“Get” Lost 17
Nov. 1, 2014
Until recently I’d thought the contending lookalike factions on Lost were the “originals” and their doubles, although for a long time I’ve allowed for the possibility of there being more than one lookalike of certain characters. Also, I still lacked for an attractive enough answer to settle on for what the Big Honkin’ Secret they were keeping was. I briefly considered the possibility that the secret was the doubles themselves, and the operation of a business similar to that in Seconds, which novel I’ve read since the last entry. (Very different flavor of the novel from the movie, because of all the humorous exposition in the novel of the goings-on in Mr. Wilson’s head, even though the plot was adapted very closely.) Then the miracle of YouTube piracy gave me a view I hadn’t seen in 4 decades of a passage in the movie on Mr. Wilson’s flight to the West Coast, and it became clear that you had Messrs. Fox & Monaghan together taking up Rock Hudson’s role. Such a strong hint, and yet I wasn’t satisfied that the goings-on on Lost were all about such an enterprise, i.e. giving new identities to people (but unlike Seconds, identities that’d already been broken in); no, I was convinced something even more nefarious was going on.
Before I even sussed out the McGuffin, however, I reassessed the nature of who was after it. I decided it would not have been doubles and originals vying for the identity of each, but rather two sets of doubles—doubles and triples, as it were—of originals who were probably all killed in the real crash of the real Oceanic 815; I still can’t rule out the survival of some originals who were believed to have been on the flight but weren’t. Who would have engaged the doubles and triples? Obviously Charles Widmore and Benry, operating at cross purposes on the same idea and motivation. This comports better with the backgammon metaphor given on Lost of two teams each trying to get all their people home, while the doubles-and-originals concept would’ve been more of an individual struggle. (Each in some aspect would mirror, however, the theme of game show Survivor, which was said to have been a spec for Lost.) On top of that, Widmore and Benry were trying to replace each other with a double; Benry couldn’t kill Widmore in bed, as Benry said Widmore knew, because he wasn’t prepared to dispose of Widmore’s body and didn’t have a double in place.
But why should they have been interested in replacing a motley bunch with doubles? The Big Honkin’ Secret wasn’t in the motley bunch, it was Alvar Hanso. You would not have introduced that shadowy character had you not meant to have made him the focus of the plot. Hanso must have been incognito on the real flight 815, and as in “One of Our Aircraft Is Empty”, certain persons could benefit from the temporary lack of public knowledge of his death. Therefore it gratified me to review that episode of Dept. S and notice that the name of the corresponding reclusive armaments mogul therein was Ralph A. Voss, of which Alvar Hanso is a near-anagram, reinforced by similarity to Antony Harvey/Andrew Haywood from “The Duplicated Man/Doppelt Oder Nichts”. (Now I’m wondering what made the makers of “One of Our Aircraft Is Empty” come up with the name Voss! Probably just a cute way of saying “Ralph, a boss.”) I’ve heard that in some of the ancillary material to Lost, Hanso was missing and rumored to have been on 815, but I never took that as canon, and now I don’t have to because I conclude so based on the evidence of the show itself as backed up by the allusions to Dept. S. Then the whole purpose of bringing forth a set of ostensible survivors of the crash would be to make it plausible, when it eventually became public knowledge (possibly leaked via Benry’s or Widmore’s help) that Hanso was on that flight, that he too could have survived, and to pave the way for someone’s appearance as an impostor Hanso. Presumably the plan is for some of the doubles of other characters to say, “Yes, I saw that guy on the flight.” Perhaps even we were shown him, played by an extra. Widmore and Benry may even have had their own versions of the Swan orientation film with inserts of Hanso, although I don’t recall any of the characters watching it remarking anything about the guy in the distant shot thru the window that we were shown. Regardless, it is vital to the success of either Widmore or Benry that the doubles they have in place back up or at least not contradict the respective story of the double of Hanso each one intends to let loose on the world as his own shill.
