Overthinking Lost: Episodes 3.17-3.22

Overthinking Lost: Episodes 3.17-3.22

At the end of season three, I take a look back at the first half of Lost… with the power of mathematics!

Lost-D.O.C.Phew!  We made it.  Here we are at the end of Lost’s third season, and, man, was it awesome.  Awesome awesome awesome.  You guys were right; sitting through those mediocre episodes was worth it.  Thanks for helping me stay the course.

Season-wise, we’re officially halfway through the series, if you include the as yet unaired sixth season.  I want to step back this week and take stock of the series as a whole… through the power of mathematics!  Well, not really, but I’ll be tallying numbers and writing lists.  That’s almost math-y, right?

Anyway, through this pseudo-mathematical analysis, I will answer the following questions: Who are  the most important characters in Lost, really?  Who’s evil-er, the Losties or the Others?  And the big question: why watch the show when its major mysteries are never answered?  Obviously, I won’t be able to come up with a real Grand Unified Theory of Lost just yet, but I’m hoping that, by stepping back and looking at the big picture numerically, I’ll be able to wrap my mind around the series a little better before I leap into season four.

But first, as usual, the episode summaries:

Episode 3.17 (“Catch-22”): In the past, Desmond was a monk, but apparently that wasn’t his true path.  In the present, Des has a vision that Penny parachutes onto the Island, but it can only happen if Charlie dies.  Unsurprisingly, Des does not let Charlie die.  Somewhat surprisingly, the parachuter is not Penny.  Also, Jin tells a hilarious ghost story.

Episode 3.18 (“D.O.C.”): I love Sun!  I love Jin!  Anyway…  In the past, Sun paid off Jin’s whore mom so she wouldn’t tell Jin his mom’s a whore.  But!  This indebted Jin to Sun’s dad.  In the present, Mikhail helps Des and the rest save the life of parachuter lady (Naomi), and Sun—who I love, by the way?—demands answers from Juliet, because Sun’s the only one on the Island with the cojones to do so.  Juliet ultrasounds Sun, revealing that yes, the baby is Jin’s, but that Sun will die in the middle of her second trimester, like all the other preggers ladies on the Island.  Also, we learn from Naomi that Oceanic Flight 815 has been found, along with all of the dead bodies of the crew and passengers.  Which supports my new Grand Unified Theory of Lost: evil mirror universes, ala the ones in Star Trek!  Please?

Episode 3.19 (“The Brig”): A week or so ago, Ben told Locke he could join the Others, but only if he killed his father.  Locke couldn’t do it.  So!  Locke gets Sawyer to do it, ‘cause, unsurprisingly, Locke’s dad is the real Sawyer.  Fabulous drama ensues nonetheless.  As a reward for his cold-hearted act of strangling his dad with a rusty 19th century chain from the Black Rock, Locke gives fake!Sawyer (a.k.a. James) proof in the form of a tape recorder that Juliet’s working with Ben to capture Team Jack’s womens.

Episode 3.20 (“The Man Behind the Curtain”): Hey, I already called Ben the man behind the curtain five weeks ago!  Nevertheless, GREAT episode.  In the past, Ben was a shy kid who was verbally abused by his dad because his mom died giving birth to him.  Little Ben sees his mom in the woods but she says it’s not time yet, whatever that means.  He also sees Richard—who is the same age as he is now in the present!  Thus supporting my ridiculous theory from two weeks ago that a group of immortal humans was placed on the Island by aliens back in prehistoric times!  Or, time travel could explain this, too, I guess.  When Little Ben grows up, he kills his dad—who by the way was the skeleton in Hurley’s VW bus—along with everyone else in the compound, for some unknown reason.  Dude, Benny.  That was cold.

Meanwhile, in the present, more craziness!  Locke—who is just getting more and more awesome, isn’t he?—intimidates Ben into bringing him to the ever-mysterious Jacob.  Ben brings Locke to a creepy shack and then talks to a chair.  Locke, understandably, thinks Ben is a nutjob, but then invisible man Jacob starts throwing things and says “Help me” to Locke in a spooky voice.  WTF!  Then Ben totally shoots Locke in the chest!  Okay, my sitting through all those shitty episodes at the beginning of the season was officially worth it.

Awwww! Ain't he cute?

Awwww! Ain't he cute?

Episode 3.21 (“Greatest Hits”): Desmond tells Charlie that he has to die—yes, for real this time, in order for Claire and the baby to get off the Island.  Charlie’s going to have to swim down to the Looking Glass hatch and flip off the switch that is jamming all communications into and out of the Island.  Then he’ll drown.  So Charlie starts writing a list of the top five moments in his life and totally makes me cry.  Damn you, Lost.  I didn’t even like Charlie that much and now you’re making me cry over him?!  But then when Charlie swims into the Looking Glass he finds out that A) it’s not flooded and B) he’s surrounded by crazy gun-toting women.  I… I didn’t expect that.

Episode 3.22 (“Through the Looking Glass”): In the Evil Mirror Universe (or possibly the real future, although that’s way less interesting than alternate universes), Jack has a beard.  Just like Evil Spock!  Future Jack is a suicidal, drug-addled mess, ever since a certain unnamed someone died.  (This might be crazy, but I think that someone is Ben Linus.  Why else would nobody go to his funeral?)  Mirror Jack wants to go back to the Island.  He’s made a huge mistake.

Meanwhile, in Universe A (or should we call it Universe 1?), Sayid, Jin, and Bernard stay behind on the beach to blow up the Others while Jack and Rousseau lead the rest to the radio tower to shut off Rousseau’s creepy French message and use Naomi’s satellite phone to call for help.  But this’ll only work if Charlie manages to turn off the jamming signal in the Looking Glass.  He does, with the help of Desmond, but only after Mikhail, the man who never dies, grenades the station and floods Charlie to death.  But before he dies, he gets a message from Penny: she’s not on Naomi’s boat.

