“Get” Lost entry #9

Nov. 20, 2007 by RMG

Dear Damon,

During (and not just from my watching) the weeks of airing of the concluding episodes of season 3 I realized there was a lot I had to revise, and I was tempted to do so quickly at season's end, but Jack's last words were, “We have to go back.” And so I did. Over the following months, especially while I recovered from plantar wart surgery, I pored yet again over the DVDs from seasons 1 & 2, and then my VHS cassettes from season 3, and so even with the poor quality of my off-air recordings of those episodes I won't be so eager now to buy the season 3 DVDs that Buena Vista has so thoughtfully delayed release of until Dec. 11...hmph! And so in addition to what I'd already mentally noted, and besides all I'd written, I pondered and sometimes chuckled over such nuggets as these that I'd previously missed:

In 1:1 (DVD episode numbering) at ~20 mins., Jack's saying, “I took a couple of flying lessons; it wasn't for me.” Then, taking an alternative meaning of “for”, who could it have been for?

At 23:50, why is Jack (on the plane, wearing the breathing mask) looking to his right?

In 1:3, Lost borrows from the dradel, “A miracle happened here.” [Walt to Michael]

Claire puts Jin's hand on her belly ostensibly to feel her fetus kick, which means nothing in terms of whether Jin's in on her “pregnant” act if he doesn't know English.

In 1:4, Locke winks at 8:32 while saying, “...and slit its throat”, referring to the boar he would “hunt”.

Locke's bed headstand forming a trism with his head — a nod to Charlie Raspil?

Claire's eulogy's identifying one of the “crash dead” as a would-be organ donor — easy corpse to get.

Sayid's having to be persuaded to burn bodies — an early indication he's not in the know.

In 1:5, Jack & Kate discussing Drowned Lady Joanna — getting their story straight.

At 20:48, Christian, and at 32:20, a dark figure, appearing behind Jack's back without his cognizance.

At ~34:50 Jack's making a scene at the ticket counter, looking around to make sure he was noticed.

In 1:6, Kate's saying to Jack, “You and your tattoos don't add up”, then Charlie's saying they have an inside joke about them.

How in 1:7 at 8:45, the broken zipper on the suitcase anticipated our being shown Sawyer's con in 1:8.

1:8 contained an early indication of how an apparent conning of B by A may conceal a con job by A & B together on C. I hadn't realized previously that the dialog beginning at 34:20 could be taken as saying that Sawyer and Jessica were together in trying to rip off her husband.

The 2nd wink I caught by Locke, at 9:23 of 1:9 to Hugo in Ethan's presence, saying certain items must've fallen from the plane.

In 1:11, the ambiguity of the reference to “our people” by Jack to Locke, speaking of Ethan. Then the further ambiguity of Locke's concern that if Jack met with Ethan, nothing happen to the only trained physician on the island.

The flashback dialog in that episode between Jack & Christian was even more loaded with possible double meanings than I'd noted previously, what with great sacrifices to save vast numbers, and Jack's “skills”.

Walt substituting loaded dice in the backgammon game. These people flim-flam even in their spare time! But maybe Walt really thought Hugo had money. It also served to build up Walt's “mystery”.

Kate turning away to cover laughing at 35:30 while feigning crying at Jack's attempt to revive Charlie.

In 1:13, Kate telling Sun Kate was on her way to Bali.

Locke's asking why Boone had no blood on him, but Boone's not having indicated the dream death of Shannon was a bloody one.

In 1:14, Locke cupping his hand at 3:42 after gesturing touching the target on the tree for Walt's knife throw; palming something related to the hidden electromagnet in the tree?

Susan's being directly billed for Michael's medical bills.

The multiple layers of distraction of Brian while the dead bird hits the window. One of those distractions, Walt to Brian, is also a way of telling us: “You're not looking.” Real loud, so the guy outside throwing the bird hears “not looking”.

In 1:15, Scott's body was bagged for burial. Even his finger bones were noted as having been broken.

Claire was visibly upset at Charlie for having shot Ethan.

In 1:16, Sayid to Charlie re Ethan's death: “You're not alone. Don't pretend to be.” Problematic!

In 1:17, the measures the “Secretary of Environmental Safety” took to get Jin to look in the direction of the TV twice while the tape of Hugo was playing, first gesturing toward his daughter and then taking the dog from her.

Locke and Walt getting their story straight re the burning of Raft 1.

In 1:18, Hugo's brother Diego looks a lot like Dave.

Grampa Tito was said to have had a pacemaker put in 4 years before the ostensible lottery drawing.

Father Aguilar was said to have been struck by lightning in a “freak storm” at Tito's funeral.

Hugo tried hard to get caught “sneaking” away to find Rousseau, leading others to pursue him.

A truck was said to have blown a tire before hitting the Toomeys' head on — a familiar story.

I couldn't see where in 1:19 Locke loaded the metal point in his leg, but the clearest chance was 1:49.

The bottom of his foot that he tested with a hot piece of wood was probably heavily calloused.

