Oh those whispers. Those mysterious voices in the air, usually heard in the jungle and sometimes audible prior to the appearance of an Other, or Others. Here I shall delve into these whispers – where they appear, some of their content, how they relate to The Others – and the various complications that make forming a definitive conclusion tricky. But I’ll try to form a definitive conclusion anyway!
The Whispers first appear in the episode Solitary. Sayid is alone in the jungle, having encountered Rousseau, and these strange voices surround him. So it is here I can present the first startling piece of information about The Whispers from the man (David Fury) who wrote the Solitary episode.
When questioned about what he thought The Whispers were when he wrote the episode, David Fury had this to say:
“They were supposed to be The Others, lurking in the jungle. At that time we hadn’t yet settled on what The Others would be. . . I had imagined they were going to be more feral, gone native. . . I just didn’t imagine they were going to be spirit-gum, fake beard wearing, boat driving, faux hillbillies. . .”
I don’t know about you, but that made surprising reading. It’s a real poke in the eye for all those people that (foolishly) like to believe the Lost creators had the whole thing worked out from the start! But still, even if The Whispers were not fully worked out at first, it’s fair to say that the creators must have a firm idea of what they are now. Let’s hope so, and let’s get stuck in and see what we can make of them.
You can read transcripts of The Whispers dialogue here: http://www.lostpedia.com/wiki/Whisper_transcripts (I would encourage you – it’s worth it.)
In the majority of incidences The Whispers take the form of a small group of ‘people’ talking amongst themselves about what is happening. For example, when Sawyer is hunting boar during Outlaws The Whispers mention, “I knew he was American,” and, “My guess is to shoot the pig.”
At a point where Sawyer pauses, listening, The Whispers say, “What did he see? / Nothing, he was following it.” There are other occasions, too. Just before Mr. Eko and Charlie see the Black Smoke, The Whispers say, “There’s Charlie.” When Jack is in the Hydra Station aquarium cell, prior to the intercom crackling into life, The Whispers mention, “Let him go free.”
So the take home point about The Whispers so far is that they are a small group of ‘people’, talking amongst themselves and discussing what’s happening as it happens. The commentating on current events is crucial, I think. For one thing it dispels the idea that they are voices from a previous timeline. The Whispers remark about what is happening – they are not captured voices being replayed; they are active, objective participants and can see what is going on. This is a consistent truth except for one nagging incident which I shall refer to as The Duckett Voice.
The Duckett Voice
The Whispers being active observers is true except for one troubling instance. During the episode Outlaws, amongst the chatter of the observers, a more familiar whisper is heard: Frank Duckett saying, “It’ll come back around.” Frank Duckett, as you may recall, was the man Sawyer mistakenly shot and killed, believing he was the “real Sawyer”, before he boarded Oceanic 815.
The identical whispered replay of “it’ll come back around” is certainly troublesome; it’s a Whisper that does not fit with the idea of a small group of talkers speaking amongst themselves. These are the last words of a dying man, captured and being replayed to Sawyer on the Island, amidst the ‘regular’ Whispers. Problematic, for sure. Given this all took place during Season One, I could argue that the explanation for The Whispers hadn’t been officially nailed down. This Duckett Voice anomaly may prove to be a pervasive inconsistency – a fly in the ointment, if you like – once the whole mystery is revealed.
I will try to incorporate ‘The Duckett Voice’ into my main conclusion towards the end but I wanted to isolate and identify it here to highlight how troubling an element it may be.
So let’s set The Duckett Voice aside. Where were we? With the idea that The Whispers are a small group of voices chattering amongst themselves about events that are happening. OK. Let us not forget David Fury’s earlier remark, about The Whispers originally being The Others. We can be reasonably sure that’s not true, but The Others and The Whispers have on several occasions been intrinsically linked. Off the top of my head: at the pneumatic tube when Jack, Kate and Sawyer were stunned with electric shots by The Others; when Harper appeared to tell Juliet to go to The Tempest; The Others attacking Keamy and his men – all moments where The Whispers sounded as a precursor to an appearance by The Others.
And yet, troublingly, we’ve got instances where The Whispers appear without The Others. Like Sayid and Sawyer alone in the jungle, for example. I get to three conclusions about The Whispers from this (in order of least preferred):
1: The Others create The Whispers / The Others are The Whisperers. The Others are entirely responsible for them. They use them as a means of confusing those they wish to attack, such as Keamy and his men. It panics their prey and confuses them, allowing The Others to win.
This is my least preferred option. The Whispers have been heard without The Others showing up (you could argue that they just didn’t reveal themselves, but from what we know of them that wouldn’t make much sense). And that time when Harper showed up The Whispers sounded. If Harper could create The Whispers by choice then their seemed little purpose in using them at that moment, which convinces me she didn’t create them (but I’ll get on to why I think they were heard a little further down).
2: The Whispers and The Others have no connection. The Whispers are entirely independent of The Others. The Others attacking the Oceanic people is such an interesting, heightened event it increases the volume of the chatter amongst ‘the whisperers’ so they become audible. The inference here is that The Whispers are constantly chattering on the Island, it’s just moments of intense drama or attunement by an individual that allow them to be heard.
