Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Thoughts on the Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham...

Best. Episode. Since. Walkabout.

The sight of Ben yanking that electrical cord around Locke's neck was stunning, a dramatic punch to the solar plexus. I was prepared for Locke's suicide, but not his murder. The impact rivaled the moment at the end of Walkabout when we finally realize why Locke is wiggling his gold-tipped toes in wonder after the crash of Oceanic 815. For me, those two scenes will forever define the show -- the emotional yin and yang of Lost.

Ben nearly had me fooled. I missed lots of warning signs in retrospect. One was Zombie Christian's news that Locke was supposed to turn the Wheel. Another was Ms. Hawking's comment that Ben probably lied when he denied knowing about the Lamp Post station. Then there was Ben's callous attitude about what would happen to other passengers on Ajira 316, which mirrored his total disregard for those killed on Widmore's freighter.

What did set my Lost sense tingling was the recent reference to Expose. In posts like the Cancer Man's Con, I've compared Ben to Mr. LaShade, a supposed good guy who turns out the be the Cobra, the main villain on Expose. When David Reyes plopped down with his salami and caviar sandwich to watch an episode of the fictional show-within-a-show, it dawned on me that Ben's good behavior might just be a scam to regain control of the Island.

Something I utterly failed to anticipate was Charles Widmore's strong connection to the Island. I always pegged him as a mere investor in Dharma who coveted the Island for its advanced technology and natural resources. I dismissed suggestions by some of you that Charles might once have led the Others himself. But Widmore's accusation that Ben usurped his leadership has sent my Whackadoo Wheel spinning of its axis with crazy ideas like these:

Whackadoo Idea 4: Becoming Jacob. My speculations typically assume that Jacob was someone who died in the Island's past and now haunts the place. But Charles Widmore's comments about being heavily invested in the Island's future got me thinking. What if Jacob is actually a pivotal future figure whose identity has yet to be determined? Perhaps the "chosen one" is the person most likely to become -- or even be reincarnated as -- the Island's patriarch.

Such a scenario would explain why there are so many plausible speculations that Jacob is someone we've met -- e.g., Jack, Locke, Widmore, etc. It would also explain why Horace Goodspeed was building Jacob's cabin during Locke's dream encounter in the woods. Widmore may have funded Dharma in hopes of reclaiming his future status as Jacob from Ben. Come to think of it, maybe Ben's cancer was a sign that Jacob's identity had shifted to someone else.

Whackadoo Idea 8:
Snakes vs. Spiders. Widmore said that war was coming and warned that the "wrong" side might win. This seems to imply Lost is a simple Manichaean conflict between good and evil. Like many of you, however, I remain skeptical of the battle lines as they appear. For all its references to classical and modern literature, Lost is thoroughly postmodern. I expect its conflict to transcend simple oppositions like good vs. evil.

I still believe that Charlie Widmore's war resembles the temporal "Change War" in The Big Time. As we discussed in my Jughead recap, Fritz Leiber's sci-fi classic revolves around a conflict between two time-traveling factions -- the Snakes and the Spiders -- to control the future. I suspect there are similarly two factions on Lost, each fighting to effectuate its preferred version of events, albeit constrained by the law of course correction.

The closest I see Lost getting to good vs. evil is a conflict between order and chaos. As in the Dark Tower series, the battle may pit those walking the "beam" of fate against others seeking to "break" that beam. Perhaps the Spiders are working to break the Valenzetti Equation (e.g., via the "Spider" Protocol) while the Snakes seek to prevent changes to the "picture on the box" by effectuating the Valenzetti (hence Ms. Hawking's Ouroboros brooch).

Whackadoo Idea 15: Reverse Reincarnation. Ben has been rolling around in a van with an anagram for "reincarnation" on the side. Many, myself included, assumed this referred to Locke's impending reincarnation on the Island. Technically, however, Locke was resurrected, not reincarnated. Nor can we just attribute it to the writers' misunderstanding -- they used the term correctly when Locke talked about his foster sister being reincarnated as a dog back in S1.