Jack's history taking of Sawyer (including his uncle's death) may have been intelligence for later.

Locke's glance in the direction of the necklace-cross before stumbling mysteriously and “finding” it.

When Boone said the statues were from heroin smugglers, how could he tell from up there?

After “novice” shooter Locke drops a bird in 1 shot, Cooper's “Let's find your bird” has double meaning. “Pigeon” might've been too groan-inducing.

At 41:08, Locke using his forearm to hide his laugh in the car.

1:20 gave us our first view of the “hemothorax relief” sleight of hand, this time by Jack on Boone.

They also gave us our first view of the “broken leg setting” act later repeated by Libby on Donald.

Dialog re ties and clip-ons — metaphor for fakery.

I confirmed that the inside bottom of Kate's backpack was never shown, hence room for Aaron.

Sarah's repeat of the car crash previously told by Martha Toomey, but this time the teller blew the tire.

Claire's stifled laughter at 28:48 was the previous giveaway to the “childbirth” sleight, but a close look at 37:00 at Kate's right thumb shows the umbilical cord doesn't go to the baby's umbilicus.

At 30:16 we saw Boone appear to cough blood for Sun, anticipating Claire for Charlie, but Boone had the benefit of Sun who could hold a diaper preloaded with “blood”. When [our friend] Nadine was rehearsing a play where that effect was used, the effect was so convincing that even though she knew exactly what was going to happen, she fainted at the sight of it.

Here it's convenient to interrupt the observations with inferences. I can easily see the value of “killing” Boone, who could then go underground (maybe even literally) to function as a spy, but why the elaborate act? Was it just for the participants, so, as Sayid says, “You would remember!”? Maybe. Or maybe Kate really thought Boone was dying, and that Jack would otherwise have done the sleight-of-hand childbirth act with Claire himself. Or maybe Jack just loves acting and magic that much or needs to stay in practice.

Season 1 episode 21 also deserves special comment as your tribute to stage magic, incorporating as it did versions of both the Coffin Escape and the Bullet Catch. First Jack and Locke distracted the crowd with a “fight” so Boone could escape his body bag. A tissue donor's body may have been substituted. The overhead shot we were given of the crowd on the beach had the same flavor as the shots showing the crowd (“drowning” scene) from front & back in 1:5, and I still don't know what that misdirection was for. Then events were arranged to allow for Shannon's & Locke's version of the Bullet Catch, which was performed for Sayid's benefit. Specific observations in that episode and beyond:

Another convenient place to interrupt for inferences. 2:15 gave us a look at out-of-character interactions between the con artists. Benry likes to stick it to Locke comparing his prowess at confidence acts to that of his double (see below) and/or that of Jack. Jack and the others memorize each other's scripts and steal lines. And Sun was seriously asking Claire whether she wanted to keep the baby she'd...uh...adopted.

Although in season 3 we were shown the room behind the secret door in Caduceus, and although it would be convenient to have familiarized Juliet with the place, I still see insufficient reason to contradict my previous supposition that Claire's “recovered memory” showed us only an imagined furnishing of Caduceus. It would still be easier for everything to have been kept in the secret room than for them to have moved it all there. But that doesn't require all of the “recovered memory” to contradict the facts.

Meanwhile in Benry-Jack dialog in 2:16 re Karamazov, prophets, martyrs, and death presages the ending of season 3. Helen's “Nobody ever says anything mean about someone once they're dead.” in 2:17 continues in that vein. Picking up the observations from there:

For 3:15, once again I want to intersperse some inferences. Juliet told Kate it's the 4th time her shoulder had been dislocated, so it's likely that had been researched by or for Kate. A shoulder dislocation predisposes to later dislocations of the same joint, so she knew she could do that. Cassidy's “accident” sending Kate's mother to the bathroom echoes the one with Jin in the airport; if they're not stealing from each other, these people have SOPs.

Kate's non-apology to her mother echoed that of Eko to Yemi shortly before Eko was bumped off, and I finally realized that, whatever Adewale A.A. may have had to do with that character's name as has been told, it was ultimately chosen because the character was an echo of Kate. When the story of Lost was conceived, you had no idea how long you'd have to tell it, and this seems to be evidence of your having stretched it out after you knew you had a hit on your hands. Take a successful character and clone it. They each have a manufactured violent criminal background and were supposedly helping their families, and each is associated with a chatchka — a toy plane from Tom for Kate, an iron cross (reminiscent of Baron De La Croix) from Yemi for Eko.

As previously noted, in season 3 you went and echoed Kate again in the form of Nikki, and each character's name is a play on its origin. I won't go as far as to guess that in season 4 you'll have a character named, oh, I don't know, how about “Lily”, but I will commit to the inference that you are building up to the eventual death of Kate. Not a “death” in her case but a real one like Eko's and Nikki's. Boone was really there in the flesh in the sweat lodge — maybe he's literally been underground, operating thru tunnels left from the synchrotron installation — and told Locke not to save Eko, but to make sure Eko died. As previously noted, Mr. Eko had found out more than he needed to know, and was no longer cooperative, in fact was positively interfering, so he had to be rubbed out. The iron cross that Locke slipped back to him was Smokey's magnetic handle, the instrument of Eko's death. So must Kate's toy plane be an instrument of her death.

