“Get” Lost entry #7 (RMG) - April 2, 2007

Dear Damon,

Damn you for giving me so much fun while I should be working on my pitiful tax filings, etc.! (And if you're peeking via the Internet, best of Passover to you too.) This year we're missing the usual spring break in airings during which I'd have time to compose an entry in this contest, but the airing of “Exposé” was just too much to let go by and risk being passed up by anyone else who's playing along. That episode's Russian doll structure showed that so much Lost material has aired that it can now serve as source material for its own allusions, rather than having to refer to the late R.A. Wilson, Stephen King (whose style I still don't like), etc. But it wasn't devoid of external allusion; it reminded me of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back in its structure, its use of Hugo & Jin as Jay & Bob, and, as someone at The Fuselage pointed out, its Charlie's Angels references. Kudos to Horowitz & Kitsis.

So it can also be “read” in the reverse direction, as it was intended, as clues to Lost. Nikki stands for Kate (“Nicky” E. Lillie), and I'm pretty sure Paulo stands for the Marshal. (Paulo also stands for Apollo, and we saw how Kate loved and then consumed those Apollo candies. So much better as it turned out than the cheap Snickers joke would've been. And Nikki's character Corvette, diminutive or female crow, Corvus being one of the Apollo constellations.) As to its own plot, Mr. Zuckerman conned Nicki into enlisting Paulo's help, then substituted a death-simulating drug for his poison (provided Paulo wasn't a confederate of his, but I don't see that as necessary yet), then slipped a phony newspaper right out of Masks of the Illuminati to him in the airport. (News vendor Bernard in Watchmen had only a chorus-like role, but looks like you have one as an important unseen agent, also slipping the appropriate comic book to Hugo.) Some fans noticed a non-conforming date on the newspaper, which indicates that the Island Powers had to make some last-minute changes in schedule to get whom they wanted on flight 815. The diamonds are fake, which is why Sawyer, who'd run fake jewelry scams and knew his gems, let go of them so easily. Zuckerman = sugar man, “sugar” I believe being con slang for fake gems.

Even with my pharmacology training, it wasn't me who first posted to alt.tv.lost the first suspicion of nicotine gum's being useful against a paralytic agent. Cute, the business by Nikki about ashes being evidence, when it was the nicotine gum that Paulo switched to that seemed to trip him up — except that I think he left that for Nikki to find on purpose. Paulo packed the breathing apparatus he'd need to survive being buried.

But enough about the middle Russian doll (and deferring discussion of the innermost Russian doll, Exposé), what does it say about the outer doll, Lost? The ripping of a key necklace off the immobilized person, the use of the key to unlock something, the smashing of the doll to open it, the fake diamonds — all symbolic, as with Nikki and Paulo. Once I started following those clues, the train of thought didn't stop until I'd revamped my thinking about much of the serial, and found myself to have been right about some things, formerly right about others, and never right about others still. My eyes opened to twice the scams I'd seen before.

One principle you've employed is so fiendish and, as far as I know, novel (at least on this scale), that I can hardly be blamed for having been so blind. In most drama, the characters don't know they have an audience — us. In Lost, it's been the opposite; characters have been aware they were being watched while we did not know they were being watched. Shots of characters “in one” which could ordinarily be taken as representing their true actions and reactions turn out to be unrevealing. You've used this technique to deflect suspicion from characters, and I've fallen for it along with everyone else. You sure shook me off Desmond that way. This is true even though I'd figured there was video surveillance; I just didn't consider who was watching!

Proceeding character by character with revisions, I'll start with Hugo. In my last entry, I'd reluctantly concluded the lottery was rigged. Previously I'd thought it was a “prediction” scam. But now I see the lottery was fake. Hugo's father, who was not destitute as he claimed, pulled it off, probably with the help of Hugo's mother. The phony lottery drawing video was right out of Penn & Teller. (I bought Cruel Tricks for Dear Friends for my dear friend Ron from Teller after a show of theirs. Ron, who has died since, was something of a scammer too, but that's another story.) Fake video about Hugo was also played at the home of the guy who was paid off to take a beating from Jin in Korea, just to allow Jin to recognize Hugo some day as “confirmation”, if he paid attention.) Arrange things so Hugo will be reluctant to talk about it (for fear of losing friends, as demonstrated once), and then all you need is to throw a little money around, and have a few accomplices play reporters, investment managers, etc. Same as the “curse”. And he's off on Poo in a VW minibus before he ever gets to check closely. (I think it was the same New Year's as your bibliomancy trick that I tried starting my Toyota Celica on Boiling Springs Ave. that way.) My friend Andrew Greene tells me that type of con, with multiple accomplices and prepared locations, is called a big house grift.