The idea that ‘the whisperers’ are always whispering, and it’s only in bursts that they can be heard is not one I will discount – but this is not my favoured explanation because it denies that The Others and The Whispers are linked.
3: The Whispers are a part of the Island that The Others have learned how to use to their advantage. They are a phenomena on the Island, or even OF the Island, and the link between The Others and The Whispers is purely down to The Others having learned enough about them to use them to their advantage.
If it helps, we can perhaps think of Ben’s apparent ‘summoning’ of the Black Smoke during The Shape Of Things To Come. I am of the belief that The Others, Ben included, do not control the Black Smoke. But Ben, at least, appears to have some understanding on how he can use it to his advantage when required. I believe The Whispers fall into the same category.
Right. OK. So probably you’re getting impatient now and wondering, What are they? Of course I don’t know, but the best guess based on evidence is they are voices of the dead.
We know that dead people on the Island aren’t entirely restricted to staying put. I can’t out and out call these manifestations ghosts in the strict sense that they are the corporeal spirit of a deceased body roaming the world – but somehow the entity of a dead person persists with people on the Island. Maybe they are genuine ghosts, or maybe they are the activated memories from within the living. (Note how we no one sees ‘ghosts’ of people they don’t know!)
Perhaps The Whispers are a lesser level of this same effect. That’s what I think. The Whispers appeared, for example, when dead Libby turned up to confront Michael on The Freighter. When The Whispers are heard prior to Shannon being shot and killed, one of them remarks, “Hi, sis”. Was that Boone? Who else could it have been!? In the same ‘conversation’ of whispers one of the voices remarks, “Dying sucks.”
And there are other voices that talk of how they know what it’s like “for a plane to crash”, and they are also heard at what is arguably the epicentre of all the ghostly weirdness – Jacob’s Cabin. When Hurley goes there for the first time during The Beginning Of The End The Whispers are briefly heard. “You have to be believe it’s me, Nikki,” is one amongst them. Yeah. Nikki!
That these are ‘the whispers of the dead’ becomes hard to argue against. If these voices are from a ‘pool of the deceased’ (in whatever form that is on the Island) then it at least allows for The Duckett Voice problem to be reconciled. And, interestingly, at some stages The Whispers discuss the idea that they could reveal themselves to certain individuals (Sayid and Sawyer), but then don’t. Maybe the ones that do reveal themselves are the likes of, you know, Christian or Yemi. . .
So that’s the main point. The Whispers are an Island phenomena linked in to the dead being ‘alive’ (again, I cannot stress enough I am not strictly calling them ghosts!) and existing on the Island because of whatever strange power the Island withholds. The voices exist as a constant chatter (indeed, there are hidden voices buried in the show’s soundtrack when even The Whispers themselves aren’t even audible – incredible, don’t you think!?) on and around the Island in a kind of ‘lesser state’ than fully-fledged apparitions like Christian and Yemi and Libby.
“You can go now” if you like. This has been a long read, I know, and there are more than enough big ideas to try and wrap your head around. But, for those that don’t know the meaning of the word ‘enough’, let me just throw one last big idea at you in relation to The Others and The Whispers.
Whispers Through An Open Door
I mentioned previously about The Others perhaps having some means of harnessing The Whispers to use for their own ends. The main purpose we have witnessed, so far, is as a means of distracting an enemy to stage a surprise attack. But let’s think about that moment Harper appeared to Juliet during The Other Woman. There are whispers heard. Pop! Harper appears from nowhere. More whispers are head. Pop! Harper disappears into thin air.
Now really what I am talking about here is that The Whispers permeate all over the Island in another dimensional level. But I can understand why you might read that sentence and roll your eyes. So let me posit the idea as a large room, and within that room all ‘the whisperers’ exist; they chatter constantly, unheard and unseen by everyone else on the Island whilst they watch what’s happening and discuss it. And then someone opens the door. . .
With the door open, anyone outside on the Island can hear The Whispers as those in the room chatter. Then the door is closed and The Whispers are silenced. Now what if The Others know how to open the door? So when they are staging an attack they can open it up and let The Whispers be heard and then make a move. And furthermore, what if someone like Harper knows how to open the door, go inside, and walk out through another door that allows her to appear at a different point on the Island?
I’m mostly joking in the above image that suggests the fake door Sayid found is ‘The Door To The Whispering Room’! But you get what I am saying, right? That this room allows a person to pop up in space out of nowhere and disappear again. And the fact that The Whispers were heard prior to Harper appearing and then prior to her disappearing could be considered as basis for the principle that she simply opened the door, appeared, closed it behind her, then opened it again, disappeared, and closed it behind her. Sounds pretty crazy, I know. But guess what? Someone else who pops up in and out of thin air also did so when The Whispers were heard.
Suddenly this idea feels even more compelling. And, for sure, I probably don’t have it exactly right but I’ve got a feeling I am certainly on the right lines. The Whispers, and the whisperers, exist in a plain that’s beyond our earthly realm but it’s a realm that can be used for astral travel.
Of course, for some people the door doesn’t have to be open for The Whispers to be heard. If you’re alone in the jungle and you listen closely enough, maybe, just maybe, you’ll be able to hear the voices speaking amongst themselves. . .