Yemi's line, “You speak to me as if I were your brother”, is the clue allowing me to infer that the Yemi depicted as an adult throughout Lost was never a relative of Eko's, but a co-conspirator with just as manufactured a past. The body in the Beechcraft was another unrelated corpse; see below for general remarks on corpses. Exactly what Not-Brother-Yemi was doing there is still as much a mystery to me as what Christian Shepherd was doing there, but Not-Brother-Yemi was displeased that Mr. Eko had stopped cooperating.

This leads to greater interest in speculating as to the fate of the man Locke was sent to rub out in his flashback. It now seems too obvious for him to have been a co-conspirator with Locke in infiltrating the commune. But I don't have enough evidence to guess that you have footage of Locke's shooting him in the back. Also interesting is the fact that Locke was operating under that name then.

Returning to observations from the next 3 episodes:

From what you've told me, the resemblance of Lost's theme music, most obviously in the bowed string variation “DCDBCABC”, to that of Mad World's main theme, “DB#DB#DB#, AB#DB#”, was not an intended allusion but one of those synchronicities like that in Smallville's smashing of the water tower, which was shot before 9/11/01. Or you're playing dumb, which I guess is allowed in “Get” Lost. I would like to think that Mr. Giacchino was let in from the beginning on the show's bible, just as it's obvious by now that the major actors and several of the minor players, despite all protestations, have known what's going on all along, and that he made up a nice suite of parody variations of the Mad World theme for it.

So why did Sun choose that location to dig a garden? I'm guessing for now that Lost would not take the Mad World analogy so far as to have her digging for something important there, but it is tempting to think so. It's not like they'd've really needed the vegetables, but it's conceivable Sun just liked gardening. Even the wild eucalyptus for Shannon was just an act, “asthma” being part of her act to test Sawyer. I looked up Wikipedia's description of the play for which the movie was named, A Mad World, My Masters, and I see much more plot similarity of Lost to it than to the movie.

On to observations from the episodes that aired since my entry #8:

But there were already things I'd concluded by the end of season 3 even before my review. In entry 8 I'd glibly mentioned a double for Locke as necessary for his defenestration trick as if it were the most natural thing in the world. I'd also been resisting the mass of clues in the form of a theme running thru Lost of what might be called replacement of personas. Not only was there that Bad Twin manuscript Sawyer had been reading, but:

And besides the “replacement” theme, there was the more general “resemblance” theme invoked by asking Jack if he noticed a resemblance between Juliet and Sarah, and by the unresolved question of whether Sayid had been the torturer of the restaurateur lady. Fans have been arguing whether the resemblance of a character at Ice Station to Jack was deliberate. We even got some allusions to pairs of doubles, in the form of book title Ardil 22 and Jack's two pair in poker beating Sawyer's. Come to think of it, that last was a pair of pairs of pairs! (Was there an earlier version of the script where instead of asking, “Do you want me to get a ruler?”, Kate would've referenced seeing who had the bigger “pair”? The ruler line was funnier, though.)

My resistance was not mere blindness, but active rejection of these clues. Had we been playing poker, would you tip your hand by such indicia as a promotional Bad Twin book? So for a long time I took the doubles/replacements theme as disinformation, an obvious bluff not even worth noting in “Get” Lost. But by the end of season 3, it pointed to too attractive an explanation for various things to be discounted any longer. Doubles are very useful for scams or magic tricks, affording to a cooperating pair these seeming abilities:

And if they're not cooperating, one can usurp the other. I don't know how many characters in Lost have (i.e. consist of) doubles, but they must at least include:

Locke, who in addition to the defenestration trick, may have needed a double to seem to get so fast from the burial pit to the radio transmitter. A double provides an alternative mechanism for his healing from the bite from Cooper-Seward, the simpler one being that it wasn't a real bite. Bakunin referred, probably as an inside joke between them, to “the John Locke I knew”. More serious, but also cute as is his wont, was Benry's announcement to the crowd that Locke wasn't the man Benry had thought he was. A double would provide another explanation for the seeming alternation of psychologic characteristics of Locke, although any or all of the seeming changes could simply be explained as exigencies of scam acting.

Bakunin, who amazes with his ability to get rapidly from place to place.

Walt, who has a similar “teleportation power” to Bakunin's. “Has he ever shown up in places he shouldn't've been?” (Michael seems not to have known.) “We got more than we bargained for with Walt.” (Yeah, a 2 for 1 deal.) The Walt on the boat that left at the end of season 2 would not have called Mr. Locke by his first name as did the Walt at the end of season 3, and his actor grew so much that, even with the foreshortening produced by the up-from-the-pit camera angle, the character didn't even look the same age, which is why you cast someone due for a pubertal growth spurt.

