Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Widmore Family Circle....

In the comments to a recent post, Cameron raised a possibility that's so deliciously whackadoo it merits a separate discussion.  What if cute little Charlie Hume grows up to become none other than Charles Widmore himself? 

I've long maintained that Penny and Desmond are Adam and Eve.  In 2004, Jack estimates the bodies in the cave have been dead for about 50 years, which would place their deaths around 1954.  Charlie Hume is three in 2008, and Charles Widmore seventeen in 1954.  My guess, therefore, is that Penny, Desmond, and Charlie will return to the Island on a bearing that sends them back in time to 1940.  Charlie will grow up on the Island, join the Others, and become their co-leader with Eloise. 

This means, of course, that Charles Widmore is actually his own grandfather.  I'm reminded of my favorite episode of Futurama, Roswell That Ends Well, where Fry mistakenly kills his grandfather in the past. He then sleeps with his grandmother, becoming his own grandpa.  Ben putting metal in the Orchid Chamber may actually be a sly reference to this episode.  The Planet Express crew is hurtled back in time when Fry places a metal "Iffy Pop" container into the ship's microwave during a supernova.

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Another great example of such ontological paradox is Robert Heinlein's short story "-- All You Zombies --" wherein the protagonist is his own mother and father thanks to time travel and a sex change.  Eventually, we learn he/she's a time cop, manipulating events to complete the causal loop of his/her self-creation.  Darlton may be fans of this well known time travel story, too.  The protagonist wears a ring with a snake eating its tail, like Ms. Hawking's Ouroboros brooch.

I suspect that Charlie and Ellie have been working similarly to preserve the ontological paradox that is Widmore. To paraphrase one of my older posts, In Gott We Trust, when seventeen-year old Charlie Hume lays his parents' bodies to rest in the cave five decades in the past, the Widmore family circle will be complete at last.

As always, you're welcome to post anonymously, but please identify yourself somehow, so I can distinguish between anonymous posters. Thanks!

Friday, December 18, 2009

More Season 6 Speculations (SPOILERS)...

Due to popular demand, I've created another post for spoiler discussions.  Feel free to post your spoiler speculations about Season 6, but please limit your discussion of them to this post, and this post only.  As always, you're welcome to post anonymously, but please identify yourself somehow, so I can distinguish between anonymous posters. Thanks!

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Red Tapestry and Terms of Truce...

As we've discussed on other posts, the Season 5 Blu-Ray DVD has some intriguing bonus materials, including a new Red Tapestry, and a draft Letter of Truce between the Others and DHARMA.  Given the interest in both subjects, I figured it made sense to create a separate post devoted to them.  Let's start with the Red Tapestry.

(Screen cap courtesy of the Televixen)

According to our own Netprophet, ῥέε δ᾽ αἵματι is part of a phrase from the Iliad, Book 4, which translates as "the earth/ground ran red with blood."  A contributor to Dark UFO's blog named Keeping Pace concurs and provides further translation and insight:
νῦν τοι ἐελδέσθω πόλεμος κακός (Iliad bk. 16, line 494)
ῥέε δ᾽ αἵματι γαῖα (Iliad bk. 4, line 451)
θανάτου δὲ μέλαν νέφος ἀμφεκάλυψεν (Iliad bk. 16, line 350)

This translates to:

"Now you must embrace this evil war"
"the ground ran with blood"
"then death's black cloud enveloped"

I should add that the first line is given by Sarpedon (a great Trojan hero) to his friend Glaucus (a Lycian) as Sarpedon lay dying on the field of battle. Upon seeing Sarpedon mortally wounded, Glaucus prayed to Apollo, asking the god to help him rescue the body of his dying friend. Apollo cured Glaucus' wound, allowing him to rally the Trojans around the body of Sarpedon until the gods carried the body away.
Additionally, we have what's apparently Richard Alpert's handwritten notes on a typewritten draft of the Letter of Truce between the Others and DHARMA.  Here are the terms, along with Richard's comments and addendums in italics, courtesy of Lostpedia:
LETTER OF TRUCE (Alpert notes 8/15/73)


The DHARMA Iniative and the indigenous island inhabitants,

Desiring to bring about cessation of hostilities on the island without prejudice to the rights, claims and position of the the indigenous island inhabitants or DHARMA Iniative recruits and employees, < Goodspeed, is the "legal" language necessary?

1. Call upon all authorities and leaders concerned to order a cessation of all actions of armed force in perpetuity going forward from this date; Fix periode - Finite

2. Call upon all authorities and leaders concerned to refrain from introducing fighting personnel into the DHARMA Iniative or the indigenous inhabitant's camps during the cease-fire;

3. Call upon all authorities and leaders concerned to refrain from mobilizing or submitting a military (We're not the ones with uniforms) army for trainig during the cease-fire;

4. Call upon all authorities and leaders concerned to refrain from importing or exporting war materials (Please define war materials) into the DHARMA Iniative or the indigenous inhabitant's camps during the cease-fire;

5. Urge all authorities and leaders concerned to take every possible precaution for the protection of the island, including all [shrines and sanctuaries] (I've included more specific on this in our counters) used for whatever purposes by those who have an established right to visit them;

6. Call upon all authorities and leaders concerned to respect the established boundaries of the DHARMA Iniative and the indigenous inhabitant's camps and a zone of five kilometers surrounding each camp, and to not infiltrate or attack these areas during the cease-fire;

[7. Urge all authorities and leaders concerned to respect the established right of the citizens of each camp to live freely within their community and to not fear attack during the cease-fire;] Redundant - we get it.

8. Instruct the DHARMA Iniative and the indigenous inhabitants to create security teams, in concert with a mediator, to supervise the observance of above provisions, and provide them with a sufficient number of security observers;

9. Instruct the mediators to make contact with all parties as soon as the cease-fire is in force with a view to carrying out his functions; I will be our mediator, you will be DHARMA's

10. Instruct the mediators to make [periodic] (Is this necessary?) reports to each party as mutually decided upon during the cease-fire; Our willingness to allow your presence should not be mistaken as continued opportunities for diplomacy.

11. Invite the mediators of the DHARMA Iniative and the indigenous inhabitants to communicate their acceptance of the resolution not later than sundown on 16 August 1973;

12. Decide that if the present resolution is rejected by either party or by both, or if, having been accepted, it is subsequently repudiated or violated, the situation on the island will be reconsidered wirh a view to military action and swift reprisal;

13. Call upon all authorities and leaders concerned to take all possible steps to assist in the implementation of this resolution.

Adopted this day. 16 August 1973. Agreed and accepted to.

Horace Goodspeed, for the DHARMA Iniative

Richard Alpert, for the indigenous island inhabitants

(See my counters / addendums on back RA)

(Screen cap courtesy of Dark UFO)
Counters / addendums (transcript)

- If the DHARMA Iniative enters or violates any [preexisting] ruins on the island, the truce is violated.

- If the DHARMA Iniative digs or drills any more than ten meters into the ground, even in their designated territory, the truce is violated.

- The DHARMA Iniative pledges its term of residency will last no longer than fifteen years. At the end of this term all facilities and personnel are to leave the island.

- The [D.I. can only] maximum population of D.I. members cannot exceed 216 at any one time on the island.

(Screen cap courtesy of lost-island.net)

So what do you all everybody think?  As always, you're welcome to post anonymously, but please identify yourself somehow, so I can distinguish between anonymous posters. Thanks!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Entertainment Weekly Interview...

Just a heads up to you all everybody that Doc Jensen interviewed me for his column this week over on EW.com.  My answers are excerpted below, but be sure to check out the full article for what may be Doc's best theory yet.  I know that many of you found Eye M Sick through Doc's columns, and I'm grateful for all his support over the past five(!) years.  As the Others would say, ago gratias tibi, Doc! 
How long have you been posting Lost theories?

