Isabel getting bumped off last season. Can someone clarify where and when?

    Also, one theory that I have heard no mention of as yet regarding the island "not allowing you to die," is possibly the reason Locke survived the fall from Cooper's apartment window. It would seem that the island kept him alive in order to fulfill his destiny upon arrival.

    As for Ben and the secret door, I don't believe that his time-travel adventure was related. I think he just went to call Smokey for help and his trip to Tunisia was a separate incident altogether. Darlton said in their recent podcast, that we would find out how he wound up there in the Darka.

  28.  
    Messenger88 April 27th, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    23skidoo, I think you are making a good call in regard to the axis mundi--there are so many literary references in this show, but Stephen King's opus, "The Dark Tower" is built on the premise that the tower holds all of reality (multiple realities which exist in parallel times, actually)together. There was a time when several towers held reality fast, but all but the dark tower (territory?)have crumbled and so the walls between realities have grown thin, enabling the hero to travel amongst the realities to gather the companions he needs to complete his quest. This, along with a certain white rabbit with a number 8 on it's side (mentioned in King's "On Writing" to describe the relationship between reader and writer as a form of telepathy, no less)seems like a really good match for the "where and when" questions relating to our Lost island. Ben's steadfast confidence that he had the situation which led to Alex's death under control implies that there are fixed rules and that Ben was sure that Alex was safe according to those rules. The rules have changed. And as interesting as Lost was before this episode, it is going to be really interesting to see what happens now that "he [Widmore] changed the rules." The brilliance of Lost is in revealing to us that are rules and then immediately proceeding to tell us that the rules have been changed. And so, we are as Lost as ever.

  29.  
    Ken April 27th, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    David:

    Isabell was purportedly "bumped off" during the Others' raid on the beach camp at the end of Season 3. Although she wasn't seen onscreen, Darlton said she was among the Other casualties. I recall reading later that they thought the role was miscast, so apparently they solved that conumdrum by retroactively killing the character.

  30.  
    Perelandra April 27th, 2008 at 7:20 pm

    While thinking about the recurring theme of twin-ness, it's worth remembering that that in the Bible, Jacob was a twin, the favored younger one. He'd dispossessed Es Esau the older one of his rightful inheritance. Perhaps this is relevant to Ben v. Widmore? But the Biblical twins eventually reconciled, which I can't imagine happening here.

  31.  
    Dona April 27th, 2008 at 7:25 pm

    In this last episode, the scene in Tikrit seems to suggest that the reason Sayid joins with and murders for Ben in the future is revenge for Nadia's murder. But in the Economist, Ben mentions something like "you want to help your friends, don't you?", suggesting that the reason Sayid is killing for Ben has to do with keeping his friends alive, not revenge for Nadia. Am I missing something, or is it possible that we are seeing some kind of change in the time line? The end result (or course correction) is that Sayid is stilling killing for Ben, but the reason has changed?

  32.  
    Brockman April 28th, 2008 at 9:54 am

    Hey everyone, be sure to check out J's addendum, just added at the end of the post! Mmm, Moby Dick...

  33.  
    hjortron flicka April 28th, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    The other important (perhaps very obvious?), Ishmael reference, is the difference in the way that Jews/Christians view Ishmael and Isaac (both sons of Abraham, as J Wood pointed out.) The tribe of Ishmael are the people of Islam (Muslims) and the Jews are considered the decendents of Isaac. The way Ishmael and his mother are described in the Hebrew Torah/Christian Old Testament are very different (J. Wood's summary above points to the Judeo/Christian version.) Since the "us" vs. "them" exploration in LOST includes the backdrop of the current war in Iraq, it seems to me this is just another reference--Ishmael Bakir is clearly himself supposed to be an Arab, and Ishmael is not an uncommon name for Muslim Arab boys/men...

    Also, Ben means, "son of" in Arabic, so that also has me wondering who Ben's father is (I know his given name was Benjamin, but it is interesting, given the discussion about how Ben Linus may be related to other LOST characters...)

    I wonder what the significance of the woman at the hotel in Tozeur was, when she seemed to disbelieve that Ben said he was who he was when he was checking in(Dean Moriarty, was this the name he used?)

    Miss Gretchen; whether it is generational or not, I have to agree that this season is less compelling to me (I am 47 yrs old); it may be that the very fast pace/multiple killings are what are behind my lack of engagement, when compared with previous seasons; whether this is a generational thing or not, I don't know...

