‘Lost’ (S3): The focus is on Kate — or is it?
In which we ask the executive producers of Lost to give us a tantalizing tidbit about tonight’s episode.
Tonight the focus in on Kate — killer of sinister stepfathers, fugitive from pitiless justice, owner of a Jack-or-Sawyer divided heart. What can we expect? How about…Kate and Juliet rumbling in the jungle over Jack! The Others leaving Othersville — and Locke leaving with them! And according to various reports, a guest appearance by…Smokey The Monster! Our tease today comes from exec producer Damon Lindelof:
”Why would The Others leave Juliet behind?”
Waitaminute! I thought tonight’s episode was about Kate?!
Consider me teased. Confused… but teased.
REQUIEM FOR THEORIES DEBUNKED
In which Doc Jensen grieves the demise of his Nikki-and-Paulo time loop and resurrection theories, and seeks clarification from the producers on whether the buried-alive duo are taking a permanent dirt nap — or only just napping.
For the past several weeks, I have been maniacally tubthumping two different theories about the most derided pair of characters in Lost history, Nikki and Paulo. The first: Due to Desmond’s time-altering leap into the past, Bernard and Rose were replaced by Nikki and Paulo. The second: A contingent of rebellious Others have been plotting the psychic takeover of several castaways, beginning with the bodies of the two diamond-swiping murderers. Last week’s episode seemed to drive a stake into the heart of the souljacking theory — or did it? Might we see Nikki and Paulo claw their way out of their graves? And is my Bernard and Rose time-swap theory still in play?
Looking for answers, I appealed to The Powers That Be. This what I got.
In the Nikki and Paulo episode, Sawyer once again failed to recognize Nikki. Was his ”Who the hell are you?!” line evidence that a history-altering shift had occurred, and Sawyer was the only one not affected by it?
No, says executive producer Carlton Cuse. Sawyer’s line was merely meant to be a wink that acknowledged the audience’s less-than-enthusiastic regard for Nikki and Paulo. In other words, he was only saying what so many of you were thinking.
Okay. But what about the Mystery of the Missing Scene? According to publicity images released to the web to promote last week’s episode, a scene was shot recreating last season’s Purple Sky Event, placing a screaming Nikki on the beach next to Bernard. The scene wasn’t included in last week’s episode, leading some fans to speculate that producers decided to shift course and embrace the B&R/N&P swap idea. True?
According to Cuse, the scene was cut simply because the episode was too long.
So what about the final fate of Nikki and Paulo? On a scale of 1 to 10, just how dead are they?
10 = Dead as dead can be.
5 = You never know: maybe some dead Others will inhabit their bodies and crawl out of those graves!
1 = Resurrection Island, baby!
Damon Lindelof replies: ”Paulo and Nikki are a full-on Nigel Tufnel 11!!!”
And there you have it. Nikki and Paulo, dead as dead can be. And I also have it on good authority that we’ll be seeing Bernard and Rose on the beach again, possibly very soon.
So rest in peace, my kooky theories. It was fun while it lasted.
More hyperactive Lost scholarship, just a hyperlink away!
Todd Hostager is relatively new to the Lost theory-making game, but in the span of a few months, he has developed quite a following. Todd’s take on The Dharma Initiative is super-smart, and his Big Picture thoughts on the show itself — particularly his perspective on the interactive rapport between the producers and the audience — is spot on. I don’t agree with all of his positions, but they are certainly well-rationalized, and I suspect there are elements of truth amid his crazy Psi War/Desmond is the antichrist/the devil-made-Dharma-do-it conjectures.
In my humble opinion, the best Lost blogger is a bookish fellow by the name of J. Wood, author of ”Living Lost.” Wood specializes in deconstructing the literary references in the show and advocates a more thoughtful reading of episodes that transcends the madcap monkey business Doc Jensen revels in. That said, Wood’s scholarship can function as theory: I think his videogame analogy of The Dharma Initiative is a totally viable explanation that actually might get voiced on the show itself one day. You can read about it here, and you can check out his episode analysis at powells.com, the website for one of the best bookstores on the planet.
WHAT DOC JENSEN REALLY THINKS!
Updating my official positions on three essential Lost mysteries, complete with reader reaction and new scholarship!
