''Lost'': Are you right to hate Paulo and Nikki? The Doc answers e-mails from readers who suspect the couple aren't who they seem. Plus: links of the week, and some thoughts before next week's Locke-centric episode
‘Lost’ (S3): Are you right to hate Paulo and Nikki?
Mikhail Bakunin isn’t dead.
That’s my DOC JENSEN INSTANT REACTION to Wednesday’s Claire-centric episode of Lost, ”Par Avion.”
Yes, we saw the mysterious eye-patched Russian Other get his brain turned to tapioca pudding, thanks to the Security Perimeter of Sonic Death (TM) encircling Othersville.
But did you wonder why he seemed so grateful to get his noodle cooked? I think it was because Mikhail knew exactly what was going to happen to him after he died.
He knew a new life waited for him once he shuffled off his one-eyed coil. A new life with his recently departed one true love, Ms. Klugh. A new life of love on the beach with the other castaways, inside their beautiful new bodies. Bodies that once belonged to two souls named… Paulo and Nikki.
Call it THE HOSTILE TAKEOVER THEORY OF LOST. And I’ll explain it to you… next week. Today, however, I’m here to talk about your theories and help answer some of your burning questions. And I think we should start with everyone’s least favorite castaways.
PAULO AND NIKKI ARE POO-POO HEADS!
What have these newcomers done to anyone, anyway? Killed some puppies? Beat up kids? Starred in a bad telenovela? I don’t think any of these are true, and yet viewers seem to hold a grudge against these two. Maybe it’s because of the awkward way Lost pretends they’ve always been there (although strange that Sawyer didn’t recognize them when he got back to the beach), or maybe it’s because their very presence means they’re taking away screen time from characters we already know and love.
Then again, maybe it’s because Paulo Poops-A-Lot reeks of ass. ”I’m one of those who universally despises Paulo,” writes Joey Mills. ”I’ve thought all along that it was pretty worthless to continue to give him these throwaway bathroom lines. He goes looking for the bathroom in the Pearl Station, complains about the lack of Dharma oat bars, and tells Hurley that he has to go look for bananas, and he is confronted by Sawyer while holding a copy of Guns & Ammo in one hand and a roll of Dharma toilet paper in the other!”’
And yet, as philosophers, psychologists, and scatology specialists are fond of saying, ”Where there’s the stink of anxiety, there is a desperate search for meaning… and chunks of corn.” Which is to say, you have theories. Joey Mills believes Paulo is an Other, or that Lost just wants us to think he’s an Other — just like Nathan, the tail section survivor whom Ana Lucia wrongly suspected of being ”one of them” because of his jungle bathroom breaks during the season 2 episode ”The Other 48 Days.”
Then there is the Quantum Leap-ing conjecture of Michael Carter: ”I’ve got a theory for you which justifies the existence of Lost‘s own Cousins Oliver. Nikki and Paulo weren’t on the island — or on the plane, for that matter — throughout the first two seasons. When Desmond went back in time, he changed something that altered the course of history and caused Nikki and Paulo to board flight 815. Now, they have been [retrofitted] into the history of the island.”
DOC JENSEN SAYS: Michael, I like the way you think — and I’ll take it one step beyond. Anyone else notice that Rose and Bernard have been MIA from season 3? Yep: I’m suggesting that because of the ”course correction” required by Desmond’s time traveling, Rose and Bernard never got on the plane, and their seats were filled by Nikki and Paulo. Of course, my theory is contingent on how instantaneously this ”course correction” takes effect; after all, we did catch a glimpse of Bernard on the beach right after Desmond turned the failsafe key in the season finale last year. Perhaps the upcoming Nikki and Paulo episode — which is said to be similar in structure to ”The Other 48 Days” and is rumored to have a massive twist — will shed some electromagnetic light on the subject.
LOST LINKS OF THE WEEK
You have theories. All of them are very cool. Most are very, very, very long, which makes them very, very, very difficult to reprint in their entirety in my column. However, some of you have posted your theories elsewhere — on your own websites, or even on message boards at other hip online Lost hang-outs. So beginning with this column, I’m going to start a section linking to your own Lost scholarship. If you have a theory that you’d like me to tout, or know of a theory deserving of wider exposure, send me the link at JeffJensenEW@aol.com. Today’s selected clickings:
Ryan McGee is one of my fave Lost analysts. And it appears we have similar taste in apocalyptic poetry. Check out his review of the recent Jack-centric outing ”Stranger in a Strange Land.”
Peter Conde read my ”Lost Is Shambala” theory last week and did me the favor of doing the hard work of finding the proof for it! He suggests we check out this link for a user-friendly description of this mystical Buddhist land and a provocative tie-in to a BIG Lost number. Could The Island be one of 108 Shambala satellites scattered across the globe?