That has me wondering if the reincarnation reference was actually to the van's driver (i.e., Ben) not its cargo. Of course, reincarnation typically entails people dying then being reborn at some future date. But what if Ben has somehow managed to reverse reincarnate himself backwards in time? Indeed, given his extensive foreknowledge of events, I sometimes wonder if he's an agent in the Change War who was sent into the past to disrupt the course of fate.

If you really want to follow me down the whackadoo well, consider the possibility that Ben is actually a turncoat who started out working for the Spiders but now ostensibly serves the Snakes. I say "ostensibly" because I'm with those who say Ben's secret agenda has always been to create a timeline in which Emily Linus and Annie still live. All of this would explain why Zombie Christian and Ms. Hawking don't seem to trust Ben fully despite his service of their ends.

Whackadoo Idea 16: Hydra International Airport. Speaking of Ben's foreknowledge, I suspect he's been planning for his return to the Island since before he left. We know that Ajira 316 landed on Hydra Island, where the Others were building a runway. The purpose of this runway was never specified(Juliet joked it was for the aliens) but I'm guessing Ben had it built knowing he might one day need to return via a plane crash -- without the Island's protection.

I'll bet Ben has been hearing from Richard for quite a while how Locke would eventually become leader of the Others. This didn't sit well with Ben, who has been scheming just as long to prevent Locke from taking control. When Ethan reported shooting someone claiming to be his leader, Ben knew that time was short. His contingency plan included securing a number of fake identities and starting construction of the runway on Hydra Island.

Whackadoo Idea 23: Loop, Dude, Loop. I was curious if we would see what happened to the rest of the passengers from Ajira 316. One popular speculation is that time is looping on Lost. I believe that history is indeed recurring on the Island, but not in the sense of a temporal causality loop. Rather, as the crash of Ajira 316 suggests, the same basic cycle of events is repeating itself with different participants. The players change, but the game remains the same.

Seeing the survivors of Ajira 316, it was hard not to think back to the crash of Oceanic 815. The sense of deja vu was reinforced by several shots of Locke gazing into the ocean, pondering the miracle of the Island, just like he did after the first crash. Some of this was obviously for dramatic effect, but I'll be watching closely to see what other parallels emerge. There's just too much evidence that loops are important to Lost. Like Hurley says, "loop, dude, loop."

Whackadoo Idea 42: A Promise Is a Promise. That was Ben's reply when he learned about Locke's promise to Jin. And really, no quote sums up the Benjamin Linus credo better than that. The man is all about living up to the letter, but not necessarily the spirit of promises, rules, etc.. Not suprisingly, therefore, Ben unapologetically circumvented the terms of Locke's pact by telling Sun himself that Jin was still alive.

Ben's murder of Locke reflects this credo, too, but with an interesting twist. Our own neaux speculates below that Ben knew the Island would be in serious trouble if Locke committed suicide. I'm not prepared to ascribe noble motives to Ben, who may simply have acted out of a self interested desire to return to the Island. Still, I can't help thinking of how Richard "saved" Locke by giving him the means to manipulate Sawyer into killing Anthony Cooper.

Whackadoo Idea 108: The End of Abaddon? Matthew Abaddon may (or may not) be dead but I'm confident we haven't seen the last of him. I'm still waiting for a Charles Widmore flashback in which Abaddon, looking the same age he does now, visits the freshly banished Widmore following his turn of the Donkey Wheel...

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

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Thoughts on 316...

There's a running joke among my friends that I have the world's worst DVR. The machine tends to pull a Widmore and chop off the very end of recordings, so I've taken to adding ten minutes to important programs like Lost. Unfortunately, in the heat of watching, I sometimes lose track of time and don't realize the show is ending. The other night, when that last LOST thudded onscreen, I howled at the television, crying out for more.