WHAT IS THE ISLAND?
WHAT I SAID PREVIOUSLY: Nothing outrageously complex. The Island is merely… a metaphysical singularity; a manifestation of mankind’s yearning for mythology; the mind-over-matter incarnation of our shared hope that there might be some underlying meaning to the world. It is essentially an ideal made real, and exists as long as we believe that the very notion of meaning exists. The Island behaves like a super-psychic ”Global Brain,” as described by Harold Bloom, and has a symbiotic relationship with the world, just as its inhabitants can develop dynamic, creative relationships with its environment (see: Locke’s communion with The Island; the mind-over-matter manifestations of Kate’s horse, Sayid’s cat, and Jack’s Dad). See? Simple.
ESSENTIAL PROOFS: The Lost mantra ”Live together, die alone” and Charlie’s song ”You All Everybody” could be seen as expressions of Howard Bloom’s Global Brain philosophy. And then, there’s ”Ben” and ”Jacob.” According to the producers of Lost, names are clues. Bloom’s ”Global Brain” concept is informed by research into collective intelligence by scientist Eshel Ben-Jacob. Of course, the most immediate and accessible example of the Global Brain concept is the medium that has proven vital to Lost, the one connecting us right now: the World Wide Web.
IF THE ISLAND COULD BE SUMMED UP IN A SONG, IT WOULD PROBABLY BE: ”Invisible Sun” by The Police. ”There has to be an invisible sun / It gives its heat to everyone / There has to be an invisible sun / That gives us hope when the whole day’s done…”
CRITICISM OF DOC JENSEN’S ISLAND THEORY: A reader named Beamish believes my pseudo-scientific, quasi-mystical would be impossible to explain the audience, if it can be explained at all. ”Too metaphysical for me,” Beamish says. ”Pull the theories into a real element: The Island is a real place where the psychic/subconscious energy of people can be manifest.”
DOC JENSEN RESPONDS: ”Global Brain” probably is a tad too specific. It might serve as a theory held by The Dharma Initiative — and a very flawed theory at that — but not as the ”true” answer to The Island enigma. Initially, I told Beamish that his counter-proposal was too vague, and even kind of a cop-out. However, if there’s one mystery in Lost that could get away with a nebulous, unresolved answer, it’s this one.
MY NEW POSITION: Out with the Global Brain — in with ”Invisible Sun!”
SOMETHING I’M WONDERING ABOUT: Not everyone believes or assumes that reality has any kind of underlying meaning or order. If The Island is sensitive to such psychic energy, how might that be made manifest? Hypothesis: Lack of faith in meaning might mean an island that is unmoored, adrift, and… lost.
WHO ARE THE OTHERS?
WHAT I SAID PREVIOUSLY: The Island natives among the Others were originally aspects of Smokey The Monster that gained independent life. Now, in the wake of ”The Purge,” their society is comprised of a dwindling indigenous population (like Ben) and a growing number of recruited members (like Juliet). The Others possess a unique understanding of The Island and its relationship to the outside world. They leverage that understanding to execute an audacious agenda that they consider to be a kind of holy calling. Finally, their deceptive practices speak don’t speak to their character, but to their profession; basically, they are actors in a high-stakes, real-life drama that is crucial to the world’s well-being.
ESSENTIAL PROOFS: Smokey is a shape-shifter, so my Spawn of Smokey hoo-ha isn’t too far-fetched. Ben’s statements that the Others are ”the good guys” suggests that he at least thinks he has a benevolent mission. True, he manipulated Jack into operating on his cancer, but in the process, he helped Jack overcome his enslavement to his father issues. Now, he seems poised to do the same for Locke. The Others’ flair for the theatrical, as well as the masks hanging in Ben’s room, point toward an abiding interest in mythology, archetypes, diversity, and theater. Also, Ben seems Smokey-like in his intimate understanding of the castaways. Like father, like son.
