Wednesday, April 29, 2009

LOST The Variable, first thoughts

As always *SPOILERS* if you aren't caught up, so continue reading at your own risk, because, this is our present, so we have to be careful.

Tonight was the 100th episode of LOST, which usually entails something major happening, and this episode is no different.  It also used the occasion to hearken back to the greatest episode the series has offered thus far, The Constant.

The title of this episode was The Variable, which is a major part of an equation,  In mathematics and science, a variable is a symbol that stands for a value that can change.  It occurs in opposition to constants, symbols that can not change.  Variables and constants are fundamental to all modern mathematics and in science.

This episode featured Daniel Faraday, but was interspersed with Desmond Hume.  The Constant was a Desmond-centric episode that was interspersed with Daniel Faraday.  In the Constant, Desmond searches for a way to connect to his constant, Penny.  In this episode, Faraday believes that he is a Variable.  In the Constant, Desmond is correct in believing Penny is his Constant and lives because of it.  In this episode, Faraday is incorrect and dies because of it.  In both episodes, the terms constant and variable are both used by Faraday.  In The Constant, Daniel tries to explain to Desmond why he needs a constant.  He shows his equation on his blackboard to Desmond and says, all of these are variables, what we need is a constant.  In The Variable he says to Dr. Jack, "I've spent so much time on the constants... I'd forgotten about the variables."  He goes on to tell Dr. Jack and Kate that they are the variables, they have free will, they can change the future.

Shortly, the Incident that requires the pushing of the button every 108 minutes will occur.  The Incident that will force Desmond into pushing that very button for years before he decides enough is enough.  And by deciding not to push that infernal yet necessary button, Desmond causes Oceanic Flight 815 to crash.  Then when Locke takes over the button and decides, like Desmond before him, not to hit that damnable button, the Island becomes visible allowing Widmore to send his freighter folk to the Island.  But if that original event never occurs, neither will any of the rest of it.  If Faraday is right and they are variables, then they can keep that Incident from ever occurring.

The thing is, Faraday is still stuck acting as a constant.  He hasn't done anything differently then he always did.  Widmore (and all who surmised that Widmore was Faraday's father, you can have your cookie now, congratulations) sent him to that Island, and his mother backed Widmore's play, knowing that they were sending Faraday to his death.  To his death at his mother's own hands.

Which, the second that he told Sawyer's brain trust that he needed to find the Hostiles I knew was his fate.  I hadn't put together how much of a parallel there was between this episode and The Constant yet, but I knew that Faraday was destined to die at his mother's hands.  It seemed inevitable.  I hoped that the episode would surprise me and end differently, but it didn't.  And honestly, it couldn't.

Desmond found his Constant and lived.  Faraday had to fail in finding his variable and die.  Constants and Variables are opposites.  They exist in opposition to each other.  And yet you need them both in order to find the answer.  The Constant helps you find the Variable.

Faraday tells Dr. Jack that they are the Variables, but if you watch the Constant you realize that he is incorrect.  Desmond is the Variable.  Desmond is the one that can change things.  He's done it twice before.  Possibly a few more then that, but two very important times.

Earlier this season, Faraday uses Desmond to seek out his mother.  Desmond has a memory that he didn't have until Faraday talked to him in the past.  Faraday even acknowledges at that point that only Desmond could do this, that Desmond is special.

In The Constant, when Faraday has Desmond seek out the Faraday of 1996, Faraday has created a new past for himself, one in which he had met Desmond, despite the fact that when he told Desmond to seek out his past self he had no memory of any such meeting ever having occurred.  That is because at that point, the meeting hadn't ever occurred.  Unlike with everyone else, Desmond is not subject to "Whatever Happened, Happened".  After Desmond went back and met with Faraday, there was a new note in Faraday's journal.  One that would not have been there before Desmond's trip.  It said, "If anything goes wrong, Desmond will be MY constant."

The problem is, Desmond isn't a constant, never was.  Desmond is the Variable.

So, if the question is, can our LOSTies keep the Incident from occurring and changing the entire history of the Island causing their plane to never crash in the first place?  Then the answer is Yes, but only with Desmond's help.

And as it stands right now, I have no idea how they're going to get it.