    I still enjoy reading what J. Wood and others have to share, but the show doesn't seem as rich as it did previously-- maybe the writer's strike abbreviation of the # of shows this season is the reason for the pacing and quick progression of the storyline...I like things a little less frenetic, violent and nuanced, myself...

  34.  
    patrickw April 28th, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    Talk about the Smokey God and the Underground Kingdom made me start thinking about Tunisia and why Ben (and the polar bear apparently) seems to be teleported there in particular after leaving the island.

    One thing that is sort of freaky is that if you were to drill a hole directly down from Tunisia to the other side of the World you end up in the Pacific, at a location that could quite conceivably be where the plane finally came down (given it flew off course for some hours).

    http://koti.mbnet.fi/ojalesa/koe/opposite.html

    If the link between the Island and North Africa is somehow non-arbitrary this may be important in explaining whatever links between the ancient civilization on the Island and the hieroglyphs seen on the countdown clock.

    Perhaps the island of Mu was colonized from an ancient civilization from North Africa using some mystical lost knowledge?

  35.  
    patrickw April 28th, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    Also the link between the Island and Tunisia presumably also explains how Mr Ecko's drug running plane from East Africa ended up on the Island. There is no way that that plane had enough fuel to fly to the Pacific.

  36.  
    Asilgrass April 28th, 2008 at 5:41 pm

    Another instance of mirror twinning we see in this episode (and previously) is Jack/Sawyer and Claire/Kate. Jack is Claire's brother, but Sawyer is taking care of her. To the Skaters Sawyer is Kate's true love, but Jack is the one going into the off-island future with her. Claire is Aaron's mother, but Kate is going to raise him. Jack is Christian's son, but Sawyer is the one who had the last heart to heart with him. I thought of more, but they escape me now.

  37.  
    Phutatorius April 28th, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    For many years I considered myself a Melville fanatic. I tried to read all his published works, but only succeeded partially. For instance, I never got more than half way through Mardi (though I tried and tried), and I never had much luck with Clarel or the other poetry either. That said, I have to disagree about Moby-Dick and LOST. I just don’t see any resemblance beyond the coincidence of the name Ishmael. In the end, I thought Moby-Dick was about unknowable-ness, that tragic Ahab and the passive and rather depressed narrator, Ishmael, were more or less incidental. The real hero was the whale – with no voice and no face – the whale who presented a vast blank wall where a face should have been.

    Are there better candidates among Melville’s works for LOST influence? Well my first choice would be the nearly unreadable, aforementioned Mardi because it involves a shipwreck and a voyage to a mysterious south sea archipelago. My second choice is obvious because of its title: The Confidence Man – His Masquerade. So close to a major theme in LOST. But I have to shoot down my second choice myself, because Melville’s con-men, Charlie Noble and Frank Goodman, are unlike either Sawyer or Anthony Cooper. Perhaps Ben Linus comes closer. His con-game seems a little more apocalyptic, and his initial appearance as “Henry Gale from Minnesota” seems about as humble the initial appearance of Melville’s “lamb-like man.” So I’ll stick with Mardi. Maybe someone can tell me how it ends.

  38.  
    23skidoo April 28th, 2008 at 6:42 pm

    I'm not sure of the mechanics of how it would work, but the energy of the island allows it to bend space and time. This can be experienced passively by traveling to and from the island. Enter at the wrong location or leave by the wrong coordinate and you could find yourself in the future or past and potentially in a completely different location.

    Apparently, this also can be experienced actively through focused teleportation across spacetime. You could bring people to the island ("The Man from Talahassee") or you could leave (for example, Tom's little getaway to NYC a month before he bites it on the island). And it may be possible to use the island to teleport from one off-island location to another (Ben showing up in the Sahara wearing a parka).

    This would also explain why the island can't be found.

    I don't have a clue about the 108 minutes. :-( Unless it was to allow certain individuals to know where the island is.

  39.  
    LennyP April 28th, 2008 at 7:06 pm

    Your suggestion that Widmore's hit on Sayid's wife was a consequence of Ben's threatening Penny seems off-the episode's flash-future is chronological so the death of Nadia preceded the threat. I interpret Ben's smile after Sayid's request to join the fight against Widmore as indicating that Ben, not Widmore, was responsible for her death- as a way of manipulating Sayid, and with Ben justifying the killing as serving a greater good.

    One burning question not on your list-are the Oceanic passengers with their overlapping back-stories and various sins in their past requiring redemption on the flight by chance, or is the master conspirator behind the circumstances leading to every passenger's being on the flight?