Meanwhile, meanwhile, Ben finds out what’s going on and tries to convince Jack he’s making a huge mistake by trying to leave the Island.  If he leaves the Island now, really Bad Things will happen!  He also orders Tom to kill Sayid, Jin, and Bernard.  Tom doesn’t, and is rewarded by being shot to death by Sawyer (James?) who I think has cracked a little bit since he killed Real Sawyer.  Locke knifes Naomi, Jack beats up Ben, and they all get a message out to Naomi’s boat, which is coming over to rescue them.  Yay!  But, actually, boo!  Because the boat will apparently bring them to Evil Mirror Universe Future, where people have grody beards and reenact scenes from It’s a Wonderful Life on a regular basis.

Before we start this week’s posts, a few disclaimers.  1. The numbers herein may not be completely accurate, but they’re at least close.  I’m saying I tried.  God knows, I tried.  2. I’m sorry I rushed on the numbers, but I’m about to go on vacation.  Please excuse my vacation-induced laziness.  I’ll make it up to you in the future.

And now, without further ado, Lost By Numbers.

42 Comments on “Overthinking Lost: Episodes 3.17-3.22”

  1. TheMagician #

    What you saw at the end of the 3rd season was a flashforward, not a mirror universe. During the 4th season you’ll be seeing both flashbacks and flashforwards (Clever, eh? It fooled me too when I first saw that scene, I thought it was a flashback!).

    And there’s one thing on the Solved Mysteries list you might reconsider after seeing season 5.

    You also have the polar bears on your Unsolved Mysteries list; they have been answered. You can find the answer on the blast door map that Locke saw during the lockdown in the hatch. Or you could just google “Lostpedia Polar Bears”. However, just read the first paragraph and then leave to be safe, it might have spoilers after that since Lostpedia basically has every little detail of the show (there’s currently 5,752 articles with 659,000+ edits!). Darlton have even admitted to using it as a reference for things they have forgotten!

    You will come to learn almost all of the unsolved mysteries on your list by the end of the 5th season and what season 4 and 5 won’t answer, season 6 will (there are actually few things there that won’t be answered on the show at all, but have been answered in canon ARG and the answers are the most satisfying I’ve personally ever learned about the show. I’ll tell which ones they are after season 5 when they’re safe to read).


  2. TheMagician #

    Actually, the first paragraph on the Lostpedia article about the Polar Bears might have a minor spoiler. Read it after 4×02.


  3. Prest #

    Hmm, indeed, to mlawski, if you really want to geek out more on the show’s mysteries, there are a few other pieces of video you may want to search out. The “Lost Experience: Sri Lanka video” is something that was released as part of an officially-sponsored alternate reality game (ARG) that occurred between seasons 2 and 3. It — at least the first part of it — is considered canon by the show’s producers.

    Also of interest is “Lost: Missing Pieces” a series of 13 “mobisodes” released between seasons 3 and 4. These are also canon, and unlike many other series’ webisodes, these actually feature the same cast and crew as the primary series. Admittedly some of these shorts are a bit content-light, but hey, they’re just “pieces,” as advertised.


  4. stokes OTI Staff #

    I dunno. I feel like there’s a selection bias at work in your list of major mysteries. Mysteries that get brought up for an episode or two and then dropped like a bad habit are not going to look major in restrospect. But did we ever get satisfactory answers to questions like

    1) How much of what Charlie sees is just the product of a diseased mind?

    As far as I know, the whole “Charlie has apocalyptic visions” thing just sort of went away, right? And he’s dead now, so we’re never going to get any resolution on that.

    2) What exactly was Libby’s connection to Hurley?

    Was she an escaped mental patient who was spying on him? An agent working for the Dharma initiative sent into the hospital to keep tabs on him? Pretty much right after this mystery appeared, the writers killed her off, so we’re never going to get any resolution on that.

    3) What did Mr. Eko know about the island?
    Let’s take it as read, at this point, that the writers killed him off, no resolution, etc. etc. More to the point, I don’t think that they had any intention of letting us in on his secret. Look at the way Mr. Eko functions, and compare it to the way that Locke functioned in the very beginning of the show. Both have some serious wilderness survival skills. Both are given to spouting cryptic mumbo-jumbo in the place of actual dialogue. Both seem to know something about the island. Now in Locke’s case, the writers just up and changed their minds, and decided he didn’t know anything after all. This made him a more interesting character in the long run, although if you go back and watch season one with his later development in mind, you realize that his behavior in the first few episodes is that of a flaming asshole. My guess is that something similar would have happened with Mr. Eko. It’s very convenient on a show like lost to have a character in the role of “wise and spiritual woodsman who knows Important Secrets.” It’s very inconvenient for the writing staff to have to decide what Secrets he knows, and just how Important they really are. Depending upon how charitable you are feeling, it is very lazy of the writers to dodge this task TWICE.


  5. stokes OTI Staff #

    More major mysteries (unsolved, AFAIK)
    1) Why do people landing on the island get cured of cancer and nerve damage?
    2) Why do pregnant women keep dying?


  6. Kevin #

    Ah, the best four hours of Lost in the series run, IMO — “Man Behind The Curtain” through the end of the season. So much great stuff in those eps, it’s ridiculous. (And that’s the nice thing about “Greatest Hits” — it gets you to cry over a character you never really cared about before. Agreed.)

    I WILL say, however, that “Through the Looking Glass” works much, MUCH better if you think Jack is flashing back the whole episode, not flashing forward — I have to say, the writers got me, as intended. But when it works, WHAT a mind-blowing final scene: the one thing you think will be the happy ending of the series — the castaways get off the island — apparently HAPPENED, and in reality it was a terrible, terrible decision, and the leader wants to get back there. Great stuff. (And don’t get me started about the five minutes or so in the Looking Glass, when all is well, Charlie stops the jamming and talks to Penny, Patchy blows the porthole and “NOT PENNY’S BOAT”… LOVE IT!)

