Analysis: 4.9 The Shape Of Things To Come

The shape of things to come is a chessboard. (Look, I know a chessboard isn't strictly a shape but if Lost is going to start going crazy with our sense and sensibilities then I’m taking leave to do the same!) In the grand mosaic of Lost, we can picture a chessboard and consider all the things we know to be the white squares and all the things we don't know to be the black squares. And The Shape Of Things To Come presented us with a whole bunch of black squares we have yet to fully find out about.

We were dropped, gasping, onto a black square at the start of Ben's flashforward. He's in the middle of the desert, apparently appearing there out of nowhere. It's 2005. And he's wearing a thick coat. What's that? The coat has a Dharma logo? And the name Halliwax? Ah, I think I see the game that's being played here. This all started back with The Orchid Orientation film as premiered at Comic-Con.

In brief, The Orchid Orientation (as presented by "Edgar Halliwax" - the man whose jacket Ben appears to have swiped) suggests that, via a sort of Casimir Effect, time and space can be warped and an object (in the video, a rabbit) can be 'shifted'. For the sake of ease (mine, not yours) I'll call it time-space teleportation. And this is what Ben appears to have done to pop-up in the Sahara Desert. (The suggestion presented way back during Confirmed Dead in Charlotte's flashback is that polar bears have undergone the same kind of 'journey', when their bones were found in the desert.)

This was the logo on Ben/Halliwax's jacket. Is this the official logo of The Orchid Station. . .? Until I hear otherwise I'm saying it is.

Where and when had Ben teleported from? The steamed breath and thick jacket raises the likelihood of him having been somewhere cold. Maybe the process of time-space teleportation is just really chilly (like in Back To The Future). And if you don't get it right you can injure yourself (Ben received a slight cut - Marvin Candle appeared to have lost his entire arm!) But we saw a Listening Station at the end of Live Together, Die Alone, where there were people who knew how to contact Penny. Maybe Ben had come from there on his hunt for Widmore's daughter. Maybe that’s where he picked up his injury. (Note that the two men in the Listening Post were playing chess before the 'electromagnetic anomaly' interrupted them, to continue the 'game motif' I've got going on. . .)

It's as basic for Ben as: Keamy shot my daughter, and Widmore hired Keamy, so I blame Widmore, so I'll kill his daughter. But it's never simple with Lost because Alex shouldn't have died, apparently, except for the fact that someone, somewhere cheated.

"He changed the rules," Ben said. Seems to me he should have noticed a lot sooner and not gambled with Alex's life so casually (his shocked expression suggested his realisation of the same thing came too late). With absolute confidence he sent Alex off with Rousseau. "Your mother will protect you." And then Alex, captured and at gunpoint, tells Ben that her mother has been killed. That should have sent alarm bells ringing. If the woman that's lived alone on the Island for sixteen years can get snuffed out then all bets are off. Yet Ben just didn't realise the ramifications. The board had been switched. The rules changed. The Keamy Bluff gambit isn't going to work. Ben calls out "She’s a pawn, nothing more" and on this game of Island Chess that was exactly what she became.

In the high stakes game of Island-ownership, you lose your daughter. And in good old Others' tradition of "eye for an eye" retribution, Ben promises as much to Widmore. The shape of things to come? Ben kills Penny? Well if Desmond has any say in the matter then killing Penny won't be as easy as Ben may think. (Come to think of it, Desmond and Ben have never actually met yet! The stage is being set for quite the confrontation. . .)

So what is the deal between Ben and Widmore? The pair have history, for sure. I've previously speculated that somehow Ben managed to swindle a lot of money off Widmore, 'purge' his Dharma organisation and take the Island for himself. Maybe that's even it. But with Widmore's remarks of "I know who you really are, boy" and Ben's talk of how he can't possibly kill Widmore and they both know it. . . Well, it all sounds far more grand and cosmic than petty human trivialities.

Without wishing to tread on any four-toes, this thing between Ben and Widmore all seems a little bit. . . dare I say it. . . silly? This is still Lost, right? You know, the show about the plane crash survivors? The Island hasn't become a playground of the immortals or something, right? Right?