    A final thought-the show has consistently undercut assumptions we've made- and we know that events that should have happened a certain way do not always do so (Charlie's death; Alex's survival)- we think we know that Jack and the other Oceanic 6 survive to leave the island-but could that change? If we know Jack, Kate, Sun, etc. are at least alive in the flashforwards, we are not in suspense about Jack's illness this week, about what might happen to Hurley while under Locke's duress-isn't it possible that the future of the Oceanic 6 is not immutable?

    Thanks again for your insights; would you consider, post-the season finale, doing a separate blog entry that analyzes all of Season 4?

  40.  
    Faramir April 29th, 2008 at 12:31 am

    Sticking to my theory about Ben vs. Widmore being the metaphysical conflict between Free Will and Fate - theory that made it to Darlton, via USA Today, and perhaps one of the couple the authors declined to comment because 'too close' - I have a point for the last scene of 4x09. In the confrontation with Ben, Widmore seems objectively superior to his nemesis (I know who you are, boy. What you are. -- and then -- That island's mine, Benjamin. It always was. It will be again), in an ontological way, like God with the Devil.

  41.  
    April April 29th, 2008 at 8:34 am

    What happened to :

    * Harper Stanhope
    * Isabel, the sheriff of Otherville
    * Richard

    -- Richard took them to "the temple." This is why Ben says they are safe. Presumably they are at said temple playing hopscotch and eating omelettes and generally just hanging out.

  42.  
    April April 29th, 2008 at 8:54 am

    Leah,

    re: "Also wondering how the polar bear ties into this. When Ben landed in the desert, that was the first thing I thought of. Was C.S. Lewis’s little discovery in the same location in the past, or in the future?"

    Do you think the polar bear was a "test" sent much earlier to that same portal that Ben comes through?

  43.  
    Philip April 29th, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    I think Charles was part of the the Dharma initiative and was on the island with Ben, which would help explain why he knows all about the properties of the island and has been looking for it for an awfully long time, and spending a ton of money (including buying the first-mate's book to gain any insight).

    Picture it, a Charles/Ben/Annie love triangle. Annie was his best friend, and he obviously missed her (looking at the doll on his birthday/purge day). Charles and Annie leaving on the submarine may have been what they were waiting for to carry out the purge. Ben probably refused to carry it out until she got off the island. Once the submarine was back and everyone in Dharma was killed, no one knew how to get back to the island except the people still alive on the island (Ben and his people). Desmond stumbled upon it somehow, as did the Losties. Richard, Ben, Ethan, et al, used the submarine to get off the island to try and find expertise (i.e. Juliet) to allow them to procreate on the island.

    Additionally, I don't buy into Ben time travelling by going into the hidden room at all. Go into the room and end up in Africa, no way; I'm into him summoning Smokey in there. However, I do believe he was time travelling in another way - just like Desmond and Minkowski. Why else would he be confused about the date? Something happened on the island that forced him to jump ahead into the future. Did something perhaps happen to his constant, and if so, who is it? How about Alex? When Ben could not talk Keamy out of killing her, did that perhaps change the rules (as he said to Widmore)?

    Remember, Farraday explained that the constant had to be someone present in both times you're jumping to. So if Alex were present on the island and present in the future (in the Sahara), and Keamy killed Alex, Ben's constant was gone and he's all of a sudden jumping again. The rules have changed. This would result in some (major course correction, a topic discussed at length in this forum). Maybe that's why Ben is on a mission to kill so many people, including Penelope, but not including Widmore. Ben obviously CAN kill Widmore, but chooses not to because it's not part of what he needs to do. (Also, when he was much younger, did Ben jump into the future and know Alex was there, and that's the specific reason he stole Alex in the past? To be his constant?)

    I could keep going but it would seem even more rambling. The Widmore/Annie/Ben triangle would open up so many possibilities. What if Annie is Widmore's siter, what if Ben is actually Penelope's father, etc etc etc.

  44.  
    Phutatorius April 29th, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    Ben's not being able to kill Widmore may have something to do with David Lewis' work (mentioned fairly frequently here) on the Paradoxes of Time Travel. Time travel produces certain restrictions. There are some things that you just aren't able to do.