    (Take the name of the funeral parlor Jack visits, “Hoffs-Drawlar”, rearrange the letters, and voila: “flash-forward”)

    @stokes: the big problem with Libby is that Cynthia Watros has thus far refused to come back to the show to do guest spots. Darlton have said that they actually know all about Libby’s backstory, and planned on doing flashbacks which explained the outstanding questions… but she’s turned them down, every single time. And since their only two options are to 1) have another character explain her past in exposition, which would suck, or 2) recast the role and have a new actress play Libby, which would (probably) also suck… there’s a good chance the Libby stuff is never explained.

    I never thought that Eko “knew” about the island. Maybe he thought he did, much like Locke did. But I never took much stock in that — as far as him being a bad-ass on the island, well… he was a bad-ass OFF the island, unlike Locke.

    As for “ALL the mysteries being answered” by the end of the show: we will never, EVER get answers to “everything.” Some of that’s the fault of the writers forgetting things; some of that’s due to actors not wanting to come back; but mostly, it’s by design. Lindelof has said they will answer questions to everything that they think is important… but there are broad concepts they will not specifically explain everything in full. (My expectation is that “What is the Island?” gets a broad, not detailed, explanation, for example.) He likes to use the example of “The Force” in the Star Wars movies — Obi-Wan’s explanation of the Force back in the first (uh, fourth?) movie was perfect: a little vague, maybe, but you got all the information you needed in under a minute. But then Lucas decided to give a DETAILED explanation in Phantom Menace… and ruined what was interesting about The Force to begin with. Midichlorians? WTF??!!

    So now that you’re done with the first three seasons, know that the next two are more consistent in quality overall. And I think most of the questions on your “Unsolved Questions” list are answered by the end of S5… though there will be new questions coming still! (Though yes, TheMagician is correct, the polar bears are already explained)


  7. James T. #

    I laughed knowingly when I read your comment about Ben being the “man behind the curtain” a few weeks ago. You can see you were right…or were you?

    “The Man Behind the Curtain” and “Greatest Hits” are probably my favorite episodes to date. So much happens in such a condensed time, but we still get a lot of important exposition. I think Ben is one of the most intriguing characters because of his questionable morality: he still knows a lot that neither the audience nor most of the other characters know, so there’s the possibility that whatever he’s protecting (whatever the island “is”) is important enough to justify the means. Maybe not after the whole patricide/genocide thing, but I still find myself wanting to know what makes him tick.

    As far as the morality of the Others/Team Jack, I think that disparity you notice is very deliberate. I thought it was very obvious during the second season/early third season (before Charlie’s became the first major “good guy” to die directly at the hands of the Others) that they were making a statement about perceptions groups in conflict have of each other; every time they said “they’ve killed so-and-so” I’d think, “wait a minute. Boone fell. Ana Lucia killed Shannon. Michael killed Ana Lucia and Libby. All the deaths on the ‘good guy’ side have been in-house.”

    It changes a bit in the third season, when the action picks up, but I like the set-up: kill a bunch of characters off and you suggest that the other side is cold and murderous…until one actually looks at the specific circumstances of each death.

    For the record, I’m pretty sure Bea Klugh told Mikhail to kill her; she didn’t want to be interrogated by Sayid.

    I also agree about most of Jack’s flashbacks being rather weak. In fact, I really disliked Jack until I saw “Through the Looking Glass.” The fact that he ultimately regrets (regretted? This show plays havoc with verb tenses) leaving.

    Looking forward to seeing what you have to say about the fourth season. Have a nice vacation!


  8. Donald #

    I think you made a mistake regarding the centric/flashback episodes. Charlie has only had 4, not 6 (2 is Season 1, 1 in Season 2, and 1 in Season 3), while Locke has had 7.


  9. James T. #

    *didn’t finish that sentence before I posted…should have said “the fact that he ultimately regrets leaving makes it easier to sympathize with him.”

    Also, as for the cancer/no pregnancies thing, I still suspect the two to be related. I’m sure we’ll find out what’s going on there; I have some theories already (that I’ll keep to myself for now).


  10. Tom P #

    People killed by the Island or the Monster: 5 (if you count Boone, which I do)

    I’m interested to know why you think the island killed Boone. And the monster didn’t kill Paulo — Nikki did.


  11. Kevin #

    Well, to be clear: neither the Island nor the Monster killed Nikki/Paolo, nor did they kill each other — Sawyer & Hurley killed Nikki & Paolo by burying them alive. Had they just left them on the beach, the venom would have worn off and they would have recovered…


  12. Kevin #

    James T. said: “As for the cancer/no pregnancies thing, I still suspect the two to be related.”

    I agree, and it’s one of the bigger outstanding mysteries that will be explained.

    Another mystery is the “injections” — not of Claire/the pregnant women by the Others… but why the men in the Swan were taking the shots (specifically Desmond & Kelvin). They said it was to protect against “the sickness”… but obviously they never actually needed it, since they went outside with no ill effects. Was it a leftover Dharma protocol that continued on after the D.I. ended? Perhaps put in place after the “incident”? Is it related to the women dying, the cancer cures, etc.? (I doubt it, since the injections of the men and the quarantine in the Swan were a Dharma thing; the injections of the pregnant women were by the Others) We shall see… I hope.


  13. dock #

    I dont know if its a spoiler to tell you how many mysteries (not which ones, obviously, or how) get answered, so I wont do that. However, I thought they covered the polar bears already at this point? Unless you mean why did they choose that animal specifically.