But Hugo wasn't the only one who was convinced he was loaded. He was also put out as a mega-pigeon to suck in gold diggers like Libby. Libby lived off the rich, which is why Desmond set her up to give him a boat. How he reeled her in, I don't know yet. But she was on her way to what she thought was Hugo's riches when she was tragically snuffed by Michael. Desmond made sure to wait until she'd died (someone got word to him) before returning to the Losties' part of Poo with impeccable timing and his “snow globe” story.

Next John Locke. Clever of you to start naming characters after philosophers and then hide the Sherlock Holmes reference in that one. Turns out John Pachak was right all along, and I was way off. Locke's paralysis owed nothing to technology, all to scam-ology. Locke was operating as John P. said, under deep cover. (That's probably what we'll find out his hippie commune caper was about — a previous investigation.) And that means his “Dad” is not an antagonist but an accomplice. It was our late friend Elliot's friend Alley (who joins John & me in 3-way phone calls for hours about your show) who pointed out the only reasonable explanation for Locke's defenestration: they were both in on it. Locke's double lands in a net on the 2nd floor, timing it with Locke's dive from that floor to the ground. On my VCR copy, it does look like the stunt diver disappears behind some plants. (The great thing for you is that you get to use the stunt footage both as a behind-the-scenes “extra” and in the eventual denouement.)

But who were they performing for? The big windows of “Seward”'s apt. are excellent for surveillance from across the street, and Locke was careful to step in front of them and talk loud. Just like he made sure the security camera had a good view when he parked in front of “Cooper”'s to talk to him. Cooper-Seward has piled up quite a record as a scam artist, and as we saw has attracted the att'n of the bunco squad (especially after the “death” of someone set up to appear to be interfering with him), so they were surely surveilling and probably had the place bugged too. Locke (who watches his friend Zuckerman's TV show Exposé like I watch yours) has generated an excellent paper trail which Benry recounted to him, and has also established a record of enmity and revenge-seeking for Benry to think he can use against him. This ought to be fun for Locke and “Dad”. I hope they had the cooperation of a doctor so they wouldn't have to have actual kidney surgery!

So Locke's resemblance to The Comedian goes beyond the bloody smiley, though missing the cynicism. Locke appeared to be defenestrated from up high, and Locke penetrated mysteries. Will he suffer the same fate?

And on that subject, it appears Jack's specialty was phony surgery. I'd like to think Jack was scamming Benry with the sham spinal surgery, but the evidence is otherwise. Benry's cooperation was needed for him to wind up wheelchair-bound. Therefore they were scamming Juliet. Benry isn't impervious to pain and resistant to anesthetics, he just needs his wounds to be fake! Like the phony arrow Rousseau shot him with and Jack “removed”, so Jack & Benry have been working together for a while. Jack also scammed Sarah. I can't tell yet whether Juliet's scamming her sister or vice versa; same with Juliet and Edmund Burke. But it may be that Juliet's research results are fraudulent.

Seems I had Desmond pegged right the first time. For all I know, he might've been court martialed for being the Scottish Sgt. Bilko. Mr. Widmore's opinion of him was probably well justified. He sails right to Poo, where his accomplices have arranged to have Kelvin “find” him washed up on shore. Kelvin didn't know about the cameras, but Desmond did. (Ruzhinski I'm still not sure about.) After murdering Kelvin, who was lured out by Desmond's boat and had to be killed once it became clear he'd learned too much (making or at least revising a map, not caring about the rip in his suit, “screw The Numbers”, readying the Elizabeth to sail), Desmond would've liked to use the key he got off him right away, but he had to play dumb for whoever might be watching via video. The prop inconsistencies seem to indicate he was at it a longer time than he let on, taking up the slack let out by his having sailed straight to Poo. The key was to a “fail safe” — I get it, a safe! Like Zuckerman's. All the to-do with Locke was to provide Desmond a plausible excuse to use that key. Had Desmond been straight with Locke, Desmond would've told of his previous experience with the high magnetism instead of playing dumb about the consequences of not entering The Numbers. (Of course that didn't stop Benry from seeing the automatic reset when the equipment was set that way for him.)

