“Get” Lost entry #18

Nov. 19, 2015

Previously on “Get” Lost:

the big question of the 3rd season opening pod is what role Benry et al. play in the plot. I've been wrestling with whether they're supposed to be deprogrammers of the Losties, the Island Powers being the programmers.... Benry seems to be trying to tell at least some of the Losties to beware of fakery. Locke, this place is a joke; I did nothing and the timer reset itself. Sawyer, look at how you can be manipulated with the help of a rabbit, the magician's classic prop.

Jacob” would've been a code name taken with pride to mean a usurper of a heritage

Jin...confused” “Kinks” with “Kings”. Putting the clues together, evil kings

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?...)

I'm committed to it now. Benry is Hamlet. Lost is Hamlet. Even given all the allusions to other works, the single predecessor that most encompasses the plot themes, as well as many of the allusions, of Lost is that play. Benry wasn't trying to deprogram anyone by showing them miniature versions of the plot (Henry Gale, rabbit #8, removal to a remote island), but rather fishing for reactions the way Hamlet did by putting on the play within the play, which he referred to as The Mouse-Trap. Locke's (Well, one of the John Lockes—who knows how many there were?) advertising Mouse Trap as his favorite game as a child strongly suggests he knew the game that was in play. Benry didn't know who was an unwitting accomplice of Widmore's and who was a witting one, but expected to flush out the latter by that means. Of course as with Hamlet's uncle, that means they'd find out he's on to them, and the Losties were much better actors, not making their reactions so obvious. (Jin was much more obvious reacting to Sun's speaking to him in English, so we know she flushed him out quickly.) As Benry you cast Mr. Emerson because he'd been playing Hamlet. However, as with other characters, the mapping from source works to Lost was not 1:1. Benry has to share Hamlethood with Jack, who appears to be ghostly-father-driven and who duels to a mutual death in the last episode with your Laertes stand-in, Locke.

How did you manage to make the name Alvar Hanso not only reflect those of Ralph A. Voss and Anthony Harvey/Andrew Heywood, but also sound Danish (as he is said to be in the Swan orientation film) and even be close to “Hamlet”, while still nearly anagramming to “ha salvar nos” as a rough way of saying in Portuguese (the language invoked by Naomi's book and the Fernando Poo location), “There is who will save us,” in answer to, “What lies in the shadow of the statue?” You fit all those criteria simultaneously by one name the same way you made Jin's allude to Dr. Manhattan 3 ways.

For good measure, from Hamlet Lost perseverated on messages from “ghosts”, poisoning as a means of assassination, killing the wrong person, and of course the aforementioned usurpation theme. You had as your Rosenkrantz & Guildenstern, the characters who were routinely mixed up by others, Scott & Steve. Lost alluded to Department S episode “The Double Death of Charlie Crippen”, which featured a dead king; that close a tie now leads me to read more specificity into the allusion, from which I can conclude that Hugo (well, at least the Hugo who assaulted via the blue & white VW mini-bus) was among those who would lose by its becoming public knowledge that “the king”, Alvar Hanso, was dead.

Am I now going to have to see Agatha Christie's play The Mousetrap, or its source material? How could I not, considering it's in the mystery genre?

Though I'd previously detected the musical allusion running thru Lost to the first bar of the Department S theme, it's only in the past year that I saw how much allusion you packed into the opening of the Swan orientation film, even though that gem was so attractive for fans to pore over for clues. The appearance of the Swan logo is synchronized musically (link for those playing along at home) to the appearance of the Department S logo in that show's opening credits sequence via those first 4 notes, the silhouette of the swan resembles the “S” of the latter, with “Dharma” as a way of saying “Department” with a mouth full of something, placed in the corresponding position across the “S”. Then you chose as name of the presenter Marvin Candle to resemble that of Mark Caine, the character created by the Department S character played by Peter Wyngarde, who is the first actor shown by face and credit after the logo in that credits sequence. In the next station instructional, the presented is Mark Wickman, to sound like “Wyngarde” while still referring to a candle, and later is identified as Pierre Chang, “Pierre” evoking “Peter”. I've no idea yet where “Edgar Halliwax” came from. (If Joel Fabiani had been first billed on S, who'd've presented on Swan? His Sullivan character didn't write novels that we were told of.)

On the subject of Peter Wyngarde, thanks again to the miracle of YouTube piracy, I watched some of his spin-off Jason King series, which never to my knowledge aired in the USA, because I figured your track would've led there too, considering how you plumbed the depths of The Lost Special derivatives (of which I still need to read the August Derleth version). Not much in clue production. You may have chosen to incorporate references to The Third Man without seeing them in a Jason King episode. However, I did see another episode that played on the theme of substituting for someone who died on an airline flight and that also featured several “23”s.

YouTube provided me yet other from-across-the-pond source material for Lost. Although I might've previously concluded the Jason King character to have been the chief inspiration for your Sawyer, I now see James Ford and Kate Austen came most directly from Jonathan Creek and Maddie Magellan. So the Creek (said to be named for a Kentucky watercourse) provided a Ford, and his calling Kate derisively “Magellan” (soft “g”, unlike Maddie's) has a meaning besides the Magdalene reference. You reversed their traits, making Ford the investigator (code-named LeFleur) and Kate the magician, though they're both capable of sleights of hand, but kept the bad-love relationship between them similar to that between Creek & Magellan. One plot point from the Jonathan Creek mysteries that stands out in my memory as likely Lost mechanism-related: the manipulation of someone's sense of time to provide a witness for an alibi. When the fans notice the sun or moon as in the wrong place or wrong phase on Lost, it's telling the right time while the show is not, like the dew on the grass on Jonathan Creek. The other plot echo I recall doesn't seem essential to the mystery: Creek in “The Monkey House” taking note of his heart rate in proximity to Magellan, echoed with Sawyer in relationship to Kate was the former was given the heart rate monitor by Benry.

But allusion flows from Lost as well as to it. Someone must've carried on the gag to cast Michael Emerson as (or name the part once he was cast) Howard Finch in Person of Interest. Howard Finch was the character Basil Dignam played in “One of Our Aircraft Is Empty” who was one of the contenders analogous to Widmore & Benry on Lost. Judging by “The New Man In Charge”, the tables were turned between Robert Terrell & Howard Finch in the translation to Lost, but more importantly, crime paid!

Lastly I'll note that the title Lost in connection with A.C. Doyle, while mostly pointing to “The Lost Special”, turned out to have some thematic connections to The Lost World as well: the difficulty of providing convincing witnesses to things seen in a remote area, and the idea of someone's undertaking a dangerous and arduous adventure to win a love, as with Desmond for Penelope. You turned that last outcome around too from what that mean, mean Dr. Doyle did (but telegraphed in the opening).


Dr. Suds