(No wonder Jack was ill. Not so long ago he was the leading man. It'd make anyone sick to their stomach. Doc Shephard is fine. Well, apart from getting into the swing of self-prescribing himself pills to pop. The other doc's fine, too. Well, apart from having his throat cut in the Freighter future/Island past kind of way.)

Thankfully, to remind us that this was still Lost there was the classic staple on full display: The Black Smoke. Except Ben can't keep his fingers out of this aspect either. First came the Blast Door Map for us all to analyse and ponder. Now we have the Ben Secret Door Glyph (not quite as catchy, I grant you) for us all to puzzle over.

Off went Ben through the secret door and, a little while later, he emerges dirtied but resolute. Then the shaking starts. And then arrives a madder-than-hell Smokey to give Keamy and co something to play with. Ben clearly intended this. He told everyone where to run and when. I can't commit to the idea that Ben actually controls Smokey, but I think he understands how to push the buttons that alter the Black Smoke's behaviour. I guess he figured if "he" (presumably Widmore) can change the rules then the security system (can we think of the Black Smoke as a referee in this match?) can be tampered with. All bets are off.

This is the shape of things to come. We've gone right past the point of what's "supposed to happen" and into a new unchartered realm. So which square do we move to next in this chequered puzzle? Off to see Jacob, that's where. The arbiter of the Island rules. We've got Locke who can hear Jacob ("Help me!"), and we've got Ben who can speak to Jacob, and we've got Hurley who knows how to go and see Jacob. So these three wise monkeys are off for further instructions - but since we know Flashforward Hurley regrets ever going with Locke I think it's a fair bet to say that the shape of things to come isn't, in the near-future, looking particularly rosy.

Game on, then!

Dharma Facilities: The Sonic Fence

Which came first? The Black Smoke or The Sonic Fence? Perhaps at first it appears there is a simple, straightforward answer to this conundrum. However, digging into the matter throws up some intriguing elements - but first some groundwork.

The Sonic Fence is impressive. It surrounds The Barracks in a wide perimeter. The pylons were constructed and spaced evenly apart with absolute precision. Weak links, after all, would counter the whole purpose of the fence. Construction was no mean feat and that's without taking into the account the technology developed for it; a continuous stream of high-frequency soundwaves channelled through each pylon to produce a seamless barrier between them. The Sonic Fence was not something quickly whipped up; it took a lot of planning, development and effort. I don't believe that is insignificant.

The purpose of The Sonic Fence is twofold. The obvious purpose is to keep things on the outside from getting in. This makes The Barracks a protected environment in which to teach schoolchildren and allow the Dharma Initative people to sleep soundly in their beds. The alternate purpose of The Sonic Fence, however, is that it also keeps people in. There is an ever-changing access code requirement and such information can easily be limited or repressed dependent on how much freedom people were granted.

To put it bluntly, people Dharma didn't want wandering the Island could be contained. To put it bluntly, The Sonic Fences' protection also served as a prison. Typical of Dharma to keep things on a need-to-know, privileged basis.

The Barracks Orientation Video (as Narrated by Marvin Candle) - "For your own comfort and safety, we ask that you stay within the confines of your new living quarters. Our barracks are surrounded by a high frequency sonar fence to protect us from the island’s abundant and diverse wildlife. You are now a member of the DHARMA initiative. Every morning you will be given a new code that will allow you to cross outside the fences if you so desire. There are properties on this island that exist nowhere else on earth."

So let's get to the meat of the matter. What was The Sonic Fence for? If it was just to keep out "wildlife" then a high electric fence would have done the trick. As it stands, The Sonic Fence is actually hazardous. Given there were children in the Dharma Initiative the invisible barrier is very dangerous. Too easily could some errant child have unsuspectingly wandered through the barrier (they can't see it, and it makes no sound) to their frothing-mouthed death (provided it was set to a lethal level, which it presumably wasn't on a regular basis but that doesn't discount the harm caused by non-lethal settings - just ask Mikhail!). Evidently, the Dharma Initiative considered such ricks acceptable.