Since the premier in 2004.  I remember logging onto imdb after the Pilot and speculating that the distress call was solar powered and the monster in the jungle was some kind of giant ape like King Kong.  I posted my first stab at a comprehensive theory of the show two months later.

Which of your Lost theories is your favorite?

Three Black Swans.  Jacob and the Man in Black were debating the fate of humanity on the beach with the Black Rock in the background.  Since ancient times, Jacob has brought people to the Island to create miraculous events that postpone our extinction, an exercise the Man in Black finds futile. Jacob hopes to avert our extinction for good by creating the Omega Point, a kind of global consciousness representing the next step in human evolution.  Aaron and Ji-Yeon are avatars of this Omega Point -- everything that rises must converge on a LOST wedding between them before 2031.

What episode of Lost made you go, ''Yep. I'm obsessed.''

I knew I was truly obsessed after Walkabout.  That episode was such a perfect balance of character development and mythological advancement.  Locke wiggling his gold-tipped toes in wonder after the crash will always be the defining image of the show for me.  It raised so many possibilities -- everything from cloning to resurrection -- capturing my imagination for good. 

What character do you relate to the most and why?

Locke.  I shave my head and don't appreciate people telling me what I can't do.  Plus, Locke's narrative arc is so profoundly tragic.  I still hold out hope for his redemption in Season 6, but suspect any such redemption will be bittersweet. And that's exactly as it should be...

How have you been spending your hiatus?

I've taken the opportunity to write about television besides LOST on my other blog, I Hate My DVR.  Despite -- or perhaps because of -- my parents' efforts to limit my consumption, I've been addicted to TV since childhood.  So writing about the medium generally was the next logical step now that I've built up some readership via my LOST blog.

Are you PRO time line reboot or ANTI time line reboot?

Both.  Miles is basically correct that the '77ers were always the cause of the Incident.  But there are currently two possibilities superimposed like Schrödinger's cat.  There's the timeline depicted in Seasons 1-5, which actually depends on the bomb exploding.  And there's the alternative where the bomb fails to explode, erasing the timeline we know.  Someone -- my guess is Juliet -- will get to choose whether the bomb actually detonates.  Ultimately, she will opt to effectuate the future she remembers, rather than reboot it.

In 25 words or less: Explain the true significance of Jacob and Man In Black.

They're four-dimensional beings capable of transcending spacetime.  As Dr. Michio Kaku notes, such 4D beings would be god-like in three dimensions, just as 3D beings are in 2D Flatland.

In 25 words or less, answer this question: What is Lost?

LOST is a thoroughly postmodern work, ambiguous and referential like Ulysses and Watchmen.  That's what makes all three so much fun to analyze!

What will you miss most about Lost when it wraps up next May?

I'll miss the thrill of discovery most.  I've learned so much about so many esoteric subjects I might never have studied but for LOST.  Everything from theoretical physics to new age Gnosticism.  I still get some of this thrill when other shows reference these subjects.  But the sweep of LOST theorizing has been so broad that it's increasingly rare to encounter completely new material.  There's nothing quite like reading about something mind blowing -- e.g., the double-slit experiment in quantum mechanics -- for the very first time.

Source: Doc Jensen at EW.com
As always, you're welcome to post anonymously, but please identify yourself somehow, so I can distinguish between anonymous posters. Thanks!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Season 6 Speculations (SPOILERS)...

Due to popular demand, I've created a separate post for spoiler discussions.  Feel free to post your spoiler speculations about Season 6, but please limit your discussion of them to this post, and this post only.  As always, you're welcome to post anonymously, but please identify yourself somehow, so I can distinguish between anonymous posters. Thanks!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The New V: Mirroring the Original

Just a quick heads up to you all everybody that I've posted my review of the new V over on I Hate My DVR. Stop by and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Mommy Dearest...

I'm working on a longer post about the Loophole.  But I wanted to write separately to address a related thought I had some time back regarding Daniel's mommy dearest, Eloise Hawking.

Since the Variable, we've debated what kind of mother sends her only child to the Island knowing she will kill him.  In Three Black Swans, I suggested that Jacob convinced her this sacrifice was necessary to complete the causal loop that saves the world.  But it continues to bug me that Eloise never actually mentions Jacob's name.  Like Charles, she speaks solely in terms of the "Island."  I now believe she may be driven by guilt to complete the loop irrespective of any alliance with Jacob.

Eloise's guilt is a result of her participation in the Incident.  She helps the '77ers carry out Daniel's plan hoping it will erase the time loop leading to his murder.  When that fails, Eloise will peruse her son's journal and reach two tragic realizations: (1) their attempt to change the future actually helped effectuate his death, and (2) they're responsible for creating the extinction-level threat represented by the Swan Station.  From this, Eloise will conclude that the future can be changed, but only for the worse. 

You can see this lesson at work in her efforts to neutralize the Swan threat.  Thanks to Daniel's journal, she knows all about how Desmond will go to the Island, press the button, and turn the key.   Eloise watches over Desmond every step of the way for fear that any deviation from this sequence of events will change destiny's picture to yield some even more horrific outcome -- e.g., destruction of the world.  Her fears are very nearly realized that day in the pawn shop when Desmond buys the ring.

Here's what she says, followed by my translation in italics:

MS. HAWKING: Well, I know your name as well as I know that you that don't ask Penny to marry you. In fact, you break her heart. Well, breaking her heart is, of course, what drives you in a few short years from now to enter that sailing race -- to prove her father wrong -- which brings you to the island where you spend the next 3 years of your life entering numbers into the computer until you are forced to turn that fail-safe key. And if you don't do those things, Desmond David Hume, every single one of us is dead. So give me that sodding ring!

TRANSLATION: Listen, little man, I know exactly who you are and what you're supposed to do.  And you'd better do all of it -- every last bit -- or we're all extinct! 

MS. HAWKING: Because it wouldn't matter. Had I warned him about the scaffolding tomorrow he'd be hit by a taxi. If I warned him about the taxi, he'd fall in the shower and break his neck. The universe, unfortunately, has a way of course correcting. That man was supposed to die. That was his path just as it's your path to go to the island. You don't do it because you choose to, Desmond. You do it because you're supposed to.

TRANSLATION: Don't make the same mistake I did.  I tried to save my son's life by changing the future.  Not only did I fail, it made things so much worse.  You may think you're changing the future by proposing.  But that's just going to make everyone miserable, including your beloved Penneh.

MS. HAWKING: You may not like your path, Desmond, but pushing that button is the only truly great thing that you will ever do.

TRANSLATION: I know this sucks, but we all makes sacrifices for the greater good. I'm deliberately sending my son to the Island to die.  By my own hand.  His dying thought will be that his mother betrayed him.  So believe me when I say, I feel your pain.

The possibility that Eloise is motivated by guilt raises one last whackadoo speculation for you all everybody to ponder.  In recent posts, we've discussed how the Man in Black's manipulation of memories and emotions is the mental counterpart to Jacob's physical touch.  If so, perhaps the Man in Black exploits Eloise's emotions to help create the Loophole.  Maybe that's why Zombie Christian directs Locke to find Hawking in Los Angeles -- her guilt makes her amenable for coercion.

As always, you're welcome to post anonymously, but please identify yourself somehow, so I can distinguish between anonymous posters. Thanks!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

It's a Wonderful LOST...

I've long since abandoned hope that Juliet will wake up naked in the jungle.  But I find myself wondering nonetheless about Jacob's absence from her flashback.  I just can't believe it was simply to foreshadow her demise.  As I suggested after the finale, I still think they will meet through the miracle of mind travel.  And when they do, Jacob will offer Juliet a choice between effectuating the timeline we've seen -- including her own death -- or erasing reality from 1977 onwards.

