Awaiting tonight's Jack flash forward, Doc Jensen explores the show's links to ''Raiders of the Lost Ark,'' ''The X-Files,'' and other forebears
Matthew Fox, Lost

We begin with some cryptic intel provided by exec producer Damon Lindelof at the request of the author seeking illumination about tonight’s 10th episode of Lost‘s fourth season, ”Something Nice Back Home” — a flash forward affair focusing on Dr. Jack Shepherd, whose Island-present circumstances are currently marked by a squirmy stomach and shameful despair over trusting these freaky freighter folk…

Sayeth Damon: ”Remember after the finale last season when everyone was asking us why Jack was blathering on about his father in what turned out to be our first flash-forward? It was just the booze and pills talking, right? And hey…why did he start taking pills in the first place?”

Sounds like a case of Physician: Heal thyself!

Special ”Shape of Things to Come” Edition

If my overstuffed mailbox ( is any indication, last week’s episode may have been one of the show’s most theory-sparking, imagination-engaging, question-provoking ever. To wit:

In your recap of ”The Shape of Things to Come,” you mentioned how the game of Risk played by Locke, Hurley, and Sawyer foreshadowed Ben’s risky and failed gambit to save his daughter. But something else that could have much more significance was Hurley’s comment: ”Australia is the key to the game.” Maybe I’m just taking it as more than it is, but I believe it is worth some speculation. Something to do with Mu, perhaps? — Marina

Dear Marina: Excellent point. I was much too busy excavating possible links to the conspicuously dropped date of Ben’s flash forward — Oct. 24, 2005 — that I missed many obvious bits of intrigue, especially that Risk business. I’m not sure Hurley’s Australia line was a nod to the lost continent of Mu — but it could be more significant than a mere reminder that this entire saga started in Sydney. Remember the season 2 episode called ”S.O.S.,” in which Bernard and Rose visited a faith healer in the outback? Well, the episode featured a shot of a natural landmark of great significance in mystic/fringe science circles, a butte known as Ayers Rock. The Aborigines consider it a flashpoint of creation energy and entrance into an eternal realm of supernatural synchronicity called ”Dreamtime”; New Agers think it’s an electromagnetic hot spot pulsing with mystical energy; and UFO buffs think it’s an alien landing pad. (The correct answer, as I will soon prove, is actually…alien landing pad!)

Sci-fi hoo-ha aside, I choose to see the Risk game as an expression of character ideas. For example, the most interesting thing to me about the game was Sawyer’s silly, reckless play to put Australia at risk just so he can acquire…Siberia. Now, what do Australia and Siberia have in common? They’re both synonymous with being veritable prisons (Australia being a former penal colony; Siberia being the place the Soviets shipped dissidents and other ”Others”). So here was Sawyer, trading one prison country for another. This, to me, mirrors the flash-forward fate of the Oceanic 6, for whom rescue will lead to another, more figurative form of imprisonment, and perhaps serves as literal foreshadowing for what will happen to Sawyer himself.

If Ben can time travel, why doesn’t/can’t he go back in time to save Alex? — Lisa

Dear Lisa: I think he can’t change the past because of ”course correction,” the Lost idea that changing the past is all but impossible. Yeah, maybe he could alter the form of Alex’s death, but Fate wants her dead, so it would just find another way to do it. Further, I don’t think Ben would even give it a try, because even though Widmore ”changed the rules,” I actually think Ben is still playing the game honorably, with respect for the integrity of the cosmos. Sure, he threatened to get tit-for-tat with Widmore by swearing to slay Penelope…but who says he’s telling the truth? What if Ben is merely saying as much in order to bait Widmore into making a strategic mistake?

NEXT PAGE: The Fan Theory of the Week — who is Charles Widmore…really?

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