  45.  
    Leah April 29th, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    April: maybe the polar bear was a test... but why/how were the polar bears on the tropical island again? i know there were cages and fish biscuits, but did we get any other explanation? I guess if there is a polar cap portal/vortex, that might be how the polar bears got there... for whatever reason. but remember when Charlotte saw the dharma logo on the polar bear fossil and had that knowing smile on her face, like she knew what was going on? That's why I'm wondering if all of that happened after this present time on the island.

    I don't doubt that Ben somehow "called" smokey while in the back room. What i was wondering was maybe the vortex/time travelling thing causes smokey to come out in force somehow? remember, the only reason smokey was able to come into new otherton at all is because alex disabled the protective forcefield that covers their camp.

    furthermore, can smokey get through closed doors and such? so far it seems he's sort of constrained by physical objects (going around trees and such), so why didn't ben tell them to stay in the house until smokey was gone? why would they go outside and run for the treeline? why was he so sure smokey was after the bad guys? he clearly didn't seem to have control over smokey or confidence that smokey would know the bad guys from the good guys (because he told them to stay away from the people with the guns).

    I like the idea of the metaphysical opponents (Widmore vs Ben as God vs Devil). Like when the devil approaches God about Job in the Bible. They discuss Job and what to do with /to him, but there is never any attempt on the lives of God or the devil, for example. Like they're waging some cosmic battle for the soul of the world. Interesting.

    I also recently saw an interview in print with Cuselof (both of them, however its spelled) and they were asked what other literary works we might pay attention to and they both emphasized we should "keep reading the Bible."

  46.  
    appletree83 April 29th, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    One thing caught my attention: When Ben crept into Widmore’s bedroom and asked when did Widmore start sleeping with a bottle of scotch on his nightstand, Widmore replied, “When the nightmares started.” Then, he reached for the bottle and poured himself a drink. Was that a jab at Ben? That Widmore thought of him as just another “nightmare”? And why did Widmore claim that it was Ben who murdered Alex, “that poor girl”? If Widmore isn’t the one who killed Alex, as he claims, then perhaps Widmore is not the one who “changed the rules”.

    The scene where the smoke monster bursts forth from underground, right after Ben returned from his secret room, was, as others have commented, evocative of “Forbidden Planet”, where, as we all know, the creature was a manifestation of Dr. Morbius’ subconscious. Hey, come to think of it, it was when Dr. Morbius was faced with the loss of his daughter that he sent his subconscious ‘monster’ after the space crew for the final time. Gee, Ben loses his daughter, and his own monster appears. This seems like a major clue as to what Ol’ Smokie actually is.

    Messenger 88: In regards to Stephen King’s “Dark Tower” series, I, too, have seen a number of clue-y arrows pointed in the direction of portals between parallel worlds. However, since Darlton more significantly pointed us towards “Slaughterhouse Five”, and the concept of the Tralfamadorians and the ‘unchangeable space/time’ concept, it seems more likely that Ben was hopping in and out of the linear, unchangeable time line through various portals/vortices. Maybe that’s why he couldn’t kill Widmore in London...because he never did kill Widmore, at any time, ever. If so, then why did Widmore even ask the question?

  47.  
    LOSTONE1 April 29th, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    Ben's departure into the secret room reminded me of another book, "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency." In which a man steps out of the room at a dinner party for a moment's time, but it is later revealed that he in fact had time traveled to the past all so he could perform a magic trick.

  48.  
    appletree83 April 29th, 2008 at 6:55 pm

    Question: Is Alex really the "daughter" that Ben is talking about to Widmore?

    If we take at face value that, in Ben's flash-forward, we're at the point in time immediately after he recruits Sayid, then we know that Ben's confrontation with Widmore occurs after the Oceanic 6 are off the Island. And, to keep things from getting too messy & confusing, we discount the theory that Ben time-traveled during the time that he was in his secret room releasing the smoke monster (unlikely), then we can surmise that some months have passed since Alex's murder.

    My question is: How can we be certain, when Ben says to Widmore, "You murdered my daughter", that he's referring to Alex? Ben never once says Alex's name, and in all truthfulness, Alex wasn't his biological daughter. We know for a fact that, despite what Widmore says, Ben was clearly not responsible for the death of Alex. So maybe the two of them are talking about a different daughter? One whom we have not yet met?

    Remember, we already know that Ben is capable of traveling off the Island whenever he chooses. Maybe, during one of his trips, he fathered a daughter with an 'off-Island' woman (maybe even someone we already know!), and it is this daughter who has been murdered.

    Ok, I know, it's a stretch. Still, after reviewing the pivotal scene between Ben & Widmore, I was curious why they never actually said Alex's name.