Let me begin by clarifying a point that's crucial to my claim.  I believe that detonation of the Jughead's core creates an "alternate" reality.  The catch is that this alternate reality is the timeline of events depicted in Seasons 1-5.  Everything we've seen assumes that our Losties crash, travel back in time, and detonate the bomb, which causes the Swan protocol, which causes the crash.  Miles was 100% correct that our Losties were always the cause of the Incident -- in the alternate reality.

The "primary" reality is one in which Oceanic 815 lands safely at LAX, so our Losties never travel back in time, and the bomb is never a factor.  Jacob is a fourth-dimensional being capable of transcending time and space.  Dr. Michio Kaku notes that such a 4D being would be omniscient and omnipotent in three dimensions, just as a 3D being is god-like in 2D Flatland.  Jacob uses this power to manipulate the primary timeline, creating the alternate reality in which our Losties cause the Incident.

That brings me back to Juliet's choice.  At the end of Season 5, she's frantically hammering on the bomb in hopes of detonating it before the Swan anomaly reaches critical.  We see a white flash like we did when Desmond activated the Fail-Safe, a similarity that's no coincidence.  I believe Juliet's consciousness will be blasted across spacetime like Desmond's.  Juliet, however, will be hurtled into the primary reality, where she will meet Jacob.  Here's how I imagine their encounter:

Juliet: Everything's been reset...Daniel's plan worked!

Jacob: No, Juliet, this is what reality looks like if the bomb doesn't detonate.

Juliet:  I...don't understand.  I remember setting off the bomb.

Jacob: I'm afraid it's not that simple.  Right now, there are two possible futures superimposed like Schroedinger's cat.  There's the one you remember, which actually depends on the bomb exploding.  And there's this one, in which the bomb fails to explode, so Oceanic 815 never crashes.  You have to decide which future happens.

Juliet: Why would I choose a future in which I'm dead and the plane still crashes?

Jacob: We all make sacrifices, Juliet.  Before you decide, I have something to show you...

He will take her on a tour of our Losties' lives in the primary reality.  Judging by the Comic-Con videos, aspects of this reality are familiar.  Kate is wanted for murder, and Hurley still the owner of Mr. Clucks.  Certain things remain the same because they're not the product of Jacob's intervention, but rather what fate intended.  I'm guessing Juliet's sister Rachel dies from cancer in the primary reality -- assuming Ben didn't lie about Jacob healing her.  Juliet may still be married to that awful Edmund Burke.

This tour will culminate in Juliet's encounter with her beloved Sawyer.  She will be dismayed to find he's the pathetic con man of his flashbacks in the primary reality, a pale shadow of the LaFleur she loved so fiercely.  Juliet will realize that, for all the grief the Island has caused them, it also has been a positive force in all of their lives, including her own.  Like Charlie, she will choose to sacrifice herself, detonating the bomb and preserving the temporal loop in which our Losties cause the Incident.

If this seems familiar, it probably is.  In Frank Capra's classic, It's a Wonderful Life, beleaguered George Bailey wishes he'd never been born.  His wish is granted by guardian angel Clarence, who shows George how his hometown would look if he'd never existed.  George is shocked and saddened by the changes, particularly in his wife, who is now a lonely spinster.  Realizing that, despite his troubles, the world is a better place because of him, George begs Clarence to restore the reality he remembers.

In the end, George returns to his family, and Clarence gets his wings.  No similar such happy endings await Juliet or Jacob.  But I'm confident that when Juliet sees the grim primary reality, particularly Sawyer, she will reach the same basic realization as George.  Ultimately, it's a wonderful LOST after all...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Three Fs: FlashForward and Fringe

Just a quick heads up to you all everybody that I've posted my review of FlashForward and Fringe over on I Hate My DVR. Stop by and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Mystery of the Outrigger Shootings...

The Facts

At the excellent suggestion of Wayne Allen Sallee, I'm devoting a separate post to the mystery of who shoots at Sawyer, Locke, Faraday, Charlotte, Miles, and Juliet in the outrigger canoe. The shooting takes place as the group is flashing through time. After one such flash, they find themselves at their old beach camp some time after the crash of Ajira 316. The six (hmmm...) spy a pair of outrigger canoes, one of which Ilana's crew presumably used to get from Hydra to the main Island.

The Lefties take one of the canoes and begin rowing toward the Orchid. They soon realize they're being chased by unknown parties in the other canoe who shoot at them. Juliet returns fire, hitting one of the pursuers, but the Lefties flash through time before they learn who was chasing them. And that raises one last point before discussing some possible suspects. The shooting probably takes place after the encounter at the Foot because none of the participants has a gunshot wound.

The Suspects

Suspect: The Others
Motive: Revenge

This is probably the most mundane explanation. Still, it's easy to forget that the Others have ample reason to be hostile toward the Lefties. Think of how many Others have died at the hands of the survivors of Oceanic 815 and the Kahana. Ethan, Colleen, Danny, Tom...the list goes on. I wouldn't be surprised if the Others specifically targeted Juliet as retribution for her shooting of Danny. Estimated Likelihood: 25%.

Suspect: Ilana's Group
Motive: Revenge

This strikes me as the most plausible solution. I've previously suggested that this exchange of fire represents the first shots in "Charlie Widmore's War." The conflict will be between the Others, who follow Zombie Locke as their leader, and Ilana's Group, which knows he's really the Man in Black reincarnated. At some point, Ilana's Group will spy the Lefties absconding in a canoe and take chase thinking it's Locke and the Others. Under this view, the pursuers target Locke to avenge Jacob's murder. Estimated Likelihood: 75% 64%.

Suspect: Survivors of Ajira 316
Motive: ???

This is the least likely scenario. I can't fathom why other survivors of Ajira 316 would shoot at the Outrigger 6 -- or where they would even get guns. But the survivors find three canoes on Hydra Island so basic math suggests it's a possibility. Frank and Sun take one, followed by Locke and Ben in another, both docking by the Barracks. Frank returns in a canoe, at which point there are two on Hydra. Ilana's Group only takes one, so it's possible that other survivors of Ajira 316 follow them in the second canoe. Estimated Likelihood: 1%.

Suspect: Our Losties
Motive: Change the Past

This is another unlikely scenario but one with undeniable whackadoo appeal. Since we can reasonably assume the shooting has yet to occur, it may take place after our Losties flash back from 1977. It's possible, therefore, that they're shooting at themselves in hopes of somehow disrupting the time loop they've just experienced. Again, it's all pretty unlikely. As you all everybody have noted, however, the irony of Juliet wounding her beloved Sawyer while he tries to save her life would be very LOST. Estimated Likelihood: 10%.

As always, you're welcome to post anonymously, but please identify yourself somehow, so I can distinguish between anonymous posters. Thanks!

Monday, September 14, 2009

One Ben...or Two?

Over on the fuselage.com, there's an interesting debate with potential implications for a bunch of topics we've discussed recently. Take a gander at this deleted scene from the Season 4 DVD, which apparently takes place when Ben lands in the desert after turning the Donkey Wheel:

In the scene, Ben rides to a crumbling stone wall and dismounts. As he scans the horizon, we can clearly see a body lying motionless off in the distance. Mysteriously, the body appears to be wearing Ben's Dharka, pants, and boots. Ben seems unphased by his dead "twin" but is obviously in a hurry. He pauses long enough to grab a stash of money and passports hidden in the wall then gallops off into the desert.

