The Staff Station Dharma logo takes a departure from other Station logos in that it uses red rather than being restricted to black and white. However, before I press on about the Staff Station, I feel this note I unearthed about 'the caduceus' (the name of the symbol within the logo) is worth pointing out.
'The caduceus is sometimes inaccurately used as a symbol for medicine, especially in North America, but the traditional medical symbol is the rod of Asclepius with only a single snake and no wings.'
Did Dharma (or the creative designers on the show) realise the Caduceus symbol they used was inaccurate in pertaining to the medical profession? I'll leave that for you to make your own mind up about. (Those that have a sense about the kind of person I am will probably be able to deduce what I believe.) Still, let's not allow this to hamper our investigation. Please remember that my chief purpose here is to work out what Dharma originally intended the Staff Station to be for, but to get there I'm going to work chronologically backwards. . .
As of the end of season 3, the last revelation about the Staff Station was the reveal of the secret vault that Juliet showed to Sun. Here, at least, there was working pregnancy equipment, verifying that The Staff was not a place that had been adjusted and refurbished to accommodate Claire after her kidnap; other pregnant women had been there before her. As Juliet points out they all died there, too. We've seen as much in her flashbacks.
The Others, then, appropriated The Staff as base for their issues with pregnancy-fatality on the Island. The vault that Juliet showed to Sun had been appropriated as a form of 'hospice' for the mothers that would certainly die. And I think there is a temptation to leave the thought process there. The Staff Station is a medical station, we tell ourselves. The Others brought pregnant women there for medical treatment, we tell ourselves. It makes sense. Except ending with that line of thinking does not answer this: What did Dharma build the Staff Station for?
When Claire returned to the Staff Station, with Kate and Danielle, we got a chance to explore a little. The place was emptied and abandoned, seemingly in a rush (presumably because, since Claire had escaped, The Others fled fearing she would tell her people where she had been). There was one enormously intriguing element that probably took your interest at first and you've since forgotten about. 'Escape hatch'. There was an escape hatch in the Staff Station, presumably put there by Dharma. For me, that raises more questions than anything else seen in The Staff so far.
Whoever heard of a medical station requiring an 'escape hatch'? (And, by the way, whilst I'm on the subject; if The Staff's original purpose was as a medical station - like a hospital - then why the hell place it far away from the Barracks and the majority of the Dharma Initiative people in an underground bunker? Not exactly convenient in an emergency, don't you think?) So we have a medical facility with a built-in 'Escape Hatch'. Hold on to that.
Before The Others, before 'the purge', something happened concerning The Staff Station that's thoroughly deserving of our attention. On the Blast Door Map, close to the The Staff, the following notation. 'Caduceus Station believed to have been abandoned due to AH/MDG incident of 1985 - or - possible catastrophic malfunction of Cerberus system'.
Let's just hold up for a second and take that in.
Caduceus Station believed to have been abandoned due to AH/MDG incident of 1985.
"AH" probably stands for Alvar Hanso. "MDG" I struggle with. The DG part could be De Groot, but the M doesn't fit with Karen or Gerald. . . Another De Groot? A son or daughter? Maybe. Maybe not. I find it fascinating that 'an incident' at the Staff Station provoked the place to be abandoned (through the 'escape hatch'!?). I mean, we all know there was 'an incident' at the Swan Station but they didn't abandon that place. How bad must the Staff Station incident have been?
Possible catastrophic malfunction of Cerberus system.
Easily the most eye-catching notation. Cerberus being Dharma's name for the Black Smoke, we have the suggestion here that the Staff Station was directly involved with it. The fact that the Cerberus SYSTEM had a MALFUNCTION, I hope, is enough to persuade people that the Black Smoke is a man-made, technological creation. It almost certainly must be, and Dharma appear to almost certainly be at the heart of it. Catastrophically so. Possibly. (You've gotta love the caveat of flexibility the Lost creators like to leave themselves!)
Could it possibly be that the Black Smoke has its origins, or its current incarnation, as a result of work done in the Staff Station? We can be certain that the Black Smoke is not all there is to Cerberus - that it is a small part of a larger system - but where else and what else it extends to boggles the mind. Is that what the original purpose of the Staff Station was for Dharma, before The Others turned up and appropriated it as a pregnancy clinic? I think of that 'escape hatch' and how it would be a necessary failsafe if working with something so potentially dangerous as Cerberus and, you know, I'm a little swayed by the notion.
In 1985, by whatever process, the Black Smoke as we know it was unleashed? Catastrophic death and destruction at the Staff Station that caused the place to be abandoned? You ask me point blank if I think that's right, I'd hesitate. You ask me if I think it's a possibility, given the evidence I've gathered, I'd say, Yeah, could be. I'm not saying Dharma's original intention was to create the Black Smoke - rather I'd suggest the Black Smoke/Cerberus is an offshoot of a project that went wrong. . . An 'incident' occurred. . . Dharma fled the scene and the Black Smoke was left rampaging around since. . . Yeah, could be. Possibly.