Tail-End Identity Parade

It's literally a second-long glimpse we get of the tail-end survivors making their first appearance to Sawyer and Michael on the beach having followed Jin out, whom they had previously captured. And so when these dark shapes appear, first time around, we have no clue that they are also survivors of Oceanic 815 and are led to believe they are threatening "others".

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It's a startling moment, only diminished by us getting to know these people and realising they are not the band of savages we first thought. Except, the trouble is, those two on the left don't look like they have appeared with the rest of the tail-end survivors in subsequent episodes!

The woman that is supposed to be Cindy Chandler (second from left) doesn't appear to be the same actress, so far as I can tell. And as for the guy on the left. . . Who the hell is he? Don't tell me that's supposed to be fucking Bernard!

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Here's a slightly better image of these approaching people, from the next episode, Orientation. Look again at the two people on the left, and see that the Cindy Chandler we will come to know in episodes like Abandoned and The Other 48 Days is clearly not the same person that is here.

But even more galling is the guy on the left, who is, indeed, supposed to be Bernard but obviously isn't. He's wearing the same clothes as Bernard, and has an approximation of the same age as Bernard, but that guy sure as shit isn't him!

To be honest, I'm not even wholly convinced the woman that is supposed to be Libby is the correct actress, either, but on that score I am willing to listen to the argument that it really is. You can't tell if Ana Lucia is the proper actress, either, since she's stood behind the probably-not-Libby person.

Obviously this is just a continuity thing to do with the actors that were available at the time of shooting, but even still. . . It's sloppy.

White Tennis Shoe

Let's run through this nice and quick.

The theory goes that there's a white tennis shoe hanging from a tree in the jungle, as we saw in the first few minutes of Lost in the Pilot episode.

Later, days later, Christian Shephard appears to Jack on the Island. Bizarrely, in the episode White Rabbit, he appears to be wearing white tennis shoes!

Therefore comes the theory that Christian Shephard is alive and is physically on the Island and physically wearing the shoes we saw one of hanging in the tree. Never mind the fact that he appeared here. . .

. . . out of nowhere, and disappeared just as quickly into thin air. (Notice how we can't see his feet.) Never mind we only saw one tennis shoe and yet Christian appears to be sporting a pair on the Island. Just so we're clear, he doesn't always wear tennis shoes.

White tennis shoes would appear to be an odd thing for him to have on his feet to be buried in, right? So, for whatever reason, the real, living Christian took the tennis shoes he found in the jungle and that's what he wears, right? So the theory gathers dust for a couple of years, and then along comes the episode The Beginning Of The End. We see Christian in Jacob's cabin. Most notably, we see his feet.

Look! What is clearly (well, not that clearly) a white tennis shoe there on Christian's foot! Suddenly the fans of the Christian-is-really-alive have EVIDENCE that their theory is right!



May I point you towards the mobisode So It Begins. This was a scene that took place moments before the first ever episode of Lost began. It shows Vincent running through the jungle and encountering Christian Shephard. Brilliantly, we get to see Christian's feet.

He's wearing a pair! So therefore the white tennis shoe we see hanging in the tree just minutes from this moment cannot possibly be the same as what Christian has on his feet. The physical evidence is killed. The theory void. I can't explain exactly what is going on with Christian Shephard's appearances on the Island, but at least we can lay the matter of whether he's wearing the tennis shoe to rest.


Analysis: 4.8 Meet Kevin Johnson

Black and white. Always been a subtle element within Lost right back from the time Locke held up two backgammon pieces to Walt and told him: “Two sides. One is light. One is dark.” And with the episode Meet Kevin Johnson that distinction between opposites was presented for our consideration, with Ben and Michael. Yes, there is the crass black and white parallel (Ben’s white, Mike’s black!) but the real parallel concerns the lengths a father will go to for their child. To state the matter plainly: Either Ben and Michael have both proven they will murder other people to protect their child, or Ben really is a “good guy”, and as such is the other side, the white to Michael’s black.

Ben – “I don’t blame you, Michael. We did have your boy. What wouldn’t a man do for his son?”

The episode was, I think, pushing the possibility that Ben was responsible for the ambush on Alex, Danielle and Karl. Contrasting what Michael did for Walt against what Ben might have done for Alex. We know Ben is protective of Alex, that he apparently had Karl locked in a cage and then brainwashed in Room 23 purely because of his relationship with her. Ben later said his actions were an over-reaction. If that was an over-reaction, then what do you call murder? He saw Alex and Karl, with their arms around one another, gazing at baby Aaron and, knowing pregnancy is a death sentence on the Island perhaps he decided to remove the possibility completely? (He's already made sly mention to Karl about "sleeping with my daughter" during the episode Confirmed Dead.) He has pure motive.