I was especially hungry because the episode raised so many questions. Why was Ben all bloody? How did Sayid end up in custody? (I'm guessing those mysteries are related...) And most importantly, how did Kate and Sun decide to leave Aaron and Ji-Yeon behind? Having the Oceanic 6 make it back to the Island before filling in these blanks felt rushed. I can't wait for more flashbacks that depict those missing forty-something hours.

Still, there was plenty in the episode for viewers of science and faith alike to dissect, starting with the new Dharma symbol for the Lamp Post station. Last December, when we first saw this graphic flash onscreen at the end of an installment of the Lost Book Club, my thoughts turned immediately to Narnia and C.S. Lewis:
The graphic evokes the lamp post in the woods marking the entrance to Narnia in the classic series by C.S. Lewis. Nor would this be the first such reference on Lost. As we've discussed before, the name Charlotte Staples Lewis seems a clear shout out to the author (i.e., Clive Staples Lewis).

This symbolism is fitting since, as we expected, the Lamp Post Station marked the way back to the Island. Here's how I'm guessing it worked. When Ms. Hawking mentioned that the Island is always moving, I think she meant that it orbits relative to the Earth. The big clues are the six Lost Numbers and the pendulum in the Lamp Post. As I've explained before, it takes six numbers to describe the orbit of any object, including a pendulum, in three dimensions:
Most interpretations of [the Lost Numbers] focus on the symbolism of specific numerals or the mathematical relationships between them. Few, however, consider the significance of six, which is the total number of Numbers. It turns out that six is the minimum number of values required to specify the state of an object at any given moment in three-dimensional space -- three components of position plus three more of momentum or velocity. Sometimes, for statistical purposes, it's useful to imagine the object moving through a six-dimensional "phase space" wherein each point along its trajectory can be expressed as a list of six numbers describing a different state of the object in question. Here's a phase portrait of a simple pendulum:

The Island may be moving in higher dimensions, cycling through different energy states (as the blackboard equations suggest) or some combination thereof. Whatever the precise nature of this orbit, it periodically brings the Island into phase with the Earth like two strings vibrating in tune. During these "event windows," the Island is accessible. The pendulum models the Island's orbit, creating a phase portrait that enables probabilistic predictions about where and when the next event window will open.

I'll bet the Frozen Donkey Wheel keeps this orbit stable, synchronizing Island time with our own. When Ben turned the Wheel off its axis, he made the orbit unstable. That may be why he landed five months in the future -- the Island was now out of sync with the Earth. I suspect Ben knew this would happen, which is why he asked the hotel clerk for the date. It's all part of his plan to go back. The Island's orbit probably remained unpredictable until Locke put the Wheel back on its axis.

So why did the Oceanic 6 need to recreate the original conditions of their crash? This was partly another Narnia shout out. As Doc Jensen noted in his teaser for this week's episode, the final book in the Narnia series (WARNING: LAST BATTLE SPOILERS) has the children being pulled back into Narnia right before a fatal train wreck. I'm guessing that, by placing themselves in imminent peril, the O6 spurred the Island to save them, much as it did Jack on that bridge in Through the Looking Glass.

Even more fundamentally, as the reference to doubting Thomas suggests, restaging the crash was also about taking a leap of faith. And here again, Lost touches upon to some of the existential themes that are at its core. I'll elaborate upon this in a subequent post, but leaps of faith exemplify what existentialists call acts of "radical" freedom. You free yourself from determinstic history by embracing a totally new new system of beliefs and assumptions, contrary to prior reason and experience. That's what Jack did by becoming a man of faith for purposes of returning the Island.

Hmmm...the part about freeing yourself from deterministic history also sounds a bit like the Desmond Exception to the rules of time travel, doesn't it? Like I said, that's another post. Due to family obligations, I won't be able to post three-dot thoughts this week. But please keep those excellent comments coming -- you all everybody routinely melt my mind! As always, you're welcome to post anonymously, but please identify yourself somehow, so I can distinguish between anonymous posters. Thanks!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Gregg Nations Responds...

Poor Eloise the rat...