However, the first two apparitions of Walt before Shannon having no corroboration, they can be written off parsimoniously as just “her story”, now that I know she too was scamming Sayid. The water dripping from Walt those times can be simply a depiction of what spooky and invented details Shannon was prepared to tell of if it'd ever come to that. And much as I liked the ideas that Walt had been anesthetized like Locke and Juliet with residual hoarseness and that he'd mishandled Benry's tape recorder, the same can be more simply said of the details of his muteness and backwards speech. (Too bad; the details given by Juliet re the microcassette recorder and the possibility of its having heads on both tracks just fit so nicely with backwards speech.)

It is also possible for the characters to get around quickly via the synchrotron tunnels. If so, Locke knew where to drape the cover for his sweat lodge: over a tunnel exit that Boone could use.

I sense that in our little game I've committed to too many guesses in the past, so now as far as “Get” Lost goes, notwithstanding what I may have written in other forums (and the bets I'd be willing to make at even odds), I'll just list those other characters I suspect as having doubles, in decreasing order of suspicion, without saying yet that they definitely do:

Jack. I chased depictions of him throughout my review for inconsistencies in his tattoos, inasmuch as Locke, looking at him thru binoculars and getting a good view of the volar surface of Jack's left arm and forearm, said, “This is going to be more complicated than we thought.” But I was never able to find differences that weren't disproven with the help of others. So I'm left with just a strong suspicion, including the dialog noted above that can be parsed, “Are you Jack?” “No.” Switching Jacks would explain Kate's frequently seeming psychologically off balance in reaction to him, such as after kissing. And there was that track shot that seemed to have a Jack on both the left and the right when he first arrived at the beach.

Desmond. The visual inconsistencies in the last scene with Kelvin — and why else call attention to Desmond's shaving daily — could be explained thereby, but it's not the only explanation possible. He also seems to “forget” certain details, but other explanations are possible there too.

Kate. Changing just hair color, or an entire body? See also The Marshal. And she did answer “yes” to Claire's asking whether she was a “Gemini” (but that's in the vein of too-easy-to-be-true clues).

Hugo. His Dave might be more than an alter ego. I'd love a “reveal” at the end of Lost that Hugo'd been wearing clothes to make him seem obese, and that he and Dave looked very similar but for that and the long hair vs. shaved head. If so, Dave was also Diego.

The Marshal and Ana Lucia. Otherwise they'd be missed at LAX.

Sun, Bernard, and Charlie — just on suspicion that their credentials have been challenged or that they're preparing doubles for such a challenge (see below).

Jin — it could explain apparent inconsistencies if one Jin knew English and the other didn't.

Goodwin — synchrotron tunnel, double, or late placing of “crash victims” for the hour run to take 10 minutes?

Jimmy Durante (Parachute Lady Naomi) — probably just an interloper/impostor with no physical resemblance, but could be somebody's double; I don't know her job requirements.

Everyone, just on general principles.

Doubles on flight 815 arrived at LAX, but that didn't prevent some of them from later showing up on Poo. The switcheroo, if it was widespread (Who knows how many among the characters represented by extras?) would reduce the problem, to the extent there was one, of the “body count” on arriving at LAX. Speaking of bodies, the story of Alistair Cooke and how cavalierly the bodies of tissue donors are sometimes treated explains where all the corpses came from. Claire said one of the dead on flight 815, according to his driving license, would've been an organ donor; in reality, he already was. The fuselage was filled with used bodies of organ and tissue donors. After the bodies were incinerated and the “wreckage” submerged, the families, none the wiser, would get the ashes.

That's why all of Scott's bones were broken; he was a bone tissue donor. Steve and Scott fostered confusion of themselves with each other. Then when Boone was depicted as falling asleep while standing guard, it was the other guards who'd fallen into drug-aided sleep, while Boone and possibly helper(s) brought in that corpse to be identified as “Scott”, whose head was quickly hooded. After that, each of the persons who'd answered to either “Steve” or “Scott” would answer only to “Steve”, because “Scott's dead.” Unless they get confused. Even Ana-Lucia had been informed in advance of that scam. So if you want to add Steve and Scott to the list of “doubles”, it's just a matter of semantics as to whether to count them. And like so many characters, they're operating under assumed names anyway.

Tissue donors' bodies were used whenever a corpse was needed to be buried after a character “died”. There were enough extra ashes to go around, and the research institution to which Juliet was recruited had access to donors' bodies.

But where would all the doubles come from? That depends on how good likenesses they had to be. Here I'm torn between these possibilities:

  1. real cloning and real artificial aging of humans

  2. fake cloning and fake artificial aging of humans

  3. no mention of such technologies in Lost at all

#1 would provide twins to supply doubles and even triples of characters. Artificial aging would explain the ostensible agelessness of Richard Alpert — that everybody else was aged rapidly — and the rapid aging of Walt, as well as the radiogram presented by Alpert to Juliet with the unexplained old appearance of its subject. If the human cloning was done Sleeper style (“And now, cloning the nose!”), that'd be a hoot that'd fit the severed-body-parts theme (of which even the reference to an organ donor was part) running thru Lost. That way, Locke could've had a twin grown and aged to match him from his kidney. And it would also provide a McGuffin, in the form of a prize secret technology.