But let’s hold on here. Because I believe Ben really is the white to Michael’s black in this instance. Whilst the episode did suggest that Ben sent Alex, Danielle and Karl on their way to an ambush he had somehow set up, I don’t think that was the way of it. The matter of how he would set up the ambush in the first place is hard to imagine. The fact that it would have been an Other shooting Karl dead is tough to comprehend (they’d just shoot one of their own like that? not sticking to their ‘eye for an eye’ justice code?). And Danielle had been wandering the Island for 16 years, untouched and unbothered by The Others, then at the drop of a hat they put a bullet in her? Doesn’t make sense. I always liked to believe Danielle had purpose, that there was a reason for her being left alone and alive, so I hope she isn’t actually dead.

“I’m Ben’s daughter!” Alex yelled in surrender. She wouldn’t need to announce who she was if she thought it was The Others. She believes it’s The Freighter people, and she announces herself to ensure her value to them is understood. And I think Alex is right. I think the shooter(s) is/are from The Freighter, possibly dropped onto the Island by Frank (remember how he nipped away in his helicopter in the previous episode?). This being true, it means Alex will be delivered into enemy hands and, suddenly, Ben will be the father forced to question how far he is willing to go to protect his child. Oh the irony.

Tellingly, if this is the case, it means Ben has made his first major mistake. The all-knowing mastermind’s first mis-step. Perhaps this is how he will eventually wind up off-Island, using Sayid as his assassinating puppet. Maybe Ben will surrender the Island for the sake of his daughter. Maybe those are the lengths he, as a father, will go to. Alongside this, I think we witnessed part of the reason Sayid will be humbled enough to come to work for Ben in the future; he instantly gave Michael up as a traitor upon learning he was working for Ben. Oh, the irony! Perhaps he should have thought less with his heart?

Frustratingly we were never shown how Michael and Walt got themselves back to New York after leaving the Island on that tiny boat, but we know they managed to do it very discreetly and that somewhere along the way Michael told Walt about shooting Ana Lucia and Libby. A very disappointed Walt therefore turned his back on Michael, and Michael was driven, literally, to suicide. Bad news for suicidal Island-elopers is that there’s an Island force that stops you from killing yourself.

That the Island has some kind of a will does, at first, seem kind of silly. It’s certainly hard to comprehend scientifically. However, it can be reconciled with the idea of a grand design – of purpose on a large scale. The passengers of Oceanic 815, with their criss-crossing lives and chequered destiny’s all slot into this large, Lost puzzle. Only at the end will the design make sense. Only at the end will a force that can stop a gun from firing be seen as cosmically viable in the Lost universe. The same way, when Jack was about to leap off a bridge during Through The Looking Glass, a car crash occurred to appeal to his innate urge to save people and stop his suicidal act.

Or maybe, for the men of science amongst us, the reason there was a car crash on a bridge was because the driver lost concentration due to staring at Jack about to jump off the side. And the reason Michael’s gun didn’t fire was because Tom took it off him and disabled the firing pin without Michael noticing. The beauty of Lost is you can believe on a level you are happy to invest in; whatever works for you.

Ben must surely have reasons for selecting Michael for The Freighter task. Since his own people can come and go from the Island with ease, and have the wherewithal to generate fake passports and get a place on The Freighter, any Other could have done it. Instead, Tom was sent over at great lengths to ensure Michael was the one. Again, this makes sense. Ben’s repeated insistence has been to never let people leave the Island. I’m willing to bet that in flashforwards, Ben, whilst working to thwart Widmore, will also be angling to get the Oceanic 6 back to the Island also.

Widmore was further presented as the ultimate nemesis of Ben’s. Another black to his white, if you like. Frank Lapidus remarked to Kevin Johnson/Michael Dawson that Widmore, the owner of The Freighter, believes that the wreck of Oceanic 815 was a fake, unaware of the fact that Widmore believed as much because he put it there! (Once again: oh the irony!)