Let's consider the 'happy coincidence' idea. Basically, that the Dharma Initiative constructed The Sonic Fence for one purpose - to keep out "wildlife" - only for it just so happening to be ideally suited to preventing the Black Smoke from getting through. The Dharma Initiative were involved in all kinds of zoological research, who knows what weird and wonderful developments were running wild in the jungle? (I'm thinking Hurleybird.) But what kind of "wildlife", no matter how unnaturally developed, could possibly require a Sonic Fence to keep them out rather than a regular, electric fence? It all seems strikingly unlikely, and so having considered the 'happy coincidence' idea I have to dismiss it.

The Sonic Fence must have been purpose built to keep the Black Smoke out. This is a point that leads to two possibilities. The first possibility is that the Dharma Initiative arrived on the Island, started conducting scientific studies, and encountered the Black Smoke. What I mean is, the Black Smoke was on the Island before they were. Thus the Dharma Initiative somehow discovered enough about the Black Smoke to understand that a Sonic Fence would be adequate defence against it and so built one to protect themselves.

Problematically, as already established, The Sonic Fence was no mean feat to construct. It was a heck of an undertaking! Couple in the matter of 'investigating' the Black Smoke to work out the precise nature of what type of fence would be required and that seems like a roundabout, elaborate explanation. Not unfeasible, mind, just less likely than the alternate rationale.

The alternate idea is that the Dharma Initiative knew they needed a SonicFence precisely as they constructed it because they knew all about the Black Smoke. What I am suggesting is the Dharma Initiative (either deliberately, or as a nasty side-effect of a different study) were responsible for the creation of the Black Smoke. This makes the most sense to me. Before you do an experiment with dangerous chemicals you put goggles over your eyes because you're aware of what happens if you don't. Precaution fitting the risk. The Sonic Fence just seems too perfectly well-designed to repel the Black Smoke for Dharma to have not known a lot about it. That's my gut feeling.

Of course, when Ben was asked by Locke during Confirmed Dead about what 'the monster' was he earnestly replied, "I don't know." And don't forget Juliet's remark to Kate during Left Behind: "We don't know what it is but we know it doesn't like our fences." Only when Juliet says "we" she means The Others. And when Ben says he doesn't know he might be lying, or he simply may have been a member of the Dharma Initiative that was not privileged to know about the Black Smoke. Certain select members of the Dharma Initative knew of the Black Smoke and where it had come from, and they've either left the Island and kept their mouths shut or, more likely, they were killed in The Purge and the secret died with them. Typical of Dharma to keep things on a need-to-know basis. . .

Room 23: God Loves You

Before I begin dissection of the 'God loves you as He loved Jacob' slogan I'd like to take a second considering its origination. Curiously, the video in Room 23 (that features the slogan) appears to be a Dharma Initiative product. It's got that crazy 70s vibe! Even if The Others did somehow edit the video themselves then we have other empirical evidence linking Dharma to Jacob. The Orchid Orientation film also features a brief 'subliminal' flash of the 'God loves you as He loved Jacob' slogan. So Dharma were aware of, and appeared to have some form of reverence for, 'Jacob'.

Maybe it's just me, but that's a pretty striking notion.

I mean, The Others - comprised of 'hostiles', Dharma defectors and new arrivals - have continued a link with Dharma. Post-Purge, having desecrated all that Dharma stood for, The Others have retained this belief in Jacob. Personally, I take the interpretation that The Others (notably 'the hostiles') reclaimed Jacob from Dharma. That makes more sense than The Others taking the Jacob ideology as a hand-me-down from Dharma.

Let me concentrate solely on the 'God loves you as He loved Jacob' slogan. What is the message here? "God loves you" is the bottom line. For all the semantics regarding Jacob, the actual message of the slogan is simply this: God loves you. That's the take-home message. The extra information concerning Jacob is actually peripheral to the meaning. Excess baggage, if you will.

So God loves you, in the same way that He (note the capital - we're definitely still talking about God here) loved Jacob. Curious use of the past tense. There's two interpretations to the "as He loved Jacob" phrase. Either God stopped loving Jacob, or Jacob is considered gone and unable to be loved. And I deliberately chose the word "gone" rather than 'dead'. Death, after all, should be no limit for God's love. Death should be the beginning of when God's love really kicks in, right!?