    Philip: When you brought up Annie's name, in relation to Ben's crush on her (which I had totally forgotten about), maybe Annie had left the Island just before the purge, and in Ben's off-Island travels, he was able to track her down, woo her, and have a child, a daughter, with her. Maybe this is the "daughter" Ben is talking about.

    Boy, this is so much fun!

  49.  
    job77 April 30th, 2008 at 12:13 am

    Leah, I'm glad you mentioned that when Alexx turned off the fence, it allowed Smokey to get to the barracks. I had thought of that too and so I'm inclined to think that Ben did not call up Smokey. However, I don't have an explanation as to what he was doing in the closet.

    I also like the idea that time travel makes one cold, explaining Ben's parka and the polar bear found in Tunisia, likely used in experiments. By the way, I don't think that Charlotte found the polar bear in the future. She seems to know something about the island when she gets there. I think she has done a lot of research into the island and is excited to have her theories confirmed when she finds the polar bear and finally makes it on to the island.

  50.  
    Paul April 30th, 2008 at 8:00 am

    Miss Gretchen and hjortron flicka have complained mildly about Season's 4s death, destruction, pace, and relative lack of nuance. I too have thought about this at length, and, more broadly, the season's story arc. I find that I am less troubled by the mayhem insofar as it fits logically into the story line. Widmore and Ben are at war, things move quickly on the ground, and people get killed. Furthermore, none of the deaths seem especially gratuitous.

    Having said that, season 4 has, regrettably, not been able devote as much time to the characters we care so deeply about. Darlton have said that Lost is fundamentally about the possibility of redemption for these characters and, at least for me, the best episodes this season have been The Constant and Ji Yeon, both of which dealt heavily with this theme. Other episodes have hinted at possible redemption to come for Jack and Hugo, at least, and I anticipate (Or at least hope) that this theme will emerge with renewed vigor once the dust clears on the island.

    One other question to kick around - the person in the coffin. I think the mystery here has deepened. It can't be Kate or Aaron (their still alive at that point), Sun (if she died she'd be buried in S. Korea), Sayid (if he died very unlikely he'd be buried in LA), or Hurley (coffin is too small, island seems to have plans for him, his funeral would have had family). In short, the person in the coffin cannot be one of the Oceanic 6; nevertheless, the person was noteworthy enough to attract attn in the LA Times (where Jack read the obit), so who could it be? If it is Micheal as Kevin Johnson, the question becomes why would his passing be worthy of notice?

  51.  
    Leah April 30th, 2008 at 10:27 am

    I also keep thinking back to the accusation that Alex's (or "Ben's daughter's") death was Ben's fault. We don't know what the "rules" are supposed to be, but supposing they are something like Sun Tzu's "Art of War," or some such rules of war that have been generally held as honorable for the last several hundred years. Innocent women, children, and family members of enemies are generally off-limits in honorable combat, from what I've read. If Ben and Widmore had some implicit agreement to follow these rules, then Ben would have thought of Alex as off-limits, being his daughter. BUT, there are two likely possibilities that could make Alex's death Ben's fault:

    1. Ben yells out that Alex is not his daughter; that he stole her from someone else as a baby, and he doesn't care what happens to her. Obviously he was trying to psyche the guy out and not get her killed, but if the guy knew he wasn't allowed to kill Ben's family and believed that she wasn't Ben's daughter, then killing her would no longer be against the rules. Thus, Ben killed Alex by taking her out of the "rules."

    2. Alex isn't Ben's daughter, a known fact. This might make her immune to the rule, because she isn't his family, no matter how he feels about her (though it doesn't follow the don't-kill-innocents-rule). Thus, his kidnapping her and raising her was what got “the poor girl” killed. Again, Ben’s fault.

    Another interesting tidbit: my husband recently visited a place in China, a temple which sits on "healing ground." A healer of sorts took him there (Qi Gong master) and as he stood there listening to the monks chant, he felt a distinct heat throughout his entire body. The master said he was receivig healing from the magnetism of the earth in that location. I told him he should go there every day, and he said she told him that his body had already absorbed it, like "eating it" so presumably he wouldn't gain further benefit from returning. I googled "electromagnetic healing," and there is a lot on the net about it, even peer-reviewed journaled articles, mostly using man-made handheld devices using "pulsed" energy to heal. Apparently it is all the rage everywhere but the U.S. Our island clearly has some such properties, so I thought it might make for some interesting reading.