Unfortunately for the detective, #2 does all of the same things. as well as fitting the scam theme of Lost and avoiding bringing science fiction down to the level of a Woody Allen farce where kidneys, eyes, arms, feet, and even toes would be selected as the seeds of a new human being. And Lost could go in other directions entirely, i.e. possibility #3. If, however, #1 or #2 is operative, the aging could be said to depend on the acidity of some of the water on Poo, to which we've been given numerous clues:

  1. Claire's mention of the sourness of the water in Ethan's canteen

  2. the corrosiveness and sulfur smell of the water in Swan

  3. its sufficiency in producing a CO2 volcano with bicarbonate of soda

#1 is, however, suspect, as part of her “recovered memory”. It also provides an alternative significance: a way to tell the natives from recent arrivals; Ethan said he hadn't noticed the sourness. #3 is hard to believe and suggests scam, if it's a clue to distinguishing between real & fake aging technology.

If close doubles are needed, legitimate identical twins could've been recruited as scammers to begin with. If they don't have to be identical, then we could have cute details like having one Locke needing to shave his head, referencing the hairy man/smooth man scam by Jacob.

But what if the doubles were identical or very good likenesses, and you got into a situation where they could no longer be assumed to be cooperating with each other or with you? (A “bad twin” might be bad in the sense of either an imperfect copy or evil. However, I think we'll see in Lost that evilness is a strictly relative determination depending on one's ends.) How might you tell them apart?

Each method has strengths and weaknesses. A chatchka has the advantage that its carrier may be identified in an unobtrusive manner such that nearby observers might not realize that a credential was being shown. However, a chatchka can be lost, stolen, or duplicated. Hence Jack's story of loss and duplication of a ring, and the finding of a duplicate of Desmond-and-Penny's Polaroid photo. The “lost” ring Kate “found” for Sun was probably a replica.

A recognition sign or personal knowledge (as when Jack questioned Kate on the walkie-talkie about the count-to-5 story) could be gotten from an informer or it might be pried out of someone via threat or trickery. Skills can be learned or faked. Tattoos and wounds can be duplicated, and unless they scar, wounds are temporary. The removal of an internal organ could not be detected unobtrusively, although the presence of certain types of implants might be with the proper equipment.

You might use more than one recognition device. Someone who passed one challenge might fail another, as with Kate's having a safety deposit box key but not customer credentials. Or you might be in position to operate a key but need to avoid recognition, as with Cooper-Seward's safety deposit box.

I forgot who in alt.tv.lost (might've been Thin Blue Mime) started noting and keeping track long ago of the marks on various characters' foreheads, left or right side, and so did our John P. independently. I didn't until more recently, and I spared us of tediously listing the marks I observed in my 3 seasons' review. However, a few such observations are especially interesting:

I don't believe we are seeing a war between secret societies here with the marks as “war paint” uniforms. It would not be advantageous for the sides to knowingly announce each other's presence. What would make sense, however, would be for just certain persons to know this “key” and to have marked persons accordingly; and of course the secret could pass into the hands of persons who then use it to forge their identities.

The symbolism in Locke's on-Poo sweat lodge scene (so very Twin Peaks), wherein Benry was shown as an airport security screener, cast him as a specialist in credential checking. That scene showed him checking Jack, but it's not obvious to me from other scenes that he checked Jack, so it was probably done unobtrusively. The character whose credential checking has been done most obviously is Locke, and we've seen him obviously fail (or pretend to fail! This seems like one of those too-obvious clues) twice, with the snowman riddle and the Jacob riddle. Desmond didn't seem too concerned when he came back and told “Box Man” the snowman answer, so either he didn't know the code could still have significance, or this Desmond is an ally of this Locke. It also occurs to me that “I don't know” would be an excellent countersign to foil intelligence, although obviously vulnerable to accidental penetration! A cute answer to the Jacob question would be, “We may have fooled an old blind man once, but we're going to need a better scam next time.”

We see now that Jack had an interest in keeping Sawyer from finishing his reading of Bad Twin if it could be read as an exposé. Speaking of which, the TV show Exposé might also have been more than an inside joke between Mssrs. Zuckerman and Locke. Why would the manuscript and shooting script, respectively, have been placed in the luggage if not as a covert way to inform by informers? The Russian dolls would then have been a hint to Nikki as much as to us, as how to “read” things.

And on the subject of information, that's got to be what Charlie's “top 5” list was about — not to blow the cover off, but to relay info that would be needed or at least useful to pass or constitute a credentials check. He left it on Desmond, but it isn't clear to me whether it was supposed to be useful to him or to someone else, nor whether they're questions to ask of a “Charlie”, or answers for someone taking Charlie's place.