Some time back, I posted a question about her on for script coordinator Gregg Nations:
A lot of viewers, myself included, are confused about what happened to Eloise the [rat]. Did Daniel ever actually teach her the maze -- e.g., during the period that Desmond was unconscious? Or did Eloise die before Dan had the chance to do so?
I'm pleased to report that Gregg has answered my question:
Faraday did tell Eloise the rat the maze, we just didn't see it. Then of course she died. Very sad...
Very sad indeed! But also telling because it confirms that Daniel avoided logical paradox by completing the causal loop. I had begun to wonder if the deaths by hemorrhage were the universe nipping nascent paradoxes in the bud. The test of this hypothesis was whether Daniel ever actually taught Eloise the maze. If he had not, it might indicate that her death was indeed the universe course correcting.

Gregg's gracious reply confirms that Daniel did so, apparently falsifying this hypothesis. It thus seems likely that Eloise, like Minkowski and Charlotte, died from hemorrhages that resulted from them being unstuck in time. Ago gratias tibi,* Gregg!

*Otherspeak for "I thank you."

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Thoughts on This Place Is Death...

Well, now we know how Montand lost his arm!

I personally loved last night's episode -- maybe even more than Jughead . I've always been intensely curious about the story of Danielle's science expedition. As expected, it revealed important information about the Cerberus security system. Smokey is as old as the Island -- or at least the Temple. But does that mean Smokey is from the past? Not necessarily...

Any satisfying explanation of the Island needs to explain technological relics like Smokey and the Frozen Donkey Wheel. Let's say you're not a fan of the alien scenario I outlined in my recap of The Little Prince. Now that we know the Island can move through time, one alternative is that it was sent back into the distant past by some arbitrarily advanced beings from the future.

The analogy I have in mind is to Dan Simmons's Hyperion Cantos. Like Lost, Simmons's science fiction is filled with references to classical mythology and literature. I've cited previously his description of the Greek hero Achilles as a "freak of quantum probability." The structure of the first book in the Hyperion series parallels Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.

Warning: Spoilers for the Hyperion Cantos

The premise of Hyperion is that two god-like Ultimate Intelligences from the far future are locked in combat. To break their stalemate, one of the UIs launches a mysterious pyramid complex backwards through time on the planet Hyperion. These "Time Tombs" are surrounded by anti-entropic fields that propel them into the past and keep the Tombs closed (i.e., seemingly empty) until they come into phase with the time flow of the rest of the universe.

The Tombs are accompanied by a metallic beast called the Shrike, a terrible killing machine capable of manipulating time itself. The Shrike is worshiped by a human cult called the Church of the Final Atonement. The plot of Hyperion revolves around six pilgrims (hmmm...) chosen by this Church as an offering for the Shrike.

The Shrike reminds me of Smokey -- both deal in pain, death, and atonement. The Temple may be like the Time Tombs, sent back in time to alter the balance of power in some future conflict between higher powers. The Island is like the planet Hyperion -- exempt from the laws of physics, history, human psychology, and probabilistic prediction. I the Oceanic 6 need to return to the Island for some final confrontation with Smokey?

End of Hyperion Cantos Spoilers

There are many more Lost parallels -- I'm leaving out a lot to avoid spoiling too much. I highly recommend this series, particularly for fans of the Canterbury Tales and the poetry of John Keats. After getting to know the Shrike and its tree of thorns, I think I understand why Charlotte insists "this place is death." Here are some three-dot thoughts on the episode:

WE SAILED FROM TAHITI. This episode largely vindicated Danielle's recollection of her shipwreck. With the glaring exception of Jin, all other discrepancies are now better explained by her general mental deterioration... Danielle stated that her team sailed from Tahiti in 1988, confirming Sayid's calculation that her distress call had been running for sixteen years when Oceanic 815 crashed... Looks like the Island doesn't just heal people quickly. It also teaches English to Jin at a remarkable rate! ...Smokey grabbing Montand parallels the way it dragged Locke into the hole in Exodus, Pt. 2. I wonder if it would have ripped off Locke's arm if they hadn't used the dynamite... Danielle didn't seem to experience the flash when Jin jumped through time -- he just disappeared. This is in contrast to the first purple flash following Ben's turn of the Frozen Donkey Wheel, which was observable by everyone on or around the Island... I get why they showed us Montand's rotting arm, but it seemed a little implausible that it would still be there after even a short time. Wouldn't some animal take it?...Another temporal "landmark" was the column of black smoke. Danielle described seeing it the night the Others came for Alex...