Using the corpses of Thais to populate as passengers, this should hopefully, once and for all, silence the lunatic fringe that believe Oceanic 815 was cloned, or sent into a different time dimension. The real plane crashed. The other plane was faked so that people would stop looking for the real one and, in doing so, potentially discover the Island that Widmore wants all to himself. It’s that simple. The existence of the Oceanic 6 doesn’t contradict the faked wreckage; all 324 passengers were assumed dead and no bodies were actually recovered. No one actually went down and counted all the bodies; all 324 were assumed dead. It’s that simple.

All of this information was relayed by Tom. Since his “You’re not my type” comment to Kate in the locker room during A Tale Of Two Cities we’ve all known he was probably gay. Arturo was living confirmation. Poor Arturo wasn’t to know that, mere weeks later, big Tom would be on his knees on a beach where a con man known as Sawyer shoots him dead. But Tom wasn’t the only person back from the dead in this episode.

Was Libby a pure manifestation of Michael’s guilt haunting him, conjured from his sub-conscious? Or evidence of this Island force existing around Michael, reminding him of the debt he owes and his need to save his fellow Oceanic passengers? Believe whatever you want, on whatever level you’re prepared to invest in. Either way, Michael’s purpose is not yet complete. “I’m here to die,” he remarked to Sayid. ‘NOT YET’ flagged up the little note in unmistakable black letters on white paper when he attempted to do just that.

It’s a message that could have come straight from the Island itself. Not yet, Kevin Johnson. Not yet, Michael Dawson. The Island needs you. It would seem, given the inherent misery and guilt the Oceanic 6 have been shown to be riddled with, once you’re a part of the Island you’re never quite complete without it, and it’s never quite complete without you.

Hurley – “I don't think we did the right thing, Jack. I think it wants us to come back. . . And it’s going to do everything it can. . .” (Hurley to Jack, Season 4, Episode 1: The Beginning Of The End)

Analysis: 4.7 Ji Yeon

If Ji Yeon hadn’t been such a beguiling trick of an episode then that sucker-punch ending might have hit faster and harder. As it was, the truth took a while to sink in. What truth? Why, the truth that Jin is dead. Not just dead in the ‘died on Oceanic 815’ sense that the real word believes, but dead dead. As in, he died on the Island. As in, we’re yet to witness the moment it happens but it will happen. Jin will die. Jin is dead. Indeed, for some Ji Yeon was such a tricky episode they perhaps can’t bring themselves to believe it. But I am certain. Jin is dead. Allow me to explain why.

Jin’s grave had his death-date as September 22nd, 2004. The date of the crash of Oceanic 815. Here is stone proof that the real world has Jin as one of the passengers that died. Probably there are about 300 other gravestones similarly marked. The truth is set. In flashforward land, the world considers Jin to be dead. He wasn’t with Sun because he is dead. He wasn’t there for the birth of Ji Yeon because he is dead. Jin’s gravestone in the flashforward, and his remark about being married for two months in his flashback, confirmed the discrepancy.

If you hadn’t already realised, that was the trick of Ji Yeon. We saw Sun in a flashforward. We saw Jin in a flashback. The flashback and the flashforward were played against each other in a neat manner to make you think they were both occurring within the same timeframe. The business with Jin buying the panda afforded a sick irony; pandas being creatures that are notoriously bad at reproducing linked in with Jin and Sun who for so long were unable to have children – the punchline being that Jin finally did get the daughter he dreamed yet was not around to see it. If that doesn’t break your heart then what does?

So the real world believes Jin is dead. The real world believes he died in the Oceanic 815 crash. That’s one hundred per cent definite. What makes me consider if Jin is dead dead depends on what I believe flashforward Sun thinks of her husband. And I think she thinks Jin is dead dead. I think Hurley does too. I think the pair of them know Jin is dead, and that means he died on the Island.

I think of Sun’s grief. “I miss you so much.” She took her newborn baby to Jin’s gravestone. If she knew that, really, he was actually just stuck on an Island then her behaviour here would be fairly weird. Sun was not talking like a woman that knew her husband was out there, somewhere, alive. And furthermore, Hurley journeyed all the way to Korea to be with Sun at Jin’s grave. If Hurley knew Jin was actually alive on the Island he would be riddled with guilt (“they need you”) not solemnity. “I guess we should go see him,” he remarked, before they went to Jin’s grave. Hurley is aware that people were left behind and alive on the Island – but here he displays conviction that Jin was not one of them.

“You will never lose me,” said Jin to Sun. This is the promise he made, but it’s a promise that a dead man can’t keep. I mean, honestly, I hope I’m wrong. I think Jin is great. I hope Sun either believes he is dead by mistake, or I’ve just misread the whole situation. But hope is a very fragile thing.