Okay, that's not exactly true.  I do have an idea.  Eloise Hawking.  She's in 1977 and she's with Desmond in present day.  Plus she knows how to get people to the Island.  The problem is, from her own words, "For the first time in a long time, I don't know what's going to happen next."  Which is a little problematic for our heroes.  Great time for her to run out of Future Knowing Ability.

Well, I suppose we know now where our last three hours of LOST this season are taking us, attempting to keep the Incident from occurring.  Looks like we're headed to an epic finish these next two weeks and then we'll be thrust into that awful time known as LOST-hiatus as we wait for the final season to begin next January.

A couple of other things I wanted to hit on from this episode...

I loved how Young Faraday was playing the piano to a metronome, a constant mode of keeping musical time, and yet was speeding up and slowing down his tempo despite it.  And when his mother told him that he had other things to focus on he told her, "I can make time."

And also, I thought it was interesting that we finally got the answer to the question of who faked the plane crash, a mystery we were reminded of in the last episode, and it turns out that it was Charles and not Benry.  So, at least Michael was told the truth about that.

Until Next Time, let us remember Faraday, one of the show's greatest characters.  Although he wasn't even with us for a full two seasons, he will be sorely missed.  To Daniel Faraday.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

LOST Some Like it Hoth, first thoughts

Alternate title for this post could be "All the Good Jedi Have Daddy Issues"

As always *SPOILERS* if you aren't caught up.

Really just a few things to get into this week as the episode was for the most part self explanatory.  More answers then questions this week, although the questions we got were doozies.

It was confirmed the popular theory that Miles was the baby we saw in the opening moments of this season, no surprise there, and we saw the building of the Swan aka the Hatch.  Both nice things, but nothing to get too excited about.  LaFleur, meanwhile, is trying to cover up his actions concerning Young Ben, and I'm going to go out on a sturdy and firm limb and say that ultimately this will cause our LOSTies to lose their comfortable Dharma post.  There will probably be a lot more on that two weeks from now.

Let's get to the interesting stuff...

Let's start with the title of the episode, the second I saw it, I thought of Empire Strikes Back, and I wasn't disappointed.  There was a lot of Star Wars stuff in the episode.  Hurley is writing the script to Empire, with "a few improvements".  Of course, there is no way to improve Empire Strikes Back, as it is without question one of the best movies ever made.  Hurley's improvements, we come to learn, are that he would have Luke actually talk with Vader after it is revealed that Vader is (spoiler alert) his father.  Hurley claims that this would have saved a lot of trouble in the end.  While that may be, it sure as hell would have lessened the impact that the end of the movie had, and probably would have turned one of the greatest films of all time into utter crap.

The creators of LOST have long credited Star Wars as one of the main influences on the show.  I think in large part because of the epic tale based on mythic archetypes, but also, they seem to be telling us in this episode, because of the daddy issues.  One of the season one episodes was, of course, titled "All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues", and that has long been a main theme of the show.  Jack, Sawyer, Kate, Locke, Ben, Hurley, and now Miles have all had serious issues with their fathers.  And the one time that we've seen Sayid's father it didn't seem like he was all that pleasant of a person either.  However, what is interesting about Star Wars, especially if you take all six movies and not just the original trilogy, the series isn't really about Luke and his daddy issues, it is about the father.  Everything is actually about Anakin.  (Who we found out in Episode One didn't even have a father, but that's another post).  For the most part, that doesn't seem to be the case in LOST.  The children ARE more important then the fathers.  Although, Christian does seem to be gaining in importance as the show goes on.  (And obviously his name brings to mind someone else who was born without an earthly father... hmm).

Speaking of Christian, I think that the name Bram is an interesting choice for one of our newest characters.  Proof that at least some of the other 316ers (and did you notice that the time on the microwave at Miles's new apartment was 3:16?) do know about the Island and have some ulterior motives, Bram picks up Miles off of the street and tells him not to go along on Widmore's wild boat ride.  Bram is usually short for Abraham, who was the father of the three biggest organized religions in the world, including Christianity (as well as Judaism and Islam) and it is also the first name of the author of Dracula.  Dracula of course being probably the most famous member of the Undead that there is.  Undead as in Dead, but Not Dead, as in Christian Shephard.  Pretty interesting.

