“Get” Lost — entry #4: Apr. 23, 2006 (RMG)

Dear Damon,

At this time new material stopped airing for long enough for me to catch my breath and bring my position in this puzzle contest up to date. In alt.tv.lost they were polling on whether I was just going way out on an incorrect limb that I'd chosen prematurely, and taking every bit of it selectively and optimistically to justify my folly, or was actually clinically insane and posting during those brief intervals the drugs made me lucid enough to work a console the institution had made available but didn't realize I was actually posting to Usenet from. At The Fuselage they were starting to get annoyed that I would post about the ramifications of my way-out-there understanding of the show in response to their sober analysis of details – as if my analysis should've been in a class by itself, like a religion, for the believers only, and should therefore not intrude on the science the others were applying.

From my point of view I saw other viewers as the Jackie Mason character saw The Jerk in the movie of that name, when he concluded that a sniper was shooting at cans out of some animosity he had toward them, when in fact the sniper was shooting at him. But that was almost understandable, for how was The Jerk to know he'd been selected at random from the phone book for the sniper to vent his rage on after a bad divorce? Viewers of Lost who hadn't had the opportunity to follow the evolution of your sense of humor, drama, mystery, and gaming are similarly handicapped. But I knew that among your friends the competition would be much better informed and hence stiffer, so I was driven to get this entry in before...oh, I don't know, maybe Erick or Jerry's playing along...someone else scoops me.

John is playing more conservatively, saving a shot until he can see the whites of Lost's eyes.

That last sentence rings more sharply now that I've resumed writing this after a heart attack. Since closing this partly written file, I had a small-to-moderate MI, was ballooned, and stented. The funny thing is, I'd been meaning to add a sentence in reference to John that something could intervene before he got off a bit of speculation about Lost. I was thinking more in terms of things airing on the show, but this is a reminder that other events can intercede. Death interrupted at least one gaming series I was having with your father. Sheesh, even the “catch my breath” line at the start of this letter reads spookily now! Just goes to show me that some really pithy and dramatic lines come about by sheer accident.

If I were in great danger of life, how much about Lost would you want to reveal to me? For that matter, how much would I want to ask about? for if I got to that point, it would imply that I'd given up on a long life. Let's not pursue that line of spec. By now it may be years later and the judging taking place with me alive & well.

First I'll get out of the way some minor catches from season 1 material, for which the DVDs seem limitless founts. One was Jack's line to Kate, regarding drawing straws for carrying what Jack thinks is aged dynamite. His line, approximately, “We'll let it be decided by fate.” Kate's line, exactly, “Works for me.” Kate saying Veidt works for her – that if Veidt were a character in Lost, he would be under her in the organization chart. Or was that one of those accidents of writing? Or even if deliberate, could be a false clue. I'm taking it as a real clue. A fan in alt.tv.lost pointed out a similar juxtaposition of lines in the bank: “Who are you?” “The key.”

Then there was Rose's praying with Charlie, “Our father, who brought us together....” A scream of a line in retrospect.

It was also about time that a certain allusion to Illuminatus! finally came to my consciousness: a passage in which Fission Chips, while on Fernando Poo, is shown idol statues from a nearby church, and muses about their usefulness for smuggling heroin if they're suitably hollowed out. However, I still like the symbolism of Lost's smashing The American Idol.

But with all my receptiveness to allusions by Lost, I was completely scooped by Ronnie O'Rourke (who posts as tdciago to alt.tv.lost) in finding character and event correspondences from Greek (and some other) mythology. What really rubs that in as a beating of me at least parallel to “Get” Lost is that some of the correspondences were the same as those that had so tickled me to find them in Smallville, where they revolved around Lionel Luthor as Prometheus (counting Frankenstein as The Modern Prometheus and separate from Lionel Luthor's characterization as Joe Kennedy Sr.). It's enough to make me suspect Jeph Loeb is recycling a theme from that serial, ***** *** **** *** ******* ************ * *** **, into Lost.

Which brings me to more recent revelations. Given the limited amount of Rose material we'd had, I'd be surprised if other competitors in “Get” Lost had done much better than me, wherein I'd concluded that she was a plant, i.e. a knowing agent of the conspiracy, before the airing of the episode with Bernard and Rose flashback material. Had fate not stepped in in the form of a Broadway gig for Ms. Caldwell, we might not have had to wait this long. From my first entry in this contest, I had concluded that both Rose and (if he ever showed up) Bernard would have to be plants. The recent revelation compels me to retract part of that conclusion.