A SECURITY SYSTEM FOR THE TEMPLE. Robert's correction to Danielle that the monster is actually a security system mirrors her own to Sayid sixteen years later... Every member of the French science team except Danielle went into the Smokey hole and became infected. This seems to differ from the story she tells Sayid -- i.e., that the Others were the "carriers" of the sickness. Or does it? Richard was tasked with taking the Others to the Temple, where Smokey would presumably protect them. Is this what makes them carriers -- are they somehow infected with the same black smoke? ...Given that Danielle believed Jin was infected, it defies common sense that she wouldn't remember and confront him when they met again years later. The million dollar question is whether, if Danielle were alive in the future, she would have a new memory of their unforgettable encounter. If so, that would be a sign the timeline is changing in small but potentially significant ways, as described in the Rousseau Redux ...

WE CAN BE THERE IN 30 MINUTES. I try to drive as little as possible, even living in LA. But when Ben made this promise to Sun, my first thought was: "How can he be so sure with the traffic?" ...Ben pulling over had the feel of an exasperated parent who pulls over to stop the bickering of two children... I'm curious to learn what exactly Ben has done to protect the Oceanic 6? I get the reference to their "friends" -- Ben is helping the Lefties by bringing the O6 back. But I've been assuming that fate would protect the O6 until they returned to the Island... I wonder if Ben knows that Mrs. Hawking is Faraday's mother. Something in his expression said "no"... Another million-dollar question: Does Mrs. Hawking recognize Desmond from their encounter in Flashes Before Your Eyes?

LOOK FOR THE WELL. Charlotte's comments as she lay dying were incredibly creepy. How the heck did she know about that well? I got the sense she was mentally unstuck in time, flipping back and forth from her childhood. I bet we'll soon be hearing some of those same lines (e.g., not being allowed to have chocolate before dinner and loving Geronimo Jackson) again but uttered by a younger version of Charlotte... The flashes are coming in shorter and shorter intervals. I envision a pendulum taking progressively shorter swings as it comes to rest. Is that why Ms. Hawking was using pendulums to calculate the event window for finding the Island? ...When Charlotte warned Jin not to bring "her" back, was she referring to Sun or Ji Yeon? I'm reminded of Claire's admonishement to Kate not to bring "him" back. I'm beginning to think someone (zombie Christian?) doesn't want these children back on the Island...I wonder if the well is actually a reference to the Well of Souls , which is purported to be the hiding place of the Ark of the Covenant. Some also believe the Well will be ground zero for the Last Judgment... The image of the rope disappearing into the ground was a shocker. Who do you suppose plugged up the well?

I THINK THAT MAN WAS YOU. The crazy man who told Charlotte to leave the Island and never return was definitely Daniel. We know this is possible because we've already seen him as part of the Dharma Initiative. My guess is that, after an upcoming jump, the Island will come to rest for an extended period in the time of Dharma. Daniel will make contact with the younger Charlotte and deliver his warning. A similar predestination paradox lies at the core of The Time Traveler's Wife... I like the twist of Jin making Locke promise not to bring Sun or Ji Yeon back to the Island, which adds another plausible hurdle to getting the Oceanic 6 to return. But I think I already know how Locke will circumvent a literal interpretation of his pact. Instead of going directly to Sun, he will tell the truth to Ben, indirectly accomplishing the same end.