Before conceding the necessity of the character doubles, I had hopes of soon being able to discern the opposing sides, as in Locke's early backgammon allegory. But with the doubles, and my not even knowing how many characters have them (or even “triples”), you've made this puzzle damn near insoluble! Not only do we potentially have to identify Locke1, Locke2, etc. from scene to scene, but even if head wounds were an infallible tell when they were visible, your opportunities for switching between doubles even mid-scene in ways that would be realistic to fool other characters are so numerous that trying to keep track directly like that would be hopeless. The best I can hope for is to be able to beat anyone else playing “Get” Lost by inferring with greater specificity than they do the existence of certain doubles who are cooperating and others who are antagonists, assuming they're fairly effective, and not to try to nail down the motivation of each in every single scene. By the time this is over, neither side will be identifiable by the audience as “the good guys”, but taking Benry's cue, I'll refer to whomever he meant that day on the dock as “WMCA” and to their equally deceptive antagonists as “WABC”. (You're too young to get that, but I'm not assuming you'll be the only reader of these entries.) And there may well be a third side.

I can think of a few general ways so many doubles could have been assembled, leading to long or short back stories. If they're artificially aged clones, then you can have a SF saga with a genius who's years ahead of others in the field and, fearing others would abuse the technology (or s/he's the abuser hirself, matter of perspective), practices it secretly and remotely, and then for some reason there's a revolt and a purge resulting in some cooperating and some antagonistic clones, and then some of them return covertly to infiltrate the homeland to claim leadership, etc. The cloning facility could have been symbolized in Exposé as the orphanage, and “Jacob” would've been a code name taken with pride to mean a usurper of a heritage, like the orphanage money in Exposé. The alternative of noninvolvement is suggested by Kate's boyfriend Tom's line to her, “You can have a normal life.” The “gas attack”, including that on Roger Workman, was not the purge, but just a bunch of people playing dead.

That SF saga would have the advantage of supplying the McGuffin and a sense of closure, but you might have a completely different McGuffin, as simple as, say, Mssrs. Paik and Widmore each trying to help themselves to the other's money via some scam. And in that case, the doubles, of which there would be fewer, could all be recruits. Con artists, some of whom operate with doubles, could even be assembled Mouse Trap style, with scams attracting other scammers to exploit the setup to their own ends.

Or, as previously noted, you could have a cross between such stories in which the human cloning and artificial aging was itself the scam and hence fake. Or you could have a different SF premise like that in “Architects of Fear” whereby humans could be altered to resemble others. I am unable at this time to pick between these grand plots. The return-of-the-clones scenario is fun and attractive enough to make me look for further clues that fit it, but the knowledge that we've already seen 60% of Lost makes me doubt that such a story could be adequately told in the remaining 40% and hence diminishes its likelihood.

So now back to the scams themselves and conclusions I made independent of the replacement-of-personas theme. Before the end of season 3 I determined that Hugo's lottery-and-curse scam was of his own making, it only being unclear to me which family members were in on it. Hugo turned out to be among the most masterful of manipulators, as many viewers had hoped to learn from the beginning.

Desmond is in a very complicated position regarding his game. He is not, as I supposed during most of season 3, a pawn in a scam, but only pretending to be one. His line to Penny about the rat trap reminded me of that of the Chris Elliot character in Get A Life, having been made to wear a wire: “Welcome to my sting. Uh, I mean my stink...my stinking little apartment.” Charlie and Hugo had long ago arranged to “fool” Desmond into thinking he was a seer, but what Charlie never told Hugo was that actually Desmond and Charlie were collaborating. Penny likewise thinks Desmond is a mark rather than an operator, so Penny is a rat being trapped. This does indeed mean that Desmond was acting, as I'd thought initially, when Kate broke into his Swan quarters; what I don't know now is whether Kate was in the same position as Hugo, thinking Desmond was a mark, or as Charlie, collaborating with Desmond on the act as I'd initially thought. Locke's interference in that scene (“She's the fugitive.”) was to probe them, to try to answer the question of whether Kate and Desmond were collaborating, and Locke may have gotten his answer but I didn't.

We've seen Locke do a lot of probing, frequently by asking characters questions when they're alone. If there is a bunco investigator here, it won't be an apparent mark like Juliet, but Locke. His resemblance to The Comedian may not go as far as his being a government agent throughout the events of Lost, though I think he has worked for government under cover by the name John Locke, but the entire season 3 concluding flashback is a reproduction of Watchmen's first installment as to the theme, “The Comedian is dead.” When we get the full name from the obituary, it will turn out to be Jeremy Bentham, another name adopted by Locke continuing the Philosophers “trademark”, not John Lantham as has been supposed by some. The meeting between Kate and Jack at the airport recreates some of the flavor of that between Laurie and Dan in Watchmen. This “Comedian”'s death was also under mysterious circumstances, but came years, rather than seconds, after his defenestration.