Despite the interest that I had in his name, I am more interested in the fact that he tried to keep Miles from joining Widmore's crew.  And that later he boarded Ajira Flight 316 along with Ilana in order to get to the Island himself.  (We have seem him on the Island, he listened while Frank and Caesar argued about what the survivors should do in Namaste, and he is the one Ilana told to tie Frank up last week.)

I think that many of us, myself included, imagined that the coming war everyone had been talking about would be between Benry and Widmore, but we were wrong.  Sure the Others find themselves in a bit of a civil war between two leaders who are both, in my opinion, false, but there is a common enemy coming, one concerned with What Lies in the Shadow of the Statue.  You see, I don't think that they are at all connected with Widmore or Benry or the Others at all, but that they are a completely different group.  Despite their differences, which are many, both Widmore and Benry believe that they are acting in the best interest of the Island.  And the Island (or Jacob) has chosen the Others as it's chosen people.  (A very Abraham-ish idea, chosen people).  So, it is safe to think (at the moment with the limited information that we have) that this group is the actual enemy of the Island, and that probably the Others need to quit their bickering and get their stuff straight behind one leader (John Locke).

The other exciting bit of the episode happened at the very end when we discovered where Faraday had been all this time.  He was at Dharma headquarters in Ann Arbor.  Which means, he probably knows exactly what Dharma is hoping to accomplish.  He probably knows everything about the Island that Dharma knows, plus a little more thanks to his own experiences on the Island, Time Skipping and whatnot.  In other words, Daniel Faraday knows more about the Island then probably anyone else alive (or not Not Dead).  That will probably come in handy.

Finally, did you notice that Dr. Jack was erasing Egyptian Hieroglyph off of the black board in the classroom when he was attempting to cover for Roger?  Last week, in Smokey's lair we saw what certainly appeared to be Egyptian Hieroglyph, and the statue from behind certainly appears Egyptian.  Looking at names is always important in searching for LOST clues, and one that I had overlooked until hanging in the Royal Ontario Museum last week was the fact that Horus is an Egyptian god and the leader of Dharma on the Island is named Horace Goodspeed.

Horus was the son of Osiris (the god of the dead and underworld) and Isis (the goddess of fertility).  He reclaimed the Egyptian throne from Seth (the god of desert and chaos) after it was stolen from his father.  Ever after, the Pharaohs were considered the embodiment of Horus.  Other traditions say that Horus reclaimed the throne for his father and the Pharaohs were the embodiment of Osiris and the heir was the embodiment of Horus.

Until Next Time, some interesting stuff, and the Island certainly has its connections with death and fertility.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

LOST Dead is Dead, first thoughts

Sorry for the lateness of this post, but in my defense, I am on vacation and out of the country to boot.  Also, this is my third attempt at this post.  I actually wrote my first attempt right after watching the episode despite operating on less then 4 hours of sleep in over 40 hours.  Somehow I lost the post instead of posting it.  I put it down to operator error.  I was wrong.  The Interwebs screwed me again after my second attempt at writing it this morning.  By the time I lost the post this time, it was time for me to head to the baseball game.  I made the executive decision to push the post back to tonight after Jersey Boys (which was fan-freakin-tastic by the way).  This time I am writing it as a Microsoft Word document and will use the magic of cut and paste, so every time that the interwebs screw up, I’ll be able to just cut and paste it again.  I’ll win in the end, I guarantee you that.

So, let’s get onto the episode.

I like that there were things in this episode that hinted at some of the big mysteries we are still waiting for full answers on.  While full and complete answers might not have occurred, there were definitely some clues.


“Jacob wanted it done.  The Island chooses who the Island chooses.  You know that.”
-Richard Alpert

We’ve seen through the episodes (at least since season 2) that the Others have certain requirements for people that they want to join them.  Often those people have been identified by being on Lists.  So, who makes those lists?  The people sent to spy on intruders (such as Goodwin and Ethan did to our LOSTies), the leader of the Others (be it Benry, Widmore, or the Ageless Wonder, aka Richard Alpert), or is it Jacob?  For instance, who decided that young Ethan was supposed to join the Others and be spared the Purge?  Richard hints to Widmore that it is because of Jacob that he saved Young Ben.  Of course we saw the fact that Sawyer and Kate brought Young Ben to him and there wasn’t really time for Jacob to tell Alpert to save him.  Now, it is of course possible that Alpert and Jacob had talked of Young Ben after Richard first met him in the jungle a few years earlier, and it was understood that he was to become one of them, but what if Young Ben was never supposed to become Benry and was never meant to be the leader of the Others?  What if it was supposed to be Locke all along?