And pardon me if my Bible-knowledge is rusty but doesn't God's love embrace all? I mean, isn't the idea that no matter what you do, no matter what sin you commit, so long as you embrace God He will love you? Isn't that how it works? And yet "He loved Jacob"! Either Jacob was a very bad man that rejected God outright and even after death, forever into eternity, refused acknowledgement. . . Or Jacob is in such a spot that, even if he did embrace God, God can't love him.

At this juncture I draw your attention to that memorable remark Ben once made to Locke. "God doesn't know how long we've been here, John. He can't see this island any better than the rest of the world can."

If someone were to remark that the Island is a 'God-forsaken place' they may be more right than they realise. And it is in this where I find my conclusion (and it is mine - I feel this is a very subjective argument). Take the slogan 'God loves you as He Loved Jacob' and re-word it to 'God loves you as He Loved the Island' and I start to scratch out meaning. Simply put: Dharma believed in God and the video and the slogan existed to affirm as much.

Think of it like you're walking through the gates of hell, demons everywhere. If you were devout you would clutch your cross, close your eyes, and pray. Keep the demons away. Remember your God. If Dharma, as believers, found themselves on this 'God-forsaken Island' - perhaps plagued by visions of dead people demanding they "Confess!" - then they created this brain-washing Room 23, and the 'God loves you as He loved Jacob' slogan to reinforce God on a Godless Island in people that may be losing their way.

The notion of scientists believing in God is something of an anachronism, perhaps (though hardly unprecedented). Yet Dharma were scientists interested in an end-of-the-world prophecy (The Valenzetti Equation) and involved in a Black Smoke of judgement (the Cerberus System - Cerberus being the name of the guardian of hell!). Even Dharma itself is proclaimed to mean "the one true way". Perhaps Dharma considered themselves a divination of science and faith. It's certainly a concept that sits pretty sweetly in Lost. In such context, a belief in God doesn't appear too ill-fitting.

Jacob, then, becomes a bogeyman. A scare story. A failure to remember God's love may cast you into the damnation of being lost like Jacob; trapped in a bizarre zone where few can see or hear you, where your cries of "Help me" will mostly go unheard. 'God loves you as He loved Jacob'. And don't you ever forget it. Not whilst you're on the Island.

Hurley's Ignorance: A Defence

For the first seventeen episodes of Season One of Lost Hurley appears to be completely oblivious to the idea that the cursed 4 8 15 16 23 42 numbers could have caused the crash of Oceanic 815. Eighteen episodes later, in Numbers, Hurley finally mentions to Charlie: "I think the plane crash might have been my fault."

It's a nagging inconsistency and not easily reconciled. Is the reason why Hurley didn't spend the first half of Season One fretting about the cursed numbers and how he must have been to blame for the crash because the writers hadn't thought of it yet? Listen, it doesn’t fill me with any glee to pick holes in the wonderful work the writers produce, but holes as big as this one (no reflection on Hurley’s personal size, you understand) cannot be ignored.

During and after the Numbers episode Hurley witnesses his uncle collapsing dead, a man jumping off a building, and a meteorite slamming into Mr McCluck's (with poor Tricia Tanaka inside!) amongst a multitude of other instances of profound misfortune. Let's face it, Hurley should have been the least surprised person on Oceanic 815 when it went down. Sat in his seat, as the turbulence hit and the cabin was rocked, he should have been thinking, Dude I knew this was going to happen. Yet he remains blissfully ignorant until, oh yeah, he finds Danielle's scrap of paper with the numbers written on it. Then it all comes flooding back. Then he has a freak out.

Right. Sure. It's ridiculous and senseless and, yeah, it's initially hard to disagree. I mean, can you see any other explanation other than it being evidence of the writers coming up with Hurley's cursed numbers later down the line? That, horror of horrors, the writers at the start didn’t have Hurley’s history completely worked out? Dude, come on, say it ain’t so!