The conventional interpretation, which I currently favor, is that the body belongs to one of the Bedouins who accost Ben after he wakes up in the desert. Ben dresses the first body in his clothes to fool Widmore's people into thinking he died in transit. (This might be why, as Wayne Allen Sallee reminds us, Widmore installed cameras at the exit point.) Ben goes to hide the second body, then returns for the wall stash. The scene was probably cut to avoid confusing viewers familiar with the two Bunny 15s from the Orchid Orientation outtake.

That brings me to the more whackadoo take, which is admittedly growing on me which I'm now persuaded is correct. You can't make out the face in the youtube clip, but our friend darkprose swears it's Ben's own visage when viewed on DVD. And as SamG observes, the deleted scene seems to be a continuation from when Ben rides off after the Bedouin attack. Watching the two scenes in that order leaves the impression they take place at different locations. You can, for example, see power lines behind the body that aren't visible when Ben first awakens. As Netprophet notes, however, the pile of rocks behind Ben is the same in both scenes.

I know what you're thinking. One Ben? Two Bens? But he ... but you can't ... oh, my medication. Skepticism was my first reaction, too. The more I think about it, however, the more intrigued I am by the notion that turning the Donkey Wheel creates a duplicate. Could this be why the Man in Black wanted Locke to turn the Wheel? Can returning to the Island have a similar twinning effect? Maybe Darlton deleted the scene in question to avoid tipping their hands prematurely regarding the two Lockes in Season 5...

Update: September 15, 2009

Darkprose has posted this screencap (click for a larger pic) which establishes pretty conclusively that a second Ben is indeed lying on the ground.

Update: September 16, 2009

Our friend Allan has created this loop (click the icon in the bottom right corner for full screen) of the second Ben apparently inhaling. Though we see this other Ben for only a second or two, his exaggerated gasp resembles the deep breath taken by the original Ben upon awakening in the desert.

As always, you're welcome to post anonymously, but please identify yourself somehow, so I can distinguish between anonymous posters. Thanks!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Cabin Fever Relapse...

Are you all everybody ready to get a little whackadoo?

Since the Season 5 finale, I've wondered why Ilana's team of chosen ones brought Locke's body to the Cabin. Why didn't they proceed directly to the Foot, where the "shadow of the statue" riddle suggests Jacob can be found? And why did the corporeal Jacob need Locke's body in the first place? These questions had me stumped, until I reconsidered a possibility that several of you raised after the finale. What if "Jacob's Cabin" actually belonged to the Man in Black?

After the Man Behind the Curtain, I guessed that Jacob's ghost was imprisoned in the Cabin. This seems wrong now that we've seen him moving around freely off the Island. But whoever lived there clearly needed a body, so what about the Man in Black? He hasn't taken that form since his talk on the beach with Jacob. And the ghost in the chair sure resembles Silas Adams, a character from Deadwood played by Titus Welliver, the actor who also plays the Man in Black.

So why were Ilana and Co. bringing a body to the Man in Black? It's possible they're his pawns, but recall my speculation in Three Black Swans that Jacob wanted the Man in Black to find his Loophole. I think Jacob tapped Ilana to lead the dangerous mission of hand delivering the corpse in a box to help the Man in Black escape. When she found the ash circle broken and the Cabin empty, she correctly surmised that the Man in Black had already found an exit.

I believe the Man in Black escaped by temporarily possessing his faithful dog Cerberus. Their master-pet relationship is symbolized by Cerberus's canine name, the dog painting in the Cabin, and (ironically) Zombie Christian commanding Vincent the dog to wake up Jack. The relief carving of dog-headed Anubis feeding the smoke monster (yet another ironic reference to their relationship) suggests the Man in Black uses dead souls as Scooby Snacks.

Master and pet were reunited the same night Hurley stumbled upon the Cabin. The two figures he spied therein were Cerberus and the Man in Black. Somehow, maybe even with Jacob's help, the Cabin moved outside the ash circle, which previously kept Cerberus at bay like the sonic fence around the Barracks. The Man in Black then possessed Cerberus and walked out of the Cabin as Zombie Christian. The change in Christian's clothing symbolizes this possession.

Once the Cabin moved back inside the circle, however, the Man in Black was locked out by his union with Ceberus. Claire was his literal and figurative key to reentry. The Man in Black used her to break the circle so he could get back into the Cabin and claim to speak for Jacob when Locke sought directions in Cabin Fever, thereby initiating the Loophole. Claire eventually realized the truth and resisted her captor, making the mess that Ilana finds at the Cabin.

I suspect Jon G is correct that the ash circle is actually the remains of the statue of Taweret. It was destroyed some time after the Black Rock's arrival, probably by dynamite from the ship's hold. The same magic that kept Cerberus out of the Foot also prevented it from entering the Cabin. I'm guessing this will all be shown in a flashback that also reveals Richard Alpert killed the Man in Black, perhaps in the same explosion that destroyed the statue.

Richard's longevity wasn't so much a reward as a sign of Jacob's trust. He became a permanent firewall between Jacob and the Others. Remember how the Tapestry seemed to surprise Ben? That's because it was his first time inside the Foot -- and for good reason. Ben's loss of "innocence" to Cerberus as a child connected him with the Man in Black, who became privy to everything Ben knew. No wonder Jacob never spoke directly with Ben.

For decades, Jacob communicated with his people solely through lists. And that raises one last whackadoo speculation for you all everybody to consider. Remember how Other Tom mentioned that Jack wasn't on Jacob's list? Mikhail said something similar about Kate and Sayid. Based on the foregoing, I believe the omissions were deliberate. Jacob wanted to keep their identities a secret from his nemesis until the last possible moment.

UPDATE: August 31, 2009

Many of you were understandably skeptical that Jacob chose Ilana to bring the Man in Black a body. And you're right that it's more likely she was -- as she says -- bringing the corpse "to show it to somebody" -- presumably Richard -- "so they'll know what they're up against." But Ilana and Bram also discussed the possibility of Frank being a "candidate." I think it's still possible, albeit less likely, that Lapidus and Locke were both potential "candidates" for the Man in Black to inhabit.

I can imagine Jacob telling Ilana: "You're my insurance policy. I'm planning to let the Man in Black escape to help facilitate his Loophole. But there's a very good chance fate will frustrate my plans. So I need you to bring a body to the Cabin in case my gambit fails." When Ilana saw Locke both alive and dead, she suspected that the Man in Black had already reincarnated himself. But she brought Locke (and Lapidus) to the Cabin just to be sure, before taking his body to Richard.

That brings me to another excellent question that several of you raised: how did Ben come to erroneously associate the Cabin with Jacob? I think the simplest answer is that Richard unwittingly misled him. If Alpert killed the Man in Black, he probably helped imprison the latter in the Cabin as well. Jacob may occasionally have needed to communicate with his nemesis and used Richard as a message bearer. Maybe Ben followed Alpert during one such trip to the Cabin.

But if you really want to follow me down the whackadoo well, consider the possibility that Richard deliberately deceived Ben. All it would take to arouse the latter's curiosity would be a warning to stay away from Jacob's forbidden Cabin of mysteries. Particularly for a little boy, the fascination would no doubt prove irresistible. I could even see Jacob ordering Richard to encourage Ben's relationship with the Man in Black to facilitate the Loophole.

Nor would it surprise me if the Others turned out to be pawns in Jacob's long con of the Man in Black as well. Richard equates Ben's loss of "his innocence" with becoming "one of us," implying the Others are all connected to some degree with Cerberus. So, what if the Others were always just a diversion to distract the Man in Black from Jacob's real game, which involves off-Island pieces like Ilana and Jack? Perhaps those primitive costumes and that decoy village are really metaphors for the Others themselves...

Monday, August 17, 2009

Time Travel Tidbits...

We've been talking a lot about time travel. So I thought you all everybody might enjoy these scientific and pop cultural tidbits I've stumbled across recently in my research.