  14. Kevin #

    Fresh off the press today, courtesy of ABC, re: the 12/8 release of the Season Five blu-ray set:

    “Viewers will be able to join Lost executive producers Carlton Cuse, Damon Lindelof, the cast of Lost, and a panel of esteemed experts for a vast array of courses at Lost University, delving into the themes and storylines regularly explored on the groundbreaking television series. Through this robust, engaging, multi- semester experience, students will gain a better understanding of the story, unique insight to the mysteries of Lost, and perhaps even valuable clues as the show heads into its final season. Lost University will be accessible through several portals, starting now with http://www.lostuniversity.org, where Lost fans can enroll beginning September 22, 2009, months before the university goes completely live on December 8, 2009. The main campus of Lost University will live on the Lost: The Complete Fifth Season Blu-ray Disc and will be powered by BD-Live.

    Each visit to Lost University through the Lost: The Complete Fifth Season Blu-ray Disc will connect viewers to a unique and exclusive experience, powered by BD-Live technology. Upon launching the innovative interface, students immediately get access to their personalized lesson plans, compelling HD Audio-Visual presentations and communication from the Lost University faculty and staff. Like any real university, campus life at Lost University is not solely focused on higher learning, pop quizzes and homework. Through an extended web experience, students will be able to pay visits to the campus bookstore to purchase Lost U merchandise, or discuss their school experience and Lost theories through study-groups on the Lost University message boards. Potential students will even have the opportunity to prep for the Lost U experience in advance on http://www.lostuniversity.org with story and character refresher courses and advanced reading suggestions… all providing information vital to getting up-to-speed with the world of Lost as it heads into its final season.

    Lost University expands the world of Lost – viewers won’t just visit that world, but begin to understand it. Every semester, Lost University brings students deeper into the mythology, the history, the philosophy, and the mysteries of television’s ultimate mystery.

    Lost University will offer a wide variety of entertaining and informative courses including… [omitted the class names for spoiler reasons]”

    So if you thought things weren’t getting complicated enough in the world of Lost… get ready for more.


  15. TheMagician #

    Ah, there’s too many comments to read right now, but I will answer this question by stokes:

    2) What exactly was Libby’s connection to Hurley?

    Darlton revealed in a podcast that this has been answered in the show and the answer is that Libby basically went crazy after her husband died so she was put into a mental institution, which happened to be the same where Hurley was. Coincidence? Or fate? Not any more or less than any of the other connections between the characters.

    And regarding The Lost Experience, don’t feel like you just got spoiled if you decide to read the revelations, because the things revealed in that ARG will never be answered in the show, even though they are canon. Just google “Lostpedia Lost Experience Revelations” and read. You’re gonna enjoy it. I mentioned you should read that only after season 5, but now that I’ve thought more about it, I don’t think it spoils any of season 4 or 5.


  16. stokes OTI Staff #

    But this is, like… look, if you have to bring in the author’s podcast to answer the question, then the show left it unanswered, right?

    I dunno, maybe the boundary between text and context is a little more porous these days. But at best, this is a clumsy and awkward way of answering the question. If the show after Libby’s death had opened with Jack taking Hurley aside and telling him, “Look, you know how you knew her from somewhere before? Well, before she died, she explained everything to me, so here’s the deal…” we would all throw our remotes at the screen. Putting the words in Darlton’s mouth instead of Jack’s is less satisfying, if anything.


  17. Kevin #

    @stokes: I actually totally agree with you.

    One of my biggest pet peeves in modern film & TV is the tendency to explain important information off-camera in different media, be it web sites, videos, games, whatever. Take (in keeping with LOST here) the J.J. Abrams reboot of STAR TREK this summer. While I enjoyed the movie, I thought Eric Bana’s motivations as the villain were under-developed. “No,” the hardcore fans told me, “you should read the COUNTDOWN prequel comic book, it’s all there.” Wha…? Excuse me? I sure as hell shouldn’t have to read a comic book to understand a character’s motivations better. Anything important should be in the movie, PERIOD.

    LOST, for the most part, does a decent job of NOT explaining important things in side-media projects. For example, the 2-3 minute “mobisodes” add some shading to the series… but that’s it. Mostly they’re inconsequential, fun little fluff pieces that tend to be comedic.

    However, I’ll say that the one point I’ve always felt shortchanged by in this regard was the explanation of The Numbers in the Lost Experience ARG. It would have been good for there to have been some word on the series about just WHY the Dharma Initiative felt those six numbers were so critical to their work. I’m fine with The Numbers being mysterious and all… but they’re so specific to the plotting that a little more attention would have been helpful, rather than leaving it up to the game. (And yes, Lindelof & Cuse have said that the “Valenzetti Equation” is canon)

    When it comes to Libby, I’m actually hoping she does come back in a S6 episode so we get a little more closure there. The character has her own Wikipedia page, oddly enough:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libby_Smith [note that there are S4 spoilers, for those of you who aren’t caught up!]
    It also contains this (important?) info:
    “It is revealed in a deleted scene that Libby had been married three times prior to the plane crash and that she specializes in marriage counseling. Theories about unknown aspects of her life exist, including assumptions that she was once a DHARMA Initiative employee, an Other, a person planted by Desmond’s flashback characters Mrs. Hawking and Brother Campbell, or The Lost Experience character Liddy Wales. Her name is also a topic of speculation and is assumed to have appeared on an official website of the show. Her surname was finally revealed as Smith during Comic-Con 2009 in an ‘in-memoriam’ clip show of Lost’s major death scenes.”


  18. stokes OTI Staff #

    I just looked up the Valenzetti Equation on Lostepedia, and I am flabbergasted. I can’t really say why without getting into spoiler territory (and even that statement might be regarded as spoilery from an information theory standpoint, sort of like how even the sentence “There is a twist ending to The Sixth Sense” would destroy a perfect first viewing of the movie), so I’ll mostly keep my thoughts to myself.