Here’s a terrible underlining. Sun has only three weeks to remain on the Island before she becomes fatally sick with her pregnancy. Juliet outlined her timeframe and things get bleak very quickly unless Sun gets off the Island pronto. That means Sun must leave, with the rest of the Oceanic 6, within three weeks. That means Jin will be dead within those three weeks. As I said, I hope I’m wrong.

Phew. All this talk of death is really depressing. Let’s try and lighten the mood. Here’s a joke for you:

Q. Why did the woman wrap a thick chain around her body and jump off a ship into the ocean?

A. Because she was plagued by traumatic, mental strain caused by close proximity to a mysterious Island!

Admittedly, it’s not the funniest joke in the world. Yet when we witnessed Regina (or ‘she who nervously reads upside-down books’) commit suicide in such a bizarre manner it’s hard not to smirk. But it’s clear that life on The Freighter is no laughing matter. If you’re not caught in the yo-yo of consciousness time travel before your brain bleeds out of your nose, like Minkowski and Brandon, then you’re going quietly insane enough to become a jittering wreck that eventually ends yourself, like Regina.

The bloodstain on the wall, from freshly blown off head I guess (very Radzinsky), allows us to appreciate that Regina’s suicide was not unique. “Some of my crew has been dealing with what might best be described as a heightened case of cabin fever,” said Captain Gault. It’s not certain what this ‘sickness’ is (I use that word deliberately; we may have our first inklings about the infection that Rousseau spoke of afflicting her team), nor why only some of the crew have been affected (Rousseau was apparently not affected by this ‘sickness’ which adds parallels to her story and the “cabin fever” effects).

As for Captain Gault, well, he apparently can’t be trusted. A subtle note told us so. So all of his talk about how Ben was responsible for staging a fake Oceanic 815 with the bodies of 324 people on board should be taken with a pinch of salt. He’s either been fed the wrong information by Widmore, or he’s deliberately trying to get the likes of Sayid and Desmond to ally with him. Given his crew members are rapidly dwindling I guess he needs all the help he can get. Trouble is, he’s got a pesky saboteur on board. . .

It’s handy that Ji Yeon had that surprise ending, as the ‘surprise’ that Michael was the saboteur on The Freighter wasn’t hard to see coming. In the 30 days since Michael left the Island he’s been busy. Somehow he has managed to ditch Walt, appropriate a new identity (hello Kevin Johnson!) and get a job on The Freighter.

Did he run into The Freighter in the boat he sailed from the Island? If he did, where has Walt gone? (Is he on The Freighter? Tapping on the pipes?) Or has Michael been to a mainland and willingly got himself on Widmore’s Freighter in attempt to right the terrible wrongs he committed and rescue his fellow Oceanic passengers? His story should be made a lot clearer in the next episode, but my hunch is that Michael will be a key element in the eventual rescue of the Oceanic 6 and Walt, somehow, is probably his key motivation.

Speaking of which, apparently we now have our full Oceanic 6 line up. Jack, Kate, Hurley, Sayid and Sun are definites. Our sixth is probably Aaron (although his status as an Oceanic passenger is dubious, I guess he must still count as an Oceanic survivor!).

So those are the ones that will make it, but this episode, lest we forget, was all about one of them that didn’t. The tortured fisherman. The devoted husband. The loyal friend. He can’t really be dead, can he?

Can he?

Rogue Others

“You [Goodwin] run and you can make that shore line in an hour. Ethan, get up there to that fuselage. There may actually be survivors; and you’re one of them. A passenger, in shock - come up with an adequate story if they ask. Stay quiet if they don’t. Listen, learn, don’t get involved. I want lists in 3 days. Go.”

This, as I am sure you all remember, is what Ben said to The Others upon witnessing the mid-air dismantling of Oceanic 815. (We know since the episode The Other Woman that Ben’s motives were less than pure in sending Goodwin – that he was getting rid of him since Goodwin was conducting an affair with Juliet – and this may, may, be a salient point to be held onto.)

Compare and contrast Ben’s directive above with the speech of Ana Lucia to Michael.

“They came the first night that we got here. They took 3 of us. Nothing happened for 2 weeks, then they came back. They took 9 more. They’re smart, and they’re animals, and they could be anywhere at any time.”