Over on Slate.com, there's a fascinating article by a physicist named Dave Goldberg articulating four "rules" for time travel in fiction. I agree with his general premise that, to be plausible, time travel stories should comport with the theoretical limits of physics. But some of his rules -- e.g., no parallel universes or alternate realities -- seem to go beyond that criterion. I'm actually e-mailing Dave, who's a friend of a friend, so maybe he can set me straight!

Speaking of the multiverse, I caught a bit of the time travel flick Deja Vu again the other night. The film itself is merely decent, but has a very clever premise involving three branching timelines, only two of which we actually witness. (If you've seen the film, check out the imdb faq for a nice explanation.) What really struck me was the familiar debate therein about whether it's possible to change the past. There's Denny, the voice of Whatever Happened, Happened:
Denny: Anything you're gonna do, you already did. Whether you send a note back, or don't send a note back...it doesn't matter. You can't change the past, it's physically impossible.
And then there's Shanti, proponent of what I've been calling the Tangent Timeline possibility:
Shanti: That's not necessarily true. Branching Universe Theory holds you can do...
Denny: Ohhh... Branching... Universe... Theory... ohhh, no no no.
Shanti: Alright, I'll show you. The traditional view of time is linear, like a river, flowing from the past towards the future.
Doug Carlin: But you can change the course of a river, right?
Shanti: Exactly. Introduce a significant enough event at any point in this river and you create a new branch, still flowing toward the future, but along a different route. Changed.
Denny: Yeah, but that river is the Mississippi and we're lobbing what amounts to a pebble into it. That's a very few tiny ripples in a kind of big body of water, don't you think?
Shanti: Traditionalist.
Pryzwarra: Say we do create this new branch. What happens to the old one, to this one?
Denny: [referring to Shanti] ... Ask the radical!
Shanti: Well, it might continue parallel to the new branch. Most likely, it ceases to exist.
Notice how they use the same general analogy as Faraday of throwing stones into a river. Notice as well how they specifically cite the Mississippi to make their point. As I mentioned in the comments to WHH+CC=??, there's an interesting parallel between manipulation of the LOST timeline and human efforts to control the flow of the Mississippi using artificial levees. Nature keeps trying to "correct" our intervention by shifting the river to a different course.

Finally, on the subject of course correction, I stumbled across an interesting tidbit from the 2002 film adaptation of H.G. Wells's classic, the Time Machine. In the film, the protagonist is driven to invent a time machine by the murder of his fiancee during a mugging. Through time travel, he's able to prevent the fatal mugging, but his wife still dies in a carriage accident. The timeline, in other words, is mutable but self-healing. The parallel to Ms. Hawking's speech re course correction is striking:
MS. HAWKING: Because it wouldn't matter. Had I warned him about the scaffolding tomorrow he'd be hit by a taxi. If I warned him about the taxi, he'd fall in the shower and break his neck. The universe, unfortunately, has a way of course correcting. That man was supposed to die. That was his path just as it's your path to go to the island. You don't do it because you choose to, Desmond. You do it because you're supposed to.
Obviously, Deja Vu's analogy of throwing stones in a river is hardly a revolutionary metaphor for changing the future. And the Time Machine isn't the only time travel narrative to feature a self-correcting timeline -- I've also mentioned the example of Fritz Leiber's sci-fi classic, the Big Time. Still, the similarities are strong enough that I have to wonder if the parallels are really intentional references by the writers.


As I mentioned, I've been e-mailing Dave Goldberg, the author of the Slate piece, and I'm pleased to report he's replied! Here's the e-mail I sent Dave critiquing his piece:

I read your Slate piece with great interest but also some confusion. I agree with your general premise that, to be plausible, time travel stories should comport with the theoretical limits of physics. Still, I can't help thinking some of your rules go beyond that criterion. If you have some time, maybe you can set me straight?

Your first rule is no parallel universes. This is where I have the most questions, but before we get to the science, one minor pop cultural quibble. Is it really accurate to describe Back to the Future as illustrating the "many worlds" approach? I think of it as an example of the grandfather paradox because Marty nearly succeeds in erasing himself from the timeline. Seems to me that can only happen if there's one mutable timeline, rather than many running in parallel.

OK, onto the science. Your rationale is that that GR predicts only one universe. But is it really fair to limit plausibility to what GR says? My understanding is that many time travel solutions (e.g., Thorne's traversible wormholes) are semi-classical. They exploit the tension between GR and QM (e.g., by positing matter with negative energy density) which is why Thorne himself thinks a theory of quantum gravity will probably make wormhole travel impossible.

In fact, doesn't resolution of Polchinski's paradox require use of Feynman's "sum over histories" approach? I realize that's not synonymous with Everett's "many worlds" interpretation of QM. To this layperson's eye, however, they look pretty similar. (Or does "sum over histories" still imply only one universe because all others cancel themselves out?) Regardless, it seems kind of arbitrary to exclude a valid interpretation of QM like "many worlds" from time travel fiction.

I actually agree with your second rule, but have questions concerning three and four, where you talk about Novikov's self-consistency principle and free will. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't self-consistency merely a conjecture? As I understand it, Novikov showed there's always at least one self-consistent trajectory through spacetime, but simply assumes that nature will enforce it. Is there some further proof of the latter point?

Relatedly, you suggest that Polchinski's paradox shows we have no free will where changing the future is concerned. But I thought the billiard ball hypo was meant to bracket questions of free will, not resolve them. I'm comfortable philosophically with the compatibility of free will and determinism. But I'm skeptical of Novikov's analogy to the way physical forces constrain us. Isn't there a difference between an identifiable force like gravity and some mysterious "hand of God" that stops a time traveler from killing Hitler?

And here is Dave's thoughtful and illuminating reply:

1. BTTF. They are _very_ inconsistent about how they treat time travel in that franchise. The model Doc Brown makes clear in BTTF2 has timelines diverging from one another. He even draws a diagram on a chalkboard showing two timelines with a common origin. This is very consistent with the parallel worlds model. What's more if we ignore the (terrible) detail of Marty disappearing in BTTF1 (which can't be justified under any circumstances), it's also clear that they use a parallel universe model. If not for that, then who prevented Marty's parents from falling in love? It's a stretch, perhaps, but because it's the most famous of the genre, I had to do my best interpretation. Since I'm discounting the model, I figure some liberties could be taken with whether BTTF follows it exactly.

2. 1 Universe/Many in GR. I was contrasting what GR says to "parallel universes." Here we get into a bit of terminology, since you may have heard of something called the "multiverse" or somesuch which contains many "universes" (small u). In standard inflationary cosmology, the Universe (big U) can, indeed, split into many (perhaps infinitely many) bubble universes (small u). But these universes (small u) have nothing to do with Everett's many worlds. They may, in fact, have significantly different physical constants, matter concentrations, sizes, fates, etc. More importantly, we only refer to them as separate universes (small u), because there is no physical way to travel from one to the other. They are, however, separated from us in an entirely spacelike way (not, e.g., in separate "dimensions" or any such nonsense).

3. Polchinski/Sum over Histories. Sort of. Feynman's path integral approach, many worlds, the copenhagen interpretation. All of them predict the exact same thing. They're just different ways of writing down the integrals. Mathematically, they all come out the same. Most physicists prefer the Copenhagen interpretation, but I should point out that even advocates of the "many worlds interpretation" don't actually believe that we can visit those other worlds. In each case, all we're doing is figuring out a transition probability. What is the probability that the ball gets blocked? A: 0.