My conviction that Bernard is a plant was confirmed. It was originally based on Bernard's having gone to the tail section before the Big Rip in mid-air. There would not have been such an effort to get Charlie into the right place, and none apparently directed at Bernard, unless the tail section toilet was Bernard's correct “starting mark” for the “show”. It would also seem almost prohibitively difficult to have anyone but a shill wind up in such a ridiculous position as strapped to a seat precariously perched in a tree. It would be very difficult to bring an unconscious mark to consciousness safely under the conditions shown.

For a long time the evidence of the show seemed to point to Rose's being a shill too. Her cooperation in the Big Rip would seem to be helpful, and her ostensible faith in Bernard's survival just seemed to go along with such a role. So I fell into that trap, and then failed to sufficiently re-evaluate a conclusion I'd originally premised on there being no “survivors” from the tail section other than shills; clearly that premise is incorrect -- Ana Lucia and Mr. Eko. But the Bernard-Rose flashback material shows Rose to be a mark, not a shill. And once again, as John points out, Lost does everything twice; Rose is partly parallel to Locke.

Although you put in some material to instill doubt (the people Bernard referred to who ostensibly referred him to the ostensible witch doctor in Australia, who was an obvious plant), I saw enough to conclude that Bernard was in charge. (So clever of you to embed the evidence of Bernard as manipulator in an episode whose ostensible message is his ineffectuality as a leader of men.) We may never know how many other agents of the conspiracy were stalking Rose in case Bernard hadn't managed to form that relationship with her, even with the help of a little inner voice (see below). It's not clear when Rose was fingered, nor whether her (still unspecified) disease is, or was, real. What she knows is what doctors (or “doctors”) have told her, plus some vague somatic sense of disease, which of course leaves her suggestible and manipulable. Although not as much evidence has been presented for Rose, and although the scenes of Rose staring off into the distance like Locke and “just knowing” might be false clues, I'm committing now to the explanation that she, just like he, unknowingly received a radio-controlled implant, except hers doesn't paralyze, just imparts a somatic sense of “something wrong” or not. Both Locke's and Rose's implants also literally talk to them.

We also have the chronology re Libby and Hugo. When the conspiracy “got to” Lenny, they also found out about Libby, looked her up, and recruited her. (You even gave us a little clue by giving them similar names.) I loved Ms. Watros's reaction behind Mr. Garcia's back after kissing him – yuch! (Not that I'm saying anything about the cast of Lost being repellent to each other, just that Libby apparently is revolted by her having to pretend to romance Hugo.)

Sayid's affair with Shannon was unanticipated by the conspiracy, and would tend to reduce whatever psychologic leverage was to be had over Sayid from his eventually finding out about Locke's encounter with Nadia. So Walt was sent to spy on Sayid and Shannon. Shannon's fate probably wasn't sealed until Walt saw them in the tent, and then the plot to lure her to her death was carried out. Whatever leverage Shannon might've afforded them over Jack (by impressing him with the fate of intertwined lives) was judged less important than that over Sayid.

Now to the bigger picture. Means and opportunity have been laid out in great detail (albeit covertly or symbolically) in many cases, and I can already tell that Kate must eventually use or present her “key” (the toy plane) thru the unwitting intermediation of others in order to get at or receive something important alluded to vaguely in the French radio distress call. The problem and solution has been presented in miniature to us in two scenes involving safety deposit boxes – one where Kate had the key but not the renter card, the other where Anthony Cooper had the key but avowedly couldn't show his face. (Of course that whole plot was just a show for Locke, to see how much abuse he'd take and still help his abuser, and to give his ostensible girlfriend a plausible albeit very fishy reason to withdraw from the act.) So Kate is probably missing some element yet to be supplied, and probably can't afford to be recognized at the crucial moment.

But what of motive? This now calls for one wild shot from half court. I sense it's about half time, and although it may hurt my stats, before time expires for the period, I'm going to try one, and hope to be judged accordingly. Henry Gale (who now seems to be sharing the role of Tempter in Eden with Jack) all but turned to the audience like one of those characters from Scream to ask the question that's been on the minds of everyone who's figured this is a great conspiracy, “What could possibly motivate me...?” This question assumes increasing importance and commands correspondingly more attention as the serial proceeds, especially as evidence mounts up that some participants in the plot are knowingly making extreme sacrifices by being killed or grievously injured. How else, for instance, to produce Engine Sucked Guy than to have a volunteer (probably wearing explosives) actually dive in and get blowed up?