    Except to say that, given this and all the Rambaldi business from Alias, it seems like J.J. Abrams has some curious opinions about Italy and Italians. I bet it turns out that the Cloverfield monster was actually Silvio Berlusconi in a giant rubber suit.


  19. TheMagician #

    @stokes: I’d like to hear your thoughts on the Valenzetti Equation and Dharma Initiative’s true mission, without revealing it here, could you create an account to Lostpedia and give your thoughts there? There’s a thread dedicated to discussing mlawski’s articles under Main Forum, it’s on the first page so you’ll find it with ease.


  20. Gab #

    I’m with Stokes and Kevin on the explanations outside the actual series issue. As a viewer, I find it close to rude/offensive for the authors to expect me to *research* their show in order to have all of the proper information; and, further, I feel the same about “needing” to look up “clarification” for answers they gave that were unsatisfactory or poorly executed on the show itself. A loyal fan that watches every week shouldn’t have to be tested like that, their loyalty should be accepted and the reward for it should be all necessary information to understand what they’re watching (at the right time, of course- it isn’t like I don’t want mysteries, after all). The Libby thing *is* kind of difficult, since she doesn’t want to film what they wanted her to (I’m taking your word, Kevin, as solid, since you do all of the research stuff that I refuse to do on principle), and yeah, any way of including it in the actual episode would most likely stink; but I still think expecting the audience to look it up online or in a magazine isn’t right, either, so I dunno, maybe including a couple minutes at the end of an actual episode with an explanation would sort of cover it. Call me old fashioned, but, to reiterate, if I’m watching a show, I should be able to get answers by, well, watching the show, not reading an article or watching an extra clip online.

    Desmond is my favorite character, and his episodes are the best, imo. I don’t know if one causes the other in my mind, but, well, there ya have it.

    Now that you’ve seen the stuff with the tape recorder, I’m even more curious as to what you think about Juliet.

    Here’s a number to tally: Characters that “lose it” and characters that “find it” AND characters that “lose it because they found it.” Or something like that. Opinions will differ, I’m certain, but that just makes it more fun.

    The “Why WAAAAAAALT?” question is one I think made unfortunately necessary because we have two universes at odds with each other: the show itself, and our own. And Walt is a kid, living a few weeks in the former, but aging by years in the latter. I actually thought from Season 1 that it would become a problem, since the character could stay a kid forever, sure, but the actor wouldn’t.

    Oh, and I do have a slight beef. Given the situation *in the station*- I’m not talking about “upping the stakes” or whatever like on other comment threads, because I’ve heard that’s basically what the producers decided- did Charlie *really* have to die? It’s a good death, a heroic death, it made me cry, and I cried again when looking up the clip I’ll post for research purposes. And I believed it was necessary the first time I saw it. But then I saw it again a year or so ago and thought maybe I only “bought” it because they had done such a good job of amping us up for it with all of the “You’re goonna die, brotha,” stuff the last couple episodes of the season- and it has been bothering me ever since. I emplore anybody else with nothing better to do: look at it. He had already fixed the signal, and Penny’s screen was black, so he had no reason physically, in the moment, to stay in the room and could have just jumped out and closed the door behind him. So the only reason I can think of for him to have shut himself in with the water is because he was told he’d drown and such. But if the signal was already fixed, how would his body floating around or not effect whether the message that would lead to Claire’s rescue would get out?


    Yes, I know, haha, I’m “probably over-thinking it” (to quote myriad future Nobel Prize-winning commenters), and maybe I’m letting it get to me too much. But seriously: physically, I really, genuinely believe he didn’t have to die, and that it was all in their, ergo, our heads. Sigh. But if that’s the case, it makes his death nobler- it makes *Charlie* a little stupider, yes, but wow. To die for them like that, thinking he had to. So I still like it, it just makes it more painful and the kind of thing I watch with my fingers over my eyes but spread out so I’m not really blocking anything. Sigh, le really big sigh. ::end rant::


  21. jim #

    Just for the record in your summaries you said He also orders Tom to kill Sayid, Jin, and Bernard. Tom doesn’t, and is rewarded by being shot to death by Sawyer

    ben did not order the killing of sayid jin and bernard. He ordered to shoot in the sand. Tom is upset and thinks ben has cracked for not ordering the deaths but ordering a fake assassination. tom wanted them dead.


  22. HenryGale #

    I don’t know wether or not you’ve had the pleasure of reading Stephen King’s “The Stand”, but if you haven’t, I would seriously encourage it. If possible, read the new, uncut edition.

    If parallels interest you, be cautious, as you might s*** your f***ing pants.

    Also, I had my doubts about you going into this whole thing, but I must say, bravo. I’ve read every word.


  23. TheMagician #

    @Gab, Kevin is right about Libby, they have asked the actor numerous times to return so that they can explain the unanswered questions surrounding the character, but she always refuses. Darlton said however that if she wants she could join for season 6, it’s unlikely though since they have asked her so many times, IIRC they’ve asked her two or three times just for season 6 alone. Darlton have also said that they will NOT answer those questions by having another character tell them or by re-casting the role.

    I can also agree that you shouldn’t need to search for answers online. I remember reading Darlton saying that everything you need to know about the show, that’s related to it, will be revealed in the show. They have also said that the only thing that’s really canon for them is the tv show, but what’s contradicting is that the ARG “The Lost Experience” IS considered canon by them and provides answers that will not be revealed in the show. Although, for Darlton the show is about the characters, not about the mythology, or that’s at least what they say. I guess they want to tell the story of these characters with some of the mythology included, but they don’t want to use a lot of time explaining the mythology of the show and for those who wanted to know more about the mythology, they created the ARG.