Perhaps this is something that has occurred to you already, but here, with these key pieces of information next to each other, the discrepancy is hard to miss. Ben gave Goodwin and Ethan three days to make lists, and yet the tail section group were attacked and had people kidnapped the very first night.

So what happened to the three days to make lists?

I kicked around the idea there were a second group of Others. A more savage, raggedy bunch. I’ll call them Rogue Others. Perhaps these Rogue Others attacked the tail section survivors the first night, interrupting the plan of Ben’s Others. In short, the basic principle is that The Others that attacked the tail section the first night had nothing to do with The Others from The Barracks. They were a separate faction entirely.

I liked the idea that Ben’s ‘civilised’ Others modelled their disguise on these rougher Rogue Others. Confusion could abound with Ben’s Others mistaken for Rogue Others by people none-the-wiser there was more than one faction on the Island.

I remember the slight ticking off Tom received during Live Together, Die Alone at the pier when Ben noticed he had removed his fake beard and revealed himself. Since the intention at that moment was to send Hurley back to the Oceanic survivors, he would know Tom’s beard was a fake. The secret would be out!

When I considered the idea of Rogue Others, of what possible evidence there could be of who this mysterious alternate faction could be, I thought of when Jin and Mr. Eko hid in the jungle, faces at ground height, watching feet traipse past. Dirty, bare feet. The last, memorably, trailed a teddy bear on a lead. Before I investigated further, this was the abiding image.

Could these Rogue Others be the original hostiles that, post-purge, refused to live in the Dharma facilities? Perhaps the Rogue Others disliked technology, considering it “cheating”, as Locke once put to Ben. Such an aversion to technology would ally with Jacob; a tribe of Rogue Others more akin with Jacob than Ben. Just because Richard Alpert chose to join with Ben and live in The Barracks, it doesn’t mean all his people chose the same path. . .

There’s juicy scope in this notion but I brought myself back to Earth. Let’s not run away with ourselves. Reality testing. Find the proof. So I looked into it further.

We learn during The Other 48 Days about those that were kidnapped the first night. “3 of the people are missing; the blond guy, the curly-haired guy, and the German who was helping us with the injured.”

Anybody else finding it hard to understand how three people could have been ‘selected’ so quickly by Ben’s Others? Before names were known, before lists could have been drawn up and distributed? Three people were taken the first night! Wasn’t Goodwin supposed to be the one to find out names and get a list? How could he have possibly done this in such a short space of time and communicated it to The Others?

“Nobody knew anybody’s names the first night.”

As much as the Rogue Others theory feels like a crazed, wild-card idea, the ignorance of the ‘3-day list’ command is hard to justify in its place. Even if Ben bypassed Goodwin and somehow went about producing his own list it’s still troublesome to imagine how that could have been done so quickly! And it wasn’t exactly a roaring success either; Mr. Eko battered to death two of the kidnappers with a rock.

Mr. Eko did go and ‘confess’ to Ben, when Ben was known as Henry Gale, about what he had done. Had Ben acknowledged anything here he would have shot down the Rogue Other theory. Alas, if he had acknowledged anything he would have given himself away as an Other. Catch-22. We learned nothing.

But back to reality testing. On Day Nine Zack and Emma were taken. We know those kids were definitely swiped by Ben’s Others; we see them again on the Hydra Island outside Jack’s cage. Was Zack holding a teddy bear in that scene? You bet he was! That really fouls up the idea that it was Rogue Others traipsing single file through the jungle that day. One nail in the coffin.

How many people from the tail-section were taken? 3 on the first night. 9 the second time. Throw in Cindy and that makes a total of 13 people apparently captured by The Others. How many people were by Jack’s cage? I counted roughly thirteen. That’s nail number two. The amount of people that Cindy claimed were “here to watch” was the same number as had been kidnapped. This leaves no room for involvement by Rogue Others.

So I started this investigation fairly confident there was reasonable scope to argue the existence of Rogue Others. Now, alas, I am forced to concede they are nothing more tangible than an intriguing idea. The Rogue Others theory, sadly, reduced to little more than a rogue idea. The only Others, it seems, are the Others and the smart man doesn’t get swayed by any, ahem, other possibilities.

All that disappointingly remains is the nagging question of why Ben’s ‘3 days to make lists’ rule was completely ignored that first night, and how Ben’s Others could have possibly known who to take. Nobody knew anybody’s name the first night. Apparently, that couldn’t have been altogether true. Unless, of course, Ben knew all along who was on board Oceanic 815. . .