When Benry and Young Ethan go to kill Rousseau and fail (I haven’t had a chance to read what anyone else has said about this episode yet, but I have to assume that many people have pointed out that Rousseau should have known Benry upon capturing him, she should have recognized him as the person who stole Alex from her) Benry tells her to avoid them and, “Every time you hear whispers, you run the other way.”  We’ve recognized that many times the Whispers occur, the Others aren’t far behind, but it is nice to hear one of the Others themselves (and Benry no less) admit that there is a connection between the Whispers and the Others.


We’ve been told by the creators of the show that every time Smokey appears in the show, we’ll learn something new about him.  This time we actually saw from whence it comes.  Much was made of its home being full of those Egyptian-like hieroglyphics and a very interesting drawing right over the holes that Smokey emerged from featuring an Egyptian-like god treating with Smokey himself.  How long has this thing been around?  I also found interesting that despite the fact that Smokey came so promptly when Benry called last season, it showed no inclination of coming this time.  “Not a train, John, it doesn’t run on a schedule.” Benry tells Locke.  Speaking of Benry summoning Smokey, I have to wonder whether that connection was built by Dharma or added by the Others once they moved in.

Speaking of the Egyptian-like connection to Smokey, we got a reminder that there is another Egyptian-ish mystery to be solved, the Statue.  The other flight 316 survivors appear to know a little something of the Statue because they ask their cult-like creepy question, “What lies in the shadow of the statue?”  How do they know to ask that, especially since currently, the statue isn’t throwing much of a shadow as it is only four toes?
There were also a few things in this episode that hearkened back to moments in past episodes.

First, when Benry tells John he must be judged because he “Broke the rules” it is very reminiscent of what Benry accused Widmore of when Keamy killed Alex.  And that moment was very important to this episode as it was.  What the episode did through this rule breaking connection was tie Benry and Widmore together.  Ultimately neither of them was meant to be the leader of the Others.  Both of them made decisions that were for personal reasons rather then for what the Island deserved.

The other person that this episode tied Benry to, however, surprised me at first.  Having written this post multiple times however (making the “first thoughts” part of the title a bit of a misnomer) I’ve discovered that the connection could be seen as an opposite side of the same coin type of connection.  When Smokey Alex physically confronts Benry it is very reminiscent of when Smokey Yemi attacks Eko.  Both Eko and Benry are attacked by loved ones.  Loved ones that they feel guilt for the deaths of.  Loved ones who lost their lives because of the actions of Eko and Benry.  But why would the show make a connection of Benry and Eko?   

Benry is evil and often for selfish reasons.  Eko did evil things, but he did them trying to make the right decisions.  Benry started as an innocent who became evil as he grew.  Eko was introduced to us as a child who made a decision to kill, but adult Eko was a priest of moral certitude when he arrived on the Island.  But then I realized that Eko and Benry weren’t being connected in this way because they are the same, but because they are like two sides of the same coin (see, I told you), because there are subtle differences as well in this connection, opposites in fact.  While Yemi attacked Eko before the Smoke Monster judged him, Alex attacked Benry after.  And Smokey ultimately killed Eko, but it let Benry live.  If you cared enough to go back a few years on the blog and find the post I wrote after the third season episode when Eko died, I said that I felt like the Smoke Monster killing Eko was not a punishment, but was a reward.  Eko had learned everything that the Island had to teach him and therefore the Island released him from his responsibility, perhaps to find some happiness with the real Yemi in some afterlife.  If this is the case, then the Smoke Monster not killing Benry is not a case of having found Benry innocent, but instead condemning him to work harder for the Island by doing whatever Locke wanted for a change.