We never saw what opened up when Desmond turned that key, but I assume the “fail” safe contained another key or component that has to be used with his contact Kate's toy plane somehow, but it's missing yet another element to be discussed below. Kate loved and double crossed the Marshal to cooperate with Desmond the way Nikki dealt with Zuckerman to cooperate with Paulo. I've already discussed Kate's act with Desmond and how Locke interfered.

After the destruction of Swan (which, following the pattern of Flame, I now believe to have been mined, as per one of the 3 ways I'd listed previously), Desmond appeared naked “for art's sake”. Desmond or an accomplice gave a post-hypnotic suggestion to Locke to round up a posse to go and rescue Jack, but Desmond slipped in telling others that Locke had given that speech already. Locke (who probably feigned being hypnotized) also got that coded instruction on the stick to follow heading 325, which led where we saw. The computer chess game was phony, but it did make for a hilarious scene with Locke weighing the dangerous prisoner vs. a computer chess program for his attention. The “sonic fence” is pure scam; Bakunin just bit on his blood squib and coughed it up. I guess Ms. Be a Clue had on a bulletproof vest.

I don't think Desmond had planned out his psychic act, but got lucky with the slip of the tongue noted above, and then formulated his plan to appear clairvoyant, arranging events with an accomplice. It looks to me like the island area in which Lost is playing out is the site of a semi-completed synchrotron. Its guide magnets are being used to control Smokey, and it would have a van de Graaf generator which could be used to make “lightning”. Then all he needed was someone to knock out Claire and put her in the water. Sure seems like he's got Charlie's confidence, huh? Even seemed to induce Charlie to palm the note that would've gone on Claire's seagull. But it was cute to make Desmond appear to experience all time at once, stand there naked, and pick up the photo of himself and his sweetheart from the abandoned facility, just to “re-create” Dr. Manhattan.

As I'd already written, Mr. Eko sealed his fate when he dynamited Swan in an attempt to break in, revealing he knew too much and would have to be eliminated. What I didn't realize is that he'd already known a lot. Mr. Eko came to Poo for those Mary statues, because one or more of them contained the other component referred to above, in addition to the heroin. This secret thingy must've been on the plane when it left Nigeria. “You're next” really were Eko's last words to Locke, because Eko assumed Locke was also after the keys, and would be killed as well. Notice how careful Eko was in questioning Charlie to make sure Charlie was interested only in the heroin.

Charlie sure snowed Eko. And Locke. Charlie, the hooded one, is like the Charlie in Charlie's Angels, The Cobra in Exposé. If Locke can feign years of paralysis, Charlie can fake addiction to heroin. His nervous finger tapping in flight was not craving for a fix, it was anticipation of the “crash”. He deliberately jockeyed for position. I don't know what “LATE” and “FATE” meant, but I guess some code. The persona of an addict makes him appear manipulable, desperate, and crazy at times, and gave him the perfect excuse to withdraw from company for a while. He collected Virgin Maries, searched them for the secret thingy, and pitched them into the ocean when he didn't find the right one. He shot Ethan to make sure he didn't talk. And he has befriended Claire off & on. What the angle is with Claire and her baby, I don't know yet, but I suspect there's actually some secret thingy planted in Turniphead.

Charlie tried to discourage Eko's desperate attempt to dynamite his way into Swan, so I can only guess that Charlie benefited by Desmond's opening the “fail” safe.

The dream sequences of Eko, Locke, Desmond, and Charlie I now figure to be just that, not any sort of electromagnetically injected thoughts. They represent secret knowledge these people have, and in some cases guilty thoughts about them. If anything's being “fed” to these people's heads, I now think it was done the old fashioned way, thru suggestion. So how did Eko know so quickly about the deaths he envisioned of Swan occupants? He must've had a back channel.

Arzt I now believe to have been an agent of influence. His tip to Nikki about the spider was deliberate, his advice about wind direction was influential in getting Raft 2 to sail, and he did disappear down a trap door after all in his “explosion”.

The Marshal might've been supposed to survive too, but for Sawyer's “good deed”!

When all the keys are put together, I expect a hollow victory, as with The Cobra, who promises “he [i.e. himself] will pay”. The equivalent of the diamonds will turn out to be fake. But there has to be an over-Cobra or committee of over-Cobras making the whole thing go.

The great thing for you is that everybody gets to watch Lost the first time as a suspense drama, a mystery, a sci-fi story...and then buy the DVDs and watch it again as a comedy. (With everyone trying to scam everyone else, it's like that song in Threepenny Opera.) Or those who believe this when I post a copy to the World Wide Web can watch it as comedy right now. But nobody's going to believe this. And if they do, I expect Smokey at my door. Candygram!