Where Claire stands w.r.t. the scamming of Juliet is simple: con and mark. I no longer think Claire even needed help from Charlie, but just snuck in and bit on the blood squib herself to help fake the signs of her sickness. The relationship between Claire and Charlie w.r.t. Desmond is harder to figure. Claire has been a prop in the ostensible conning of Desmond, but I don't think her knowledge of that situation is the same as Charlie's; what I don't know is whether she's in a position of inferior or superior knowledge, or whether they each know things the other doesn't. I suspect lots of 3 way intrigue, each probing the knowledge and loyalty of the others, hence Charlie's questioning Desmond whether he “saw” Claire getting onto a helicopter in the future. Charlie's whack on the head of Desmond with the oar was the only one of the many he's sustained that was not an act. (Several of Desmond's KOs had been completely phony, merely told of or inferred.) That's because Desmond was really threatening to usurp Charlie's role in their con act.

The physics of Looking Glass are such that the control room must have had separately pressure control to allow water to enter from the porthole. After the door was closed, it had to have been separately vented. We've already heard and seen that Charlie is skilled in breath holding (as in What I Did on My Summer Vacation), so after he “dies”, the control room will be re-pressurized with air and the water blown out down to the level of the porthole, allowing Charlie to escape. Of course the ostensible function of Looking Glass “Hatch” (there's that misnomer again on the blueprint, indicating conspiracy with Locke) in wireless communication is phony, it being a physically ridiculous location for radio, so the video link to Penny is by other means. Neither of the two Mikhail Bakunins at Looking Glass were hurt by the ostensible grenade, the porthole having been previously rigged to blow. Meanwhile Desmond has to again pretend to be KOed. The Looking Glass scenes make me suspect Mr. Cuse wants to be the next Albert R. Broccoli, although “Good Vibrations” sounds nothing like the Bond theme to me.

I think I've remarked to you — I certainly did to your father — that the thing that bothered me about many, maybe most, tragedies is that their plots rely on people's acting like children instead of sensible adults and coming to a reasonable compromise as to their conflicting goals. Love triangles? Share hir, you idiots! Loot? Don't be greedy, there's plenty to go around! Political? Those are pretty stupid all around. Tragedies only really make sense when no compromise could be made that wouldn't destroy the objects of all, so they're truly tragic. Fortunately for my enjoyment, it seems you've made the situation between WMCA and WABC very close to the backgammon analogy where the black & white sides, each trying to get home, unavoidably block each other's way. It can come out only one way or the other, no in between. Whatever WMCA's trying to accomplish, it does not involve the Losties' appearing to have gone to the bottom of the ocean as required by WABC.

When Jimmy Durante (if I'm going to keep calling Naomi that, should I now always call Locke “The Comedian”? Nah) told of the ostensible off-Bali wreck of Oceanic 815, that truly came as a surprise to Hugo, Desmond, et al. Not part of WMCA's con! In their world, flight 815 landed at LAX just a bit late. So Jimmy Durante was with WABC, having usurped the role of whomever WMCA had expected to show up. This presents a real problem for WMCA, because Sawyer was told the same story by Cooper-Seward, who along with the John Locke who was at that scene, was a WABC agent. Benry suspected so, and so subjected Locke to the Jacob riddle. LockeWABC fell for Benry's “suggested” answer (“Help me.”), which was how he knew to kill that Locke, because LockeWMCA would've known the right answer. (If Jacob is a real person, then LockeWMCA would have had communication from him previously.) I don't know the fate of LockeWABC, but if he survived, it was because Alex supplied a pistol with a light load, possibly because Alex was a knowing WABC agent. It was LockeWMCA who showed up at the transmitting station and threw a real knife into Jimmy Durante's real back; that was no magic trick. Jack, meanwhile, was simply confused. Benry couldn't just blurt out where he could be overheard, “This lady is a ringer!” So he called Jack aside and tried to convey to him in veiled language what was going on; he failed. (Alternative explanation: there are two Jacks and the one on the scene was a WABC agent.) Meanwhile Penny professed (honestly, I believe) ignorance to Charlie about Jimmy Durante's story, and Charlie relayed that info as best he could (writing on his hand) to Desmond. From that we can infer that Charlie and Desmond are working with WMCA.

Unless the supply of Lockes is greater than I thought (which would go along with the cloning and artificial aging scenario), you're going to have to explain how the two Lockes who cooperated in the window dive wound up as antagonists on Poo. You're at least going to have to supply a story wherein one of them was turned by WABC, and his collaborator Cooper-Seward as well. Either that, or WABC was the original conspiracy, and one of the Lockes went over to WMCA. I think the “death” of Cooper-Seward was a magic trick played on Sawyer, rather than a rubout of Cooper-Seward by Locke. It's tempting to think that was LockeWMCA rubbing out a WABC agent, but a WMCA partisan would not have allowed Sawyer to hear the WABC story of the wreck of flight 815. Either way, Cooper-Seward never knew Sawyer's family, but knew that info from Sawyer's dossier.