  52.  
    Jeffrey April 30th, 2008 at 10:29 am

    Paul,

    I still think the person in the casket is ben due to what he said about Goodwin to Juliet - a foreshadowing of what the funeral director says to Jack. And if it is, then the rules are indeed changing by the minute (episode). As I wrote awhile back concerning LA - in the lyrics of the great LA punk band X - "This is the game that moves as you play."

    Widmore's use and tone of the word "boy" reminded me of Mother Bates chastising her son - I think when Norman moves her into the fruit cellar - which Jacob's shack kind of resembles. So maybe we're in a realm of multiple personalities (Ben's passports suggest this) of one original being - Jacob or someone (thing) of an atavistic nature. Perhaps all the principal players are the Biblical "Legion" making up the One so Ben can't kill Widmore without killing himself. But something else does.

  53.  
    Leah April 30th, 2008 at 10:32 am

    Someone mentioned that knowing the O6 takes the suspense out of, say, Jack's illness in the next episode. I'm wondering, however, how the dead doctor plays into this. Are they introducing some paradox by which people can die on the island and still be alive in the real world? This possibility seems a little twin-peaks to me, but it would reintroduce the suspense, maybe.

  54.  
    Philip April 30th, 2008 at 11:15 am

    appletree83:
    While that is certainly possible, I think the timelines would make it implausible. Sayid and Desmond are on the boat Christmas, 2004, and Ben arrives at his hotel in October, 2005. Assuming that he visits Charles shortly thereafter, it would be hard for him to have a child in that time, but you never know. It also may be possible that if, in fact, Ben and Charles knew one another on the island, Ben could've had a child then. I don't think that is really likely though.

  55.  
    appletree83 April 30th, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    Leah: Thanks for the input on the reasons why Alex possibly "fell outside of the rules", especially the one where perhaps Ben himself killed her by disavowing her. Gosh, I hadn't even thought of that! If that turns out to be true, what enormous pain that will/would cause Ben!

    Philip: I didn't mean to suggest that Ben fathered a child in between Dec. 2004 and Oct. 2005. I was theorizing that, since he's probably been traveling off-Island for who-knows-how-many-years, that he might have tracked down Annie many years ago and fathered a child. My theory, upon second glance though, doesn't seem very likely. Too complicated.

    Jeffrey: Could you refresh my memory on exactly what the funeral director said to Jack that reminded you of what Ben said to Juliet about Goodwin (a foreshadowing?).

    Maybe you all have already seen this, but over on http://losteastereggs.blogspot.com/2008/04/update-translation-of-symbols-on-bens.html, DocArzt has offered a translation of the hieroglyphics seen on the door of Ben's secret room/tunnel. Wow!! If any of this is true, we'd have much clearer picture of who Ben could possibly be.

    Another thing that I'm still puzzling over, and I haven't seen anyone mention it yet in this forum.....what was Ben really up to when went to say goodbye to Alex? We saw him lean over her body to kiss her forehead, then the next time we see him, he's marching through the jungle to catch up with Locke, et.al.

    Knowing the Island's reputation for making 'dead' folks become 'not dead' folks, and especially if Ben is some kind of high priest as suggested by the hieroglyphics, then maybe he was able to revive her and tuck her safely away in his secret room. (Maybe his secret room or tunnel leads to the Temple, where she'd be safe.) If that were the case, then my crazy theory about Widmore killing a totally different 'daughter' might hold water. Maybe.

  56.  
    faramir73 April 30th, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    I don't think anybody pointed at this: the arrival of Smokey reminded me of Dune's sandworms, with Ben as an angry Muad'dib. Think about this: the Others are the Island's Fremen, guardians of a precious resource to travel space-time (the Spice, on Arrakis), and Ben as Paul, son of one of the two contestants (Atreides and Harkonnen, Dharma and Widmore), finds himself in the role of the natives' messiah. Weird, uh?

  57.  
    Leah April 30th, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    appletree83: thanks for the link to the hieroglyphics translations. the part where he said it could mean something like container: i was thinking earlier: what if smokey is in some kind of cage that ben unlocked when he went into the back room? it would be less like calling smokey than unleashing it, right? which might be why he seemed afraid of it too.

  58.  
    appletree83 April 30th, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    Yes, Leah...I had the same thought, but in addition to that, and especially after taking a closer look at the 'container' glyph, it made me think of Aladdin & his magic lamp.