4. Self-consistency. Self-consistency is at the center of both GR and QM. Note that this isn't the same as causality. However, both theories are (at their heart) a set of differential equations which combine source terms (mass, pressure, electromagnetic fields) on one side, and a result (curvature of space-time, evolution of wavefunctions) on the other. It's a conjecture, but only in the sense that we conjecture that (within their appropriate regimes) QM & GR are correct. While it's true that we don't have a theory of quantum gravity, it would be hard to imagine that self-consistency wouldn't be enforced. Besides, my central tenet was to describe physics as we currently understand it. Saying, "perhaps a new theory will make this all wrong," is a bad approach.

5. Free Will/Determinism. True, it's a bracket. But a very important one. If you accept the single timeline model (which is justified by the rest of the discussion) then the determinism falls into place. What stops you from killing Hitler (I call Godwin's Law!)? It's more of a question of "what stopped you?" since it already happened. I don't think it likely that your gun just jams or you're unable to pull the trigger. More likely, you probably wouldn't end up with a gun pointed at Hitler in the first place. (Note: An analogy follows. Don't take it literally). I like to think of it like this. Suppose you were God, and you wrote a time travel narrative like this:

1935 - You invent time travel
1939 - Future you jumps out of the time machine and kills Hitler.
1939-1945 WWII
1945 - You get in your time machine with a machine gun.

Clearly, this timeline makes no sense (as WWII wouldn't have happened, and further, not knowing about how evil Hitler is negates your need to kill him), so it gets "revised." This is what I mean when I say it's an analogy. There's no meta-time, so the "revisions" are really just new attempts to make a self-consistent history.


1935 - You invent time travel.
1939 - Future you jumps out of the time machine but can't kill Hitler for some reason.
1939-1945 WWII
1945 - You get in your machine with a machine gun.

Better, but still flawed because of step 2. What stops you?


1935 - You invent time travel
1939 - Unbeknownst to (future) you, the exit ramp of your time machine gets locked in a room.
1939 - Future you jumps out of the time machine and are trapped in a room.
1939-1945 WWII
1945 - You get in your time machine with a machine gun.

We could go further, trying to make the history ever more plausible. Indeed, one way of thing about QM is that the most plausible scenario is the one most likely to have actually occurred.

You can read more of Dave Goldberg's thoughts on the physics of time travel and related subjects at the website for his forthcoming book A User's Guide to the Universe.

Monday, August 10, 2009

You Broke the Rose...(Minor Spoilers)

The new ARG (follow the clues at the LOST ARGs) apparently revolves around the exploits of comedian Paul Scheer, who presented Darlton with the velvet polar bear painting at Comic-Con. In his most recent video, Paul sneaks onto the lot at ABC studios. In the course of his wanderings, Paul finds several items of interest, including a script that reveals the title of the Season 6 premier may be "LA X" (sic).

But what really set my LOST sense tingling was Paul's discovery of a bright red rose, which I believe is a Dark Tower reference. In Stephen King's epic series, the Dark Tower serves as a kind of keystone for all realities in the multiverse. The Dark Tower exists in our reality as a single rose growing in an abandoned lot in Manhattan. If the rose is harmed, the Dark Tower will be as well, imperiling all creation. Note how Paul says "You broke the rose" after his cameraman damages the flower.

Darlton have said they're huge Dark Tower fans and are reportedly involved in the film adaptation of the series. Let's say detonation of the bomb creates a tangent timeline in which Oceanic 815 lands safely at LAX, rather than crashing on the Island. Could Paul's comment about breaking the rose be a hint that this apparent paradox threatens to destroy both the reality we've seen and its alternative?

Thursday, August 06, 2009


In navigating the interwebs, I've noticed major disagreement over how the principle of Course Correction (CC) relates to the rule of Whatever Happened, Happened (WHH).

I've always assumed they were related -- i.e., CC is the mechanism that enforces WHH. When someone deviates from whatever happened (e.g., Jack refusing to operate on Little Ben) the universe course corrects (e.g., Kate taking Little Ben to the Others) to prevent the future from changing in paradoxical ways. These small but consistent changes to the timeline could explain persistent mysteries like the changing picture frames at the home Miles visits in Confirmed Dead.

Here's the picture frame before Miles goes upstairs to bust the drug dealer's ghost:

And here's the new picture frame after Miles comes back down the stairs:

I was surprised to learn that others see CC and WHH as totally unrelated. Under their view, WHH precludes any changes to the past, even small ones, rendering CC irrelevant. When Daniel visited Desmond outside the Swan, that was what always happened -- Desmond's sudden recollection in the future was simply a storytelling device. Similarly, Desmond's meeting with Ms. Hawking in the jewelry store was what always happened -- Desmond just forgot.

So, what do you think Sickies? What is the relationship, if any, between WHH and CC?

Monday, July 27, 2009

See You in Another Life...

Sadly, my 98-year old Grandmother Shirley passed away over the weekend. She was a real cool lady, and a fan of Lost, at least until the facacta time travel started. Rest in peace, Gram. I'll see you in another life...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thoughts on Comic-Con...(Spoilers)


The LOST panel at Comic-Con takes place this Saturday. I'll update this post with any videos, along with my analysis, when they're available. In the mean time, I wanted to share some quick thoughts about what I hope to see when Team Darlton take the stage one last time to turn our whackadoo wheel off its axis.

First, I'm confident we'll see characters like Shannon and Charlie who have died on the show. Rumors have taken wing that Lost is inking deals to bring back former cast members. Many take this as evidence of an impending reboot of the timeline. As I suggested in A Little Push, however, I think it's actually the reverse.

I believe Hurley and Co. will flash back to 2004, permitting the show to revisit some familiar post-crash scenes from their perspective. We may even see them actively effectuate some of these scenes -- e.g., Hurley will plant Charlie's guitar, Jack will leave the stones with Adam and Eve, etc. -- while dodging past versions of themselves.

Second, and more speculatively, I hope to see some reference to DHARMA or the Hanso Foundation. As I also suggested in A Little Push, I think the defining conflict of the show is Jacob's Tapestry vs. Valenzetti's Equation. If that's right, we should see some reference to Ann Arbor, MI or Copenhagen, Denmark.

On that note, has anyone seen the new Lost University website? It looks official -- could it be the start of a new ARG? That's it for the preview -- stay tuned for updates and analysis!


So much for the last LOST panel at Comic-Con. To be brutally frank, I expected more. Despite the not-so-subtle hints of an alternate or rebooted timeline, I'm more skeptical than ever of that possibility. In fact, Saturday felt to me like a big joke at the expense of the reset speculation, the way Dave poked fun at fans who think it's all a dream.

But the videos depicting an alternate timeline made one important point that I'll revisit shortly. Our Losties could have erased the future we've seen even if they actually didn't. Apparently, the general rules of "whatever happened, happened" and "course correction" don't apply to Hurley and Co. crashing on the Island as passengers of Oceanic 815.

Let's briefly review what we saw in the three videos. Each was an advertisement, the first for Oceanic airlines touting a Qantas-like record of no crashes in thirty years of service from 1979-2009. Obviously, since the world knows Oceanic 815 crashed in 2004, the video must reflect a reality in which the crash never occurred. (If you can't see the first clip, hit refresh on your browser.)

Similarly, the second video is a commercial for Mr. Cluck's in which Hurley describes his good luck since winning the lottery and how he brought his chicken recipe back from Australia. Oceanic 815 landing safely can't, of course, explain the change in Hurley's luck, but it's clear he never went to the Island in this timeline.

The third video advertises an episode of America's Most Wanted featuring Kate. It reveals that, in this alternate reality, she inadvertently killed an innocent man, instead of her stepfather Wayne. Here again, the change can't be traced to Oceanic 815 landing safely. Like Hurley, however, Kate never crashed on the Island in the reality depicted.