There were a few other things I found interesting about this episode as well…

1. Our LOSTies won’t be staying with Dharma much longer.

The fact that Benry was legitimately surprised (it seemed to me) to find out from Sun that they were stuck in 1977 means that they won’t be there any longer when he gets back.  His treatment in the Temple took care of him remembering before being shot, but there is nothing to stop him from remembering them after he got back so logically they can’t be there anymore.

2. We’re setting up for another one of the other 316ers to get shot.

(And I never expected Caesar to go like that, I’m not gonna lie).  I really hope it isn’t Frank.  As they load their boat with guns, we can fairly safely assume that it is these survivors who get into the firefight with Sawyer, Juliet, Miles, Faraday, and CS Lewis before they time skip into the storm that would bring Rousseau to the Island.  And if you remember, before they skip away, one of the members of that other boat (holding the 316ers) gets shot by our heroes.

3.  Charlie saves the day

I loved that Charlie Pace’s namesake (You All Everybody! Sorry, just had to throw that in there) saved his mom from certain destruction at the hands of Benry.  But it begs the question, especially since it happened twice in this episode, why kids keep Benry from doing any killing.  He normally shows no fear in killing elsewhere, but didn’t kill Rousseau when he saw Alex and didn’t kill Penny when he saw little Charlie.  Why the hell are kids Benry Gale’s Kryptonite?

4.  “It’s one thing to believe it, John.  It’s another thing to see it.”

I really like this quote.  It brings to mind one of the main themes of the show, the dichotomy between the Man of Science and the Man of Faith.  Of course, there is no guarantee that Benry means this when he says it, since he later tells Sun that he had no idea whatsoever that Locke could come back to life on the Island, telling her, “Dead is dead” (providing us the name of the episode) “even here.”  But even if he lied when he told John that he believed the Island would bring him back to life, there is truth in his statement.  It’s one thing to say or even act as you believe something, but it is completely different when your faith is rewarded.

5.  Dead Locke seems different then Dead Christian

If you watched the mobisodes a couple of years ago, you have seen the first appearance of Dead Christian and it is before Dr. Jack has even opened his eyes.  He sends Vincent to wake up his son as his son “has a lot of work to do”.  Christian acts from the moment that he is out of that coffin in season one very different from how he acted before he died.  There doesn’t seem to be much difference in Locke.  The only possible difference being that he is finally as connected to the Island as he always professed that he was.  I’m not sure what this means, but it is definitely something that I will be keeping an eye on these next few episodes.

Until Next Time, thank you for your patience in waiting for this post.  I probably won’t get to make too many replies to any of your comments for the next couple of days as I plan to make the most of the rest of the time I have here in Beautiful Toronto, but I will as soon as I get back to Texas.  Namaste!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

LOST Whatever Happened, Happened, first thoughts

Last week we went over the various Time Travel rules that could be in place for the LOST universe based on the rules used in each of the three Terminator movies (since each one used a different rule set, which makes me wonder if T4 will use a different rule set as well, perhaps Multiple Reality? anyway, back to the LOST post).

Well, this weeks title (taken from a quote by Faraday, the character) leads us to believe that mainly we are dealing with a closed loop system, aka the time travel rules used in the original Terminator.  Whatever happened, happened and they can't change anything.

Hurley and Miles discuss the rules of Time Travel with Miles arguing from the closed loop, we can't change anything, original Terminator school of thought and Hurley arguing from the dangerous, we can really screw ourselves up here, Terminator 2 and Back to the Future (which, like me in last week's post, Hurley actually referenced in the episode) school of thought.  Hurley appeared to win the argument with his statement pointing out that Benry didn't remember Sayid when they met in 2004, but you would think that he would remember the dude that shot him in 1977.  Miles capitulates at that point, saying he hadn't thought about that.  The episode itself gave us the answer to that question at the end, however.  More on that in a bit.

So, other things that were interesting in this episode before we get to the big stuff...

In some ways I love it when my theories are proven right and in some ways it feels a little anticlimactic.  Way back in the Series Finale last year I knew immediately that Sawyer told Kate about Clementine and that Kate would go to Cassidy with that.  I was right, although, I'm sure that quite a few people figured it out at some point even if not right away.