So here's the defence. The case for why Hurley can explicably remain ignorant that the numbers are cursed and that the writers didn't just come up with it deep into the heart of Season One.

Kate robbed safety deposit box 815. Driveshaft featured as number 234 on a jukebox. For 16 years Rousseau's distress signal had been playing. The reward for Kate's capture was $23,000. There are more, but I don't wish to bore you.

What do all these have in common? They are all instances of the 4 8 15 16 23 42 numbers appearing in and around the Lost universe, and these all occurred before the Numbers episode. So, in the defence of the writers, here we have a plethora of examples that display they knew all about the cursed numbers from the start. It was Oceanic 8-15 for God's sake! That the numbers were considered from the start should not be in question. Are we in agreement? I hope so. Because all that is left to do is establish why Hurley didn't seem to believe in their cursed properties being culpable for crashing the plane.

Hurley – “But the numbers, did you ever find out anything about them? Do you know where they got their power?”

Danielle – “Power?”

Hurley – “They bring bad stuff to everyone around you. They're cursed. You know that, right? The numbers, they're cursed.”

Hurley says something vital about the curse in the above dialogue. Just think about his ‘bad luck’. He uses the numbers and wins the lottery, but then his uncle dies. A man jumps out of a building as Hurley is being told even his businesses that burned down have made him money. A meteorite hits McCluck's and kills Tricia? So what? Tricia was mean to him and he hated McCluck's anyway. My point is: “They bring bad stuff to everyone around you.”

Bad luck to everyone around Hurley. Not to him. Hurley, as a rule, tends toward good fortune whilst those around him suffer. He crosses a fragile rope bridge just fine, whereas a featherweight Charlie causes it to collapse. (OK, he gets arrested as a suspected drug dealer whilst his mother's house burns down but, come on, that's just a blip, dude!) So he finds himself on board a crashing plane? That, to me, that's bad luck. Yet Hurley has two factors in his defence:

a) He has been told, just prior to boarding by Martha Toomey, that there is no such thing as a curse.

b) He believes in a curse that brings bad luck to people around him, but not to him.

Ergo, the plane crash cannot, in Hurley's mind, be the result of this curse, right? He’s either become convinced the curse isn’t real (hard to do, sure, when you’re in a metal tube plunging out of the sky) or he believes in a curse that harms others but not himself (only, ah, he actually survived the crash and a lot of other people died).

Hmm. This still isn’t stacking up, is it? So far, seems to me, Hurley should definitely have believed in the curse. Bad luck happened to people around him yet not to him. It should definitely, in the very least, if just for a moment, have crossed his mind that he and his curse may have been responsible for the crash of Oceanic 815.

Did he really not notice that 8 and 15 comprised his flight number? Probably not. He didn’t notice any of the warning signs. . .

OK. Forget all that stuff. Let’s take a run at this from another angle. What's Hurley got a history of? Mental illness. More specifically, traumatic mental repression. He was involved in a deck accident that killed four people and he subsequently went into a catatonic state as a result. The man has guilt issues. So. He survived a plane crash where over two hundred people were killed and, if he blames himself, the likely psychological contingency for him would be repression. That stands to reason, does it not? That to avoid a relapsing breakdown he would unconsciously ignore the guilt? Ergo, to avoid a relapse Hurley suppresses the notion that he and his curse were responsible. His sub-conscious defence mechanism (given that a catatonic state on an Island of strangers isn’t any use for survival) blocked out the idea of guilt totally.

That, I think, is a compelling argument.

It's only when Hurley is confronted with a piece of paper with the numbers upon it does he have to accept his repression - like the way he had to accept Dave was a figment of his imagination when confronted with the photograph of him and no-Dave. (Indeed, you could argue this guilt is what spurred on the reappearance of Dave on the Island.)

So it was only after eighteen episodes did that confrontation arise, when Hurley had to face the numbers on Danielle's papers and find the maddening parallel between the lottery numbers he believes are cursed and the same series of numbers appearing on a scrap of paper from a “French chick” on a desert Island. That was Numbers. That was episode eighteen. Thus we can explain the apparent carefree, ‘curseless’ Hurley for the previous seventeen episodes!