I keep wondering whether Sawyer could be that dumb as to be the sucker throughout Lost. Could Cooper-Seward, for instance, have accidentally revealed something that has tipped Sawyer to the act? Did Sawyer feed Cooper-Seward some phony lines about his past, and did Cooper-Seward take that bait? Similarly, could Sayid really have not by now detected the rigged electronics in devices, and the obviously bogus physics of the “jamming” of all channels by Looking Glass as well as by the distress call? I also wonder about the symbolism of their names, containing respectively “saw” and (depending whether you spell it “Sayid” or “Said”) “say” or “said”. Is one of them supposed to be primarily an eyewitness and the other an earwitness? I've even started to doubt that the character known to fans as “that idiot Michael” could be that dumb. But I still have those three plus Juliet pegged as Lost's pigeons, the fooling of whom is somehow supposed to be useful at some point to WMCA, WABC, or both, according to the method laid out in my entry #2 where they're used to catch bigger fish.

Meanwhile poor Tom (the one on Craphole) suffered an ironic death. Sawyer said regarding Tom's surrender, “I didn't believe him.” Unfortunately for Tom, Sawyer believed his act (ever since the boat encounter) too well! The whole business with the dynamite, the VW van, etc. was an act with stunt players, Hugo's collision with one of them even echoing Edmund Burke's “demise”. It was risky, however, because Sawyer and Sayid had real bullets. Jack's having paraded everyone to a totally unnecessary demo of dynamite in a field must've been misdirection, to allow for something to have been rigged back at the beach camp.

Claire's “accident scene” struck me as the beginning of her act. She may have phony papers and “witnesses” to an ostensible past going back before that, but I'm guessing that was the first appearance on Earth of the character fitting her description. We also saw the SOP of having the medical bill for her “mother” paid by someone else, in this case Christian. As with Susan's paying for Michael's, that way there's no insurance investigation of the “accident”. With no other character have I gotten the impression we've seen their in-the-flesh beginning. For “Ben Linus” we supposedly witnessed his birth, but he was “born” the same way as Turniphead/Aaron. I've no confidence (heh) that baby or the child shown later on Craphole by that name was the same actual person as the Benry we know of the time of flight 815. The beginning of Cooper-Seward was really when Locke's “investigator” made up a phony dossier for him, and I think “Dad” had to have built up some witnesses a while before we first saw Locke with him.

I now lean toward Room 23's having been fake and Carl having merely been acting to con Sawyer.

I now believe that “Exposé” was only the most blatant and humorous of many attempts by you, most of which I probably still haven't detected, to clue us in by presenting the plot of Lost in brief analog.

The flashforward revealed that Kate (but maybe not the same Kate if she has a double) made it off Poo, but it's not as if she's immortal, and I still foresee her plot-related death, unless another Kate has already died on Poo. (2 to 1, a dead Eko and Nikki within Lost itself beat a live Laurie Juspeczyk in another work in telling Kate's future by analogy.) Things must not have come out as WABC wanted, because Jack, at least, exists openly in the wider world. However, it's not clear to me that things came out as WMCA wanted either. Does Jack want to “go back” because both hoaxes failed, or did he decide he preferred WABC's goal after WMCA succeeded?

Trouble is, I can't take all of Jack's behavior at face value, because the “act” has continued off-island. The head-on car collision was according to SOP, except for one thing: Jack wasn't supposed to be there. I don't think he was actually suicidal, he just manufactured an excuse to be at the “accident” scene and cast himself as a hero where no hero was in the script. Then he wanted to take the surgical case, a role which had already been recast. If they're still doing the act, the hoax must've failed in some particular. Jack meanwhile has been recast as an “addict” — at least I don't think all that booze and pill taking was sincere, and he gave the impression we'd seen previously in Kate and Hugo flashbacks of “trying to be noticed trying not to be noticed” — to get him out of the way while accounting for him in some plausible way. (Speaking of addicts, I realize now that the only heroin that had to be real was whatever Charlie's and Liam's groupies, including the lady at the airport hotel in Sydney, sampled.)

But he wants another shot. On a need-to-know basis, he was never informed where Craphole was, and he's not as good at picking up clues as I've been, plus he doesn't know you or get to watch recorded video. (I wonder if Shannon knew, and the Craphole-Poo pun was hers as well as yours.) So what does he think, they're going to “crash” an airliner again, and he might luck out and be on it? Yeah...as if they'd place him in the “wreckage” again! In the conspiracy, I don't know where Jack's esteem “now” lies between the poles of Valiant Hero Who Almost Succeeded Against Long Odds and Dangerous Hammy Fuck-up Who Knows Too Much, but it looks as if they've put him honorably out to pasture. There was an implied threat in Benry's remark about his boss's not being a forgiving man, but it doesn't look as if Jack is in immediate danger of being snuffed. (But maybe he will if he keeps trying to break into the act!) Obviously he still has friends inside, or they couldn't've delivered that newspaper obit to him. He seemed particularly concerned and relieved that nobody saw The Comedian's body. Probably he wanted to keep the secret of Locke-Bentham's double, and there might've been the danger that the “wrong” one would be revealed.

Christian is back too, which required nothing more than the discreet removal of certain records in Australia.