    Maybe the container holds captive an evil Djinn, aka Smokey! Ha ha! Oh, wait, I just googled the word 'djinn', and in Islamic mythology, 'djinn' are fiery spirits. Maybe Smokey is a fiery creature with his fire put out, and now he's just all smoke!

    Just a spot of levity while waiting for tomorrow night's episode.

  59.  
    KWeed April 30th, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    Leah and Job77 - When the phone rings, Ben says that one of his people (Alex) typed in a warning code, not necessarily released smokey from the fenced area.

    Ben clearly thought of Alex as his daughter. Widmore tries to make Ben feel guilty for loving Alex. Loving Alex put her in harm's way, in between the Ben/Widmore feud. Since Alex wasn't biological, Ben had a choice whether or not to take a daughter. While Penny is biological, and much older than Alex was...which means Penny might have been born before the feud began.

    A thought - maybe Widmore was keeping Desmond and Penny apart to keep Penny out of harm's way too, like Ben tried to do when he sent Alex, Rousseau, and Carl to the other station.

    As for the coffin in the flashforward, I think that it's Christian Shepard and that Jack finally gets the closure he wanted so badly when he was yelling at the airline attendant at the ticket counter in Australia. In fact, (pun intended) holding his father's funeral might just be the final "nail in the coffin" for the entire Lost series.

  60.  
    John April 30th, 2008 at 8:47 pm

    Regarding the Tunisia/Polar bear connection:

    I wonder if the writers are saying that time traveling is a very cold endeavor. Perhaps the experiments involved choosing polar bears specifically because of their natural inclination to cold weather. It might explain Ben's arctic outfit as well as the mist that seems to escape his mouth upon aspirating in the desert.

    Thoughts?

  61.  
    Jeffrey April 30th, 2008 at 9:45 pm

    Appletree83,

    I'm paraphrasing but they both said something like: "Take your time, you probably want to be alone" which sounded professional coming from the director but downright creepy (considering the circumstances) coming from Ben. It was the tone of voice that made it seem like a forshadowing and I can't think of anyone else who would bring such emotions from Kate (hatred) and Jack (despair). And if Jack realizes that Ben now can die perhaps (in my Legion theory) he knows he can now as well - and not being suicidal but having a purpose to get back to the Island this would not be good to say the least.

  62.  
    the puma April 30th, 2008 at 11:13 pm

    This is my first visit to this blog many interesting insights.

    One thought I had regarding the Halifax parka Ben was wearing. Perhaps when he teleports through time he does not know where he will end up. My thought is there a time continuum a worm hole effect between the island, the Artic and Tunisia. These three places are the only ports on entry and exit for time travel. Therefore, he would need the parka if he ended up in the Artic. This would also explain the polar bear on the island as well as Tunisia. It will also explain all the different type of currencies Ben had stashed in his house.

  63.  
    Phutatorius May 1st, 2008 at 3:26 am

    I share the dissatisfaction some have expressed with the body count LOST has been piling up this and last season. Is it going too far to dignify this violence by a comparison to the old genre of “revenge tragedy” exemplified by plays like Webster’s “Duchess of Malfi,” Tourneur’s “Atheist’s Tragedy,” or even Shakespeare’s own “Titus Andronicus”? The typical plot would involve someone’s usurpation of someone else’s kingdom, the ensuing struggle to get it back, followed by as much bloody mayhem and cruelty as the playwrite’s ingenuity could devise. That’s sort of LOST-ish, I suppose.

  64.  
    Bhoutros May 1st, 2008 at 9:06 am

    Is there any significance that Charles Widmore and Charlie have/had the same name?

    What about Naomi's body?

    And I am still wondering about the Aussie psychic @ Ayres Rock/Uluru.

  65.  
    Paul May 1st, 2008 at 9:27 am

    Jeffrey - regarding the body in the coffin, it could be Ben, but that begs the question of why his death would merit notice in the LA Times. Presumably, this would mean that Ben (maybe under an alias) was somebody worthy of mention off the island.

    KWeed - Recall that when the funeral director asks Jack if the deceased is friend or family, Jack says "neither", which would imply it's not Christian.

    This is mere speculation: I'm looking forward to Sawyer et al making it back to the beach camp, telling everyone, "the freighties destroyed the barracks, Ben controls smokie, and Ben, Locke and Hurely are off to see some guy named Jacob (that should get Juliet's attn), so how are things going here?"