I'M HERE TO HELP YOU THE REST OF THE WAY. Zombie Christian appearing to Locke in the Wheel Well (groan...) reminded me of the (mis)adventures of Lemmiwinks on South Park... Christian's refusal (inability?) to help Locke physically was curious. I wonder if the former is somehow restricted from providing direct assistance the way the latter is barred by his promise from bringing Sun back himself... Christian is quite insistent that Locke, not Ben, was supposed to move the Island. That raises an important question -- did Ben disrupt this plan intentionally or by mistake? He seemed sincerely to believe he was doing Jacob's bidding by turning the Wheel. Of course, it was Christian, not Jacob, who issued the directive in the Cabin, which Ben may not have realized. Are the two ghosts really on the same team? I have to wonder, especially after learning that he knows all about Ms. Hawking, who I believe is working in opposition to Jacob... But Christian was quite derisive of Ben, even though the latter appears to be on her team... Assuming Locke lands in the desert like Ben and the polar bear, I wonder how he'll get back to civilization on a fractured leg...

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

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Rousseau Redux...

In my recap of The Little Prince, I posed a question that merits its own post. Why didn't the Rousseau who encountered the survivors of Oceanic 815 remember finding Jin after the wreck of her boat? Jin was in camp on at least two occasions when the older Rousseau visited (i.e., espisodes 1:23 and 4:1 ) so I'm pretty sure they met. I see three possible answers.

1. SHE'S JUST THAT CRAZY: To my mind, this is the most likely but least satisfying explanation. Sixteen years on the Island clearly took its toll on Danielle's psyche. When Sayid found her in Solitary, she was clearly a "nut job," as Charlie put it. Maybe she was just too far gone by then to remember meeting Jin so many years before.

But was Danielle really that crazy? She remembered everything else about her shipwreck and the events that followed. With the exception of her lie to kidnap Aaron, her information has proven pretty accurate thus far. I bet we'll get further confirmation of the reliability of her recollection in coming episodes that show what happened to her expedition.

So, while this scenario seems probable, I'll be rather displeased if it turns out that Danielle's madness made her forget something as memorable as finding another shipwreck survivor. Not to mention one who's probably going to vanish in a blinding flash of purple light.

2. PURPLE FLASH=MEMORY LOSS: Some of you suggested in reply to my Little Prince recap that the purple flashes cause amnesia in bystanders. This fits with indications that Faraday's time travel experiments at Oxford left him with memory loss of his own. Perhaps that's why Dan needed a caretaker, and why Charlotte tested his memory with cards.

But there are problems with this scenario. Amnesia is a little too convenient for my taste. Even more importantly, Richard remembered the date and place of Locke's birth, and Charles Widmore apparently recognized Charlotte, Dan, and Miles from the Island. Storylines like these only make sense if observers retain their memories after the flashes.

3. DESMOND CHANGED THE PAST: The general rule of time travel on Lost is that you can't alter history -- whatever happened, happened. The most you can do is influence the past, thereby effectuating the future you already know. I cited two such predestination paradoxes involving Locke and Widmore in the preceding section.

Indications are, however, that Desmond Hume is an important exception to this rule. He can indeed alter the timeline, changing the "picture on the box." I suggested in An Anti-Christmas Carol that Des did just that by delaying Charlie's death until the latter could shut off the Looking Glass jammer, leading to the rescue of the Oceanic 6.

If you think about it, Jin showing up on that freighter debris is the result of Desmond's intervention, as well. Basically, if Des hadn't enabled Charlie to deactivate the jammer, Jack would never have called the freighter, which never would have exploded with Jin onboard. I'm oversimplifying the causal chain a bit, but you get the idea.

And that raises one final whackadoo speculation. What if Jin appearing in Danielle's history is the first sign that the timeline we know is changing in small but significant ways? In fact, if you really want to follow me through the looking glass, consider the possibility that this will all pay off in Season 6 with a Rousseau resurrection...

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Thoughts on the Little Prince...

I believe it was co-creator Damon Lindelof who originally said there are no aliens or time travel on Lost. Now that we've seen several instances of the latter, Damon has revealed that time travel was always in the DNA of the show. Given the title of last night's episode, I have to wonder if his next big revelation will be that Lost also contains extra-terrestrials in its genes.