Finally, a reader named ”Librarian” says: ”There is a very complex theory that is based in part on ideas about Shambala that is worth looking at.” DOC JENSEN SAYS: While I find this theory very interesting, I would be wary of embracing the myth of ”Nine Unknown Men,” which has become an infamous source of controversy in conspiracy theory lore. According to Wikipedia, much of what it known about ”Nine Unknown Men” is fiction, created by an author considered to be one of the worst writers in history — Mr. ”Dark And Stormy Night” himself, Edward Bulwer-Lytton.
IF THE OTHERS ARE SO SMART, WHY DO THEY ACT SO STUPID?
In the wake of the Sayid-focused ”Enter 77,” I received a number of e-mails from baffled viewers questioning the logic behind the inscrutable manipulations of Lost‘s insidious (or is that idiotic?) locals. Amy Chase of Homewood, Illinois, wonders: ”If there truly was a society of people already successfully existing on the Island, why would they allow The Dharma Initiative to come there in the first place? Why?” Meanwhile, a reader named ”Beamish” was bugged by both the Others and the castaways. Why did Mikhail Bakunin shoot Sayid… then help him… then try to kill him again? And why did Bakunin have to blow Ms. Klugh away?? And why did Locke obliterate The Flame??? Beamish chalks up all these contrived plot choices to ”clumsy” writing: ”Keeping the Flame Station around would require it to remain part of the plot. Blowing it up removes it from all concern in future story lines. Clean. Neat. Clumsy.”
DOC JENSEN REPLIES: As it is my burning desire to have my own Mystery Hatch in my backyard, I, too, was disappointed The Flame had to go up in smoke so quickly. Personally, I’m convinced there’s more to the ENTER 77 protocol than we were told, and I’m wondering if we might glean some additional insight during the course of next week’s Locke-centric episode.
Until then, here’s a hypothesis that might help both Amy and Beamish. Recall, if you will, the mysterious Ms. Hawking, the ring-store lady from Desmond’s flashback who knew all about his island future. What if the Others have access to future knowledge too? And what if they adhere to some ethos that prevents them from using their precognitive insight to alter the future? From that perspective, the Others suddenly become prisoners of fate. Dharma, the castaways, the murder of Ms. Klugh, and more — it’s all been predestined. Those things were going to happen the way they happened because they had to happen the way they happened and there was nothing the Others could do to change any of it, even if they wanted to. And heck: maybe they didn’t want to change any of it. Maybe they also know that down the road, this horrible history has some kind of Happy Ending for everyone. It’s already yielded one Big Benefit: It gave them a spinal surgeon who could operate on Ben’s spinal tumors.
But here’s a couple other notions to consider. How exactly do the Others know so much about the castaways? Maybe they have a really powerful Internet search engine. Maybe they have psychic powers. Or maybe they’ve lived through all of this before.
There’s also the JOHN LOCKE X-FACTOR to ponder — though be warned: This could hurt your brain. The JOHN LOCKE X-FACTOR is a theory I have to explain the undeniable fact that the Dharma Initiative seems suspiciously customized to Locke’s damaged psyche. The chess game in The Flame. The faith-shaking video in The Pearl. The Button in The Swan. Indeed, It’s almost as if the people who created Dharma knew exactly how to… well, push Locke’s buttons, didn’t they?
It could be that the Others — drawing upon previous experience of Locke due to the time-loop thing — have tweaked the remnants of the Dharma Initiative in order to manipulate Locke toward certain actions that advances their hidden agenda. However, when you consider that both time travel and precognition is at play in Lost, you MUST entertain the possibility that Dharma was created with John Locke in mind — or maybe by John Locke himself!
Yes, kids: What if the creator of the Dharma Initiative is really Lost‘s resident Man of Faith? What if at some point in the series, Locke will pull a Desmond and go back in time, find The Island, and (re)create The Hatches to the best of his knowledge — a nifty Twilight Zone riff on his namesake philosopher, who argued that man can only know what he’s directly experienced. What is so delicious about this idea is that, in the end, it would absolve the show from ever having to explain what Dharma was really all about! All the mysterious details and contradictory information — doesn’t matter! Why? Because it wouldn’t matter to the castaway (re)creating it! All that would matter to him was making the sure that the only place he’s ever been happy in his whole miserable life is there waiting for him in the future when doomed flight Oceanic 815 brings him to The Island. Of course, Locke would need, like, a lot of money to pull this off — so maybe Hurley’s in on the scam, too! And maybe the true function of Room 23 was to make Hurley and Locke forget their memories of traveling back in time and faking the Dharma reality so they can repeat their blissful past just as they did before! And maybe—
Oh, wait. My brain just walked out on me.
One thing is for certain: Time will tell… just how freakin’ crazy I am.
That’s it for this week. Come back next Wednesday and Friday, when I’ll share some of my theories and discuss more of your theories. Is Rousseau really an Other? Many of you think so. Is Rousseau really Dharma? Many of you think that, too. And have I ever introduced you to Brinson Lane? Boy, does this guy have some theories. All of that — next week.