Dude, I rock.

Analysis Of Mind Time Travel

With this piece I intend to clarify Desmond's mind time travel; addressing the subject of consciousness, the function of The Constant and what happens if no Constant is in place. My intention is to keep this as brief as I can, as clear as I can, and as easy-to-read as I can.

First let's consider consciousness. Apparently, when a mind travels to a different time (think of Desmond turning the Fail Safe in the Swan Station and 'waking up' covered in paint in Penny's flat) one consciousness takes over the other consciousness. Except "takes over" isn't quite right; I think it's more like a fusion where both consciousness' mesh together, with one consciousness taking precedence over the other. This merging of consciousness' is fundamental to understanding the whole principle so I'll do my best to spell this out.

Desmond in Penny's flat provides a perfect example. One moment 2004 Desmond is turning a Fail Safe, the next moment he is zapped back in time to Penny's flat (approximately 1996) where 1996 Desmond absorbs this 2004 consciousness. So the 1996 consciousness is well aware of who he is, where he is and when he is, and yet 1996 Desmond is partially aware of his 2004 consciousness. The microwave sounds like The Swan Station alarm. The model yacht in Widmore's office seems familiar. Slowly the 2004 consciousness takes firmer awareness (remembers Charlie, remembers Jimmy Lennon and the cricket bat) and Des' brain, fused with two consciousness', is able to reconcile the disparity.

One smack to the head later and 1996 Desmond and 2004 Desmond have worked out their differences and snapped back to the place they were supposed to be. No Constant necessary this time! Because both consciousness' managed to retain a hold of themselves, anchored by memories, the "side effect" issues don't appear.

So that was Flashes Before Your Eyes. Let's apply this 'fused consciousness' principle to events in The Constant. As we saw, 2004 Desmond was in a helicopter and then suddenly snapped back to 1996, in the army. 1996 Desmond woke up (that is, the 1996 consciousness) and assimilated, or fused, the memories and experiences of 2004 Desmond as if it were a vivid dream.

Desmond - "I'm sorry, sir. I was...I was having a dream, sir. . . I was in a helicopter, sir. And there was a storm, sir. And I don't remember the rest, sir."

This is where 2004 Desmond's consciousness was relegated to; the status of a faded dream. The two minds had merged, but the 1996 Desmond's consciousness took precedence entirely. In Flashes Before Your Eyes the two consciousness' had managed to mesh yet retain a level of awareness. In The Constant the 2004 Desmond was consumed completely by his 1996 counterpart. This is why, when Desmond returned to the helicopter, he had no idea how he got there or who Sayid was. This is why Desmond needed a Constant.

OK. I think we're doing well. Once the fused consciousness idea is grasped the rest of this a piece of cake. See, as we saw in Flashes Before Your Eyes, so long as you are aware of the dual, fused consciousness - that is, you know a part of your mind belongs to a different time - then you will get reset (a cricket bat should do the trick!) and put back to how you were. However, if you're like Desmond in The Constant, who had no awareness of his 2004 counterpart, you need to 'awaken' that dormant mind to produce dual consciousness.

That's all it is. In The Constant 1996 Desmond kickstarted his dormant 2004 consciousness by using his love for Penny to spark it into life. We even see the moment it happens. Whilst on The Freighter, when Des is talking to Penny in that memorably moving declaration of unyielding love, the scene is cut to show 1996 Desmond walking away from Penny's flat. He looks back, to her window, and smiles to himself. That smile, that was the awareness returning, I think. That was 2004 Desmond waking up, the memories coming back. The shared consciousness was understood and both 1996 and 2004 minds were reconciled and balance was restored.

There. Not so difficult to grasp. Those that like their endings happy can abandon ship here. For everyone else, let's finsh up by considering what it's like when you don't have a Constant and your consciousness decides to go time travelling. In short, let's consider what happened to Minkowski.

When 2004 Desmond went back to 1996 Desmond, it was 1996 Desmond that took priority of his consciousness. Minkowski, however, went the other way; his 2004 consciousness retained priority over the consciousness of whatever historical counterpart he was transported to. And so he found himself in a similar condition to Desmond in Flashes Before Your Eyes, experiencing his life with knowledge of the future. Desmond experienced that for a couple of days and it sent him fairly crazed; Minkowski had to deal with it for an awful lot longer. . .