The Little Prince refers to the classic French novel of the same name by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry about an alien child who falls to Earth. The title character hails from a small planet that humans have dubbed Asteroid B-612. One day, the Little Prince finds himself in the neighborhood of six other asteroids (including one called 325...hmmm). He meets their respective residents, one of whom suggests that the Little Prince visit Earth. There, he encounters the narrator, whose airplane has crashed (hmmm...) in the same desert as the Little Prince.

There are many thematic parallels to Lost, particularly the problem of narrow-mindedness inevitably breeding mistake, a point the book makes many times. We learn, for example, that the Little Prince's home planet was first sighted from Earth by a Turkish astronomer. Unfortunately, when the astronomer presented his finding to the International Astronomical Congress in Europe, he was ignored because of prejudice against his Turkish garb.

Asteroid B-612 remained unrecognized until the astronomer resubmitted his discovery wearing European clothes.

Another great illustration of this problem of limited perspective is the desert flower whom the Little Prince questions shortly after falling to Earth. Because the flower knows only the vast wasteland of the desert and has seen only a single caravan of people in her entire life, she erroneously reports that the planet is sparsely populated.

I expect Ben will face a similar dilemma coaxing the Oceanic 6 back to the Island. All of them understandably mistrust him because of how he behaved there before. A few have personal reasons for mistrusting him even more. Kate knows that Ben exposed her lie about Aaron; Sayid may have discovered that Ben tricked him into killing people who weren't responsible for Nadia's death; and Sun probably learned that Ben was responsible for blowing up the freighter, which she believes killed Jin. They will have a hard time looking beyond their experiences to see the necessity of what Ben now preaches.

Even more fundamentally, I believe such a mistake born of bias drives the mythology of the show. As I've suggested in posts like Extinction or Evolution and An Anti-Christmas Carol, the Dharma scientists may have misunderstood the Valenzetti Equation's prediction of our extinction. They erroneously assumed it could only come from some disaster -- e.g. nuclear fire, chemical and biological warfare, conventional warfare, pandemic, over-population, etc. They ignored the possibility that the Valenzetti might actually predict humanity's extinction by evolution into a whole new species.

We've seen many such mistakes of perspective depicted or referenced on the show. Why do you suppose the Others wore fake beards and pretended to be so primitive? A main reason was presumably so the crash survivors would underestimate them. Another great example is Locke's misjudgment concerning the importance -- or lack thereof -- of pushing the Swan button. Then there's the Flash and Green Lantern comic Walt was reading back in Season 1. In addition to polar bears, the story involves two superheroes who misinterpret an extra-terrestrial's actions as hostile.

And that brings me back to the speculation that started this post. Aliens. I've always suspected they were part of the backstory, notwithstanding Damon's denial. I figured that seemingly magical aspects of the Island like the Cerberus monster and the Frozen Donkey Wheel must be relics of their arbitrarily advanced technology. But I always assumed the aliens themselves were long dead, extinguished in some ancient calamity perhaps involving the volcano. Now I find myself mulling the possibility that Jacob is an extra-terrestrial using Aaron as his host.

After all, what was Claire's preferred lullaby for Little Prince Aaron? Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket...never let it fade away. In the spirit of Herb Caen, here are some three-dot thoughts on The Little Prince:

I THINK WE SHOULD SAY HE'S MINE. I've been looking forward to an explanation of why Kate decided to claim Aaron was her son. But something about the explanation seemed superficial and unsatisfying to me. I would have preferred that they spin Kate's initial interest as selfish -- i.e., Aaron was her ticket to staying out of prison -- then depicted her growing to love him...Are Kate and Jack supposed to be together? It's unclear but the show does seem to be setting up parallel pairings of opposites -- i.e., Dr. Jack with Kate, and Dr. Juliet with Sawyer...Kate should have known something was up the minute Sun promised to give Aaron candy from the mini-bar -- no Korean mom would waste money on the mini-bar...No surprise Sun has been keeping tabs on Ben and Jack, the two men she probably holds most responsible for Jin's death.