Could the death of Alvar Hanso have been accidental and a terrible inconvenience to Widmore and Benry, as it was to the industry characters on “One of Our Aircraft”? I considered that possibility. That would be very interesting, meaning that Benry and Widmore would’ve had to scramble to research who was on that flight, and to create doubles for a few of them. Intriguing as such a plot would have been, I reject it. You would not have named your program for “The Lost Special” and put in all the allusions to it if the airliner’s and passengers’ demise had not been deliberate. Therefore Widmore, or Benry, or both together, brought it down, after arranging for Hanso and certain other persons to be on it. Widmore and Benry may have worked on the murder together, and then one backstabbed the other by coming up with his own doubles, or just one of them may have done it and the other quickly found out about it. I suspect Widmore as the instigator, and on the subject of Danes, Benry as the Hamlet-like character who finds out, though I don’t have a strong enough indication yet to commit to that interpretation. (Say, didn’t Mr. Emerson play Hamlet on stage? Then again, who hasn’t?)
On the evidence of the show, Widmore seems to have resorted to plastic surgery (as shown in the case of Ilana/Elana) and the electromagnetic equipment invented by the scientist code-named Faraday to create his brainwashed set of doubles, while Benry specialized in using databases and facial recognition software, along with the sensory equipment shown in Room 23, to create his, although it’s likely the competitors used more tech than was shown to us; Benry, for instance, may have been a plastic surgeon himself, and Widmore would probably have searched face databases too. And as I’d previously detected, one or more replica locations were used by the double-mongers. Since my last entry, I’ve noticed another clue to that: the resemblance of the blast door map on Lost to the floor plan drawn by the Dept. S investigators in “The Man in the Elegant Room”, which room was rigged to self-destruct as were stations on Lost. Benry also demonstrated with the body of Henry Gale why Widmore tried to put Oceanic 815 in a place on the sea floor where nobody would find it. Did they actually follow “rules” as Benry seemed to think when he said “he” (presumably Widmore) broke them? Probably not explicitly, but Benry may have had an understanding (or misunderstanding) that only the doubles, not friends or family, would be attacked. And even if they were all supposed to be brainwashed into thinking they were who they were doubles of, many characters revealed by their speech and actions that they knew otherwise—and it’s likely those characters weren’t all even supposed to be brainwashed, and were con artists or shills from the start.
So it would appear I’ve answered the major question, “What’s really going on on Lost?”, as dramatized by Hillary Clinton on Letterman, as well as how the plot resemblance was close enough to justify its allusions to It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World: guy with connection to somewhat disreputable wealth dies remotely, leaving characters who know about it in contention for the prize. The rest is myriad details asking the same thing about smaller plot points and allusions. I haven’t rewatched in some time, but I think I’ve realized one clue that’ll help: music. If Mr. Giacchino was in on as much as I’ve written about in previous entries, surely he’d’ve helped by using different leitmotifs so we could tell lookalike characters apart, else why leitmotifs at all? I’ll keep that in mind when I eventually rewatch Lost. Now that better pirates of Dept. S have appeared, I’ve even noticed that the trick of strumming repeatedly on the short bits between the bridge and near end of the strings of some instrument, which Mr. Giacchino used on Lost, was in imitation of Dept. S’s incidental music.
I’ve been wondering whether the Mark Caine book title (from Dept. S) Index Finger, Left Hand would’ve been used by you to put a clue on some Lost character’s left index finger. The only one whose fingers stand out from memory are Charlie’s. Unfortunately those lettered paper rings he wore on his left hand changed only on his pinky, the one on his index finger remaining “E”. He also sometimes had one or more painted fingernails, but I don’t know what that means. A clue that does seem significant because of its connection with Dept. S was the silver cigaret case said to have been owned by Churchill swiped temporarily by Charlie from the father of his friend Lucy. Considering that Annabelle of Dept. S swiped from the Duplicated Man’s mother Lucy an antique silver snuff box to get the Duplicated Man’s fingerprints, seems you were trying to tell us Charlie wasn’t interested in selling Lucy’s father’s antique, only borrowing it to get fingerprints or DNA from it—or onto it! Conceivably his entire affectation of being a junkie was to provide cover for his being in that location and “stealing” the prop.
Meanwhile I’d missed another connection between Lost and Dept. S: the phony injection treatment for the phony infection as in “The Pied Piper of Hambledown”.
I’ve found a closer connection than in my last entry regarding the Black Rock: the Black Mogul from Doyle’s “Club-Footed Grocer”, which was collected in Round the Fire Stories along with “The Lost Special”. The siege action in “The Club-Footed Grocer” seems to have been echoed on Lost in the attack by Widmore’s forces on the house where Benry hid.
There’s going to be some tedium in delineating which version of which character appeared in each scene of Lost: Benry’s or Widmore’s. It may be a while before I get around to that.