  66.  
    John Moustache May 1st, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    -That airplane at the bottom of the sea is one huge white whale, no?

  67.  
    appletree83 May 1st, 2008 at 4:50 pm

    Paul: That was funny, speculating what Sawyer might tell the folks at the beach camp! However, once I finished laughing, I recalled the previews for tonight's episode, and a feeling of dread went through me, as it appears that Sawyer's little group runs into Frank Lapidus, who warns them to watch out for Keamy. The preview shows Keamy going on high alert as he hears Aaron cry. Groan!! I pray that tonight won't be the episode where Claire bites it. I know that everyone is hoping that, while Kate is raising Aaron off-Island, Claire and the other Losties are still alive & well on-Island.

    Wait, I almost forgot that Desmond had a clear vision of Claire leaving the Island on a helicopter. That was one of the reasons that Charlie was willing to dive down to the Looking Glass station -- to save Claire!

    J. Wood: Thanks for reprinting that paragraph from Moby Dick. I've memorized it, and the next time hubby & I play Risk, I plan to quote it at him when I destroy his armies (..."from hell's heart, I stab at thee!"). That should do wonders for our relationship, huh?

  68.  
    Leah May 1st, 2008 at 5:44 pm

    I'm skeptical about all of this parka/arctic speculation. If you're in the arctic, you'll need a lot more than a parka to stay alive, much less stay warm. Possible that time travel ijs cold, but mist wouldn't come from your mouth when you come from a cold place. Your breath mists because your breath is warm and the air outside is cold. So it shouldn't ever happen in a desert.

  69.  
    Dube May 1st, 2008 at 9:55 pm

    GREAT post. Very detailed! Blogging about Lost while on an airplane with turbulence. The irony!

  70.  
    warplayer May 2nd, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    oh no, no new blog yet today? :( I've grown to look forward to this every Friday...shame...

  71.  
    Miss Gretchen May 3rd, 2008 at 7:30 am

    Leah, you mention above the suspense of this season, or in my words, the lack of it. I was wondering if I was just unsophisticated -- that the flash forwards leaving me with a feeling of apathy was me being not-modern enough to enjoy the game of the show. But I have to admit, that one of the reasons I'm looking for the blog this week is that I plumb FORGOT to watch LOST on Thursday, and I need to know what happened. That says something about the level of interest I have in this season. . .

  72.  
    Kay May 3rd, 2008 at 11:44 am

    Does anyone know Morse Code?
    It would be funny/interesting
    if both Faraday AND Bernard were lying
    about what the message back from the
    freighter was and it was left up to
    the viewers to figure that out...

  73.  
    Leah May 3rd, 2008 at 9:44 pm

    miss gretchen: you know you can watch it online, right? this one was pretty interesting. it's like a big puzzle; there are still lots of quesstions to be answered. the only thing we know is that those 6 will be alive and off the island, but we still don't know anything about the forces at work or the turns of events. i guess it's like knowing the ending of a book, but you still want to see how you get to that point, and who knows; maybe we'll get the story beyond the flash forwards at some point. all i can say is they've been building it up so much, they had better have a really tight ending in store.

  74.  
    Daz May 5th, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    The conspirators placed a fake Oceanic 815 in the Sunda Trench.

    We assume that this was done to make people stop looking.

    The Sunda Trench, as others have noted, is not remotely near the flightpath of a plane going from Sydney to LA. It is not even in the Pacific Ocean. It is about 5000km in a roughly north-WEST direction from Sydney: you would need to travel 4000km or so over the Australian continent to get there.

    Imagine a plane leaving New York bound for London, disappearing suddenly, and latter showing up in the ocean off the coast of California. That makes as much sense as O815 ending up near Bali. If your aim is to take the heat off and make the mystery go away, putting the fake there would not be a good move. It would be a sure fire guarantee of keeping the story in the news for years.

    So, what are the possibilities?

    1/ The writers simply messed up. I hope that's not it, and I think it probably isn't: there are hundreds of milliions of dollars on this show, and it doesn't take much to look at an Atlas. There are trenches in the Pacific Ocean in which the fake could have been placed without raising suspicion.

    2/ The conspirators' aim was not to completely kill the story, but for some reason to keep the story in the news without giving away the location or existence of the island.

  75.  
    TBoy May 12th, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    Jin is most likely not dead, but instead still on the island. Reason; the date of death on his tombstone was the date of the plane crash.

  76.  
    Wahrsagen March 7th, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    Are you using a premium Word Press theme?

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