Minkowski - "I was just on a ferris wheel."

The way I see it Minkowski would have been retreading events he previously lived through, and then occasionally snapping back to The Freighter to catch up with what had been happening whilst he had zoned out. Interestingly the issue of changing his fate may have occurred to him. That is, he may have decided to try and not wind up being a crew member onboard The Freighter whilst he was retreading his past. If he succeeded, that would create a paradox and would explain his death (the universe doesn't collapse in a paradox, as with Eloise the rat it's simply the 'thing' that created the paradox that gets wiped out).

Minkowski - "It's getting harder. It starts happening faster, too. . . I can't get back!"

However, as this piece of dialogue suggests, Course Correction kicked in and, no matter what he did Minkowski would end up on The Freighter, the same way Desmond would always end up back on the Island. And so, yo-yoing between the past and the present, with the past catching up with the present, eventually he may have been reliving boarding The Freighter, and pinging back to being on The Freighter with Sayid and Desmond. . . Faster and faster. . . Eventually his brain wouldn't know the difference, the yo-yo effect too acute for his brain to comprehend. And so: brain vessels explode and blood comes out of your nose and you die.

And that, I think, is pretty much that. And there I was thinking this was going to be tricky to explain. . .

Big Island Eruptions

On the DVD commentary for The Man Behind The Curtain, I believe it’s Carlton Cuse that heavy-handedly mentions that the volcano revealed to exist on the Island may prove important within the future of Lost. Hmm, I thought. I suppose I better give this subject more attention.

First then, to the volcano that exists on the Island. Let’s look at that.

Olivia – “. . . we will get our very own volcanic reaction.”

[Annie raises her hand]

Olivia – “Yes.”

Annie – “Is that what happened to the volcano on this Island?”

Olivia – “Exactly, Annie, but that was a long time ago.”

So that’s all we get from the show about volcanoes. So far, so not very informative. Time for some digging. Not knowing much about volcanoes I went and did what other people who don’t know anything about something and have an internet connection do: I went on Wikipedia. What I learned was that there are all kinds of different volcanoes, but our most likely candidate on the Island is one known as a "hotspot", as produced by sitting above a "mantle plume".

I guess I should have warned you this was going to be informative. But don’t let that put you off.

To keep it in simple terms, mantle plumes are static vents of hot material. Hotspots are tectonic plates that drift over these plumes and get melted, create vents and, hey presto, up spouts hot stuff, usually magma. So the Island is, potentially, drifting on a tectonic plate that has hit upon one of these mantle plumes and now it’s a volcanic timebomb.

The islands around Hawaii were created by mantle plume volcanic eruptions. Given that Lost is filmed on Oahu, Hawaii, I have no doubt this piece of information will not have escaped the creators. Maybe they figured they could make that work for their show. It makes me wonder if this is potentially how they are leading us to accept how the Island came to exist. . .

In short, perhaps the Island was created by one of these volcanic eruptions that forms Islands. So far, so acceptable, right? Only this happens to plenty of other islands and they don’t have healing properties and Black Smokes rampaging around them. So what you’re reading now are pretty much words from a mind that is scrambling to make sensible connections from this. And very probably failing.

But here’s what I did. I typed in Volcano Electromagnetism into Google. As you do. And. . . drum roll. . . I hit a blank. Oh, there was some discussion about how a large enough volcanic eruption might reverse the Earth’s electromagnetism but this was simply down to the timings between last electromagnetic reversals and big volcanic eruptions. But it was dismissed. Just because two things happened in close proximity it don’t make ‘em related. In short, a false syllogism. In short, dead end.

OK. Now what? Off to the Sunda Trench.

We know that the fake Oceanic 815 plane was ‘discovered’ in a place called the Sunda Trench. Around this region, in the year 1815 (hello numbers!), a massive volcanic eruption took place (it was heard 3,000 miles away and was the biggest recorded in human history). This might be a red herring. This might be a major signpost.

