Get” Lost #20:

NNoW I get it!

Mar. 23, 2017

"...and you'll find rescue."

For some time I'd been wavering on the question of whether Alvar Hanso even existed. The hints given on and by Lost seemed equivocal. But now I can firmly say that Alvar Hanso had been a no-such-person for at least some time before the events depicted on Lost. The trick was noticing the clue given by the compass heading MiKevin was told to follow at sea: 325. That's an allusion to the movie North by Northwest.

The point has been widely made that there's no compass heading by that name. The closest named compass heading is northwest by north, which centers on a bearing of 326.25, but at any rate spans the gap between the next closest headings in such a way that "325" is an unambiguous reference to this heading, there being no other named heading that close.

The premise of the movie is that someone unwittingly gets caught up in a espionage plot by accidentally being fingered as a fictitious persona whose manufactured background constituted bait for enemy intelligence agents. So the allusion to North by Northwest by Lost means Alvar Hanso by that time did not exist. There probably was a real Alvar Hanso at one time, but it might have been many years previous. The ruse was carried on in the same manner as the shared persona in Jonathan Creek episode "Time Waits for Norman". I've already gone into connections between Lost and that mystery series. The transatlantic demise of one of the Norman characters also fits that of Ralph Voss in "One of Our Aircraft is Empty", of whom Alvar Hanso is a namesake.

Nor was that the only allusion by Lost to North by Northwest. Others have noticed the resemblance of airplanes passing closely overhead of Jack and Locke to the crop duster scene in that movie. The bus door closing out Alfred Hitchcock may also have been deliberately echoed (heh) in Mr. Eko's having been denied entry to the flight from Nigeria to Equatorial Guinea.

Alvar Hanso's disappearance is then even more easily arranged than that of one of the dual A.H. characters in "The Duplicated Man". If there was no living Alvar Hanso, that makes it that much easier for someone to claim he was one of the passengers on Oceanic 815. It would appear that Charles Widmore was in better position to take such an initiative than was Benry. Therefore it was Widmore's job to establish that Hanso was on that flight, and Benry's that he was not. This bolsters the identification of Widmore with the Terrell character and Benry with the Harold Finch character in "One of Our Aircraft". (Since Basil Dignam also played another character in two other episodes of Department S, I suspect you planted clues to that connection as well, but probably didn't expect the makers of Person of Interest to carry on the gag with Mr. Emerson's character name there.)

But North by Northwest isn't the only other predecessor material I've discovered lately. Viewers have tried to divine the clue given by the title page of The Brothers Karamazov on season 2 of Lost. Some guessed a connection to that novel, which I can't completely rule out since I still haven't read it. Others noticed the close-up of the title reversed when Benry wrote on the back of the page. A connection to "Osama" was plausible. However, now I realize that shot was an allusion to Ozma of Oz. That novel has an Uncle Henry character who had an even chance of having the full name "Henry Gale". The story concerns seemingly magic events taking place when a shipwrecked Dorothy Gale lands in an at-first unknown place when shipwrecked on the way to Australia with Uncle Henry. And Benry's story of having landed on Craphole (which I now realize to have been one of Lost's many equivalents of Hamlet's The Mouse Trap, designed to fish for reactions from the Losties) had already established connection to the Oz books.

Ozma of Oz also concerned some characters who'd been enchanted, and whom are then disenchanted by the action of ostensibly "good" characters led by Ozma. This parallels the zombie-making process described on Lost by, "They're not the survivors/They thought they were," and the apparent disenchanting effort by Benry.

Ozma of Oz also featured characters who didn't leave footprints, because they had wheels instead. This was reflected in the practice of the Others to erase their tracks on Lost. The timing needed to pass by the hammer-pounding robot giant in Ozma might also have been reflected by the time limit imposed by the machinery in Swan station on Lost.

Agent Shirt

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