Do black holes explain it all? The good Doc considers the possibility. Plus: A new 10-word tease, and the theorist of the week

By Jeff Jensen
Updated February 15, 2007 at 05:00 AM EST
Lost: Mario Perez/ABC

‘Lost’ (S3): Dissecting the latest hot theory


In which we ask the executive producers of Lost to give us a tantalizing tidbit about tonight’s new episode.

This week, the focus is on Desmond — lovelorn Scotsman, disgraced soldier, ex-Dharma sadsack, and now, precognitive super-freak. Your 10-word tease from Damon Lindelof is:

”Riddle me this — When is a flashback not a flashback?”


My gut tells me that Desmond’s newest opus, entitled ”Flashes Before Your Eyes,” could be a box of crackerjacks for theory-famished Lostophiles — especially those who’ve detected some similarities between the show and the Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons comic classic Watchmen. Could Desmond = Dr. Manhattan, the omnipotent/impotent superman who experiences past, present, and future all at once? (Actually, maybe Desmond is more akin to Billy Pilgrim, the ”unstuck in time” hero of Slaughterhouse-Five.) We shall see when ”Flashes…” flickers across our screens this evening…

However, it’s hard to imagine how tonight’s episode could ever match ”Not In Portland,” last week’s bag of tricks. Coming back from the show’s weirdly scheduled three-month hiatus, it was like the producers said, ”You want theories!? We’ll give you theories!” — and then blew us away with a machine gun loaded with clues, connections, and connotations. A battery of wild ideas came firing out of that episode, and in the weeks to come, we’re going to discuss many of them, from the name-game significance of Edmund Burke to the dark mysteries of Room 23. (And don’t worry: we’re also going to be exploring more of YOUR theories, as well as discussing the results of the Lost questionnaire.)

But this week, we must dote on one theory in particular, a theory that has hit Losties right between the eyes and burrowed deep into their brains. Move over, Purgatory. Make way for the theory that’s sweeping the nation faster than the flu bug that recently blew through my household:


Simply put, this not-so-simple theory posits that the electromagnetic anomaly beneath The Hatch was a black hole. No, I’m not joking. Check out, which has been hosting a proverbial symposium on the subject since ”Not In Portland” aired.

THE CLUE: An Other named Aldo was seen reading Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. The book was open to the page that discusses black holes.

IF IT WALKS LIKE A BLACK HOLE, AND TALKS LIKE A BLACK HOLE — IT MUST BE A BLACK HOLE! From Wikipedia: ”A black hole is defined to be a region of space-time where escape to the outside universe is impossible…. [O]bservers outside the event horizon cannot see any events which may be happening within the event horizon… Within the black hole is a singularity, an anomalous place where matter is compressed to the degree that the known laws of physics no longer apply to it.” Sounds like The Island, doesn’t it?

WHAT THIS EXPLAINS: Among other things, why Desmond was unable to sail away from the island; why the island is seemingly invisible to the outside world; why the island is a twilight zone for physics-defying phenomena; why The Hatch ”imploded” instead of ”exploded.”

WHAT THIS DOESN’T EXPLAIN: Among other things, why the Others have been able to commute off the island via submarine; and why Locke, Eko, and Desmond weren’t sucked into the anomaly along with The Hatch.

POKING HOLES IN BLACK HOLE THEORY: A key contention of this young, still-in-process theory is that The Button inside The Hatch was regulating the awesome energies radiating from this black hole/anomaly. But if pushing that computer key was really so darn important — like ”saving the world” important, according to Kelvin — why didn’t Dharma devise a more reliable Button-pushing system? Two guys in a hatch (volunteers, really) following instructions from a dubious industrial film that conspicuously fails to spell out the stakes? THAT is Earth’s defense against the catastrophic consequences of a throbbing wound in the fabric of reality? Please.

THE ALDO FACTOR: What should we make of the fact that the Hawking/Black Hole clue came attached to a guy named Aldo? Perhaps more proof for the theory. ”Aldo” means ”elder, older one” in German — interesting, given Aldo the Other looks like he’s barely 18. But are looks deceiving? Given the mounting clues suggesting some kind of time-warp phenomenon (”Mittelos” — the Others-backed company that recruited Juliet to the island — is an anagram for LOST TIME), maybe the Island-indigenous Others are much older than they look.

SOME ”OTHER” ADVICE: The literalism with which the Hawking/black-hole clue has been interpreted and applied reminds me of something that Michael Emerson (Ben/Henry Gale) told me when I visited the Lost set in January:

”The little tidbits may not necessarily be revealing of the master plan, but they’re usually not empty, either. The whole thing about my original name, Henry Gale. Okay, so it’s Dorothy’s uncle [from The Wizard of Oz], so you think, where are they going with that? Well, they don’t have to go anywhere with it. Just free associate — about her trip to Oz, a fantasyland that has certain purgatorial dimensions… I don’t think [the executive producers] stay up all night researching this stuff. I think it just falls out of them, and it kind of thickens and enriches the whole.”

APPLYING BEN’S WISDOM TO BLACK HOLE THEORY: Saying ”the island is a black hole” is as misguided as saying ”the island is Oz.” In fact, it might be as misguided as saying ”Oz is a black hole.” After all, couldn’t Oz be described as a ”region of space-time” where ”the laws of physics no longer apply”? Instead, think analogously. The Island isn’t a black hole — it’s just like a black hole.

THEN AGAIN: Isn’t Ben a big fat liar?

DOC JENSEN SAYS: Sawyer’s Star Wars joke during the Aldo/Hawking/Black Hole scene might actually be the real tell-tale clue we should be examining. ”The Wookie gag” he’s referring to took place on the Death Star. And what are black holes? Why, they are the remnants of… dead stars. Could there be a connection here? Could this mean that The Island is actually… a machine? Powered by electromagnetic energy? Even… mobile?! Maybe that’s why Desmond couldn’t escape The Island — it was actually swimming circles around him, not vice versa!


Remember your first time?

The bullet-train rush of excitement. The fireworks-in-the-night thrill of epiphany. The Oh My God It’s Finally Gonna Happen! conviction that tightly held secrets were unfolding before your eyes like unfurling petals on a blooming rose… only to be rudely followed by that suddenly sober-headed realization that either it wasn’t as special as you thought it was going to be — or even more humiliating, that you were completely wrong?

Yeah. My first time coming up with a Lost theory was just like that, too.

I was reminded of my first time this week thanks to one Todd J. Hostager. On Feb. 7, this dearest obsessive-after-my-own-heart bombarded me with a series of missives clearly written under the influence of Lost love. Or 19 pots of coffee. Maybe both. You might say I was practically taken hostage by this Todd J. Hostager, with his ”Double Bind” postulations and expansive addendums to my own highly dubious, though not yet completely disproved, Evil Aaron theory. Under siege with reams of riotous, unwieldy, quasi-intellectual thought, I finally got the sense of what it must be like to be my editor.

And then, that night, after watching ”Not In Portland,” Hostager reloaded and unloaded on me once again, this time his magnum opus, something he calls the Heuristic-Energy-Material Applications (or HEMA) theory. It’s actually much more intriguing and entertaining than his ”Made At MIT” title sounds, and I would tell you more about it, except that Hostager’s theory is, like, a million words long, and there’s only one loquacious Lost lunatic that’s allowed to run one million word-long theories in this space — ME.

And so, Hostager has created his own Web page to host his delirious dissertation.

It’ll probably only appeal to the hardcore theory freaks among us, but I encourage all Losties to give him at least a hit as a show of affectionate solidarity.

Welcome to the crazyland club, Todd. And let the new season of Lost theorizing begin.