Where I get to with all of this is this: The Island was formed as a result of a volcanic eruption aaaaages ago. Some time later (perhaps when there were people on the Island worshipping statues with four toes) there was a massive eruption. The massive eruption I mentioned above. Or possibly not. Perhaps it was a different volcanic eruption (and the Sunda Trench eruption was merely a breadcrumb clue, dropped for us to leap on like I have done here). Wherever this volcanic eruption occurred, its effects were felt on the Island and it smashed at least one giant four toed statue to pieces, leaving only a foot.

And not only that. . . maybe that eruption did something to the Island. . . a massive explosion that knocked it into a different kind of rift in time and space, creating that potential ‘time bubble’ the Island is perhaps enveloped by. . . that allowed for a marked difference in electromagnetic qualities. . .

Pearl Printout Problem

Probably you couldn't care less. Probably, if you bother to read this at all, you'll think to yourself: So what? Still, give it a whirl and have a look and if, at the end, you don't feel like I feel - that this is a cheat where Lost deliberately plays unfair - then so be it.

So what I am concerned with here is the printout sheets as taken from The Pearl Station. As you may remember, in the episode ?, Locke and Mr. Eko found the Pearl Station and Locke spotted a computer with a print command, and so pressed print. Reams of paper were produced. The printed sheets looked like this:

You're not to know this, but myself and a friend, we spent an unhealthy amount of time staring at screenshots like this trying to work out what the numbers meant. It turned out we only had to wait a few more episodes, when Live Together, Die Alone appeared, to find out. In that episode Desmond, with Locke, were determined to allow the Swan Station timer to run down and, whilst waiting, Desmond started getting twitchy and so checked these printout sheets. This is what he was looking at.

So here it becomes clearer. The printouts basically display when/if the Swan Station button was pressed. That is, the 4 8 15 16 23 42 numbers were entered into the Swan Station computer and the timer reset. Taking an above example we can work out exactly what the numbers mean.

"921041:16 accepted"

This breaks down as: 9/21/04 1:16

Month 9 / Day 21 / Year 04 and the time being 1:16.

From one date and time being accepted to the next date and time being accepted we can work out the time difference. So ‘921044:42 accepted’ is followed by '921046:40 accepted'. Dates are the same. The times are 4:42 and then 6:40. This just so happens to be a time difference of 108 minutes, which is the elapsed time of the Swan Station timer. Evidence, if more was needed, that the printouts show instances of the timer button being reset.

So the above example indicates that on September 21st 2004, at 1:16, the code was entered and the time reset. Happy so far? Because it was from working this out that Desmond was able to realise that his not pressing the button in a timely fashion was responsible for bringing down Oceanic 815 on September 22nd 2004.

At 4:16 on that day, Oceanic 815 broke apart into three pieces and crashed down on the Island. This is what the printout sheet tells us. It's all very clear and concise and fits nicely. So, you may be asking, what is my problem here? Well, let's go back to the first time we saw the printout sheets in the ? episode. Here's a close-up of what the figures looked like.

Let's take an example, shall we?

“41602108:05 accepted”

Taking the applied format - m/dd/yy time - this is what we get:

4/16/02 108:05

Doesn't make any sense. "108:05" is not a time. Nor does adjusting the month to double digits help. 41/60/21 08:05. It just makes it worse.

Using the principle of the times being apart by 108 minutes there is a format that sort of fits. So we can take 41602072:05 (time 2:05) followed by 41602073:53 (time 3:53) and see that the time between the two accords to the 108 minute rule. Which means the format is 4/16/02 (16th April 2002) with an "07" code lumped in for no clear reason, and then the time.

So that's my problem, basically. That "07" code. In another printout, the extraneous code is "10", which is equally meaningless, considering it isn't present in the finished version of the sheet that showed up for Desmond in Live Together, Die Alone.

There's no getting around it. Lost cheated. It presented a printout of numbers and information that didn't make sense with what was later presented. Basically, when my friend and I were looking at the sheets, trying to work out what they meant, we were wasting our time. Because we had been cheated. And it wasn't fair!