The season 1 episode, “The Greater Good” presented fairly bluntly a couple of ways people can be motivated to extreme acts. There's the suicide bomber as True Believer in a great cause (as put in the episode title). And there's the use of loved ones as hostages. John suggested another possibility: that some of those recruited for bodily abuse are masochists! Some of Henry Gale's verbal stylings do suggest that, and I think the persons paid to take beatings in Korea at Jin's hands may indeed have been paid not just in money but in masochistic thrill. Those making lesser sacrifices are probably just getting cash.

But let's focus on profound self-sacrifice for a Greater Good. Usually the greater good one thinks of sacrificing oneself or others to is conceived as a collective good. But what if it's not? What if it's just a greater good even for the same individual? And what if a sacrifice of one's own life or limb turns out not to be such a big sacrifice after all? There's only one way I can see that being the case: they're going to receive new bodies! Suppose the promise is that at the end of this trail, a new bodily existence is in the offing for those who have sacrificed? A new body would be especially attractive to those whose bodies were worn out, defective, ugly, or recognizable to their detriment. (I won't bother to cite many precedents for such a common sci-fi plot, but I can't resist mentioning that some of the Cedar Tavern crowd saw a play on that theme, New Day, that turned out not to be so good; it was by a high school classmate of mine.)

Suddenly many factors in Lost become clear, and certain lines hilarious. It's been pointed out that figures with missing or prosthetic body parts (limbs, an unclaimed glass eye) are highly over-represented on Lost. “See you in another life”, eh? This exchange between Hugo and Libby is a scream in that context: “Do you really think I can change?” “Yes, I think you can.” Change into another body!

Many of the characters I've identified as shills of the conspiracy have been let in on it to the extent that they've been promised that if the plot succeeds, they'll be reincarnated by some technology that lies at the end of that rainbow. Even those whose old bodies have been blown to smithereens will somehow get new life. They've been told that at least many of the Losties have also been selected as recipients of this service, and that although it must be a surprise gift to them, it's one they'll surely appreciate. Besides hyperobese (and subject to hallucinations) Hugo, there's Kate, whose fugitive status won't be connected to her new look, and perhaps Charlie would even be willing to sacrifice celebrity if his heroin habit goes with it. Ana Lucia and Mr. Eko too might want to jettison their pasts. Perhaps if Boone and Shannon weren't bodily related, their romance wouldn't carry a stigma. Sawyer's already got another name, now he just needs a body to go with it (remember, not saying anything about the actor playing him). And while Jack doesn't need the operation on himself, he'll be pleased to use it on others so that he truly can save every patient from death or debility. The conspirators may have been told that Rose's and Locke's cures represent partial implementations of the technology that will be completely unlocked if Kate can use her key.

Another mystery resolved is the behavior of Desmond when viewed ostensibly objectively by your camera in the Swan bunker before his visitors arrived. His ritual including injections may have been something he's been told will be necessary preparation for soul/mind transfer, although why he'd want one is not yet in evidence. Plus, it all goes with the Paradise Lost theme: that expulsion from Eden would pave the way for eventual resurrection of all mankind.

And – it's all false!! In a big enough conspiracy, there will be those whose cooperation can be obtained only by letting them think they're privy to the secrets of the innermost circle. Whatever lies at the end of this rainbow, reincarnation ain't it, and Kate knows it. (Maybe Mr. Paik and some other characters we've seen know it too, but not many.) Kate has acted in ways different from many other plants, in that she seems to know, where they don't, that deaths are for keeps, and it makes her real sad. The scene wherein she ostensibly threatened Rousseau with a pistol was already poignant to me in that I suspected Rousseau of being disgusted by her role in the plot, but in the light of my “half court shot” it's even more so.

So we have people being used to hoax people being used to hoax people – just as I said in entry #2, but not quite the same way I had in mind then. And in the process a last ditch (Or is it?) trap has been laid for the TV audience. I'm no closer to the McGuffin, but at least maybe I've gotten a false one out of the way.

Yours Truly,