    Here’s a quote by Carlton Cuse about TLE: “I think that for us, yeah, I mean, all of Alvar Hanso and his relationship with funding the Dharma Initiative is part of the mythology. The details of the Hanso Foundation’s demise… it’s tangential to the show but it’s not unrelated to the show. We sort of felt like the Internet Experience was a way for us to get out mythologies that we would never get to I wain the show. I mean, because this is mythology that doesn’t have an effect on the character’s lives or existence on the island. We created it for purposes of understanding the world of the show but it was something that was always going to be sort of below the water, sort of the iceberg metaphor, and the Internet Experience sort of gave us a chance to reveal it.”

    And Damon Lindelof: “I would say in terms of all the… background that we did, in terms of the Valenzetti equation and explaining the formation of the Hanso Foundation and doing the other films… we’d consider that stuff canon to the show.”


  24. TheMagician #

    Oops, forgot to correct that one sentecne, “…mythologies that we would never get to I wain the show” is supposed to be “..mythologies that we would never get to in the show.”


  25. Kevin #

    @Gab: remember what happens after Charlie stops the signal jamming — he actually IS leaving the room. When the “incoming transmission” starts beeping, that’s what gets his attention and he heads back to see what it is. From there, everything happens quickly: he answers; finds it’s Penny; they chat for a bit, sharing important plot points; and only then does Patchy decide to mix things up a bit. Charlie only slams the door shut to keep Des from getting in trouble… a hero to the end!

    (As MUCH as I absolutely love the episode… am I the only one who finds it odd that Charlie stops the jamming, and *literally* two seconds later they get that transmission from Penny, who’s just sitting in an office, as if she hasn’t moved from that spot for the last couple of weeks?)

    Also, Charlie is absolutely in love with Claire (and Aaron) by that point, and is convinced that by sacrificing himself, he will *guarantee* they make it off the island soon. I remember other fans being upset he drowned — the most common complaint was “He could have swum out the porthole, it was totally big enough!” — but that was the point. By Charlie saving himself, Claire and Aaron might have been stuck on the island forever.

    (Having said that, let’s talk more about that in another few recaps… after Season Four!)

    @mlawski: you should absolutely read The Stand… but like HenryGale says, maybe wait until you’re all caught up. Lindelof and Cuse have said on many occasions that if there’s one piece of fiction in any medium that has influenced Lost… it’s that book.


  26. igge #

    Since the other comments were so insanely long and plentiful this time, I’m gonna keep it short. I’d just like to say that this was some great overthinking as usual – this is exactly what I need during the hiatus.

    Thank you for making these analyses, and have fun in India! (If that is where you’re going?)


  27. mlawski OTI Staff #

    Hi everyone, and thanks for the plentiful comments! As I’ve said before, I’m not reading or watching any Lost-related extras until after I finish the show, except for the webisodes, which I have already watched. If the show explained the polar bears, then I must have missed something, because the only information I know about them is that it only took them two hours to get a fish biscuit out of the cage. Even then, he just said “bears,” not “polar bears,” so I’m just speculating here. Okay, so we can guess that Dharma brought over the polar bears… but why? Was there really a reason given in season three?

    @Tom P: The reason I count Boone’s death as an Island-induced one is because–and again, I’m sorry I keep doing this–John Locke said so. I constantly have to remind myself that Locke does not actually know everything, and I should not take his word for it. Mea culpa.

    @TheMagician: Yeah, I realize they were flashforwards, and I admit that fake-out was terribly cool. However! Wouldn’t it be more fun if they were flashforwards into an evil mirror universe? There is some evidence that the Island exists in a different dimensional plane–aka a different universe with its own weird physics. Moreover, the only good, non-paradoxical way to make sense of Desmond’s time travel episodes is to accept the Many Worlds or parallel universes interpretation of quantum mechanics. Plus, as we all know, evil universes mean evil beards. Right, Jack?


  28. James T. #

    “But this is, like… look, if you have to bring in the author’s podcast to answer the question, then the show left it unanswered, right?”

    Essentially. This is why I never want to work in television; there are too many variables outside of the writer’s control.


  29. Gab #

    @TheMagician: Sigh. That’s kind of messed up, imo. Seriously? Do they really expect me to research their show? (Note: I am being facetious)

    @Kevin: See, the door thing is the physical part I’m grappling with (I never once considered the pothole, giving benefit of the doubt and assuming he wouldn’t quite fit). Yeah, he was about to leave, and yeah, he went back to listen to Penny, but her screen was black as the water went into the room after Patchey did his thing, so any steps he needed to take in that room that would have ramifications outside it were completed; his death comes across as a material extra. It wouldn’t be as such if he hadn’t finished talking to Penny before the water started flowing in or if there was another button to push, but that’s not how it was written. Mentally, spiritually, Charlie believed he had to die; but physically, from what we see there, there is no evidence his survival would have had a negative effect on Claire and Aaron. It makes the emotional part all that much more emotional: he was convinced it was necessary, when it doesn’t look like it was if we’re going off of what we see as he dies. It’s all kind of related to the “no fate but what we make” discussions about Terminator, if you’ve seen any of those on the site. He was about to leave, thinking the visions may have been off after all, but then when the water starts coming in and the situation resembles the death he is “destined” to have even closer, he does a 180, whoops, my bad, gotta go now (I’m trivializing it for effect, it really does still make me cry a wee bit, promise), thus totally fulfilling the “prophesy” he had been given. It’s just so… AAAAGH!! That’s my answer: “AAAAGH!”

    Liking this show is sometimes an exercise in masochism Penn Jillette would find highly arousing.