As for Aaron going to his grandmother, though, I was a little surprised there (although not when it happened, when they should Claire's mother in the Previously On section, then I knew that's where it would be going).  I had thought these last few weeks that Aaron was with Cassidy and Clementine.  Interesting stuff, but like Eggtown, I'm not sure I always buy Kate's reasons for things.  I'm still not sure I see her leaving Aaron with his grandmother, but I like the idea that she has decided if she can't have Aaron she will make sure that Claire can, so she went back in order to save Claire.  That I can buy.

Dr. Jack was given the opportunity to once again (for the first time) save Benry Gale and this time he declined it.  Jack is currently a little unsure of what he's doing, I don't think he's fully over his time as raving, drug addicted, bearded man.  He had a brief bit of being back in control when he tried to get the band back together (as it were), but to be honest he really didn't do any better of a job at that then Locke did.  Everyone came back for their own reasons and not because Dr. Jack told them to.  I really think the scene between Jack and Juliet was interesting.  She asks him why he was supposed to come back, and he says because he was supposed to.  When she then asks why that is he doesn't know.  "Well, you'd better find out," she says.

Of course, I think part of why he was supposed to come back is already in play.  (Yep, now onto the good stuff, Benry!)  By his refusing to save Young Ben's life, he set Kate and Sawyer on a course that would completely alter Young Ben's future.

In other words, it is by the action (or inaction in Dr. Jack's case) of our three main characters that Young Ben, the innocent lad that he is, is turned into Benry Gale, the Moriarty to our heroes Sherlock Holmes.  This is an interesting new twist on the Author of Their Own Situation theory.  A lot of the things that they've gone through are the direct results of the way they "saved" Young Ben.  If Dr. Jack had saved Young Ben, there would have been a kinship their that probably would have come in handy when Oceanic Flight 815 crashed, and Young Ben wouldn't have been so tied to the Others.  But he didn't (as he couldn't, because after all whatever happened, happened) and so Kate was forced to do the only other thing she could to save him, go to Richard Alpert.

When Richard takes Young Ben to "save" him, he tells Kate and Sawyer, "If I take him, he's not ever going to be the same again.  He'll forget this ever happened," (there's your answer Hurley) "and his innocence will be gone.  He will always be one of us."  In other words, he'll become Benry Gale and soon will purge the Island of Dharmaites in the, well, Purge.

But Richard, one Other argues, what about what Elle (aka Ms. Hawking, aka Faraday's Mum) and Charlie (aka Charles Widmore, aka Penny's Dad) think about this??

Richard angrily proclaims that he doesn't answer to them.  Which I find interesting, because as we know, neither of them are currently on the Island (as in 2007 LOST present day sense).  But both seem to have some affinity for the Island still.  Ms. Hawking is in charge of the Dharma station capable of finding the Island (and it was Richard Alpert who told Locke, who then told Benry, that she could get them back, so she, at least, still seems connected to Richard and the Others).  And Widmore claims that the Island is his and always was supposed to be until Benry stole it from him.

So, Richard takes Benry into the Temple.  The same Temple that Benry would one day send all of the Others to in order to protect them from the Freighter Folk.  Which apparently then made it possible for the Others (even those who joined the Others after the plane crash such as the stewardess and the kids from the Tail Section) not to be affected by the Time Shifts.  The same Temple that Rousseau's crew went into and came out "sick", as she put it, but certainly changed to the point where her lover was willing to shoot her and her unborn baby.

A few weeks ago I posited the theory that the Others were dead in the same way that Christian Shephard (and possibly Claire) were dead.  In that "we're dead, but we can totally walk around and interact with you (while not needing brains to survive)" way.  This would explain why the time shifts didn't affect them (remember it didn't take Charlotte's dead body along for the last ride either) and why Richard doesn't age.  I still really like the basics of this theory.  In some ways even more now then when I came up with it.  The only problem that I currently see with it is why does Benry continue to age if this was done to him when he was just a wee little lad.  So, there does need to be a little refining done.  Maybe next week's episode, "Dead is Dead" will help clear this theory up a little bit.

Until Next Time, I really like the idea that what Benry becomes is directly related to actions (and inaction) by our main characters.  That is an awesome revelation.