IT'S LIKE REALLY BAD JET LAG. As Juliet notes, jet lag isn't known to cause hemorrhaging. Still, the inability to sleep can quite literally be torture -- sleep deprivation is used worldwide as an interrogation method. Just how long has it been since the "Lefties" (thanks to Fierro for that one) slept?...I love the way Juliet seems uniquely able to handle Sawyer and keep him in check. Her calm but blunt demeanor and Mona Lisa smile brings to mind this Slate article I read recently about how to handle children when they deliberately push your buttons...Faraday's hypothesis that the bleeding is a function of how long one has been on the Island tends to support the speculation that Charlotte and Miles were both born there -- or at least lived there as children. That, in turn, raises the likelihood that baby we saw with Dr. Chang was one of those two, probably Miles...

BEN IS ON OUR SIDE. Like I said above, trusting Ben again will be a bitter pill for the Oceanic 6 to swallow, doubly so for some of them...One curious thing is how quickly Jack has been to convert to the cult of Linus. It may have something to do with Ben helping him get off prescription painkillers. In that regard, the dynamic parallels Locke helping Charlie kick heroin back in Season 1...Hurley says he's safe in L.A. County lock-up. But if you believe the ghost of Ana Lucia -- as I do -- the last place Hurley should be right now is in police custody...Who keeps trying to tranquilize Sayid? My guess would be Charles Widmore. But why not just kill him? Maybe Widmore needs Sayid alive, but I wonder if the former recognizes that killing the latter would violate the rules of the game. Then again, if Widmore were behind the attacks, Sayid wouldn't bother asking who was. Maybe it's the Economist?

IT WAS JUST A LIGHT. The light, as Locke explains, is from the night when he banged on the Swan hatch, despondent over Boone's death. It's telling that Locke isn't even tempted to revisit himself on that night. When Sawyer asks him why he didn't go back and save himself a world of pain, Locke answers that this pain made him who he is. Interestingly, Sawyer himself makes exactly the same decision when observing Kate help Claire give birth to Aaron. Sawyer's rationale that "what's done is done" complements Locke's well -- both are expressions of the show's underlying fatalism...To clarify, since there seems to be some confusion, there's no rule of time travel that prohibits you from meeting yourself. The catch is that, if it didn't happen, it didn't happen. If you don't remember meeting some future version of yourself, then you won't. The big exception is Desmond, who can make "new" memories by changing the past...

THAT'S MY LAWYER. Just how many people of interest on the show does Dan Norton represent? I wonder what miracle Ben performed for Norton to merit such obvious gratitude...It struck me as contrived that Nortion just happens also to represent Claire's mom, who just happens to be in town collecting a judgment against Oceanic. I think that scene would have worked just as well if the person Norton visited in the hotel were some mysterious figure we'd never met...The name on the side of Ben's van reads CANTON-RAINIER, which is obviously an anagram for reincarnation. It doesn't take a genius to realize this is probably a hint about what they're supposed to do with Locke's corpse...Funny how Ben doesn't even bother denying that he was the one trying to take Aaron. Is this something Ben did to drive Kate back to the Island, or is it a sign Aaron isn't supposed to return with them?

DOES ANYBODY SPEAK FRENCH? My first thought when the outrigger canoe jumped (very convenient, btw, that it went with our Lefties through time) into the storm was that it might be the one that caused Danielle's shipwreck. I was ecstatic when we got confirmation in the form of wreckage with French words. Finally, we get to see the story of Rousseau's ill-fated science expedition! I've been dying since Season 1 to know how Montand lost his arm. I was worried when Danielle died that the tale might never get told, though I suppose they could have done so through flashbacks of someone observed the expedition...The moment I saw that body floating on the debris, I knew it was Jin and that he was alive. But that raises a potential wrinkle. Why didn't Rousseau remember Jin when they met again following the crash of Oceanic 815? Was she just that far gone? Or is this a sign that Desmond has changed things somehow?