    Oh, and I don’t think Penny tapping in is really all that odd. She had obviously been looking for Desmond for a long time, so my assumption/explanation was that checking the radio was like checking her email or making sure the lights are off before leaving a room- something routine, something she did all the time. I relate it to…


    … how Ron is constantly asking Hermione if they know anybody that has been recently announced dead in _The Daily Prophet_. It’s kind of a given, even if it’s a little messed up, and while Hermione usually rolls her eyes, when something DOES happen to be noteworthy, it grips the trio at the breakfast table or common room or wherever they are. So Penny is constantly checking for Desmond out of habit, and she does it so frequently that it would almost NOT have made sense if she hadn’t been there. I mean, if it had been someone else, I would have believed it, too, because she’d probably pay for a team or something to take over when she’s busy; but it being Penny herself doesn’t make it UN-believable.


  30. Tom P #

    @Kevin: Well, to be clear: neither the Island nor the Monster killed Nikki/Paolo, nor did they kill each other — Sawyer & Hurley killed Nikki & Paolo by burying them alive.

    The island paralyzed Nikki. With all the other things the island itself has done, it really couldn’t have stopped Sawyer and Hurley from finding and burying them? The island didn’t “pull the trigger”, so to speak, but it certainly put the pieces in place.


  31. Kevin #

    @Tom P: okay, I admit, it IS a bit of a technicality…

    Still, what I took away from Sawyer & Hurley being the ones who “killed” Nikki & Paolo was that if they had ONLY paid closer attention to them in previous episodes, and gotten to know them… maybe they would have had a chance. Remember Sawyer’s constant “Who the hell are you?” and “Who’s Nikki?” questions… which while funny, aren’t really jokes — he honestly doesn’t know the characters. (And it’s not just Sawyer — not ONE of the main characters really tries to get to know either of them… until they all think they’re dead.)

    All of Sawyer’s lines (re: not knowing them) were thrown in by the writers to playfully quote the fan complaints online, and I took N&P’s burial by Sawyer & Hurley to be the ultimate extension of that: if they had JUST paid closer attention to them, they would have realized they were still alive. Remember — Nikki actually opens her eyes as she’s being buried, but no one standing around the grave notices. They just throw dirt on them, and by the next episode the characters are officially over and done with.

    Very meta. I may be giving the writers too much credit, but that all made me enjoy the episode that much more than most viewers. (Come to think of it, there’s audio commentary from the episode’s writers on the DVD/blu-ray set… so I may need to listen to it to see just what they say.)

    On a related note: I can’t remember where I read it, but apparently they cut a few scenes of Nikki & Paolo searching for the diamonds around the beach… including a bit where they find an asthma inhaler, but since it’s not what they’re looking for, they just toss it into the bushes. (Remember the beating Sawyer took when everyone thought he was the one who stole them… but they were only lost) Another sign that the episode was supposed to be more playful than anything else… as least as originally intended.


  32. Neil #

    When you’re all caught up, you’re going to LOVE the Lostpedia:


    Which does all the counting for you, and even tracks all the intersecting storylines, flashbacks, characters, props, Dharma-related gibberish, etc.

    It’s great at not having spoilers in the first page, but it’s definitely something you’re going to want to sift through once you’re up-to-date and not before.


  33. Matt #

    Now, these reviews are going to become much more interesting to me. I stopped watching after this season. I guess I’ll let you be my guide now.


  34. TheMagician #

    @mlawski: “If the show explained the polar bears, then I must have missed something, because the only information I know about them is that it only took them two hours to get a fish biscuit out of the cage. Even then, he just said “bears,” not “polar bears,” so I’m just speculating here. Okay, so we can guess that Dharma brought over the polar bears… but why? Was there really a reason given in season three?”

    No, it was answered during the second season in episode 2×17 “Lockdown”. The Blast Door Map that Locke sees when the lights go out and the blue lights come on and the Map appears in front of him has the following quote about the Polar Bears: “Stated goal, repatriation, accelerated de-territorialization of Ursus maritimus through gene therapy and extreme climate change.” Ursus maritimus is Latin for “Polar Bear” and this “suggests that DHARMA Initiative researchers were attempting to genetically modify the polar bears to allow them to survive warmer climates.” You can google for “Lostpedia Blast Door Map Notations” to find all the things that’s on the map.


  35. mlawski OTI Staff #

    @TheMagician: Ah, then I guess the question is, must I pause an episode every time something interesting happens and analyze the show frame-by-frame? If so, then I guess I need to go back and watch the whole show again, because I just watched it at 20-something frames per second like humans normally watch television :) My feeling was–and still is–that if something like the door map contained vital information on it, the show would let me look at it for more than a second or two at a time, or someone in the show would point out its most important parts. Guess I was wrong…


  36. Kevin #

    re: the polar bears — no, you don’t need to search out the blast door map or freeze-frame at the exact moment or anything like that… Dharma was doing research on polar bears, sharks, and other animals; what the specific nature of the research was is pretty vague, but inconsequential to the overall plot anyway.

    Point is: the polar bears that popped up from time to time had escaped and swam over from Hydra Island. There’s nothing all that special or “magical” about that particular Season One mystery.


  37. TheMagician #

    @mlawski: You have no idea… Darlton knows that fans are extremely dedicated to analyzing every bit of the show so that’s why they’re “hiding” things like this. Those who seek answers shall find them if they seek hard enough. You don’t luckily have to find out yourself what the hieroglyphs in the hatch mean, or what the whispers say, or what was in the Room 23 brainwashing video, or what the blast door map says, you just have to go to Lostpedia.


  38. Gab #

    @Mlawski: “@TheMagician: Ah, then I guess the question is, must I pause an episode every time something interesting happens and analyze the show frame-by-frame?”

    No. No you shouldn’t. Or so I think, at least. I reiterate, I think it’s BS that they expect fans to “research” and stuff. TheMagician, we’re both fans, but fans of different breeds- I’m cool with you being cool with it, but I personally am not, not remotely. I don’t think a fan should “have to go to Lostpedia” to understand the show. I think it’s manipulative for them to “hide” things on purpose. I wish I could see it differently, but my inherent stubbornness and self-righteousness prevents me from changing my tune.