Three videos, all depicting a different reality from the one we've seen. Surely this must mean Juliet's detonation of the bomb reset the timeline, right? Not so fast. We all know the Comic-Con videos aren't canon. They don't actually show what's going to happen. There was no second Bunny 15, and Dr. Chang never tried to contact the future with Faraday's help.

These videos are a chance for the writers to introduce important concepts without worrying about continuity. The Orchid outtake raised the possibility of physical time travel. The Chang video introduced the general rule of whatever happened, happened. The latest commercials imply that the crash of Oceanic 815 is an exception to this rule.

But why even introduce the possibility of a reset if nothing has actually changed? It's because most viewers currently see only two possibilities -- either total reboot or strict whatever happened, happened. Taken together, the Comic-Con videos suggest a third way that transcends this opposition. The timeline we've seen is malleable and must actively be preserved.

I still think the most logical way to make this point -- and to bring back deceased characters like Charlie -- is to show Hurley, Jack, and Co. choosing to effectuate familiar post-crash scenes. Remember, the show must still pay off mysteries like Adam and Eve's stones and Charlie's guitar case. I can't see that happening if the timeline is totally reset.

A related scenario focuses on the role of the dead, or rather their ghosts. What is their purpose, and whom do they serve? Maybe they're guardian angels of a sort. I could see some poignant scenes like in Wings of Desire where Juliet watches over Sawyer, nudging him in the right direction, but unable to make contact. Are these angels the whispers? Sawyer's boar?

It's also possible that, instead of flashbacks or flash forwards, we'll periodically flash sideways to an alternate reality in which the Island never influenced our Losties' lives. What might their existence look like if they were never touched by Jacob? It's an intriguing question, albeit one that undercuts my belief that Jacob's intervention is necessary to save the world.

All of which is to say, don't fall for the head fake, fellow Sickies. I'm calling it now -- despite how things may look, there is no reset. The message of Comic-Con is that the timeline we've seen can change, even if it hasn't. Whatever happened, happened doesn't apply to events like the crash of Oceanic 815, which make up the threads of Jacob's Tapestry.

PS: Reading you all everybody's perceptive comments reminds me of one more speculation I meant to share. It's possible that detonation of the bomb creates a "tangent" timeline in which those touched by Jacob never went to the Island. The analogy is to Donnie Darko, where a paradox involving a jet engine yields an unstable tangent universe.


As in the film, resolution of this storyline may require destruction of the tangent timeline. If so, perhaps Jacob's chosen ones are like Donnie -- living receivers charged with correcting the paradox. We may even see the world end in this tangent timeline, offering vivid illustration of what happens if Jacob's chosen ones fail to answer his call to destiny.

As always, you're welcome to post anonymously, but please identify yourself somehow, so I can distinguish between anonymous posters. Thanks!

Friday, July 03, 2009

A Little Push...

Lately I've been thinking about Jacob's Tapestry. At a very basic level, the act of weaving obviously symbolizes fate. But beyond the obvious, was Jacob weaving the fate of all humanity, or some subset like our Losties? I believe it's the latter, albeit with implications for the former. Jacob's Tapestry depicts a very special destiny in which his chosen ones save the world.

In Three Black Swans, I suggested that the human race is destined for extinction, as symbolized by the Valenzetti Equation. Jacob wants to avoid this end but realizes the universe is too powerful for him to directly alter the fate of all humanity. He can, however, reweave fate on a more limited scale, bringing people to the Island to create a butterfly effect that indirectly changes human destiny, a process symbolized by the Tapestry.

If the notion of a higher power guiding characters to some special fate sounds familiar, it should. That theme runs through the works of Stephen King and Stanley Kubrick, two major influences on the show. I'm reminded of how the Overlook Hotel brings Jack Torrance and his family to serve its evil ends in the Shining, or the way the monoliths guide Dave Bowman to humanity's evolution beyond the infinite in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Really, though, no work better exemplifies this theme than the Odyssey, which Jacob's Tapestry quotes twice. The gods in Homer's epic poem often intervene in the lives of mortals to shape their destinies. There's also a specific parallel to Penelope's loom, with which she daily weaves and reweaves the funeral shroud of Laertes, delaying her impending remarriage the way Jacob delays our inevitable extinction.

The catch is that, as Jacob tells Hurley, those interwoven in the Tapestry "always have a choice" whether or not to answer destiny's call. This may be because Jacob believes in free will, or because the usual rules of course correction don't apply "when you're making the thread" yourself. Unlike the Valenzetti, therefore, the Tapestry is not a self-fulfilling prophecy. Like Jacob says to Jack, sometimes it takes "a little push."

Notice how the Tapestry shows an Eye of Horus with many arms reaching out to touch nine human figures. This clearly refers to scenes where Jacob makes physical contact with nine characters at pivotal moments in their lives, presumably to give them a little push. In prior posts, I've discussed the significance of the pen he gives Little Sawyer to finish the letter, but other encounters illustrate this dynamic as well.

Take Jacob's visit to Little Katie, which does more than save her from becoming Winona Ryder. Jacob also buys Kate the "New Kids on the Block" lunchbox that she and Tom Brennan use for their time capsule. Years later, Kate returns to Iowa and digs up the capsule with Tom. His death forces her to flee to Australia, where Marshall Mars catches her. Jacob's push thus ensures that Kate is a passenger on Oceanic 815.

Or consider Jacob's aforementioned visit to Jack. Their encounter takes place just after Jack has the "count to five" experience (i.e., cutting his patient's dural sac) that he relates to Kate following the crash of Oceanic 815. Not only do Jack and Kate bond over this story, they later use it as a code during her escape with Sawyer from Hydra Island. Here again, Jacob's push seems perfectly timed to effectuate events we've seen.

Jacob's fingerprints are similarly all over Jin and Sun's improbable wedding and Locke's survival of an eight-story fall. The marriage of a humble fisherman's son to the daughter of a rich tycoon is unlikely in class-conscious Korea. And I suspect Locke should have been completely paralyzed -- or even killed -- by his fall. I've explained before why these three Losties are integral to Jacob's plan, so it's no surprise he pushes them.

Jacob's intervention stops Sayid from being killed like Nadia. Or does he stop Sayid from saving Nadia? Either way, it's to push Sayid back to the Island so he can help cause the Incident. Ultimately, it takes Ilana to get Sayid on Ajira 316, but her full role in Jacob's reweaving remains unclear. Ilana's push may relate to that face bandage she's wearing when Jacob visits her in the hospital. What do you suppose happened to her scars?

Then, of course, there's Hurley. I've speculated previously that DHARMA's top chef will quantum leap to 2004, so he can plant Charlie's guitar, which is Jacob's version of the compass paradox. But I'm confident Hurley has an even more important role to play in effectuating the Tapestry. Now that Jacob is cremated, and we know Miles can't converse with ghosts, Hurley may be Jacob's only means of communicating with his people.

Nine chosen ones whose fates Jacob has rewoven with his magical Tapestry to "save us all" from Valenzetti's mathematical prophecy of extinction. Faith vs. science, free will vs. fate, Jacob vs. the Man in Black. As we head into the final season of Lost, it's the Tapestry against the Equation. Can you imagine two more fitting metaphors for the meta-conflicts of the show?

As always, you're welcome to post anonymously, but please identify yourself somehow, so I can distinguish between anonymous posters. Thanks!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Three Black Swans...

In the Key to the Whole Game, I suggested that the Island is a place where the laws of quantum mechanics apply at a macroscopic scale. Like Doc Jensen at EW.com, I believe this makes the Island a source of miraculous Black Swan events that change what's "supposed" to happen against all odds. So far, we've witnessed two such miracles, and I'm guessing we'll see a third before the show is done. These three Black Swans are integral to Jacob's plan to save us all.