IF THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE OTHERS AND THE LOSTAWAYS COULD BE CHARACTERIZED BY A QUOTE FROM A LOST?REFERENCED PHILOSOPHER, IT WOULD BE… ”He that wrestles with us strengthens our nerves and sharpens our skill. Our antagonist is our helper.” —Edmund Burke
CRITICISM: A reader named McGee dismisses my contention of a creative or collaborative connection between Smokey and the Others. He thinks Smokey is a manifestation of The Island’s power, and The Others are another thing altogether. ”I think that the notion that The Island can produce one’s wishes/desires/worst fears is something The Others know about and have experienced,” writes McGee. ”They may not be able to explain why it happens, but they acknowledge it. But they CANNOT control it. … This gets us back to the sonic fence: what if it’s meant not to keep the Lostaways out, but to keep The Others safe from Smokey?”
DOC JENSEN RESPONSE: I don’t think The Others ”control” Smokey — Smokey ”controls” The Others, inasmuch as The Others seek to help service Smokey’s agenda, like faithful servants of a powerful God. Emphasis on faithful. I suspect that should The Others fall away, the punishment is severe. I also suspect this is why Ben is under so much pressure. Basically, he’s Moses. He’s the interface with the higher power that is The Island. When things are good, he’s golden. But when things are bad, the followers start thinking about rebellion.
CURRENT STATUS: Unchanged — for the moment. But many ideas are percolating. Among them: Ben and his ”people” are some kind of red state/blue state society — meaning, they seem very divided over… something. Not knowing what that something is makes theorizing about them risky. Also, I suspect we might learn a lot about the nature of the native Others by learning how, exactly, they were affected by ”The Purge.” We are assuming this term is akin to ”genocide” or ”pogrom,” but my gut tells me we’re being set up for a ”Black Rock” bait-and-switch — a carefully chosen term meant to suggest one thing, but then is revealed to be something different.
WHAT I’M THINKING ABOUT: How does one become an Other? What is the relationship between Ben and Mittelos Biosciences, the company that recruited Juliet? Moreover: why are The Others so rude? (See: Ethan’s surveillance; Walt’s abduction; Michael’s blackmail.) Again, Bloom’s Global Brain theory suggests an answer. According to the Ben-Jacob research into collective intelligence (as summarized by Wikipedia), warfare between groups facilitates social evolution; ergo, conflict is necessary for survival. It generates adaptations. Obviously, the idea is very Darwinian, but it’s also an essential idea in theater, too; after all, in theater, ideas are imparted to an audience through drama, and drama requires conflict. The Others might be trying to pick fights with the castaways to acquire a trait necessary for their survival. Or they could be trying to bait the spiritually clouded Island visitors into a drama that could precipitate enlightenment. (The Michael Douglas movie The Game is a great example of the psychodrama-as-conversion experience idea.) I wonder if both could be true?
WHAT IS THE MONSTER?
WHAT I SAID PREVIOUSLY: The Monster is the holy spirit of The Island. It is both policeman and teacher; it embodies and enforces universal spiritual laws and guides people toward enlightenment by revealing crucial truths in their lives.
ESSENTIAL PROOFS: The way Smokey spanked Mr. Eko for his pride.
CRITICISM: To date, I haven’t received much challenge on this, probably because it’s ambiguous enough to be truthful, even if it isn’t exactly true.
CURRENT STATUS: No change.
WHAT I’M THINKING ABOUT RIGHT NOW: Given The Monster’s shape-shifting nature, I find myself intrigued by the possibility of a link to the mythological shape-shifting monster known as The Chimera, whose presence was a harbinger of storms, shipwrecks, and natural disasters. Moreover, there is a provocative link between the geological inspiration of this monstrous myth and the characterization of Smokey found on the Blast Door Map in the now-imploded Hatch. It seems the Chimera myth was inspired by a volcanic region in Turkey that is perforated with naturally formed vents that emit burning methane gas. Interestingly, The Map lists a numbers of locations on The Island where one can find ”Cerberus Vents” — Cerberus being Dharma’s codename for Smokey. Hypothesis: Smokey is a natural phenomenon that eludes explanation. The history of humans who have come to The Island is the story of various groups with various theories about what Smokey is and their various attempts at forming relationship with it — or trying to exploit it.
That’s it for this week. Come back tomorrow for my TV Watch recap of the Kate episode!
Do you have a theory? Send it directly to JeffJensenEW@aol.com, or fill out the form below!