  39. Genevieve #

    I, for one, think it’s awesome that Lost demands more of the viewer than sitting on their butt for one hour a week. It is the very antithesis of escapist entertainment, that’s for sure. I know I’m a bit of a masochist in this way, but for example, I love when I read a novel where I have to write down a list of words and concepts to look up later. Don’t get me wrong, the escapist stuff is fun, too… but Lost is a nice diversion from the diversion, so to speak.

    It’s brilliant that for some answers, you have to go to the podcasts, and for some insight, you have to learn about the ARG. Let’s face it, cross-marketing is an unavoidable facet of our culture… pretty much anything popular is going to have, say, a video game made out of it. Why not make that video game an integral part of the experience?

    I’ll grant that some people don’t enjoy some forms of entertainment. I’m gonna have to say “too bad for you” on that one. Really, there are enough things out there that do your thinking for you. This is ONE freakin’ show that doesn’t let us rest on our laurels… and I’m glad of that! I’m glad that it pushes me to “research” the show.

    More than that – I’m glad of the way that it pulls together people from different disciplines. It’s not just an interactive experience across a broad range of media. It’s a social experiment. When I talk about Lost with my friends, the people who know more about political philosophy can enlighten those who enjoy playing the ARG, who can in turn enlighten the mythology experts, who in turn have new insights to share with the people who’ve read every book ever mentioned on the show, who can then pass their knowledge on to those who have listened to every podcast. Quite frankly, there’s NO way that any one person could possibly keep up with all of the allusions and external re/sources. (although it’s a fun challenge to try!)

    If people want something self-contained &/or straightforward, they can watch any of a hundred other shows on television (some 5% of which might even be worth watching!) Lost is a new direction, a fascinating cross-media experiment that would lose a lot of its value if it didn’t demand more than an hour a week.

    I think that it’s a valuable new direction. I like the comparison to Star Trek; I think that it’s brilliant and exciting to have tie-ins that mean more than just an extra buck in someone’s pocket. There long have been, and always will be, spin-offs and prequels and comic books based on video games based on movies based on novels. It’s far more interesting and effective if it’s all planned that way ahead of time, and if all media representations are equally relevant, and if the central creative team retains creative control (assuming that they are all educated and experienced in all the areas into which they’re branching!)


  40. Kevin #

    @Gab: while I agree with you that we shouldn’t have to go outside the TV show to get answers to questions… for the most part, the “answers” they’re giving in non-TV media (podcasts, ARGs, etc.) really aren’t relevant to understanding what’s happening on the show. Consider them Easter Eggs for obsessive fans.

    Do we need to know that Dharma kept polar bears, along with other animals, for research? Yes, and that was explained on the show. Do we need to know specifically why? I’d say no, though some might disagree. Ultimately “What was the nature of Dharma’s polar bear experimentation?” isn’t relevant. I’m sure it’s interesting to the hardcore fans. It just has no bearing on the show. (Now, if they had been training them to enter the numbers into the Swan keyboard? Okay, that would have been relevant… although really, really stupid.)

    Likewise, for the “Room 23 brainwashing video”… I didn’t need to get a detailed breakdown of why each of the images was chosen, or who the people in the video were. Nor did I need enhanced audio to satisfy me. The point of the video was to look and sound chaotic and confusing, as if it were something that would be able to brainwash a viewer whose eyelids were kept open for days at a time to watch it non-stop, CLOCKWORK ORANGE-style. (Now, again, there’s hidden audio in the soundtrack there, which reveals an interesting message… if you’re a hardcore fan. But it doesn’t advance the story in any way.)

    Like I said in a previous thread: I think the writers generally do a good job of distinguishing between vital information that’s needed to either understand what’s going on or to advance the plot… vs. “fun” or minor information to present outside of the TV show that colors the story for those fans who are interested enough to seek it out. They’re “hiding” things that don’t matter, because the biggest fans of the show are the ones who enjoy seeking it out and deciphering it. (I do think they failed when it comes to “The Numbers” and explaining why Dharma was so obsessed with them.)


  41. Prest #

    I tend to agree with the idea that Lost is designed as a conversation between its creators and its fandom. And this possibly extends beyond just the easter eggs.

    I think Geoff Klock pointed this out on his blog back in season 2: he thought that the storyline in which Locke lost his faith in the Island was also a metaphorical message to the show’s fans. At that time, the question of “Are they just making it up as they go along?” was a hot topic among Lost fans and TV critics. Well, season 2 ended as Locke realized his mistake and admitted “I was wrong.” Likewise the writers were telling us we were wrong to lose our faith in them. At least, that’s one interpretation.


  42. Tom P #

    @mlawski: Ah, then I guess the question is, must I pause an episode every time something interesting happens and analyze the show frame-by-frame?

    I don’t think you have to pause every episode frame-by-frame — I think you just have to remember the state of television in 2006. To that point, no one had taken advantage of DVR to create a “pause the TV moment.” That is, a passing second on a show that gets paused and broken down beyond all reason. It’s one of the things Lost did that was, really, groundbreaking and it’s never really been done successfully again.

    The study that went in to the blast door map at the time was insane. People posted hi-def screen grabs and the more rabid fan base tore it apart. It got fans who would never think to go to the Internet to find answers to go to the Internet and find answers. It was a great tool to create buzz at the time and, I think, one of the more brilliant things they ever did. The map has -never- been mentioned again and, nearly four years later, people still talk about it.

    And, really, if you never spent a second looking at the map — the cages where Sawyer and Kate were kept were said to be polar bear cages. It’s not a huge leap to figure the DHARMA people brought them there to experiment on them. All the blast door fills in is the specific experiments.


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