The Valenzetti Equation. Before going further, let me clarify one important piece of mythology you may not have picked up from the show -- the Valenzetti Equation. Here's all you need to know courtesy of Team Darlton themselves from a 2009 interview with E-Online:
The Hanso Foundation that started the Dharma Initiative hired this guy Valenzetti to basically work on this equation to determine what was the probability of the world ending in the wake of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Valenzetti basically deduced that it was 100 percent within the next 27 years, so the Hanso Foundation started the Dharma Initiative in an effort to try to change the variables in the equation so that mankind wouldn't wipe it itself out.
The Valenzetti is a mathematical expression of our destiny as a species. When someone saves the world on Lost, they do so against the dictates of fate. The universe then course corrects, resetting the doomsday clock. That's what the Man in Black and Jacob debate with the Black Rock off in the distance. Since ancient times, Jacob has brought people to the Island to create Black Swan events that postpone our extinction -- an exercise the Man in Black finds futile. None of what we've seen was supposed to happen, but all of it must or "God help us all."

Black Swan 1: The Incident. The first miracle is the one just depicted in the Season 5 finale. DHARMA was supposed to cause an extinction-level event by drilling at the Swan site, but our Losties changed that by causing the Incident instead. Daniel was right that Ms. Hawking lied about this being their destiny. They're "variables" precisely because the Incident wasn't supposed to happen, so "whatever happened, happened" doesn't apply. Eloise's lie was a noble one meant to preserve the fragile time loop in which our Losties save the world.

That's also why Jacob touches several key players in the Incident at pivotal moments in their lives. Because this isn't their destiny, he can't simply depend on course correction to get them where they need to be. Maybe the best example is when Jacob gives the pen to little James. If the latter doesn't finish that letter, chase the real Sawyer to Australia, crash on the Island, travel back in time, and pull a Han Solo, the assault by Jack and Co. on the Swan site most likely fails. The world ends right there in 1977.

Black Swan 2: The Fail-Safe. The second event is also one we've already seen. The Incident merely reset the countdown to catastrophe. The Swan button protocol was supposed to finish the job, but Desmond saved the world in defiance of the Valenzetti by activating the Fail-Safe. The catch is that, like the Incident, none of this was supposed to happen. When Desmond traveled back in time, he too was a variable who could have changed things despite the rule of "whatever happened, happened." Don't you dare rewrite history, Desmond!

That's why Ms. Hawking intervenes to prevent Desmond from proposing to Penny. As with our Losties, Eloise lies when she implies it's his destiny to go to the Island. Here again, however, her lie is a noble one meant to preserve the miraculous timeline in which the world is saved. If Des doesn't choose to go to the Island, press the button, and turn the key, then as Ms. Hawking says, every single one of us is dead. The Swan implosion sucks up everything on Earth, ending the world in 2004. As Jon G notes, that's exactly 27 years after the Incident.

Here's the really hellish part. Ms. Hawking realizes that Black Swans 1 and 2 are inextricably linked by the time loop we've witnessed -- it's all one big predestination paradox. Our Losties can't cause the Incident in 1977 unless Desmond turns the key in 2004, and vice versa. Eloise, moreover, only knows about these events because of Daniel's notebook. That's why she sends Daniel to the Island despite knowing he will die at her own hands. Ms. Hawking sacrifices her only son to complete the causal loop that saves the world.

The Man in Black's Loophole. The Man in Black knows this loop is necessary and cynically exploits it to his advantage. He uses the Smoke Monster to make a copy of Christian's body, then tricks Claire into helping him enter the Cabin. This allows the Man in Black to claim to speak for Jacob when Locke arrives looking for help. The Man in Black instructs Locke to move the Island, but omits crucial information on how to do so. When Ben turns the Wheel off its axis, the Man in Black uses the resulting time skips to get Locke off the Island and plant the notion that he must die.

All of this is the Man in Black's plan to to create the Loophole that enables him to kill Jacob. I think the rules of their game are simple. Neither player can kill the other -- the Man in Black must persuade someone else to do the deed. Jacob's death, moreover, must take place inside the Foot, where only his Chosen Ones can enter -- notice how even Richard stops at the door. That's why the Man in Black goes to such elaborate lengths to obtain Locke's corpse. The Man in Black needs to copy the body so he can enter Foot as Locke and incite Ben to murder.

It's so diabolical when you think about it. The Man in Black knows that, even if Jacob and Eloise discover his plot, they can't stop him for fear of disrupting the delicate chain of events leading to the Incident and Fail-Safe. So confident is the Man in Black that, as Zombie Christian, he actually directs Locke to find Eloise knowing she has to send Locke's body back to the Island with the Oceanic 6 to ensure they end up in the past. What the Man in Black fails to realize is that Jacob has been running his own long con to create Black Swan number three.

Black Swan 3: The Omega Point. The third miracle is one we're about to see. If I'm right about the Valenzetti, the Fail-Safe simply delayed our extinction until no later than 2031. Jacob hopes to end this vicious cycle for good by creating the Omega Point. The term was coined by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin to describe a global collective consciousness that he believed we're evolving towards as a species. The concept is quite simiar to the new-age Gnostic notion of the Supermind that I described in 108: Restoring the Lost Sun.

The clue to Jacob's objective is the book he reads while Locke falls in the background. Everything That Rises Must Converge is a collection of short stories by Flannery O'Connor, who took the title from Teilhard's description of the Omega Point. Ironically, O'Connor's stories feature characters who exhibit the sort of bias and prejudice that the Omega Point aspires to overcome. The book works well as a metaphor for Jacob's plan to permanently cure what the Man in Black described as humanity's tendancy to fight, destroy, and corrupt.

Before that can happen, however, both Jacob and the Man in Black must die. The Island is a Vast Active Living Intelligence System that regulates our biosphere -- basically, the brain of the world. Like the human brain, it has right and left sides that should work together as a unified whole. Unfortunately, some ancient trauma gave the Island what amounts to Dissociative Identity Disorder, creating two opposing personalities, light and dark. Jacob and the Man in Black aren't supposed to be perpetual adversaries. Their division prevents our evolution as a species.

The only solution is to wipe the planetary brain clean and start from tabula rasa. The Man in Black believes the murderous Loophole is all his idea. But Jacob sees it coming a mile away and uses the Loophole to make both of their deaths a fait accompli. He manipulates the Man in Black into assuming Locke's physical form, which leaves the latter vulnerable to being killed. As Locke, moreover, the Man in Black has publicly declared his desire to kill the Others' beloved leader. No wonder he doesn't seem particularly triumphant upon kicking Jacob's body into the fire.

When Jacob and the Man in Black are dead, two new avatars must take their place. To heal the Island's division, however, they must transcend the opposition of light and dark. For this reason, I believe Jacob and the Man in Black's replacements will be a man and woman in love. My inspiration here is Aristophanes's account of love in Plato's Symposium. Once, according to Aristophanes, human beings were round creatures with two heads. Fearing our strength, the gods split human bodies in two. Love is the desire to make yourself whole again by finding your other half. Kind of like the Yin-Yang.

I'm guessing, moreover, that the happy couple will be two children of the Island we've already met. One half is Aaron, who was conceived off the Island but born on it. The other is Ji-Yeon, who was conceived on the Island but born off it. Remember what Sun tells little Ji-Yeon on the phone? "I met a new friend for you in America. His name is Aaron." I believe that East will eventually meet West and fall in love. Everything that rises must converge on a Lost wedding between Aaron and Ji-Yeon before 2031. Our survival as a species depends on it...

As always, you're welcome to post anonymously, but please identify yourself somehow, so I can distinguish between anonymous posters. Thanks!