Analysis: 4.5 The Constant

Mystery is a constant in Lost, but as promised we were going to start receiving answers. With The Constant we were properly introduced to not one Minkowski, but two – and the pair of them combined delivered some tremendous insight. Sayid asked Desmond what he thought he would find on the freighter. “Answers,” was the reply. So to the freighter, for answers, we shall journey. Hold on tight. This ride can be a little bumpy. . .

The first Minkowski, George Minkowski, turned out to be unable to come to the phone because he and his buddy Brandon had taken a trip closer to the Island and fried their brains in the yo-yo of consciousness time-travel. George proved useful in showing that Desmond was not unique in his mind-travel antics. He also provided a plot pressure point by dying, like a white rat, as Desmond would certainly have done had he not completed his mental circuit time loop with the lovely Penny.

Old George also managed to indicate that the saboteur on the boat – Ben’s “man”, no doubt – was quietly aiding Sayid and Desmond (after having gone crazy in the communications room). “Looks like you guys have a friend on this boat,” said George. This aiding and abetting gathers more evidence to support the idea that Ben’s man on the boat is this guy.

Quite what he’s up to, however, is anyone’s guess.

The real Minkowski of this episode, though, is Hermann Minkowski; the scientist who theorised about the oneness of space and time. Fret not, I’ll be keeping this simple. Before this brief explanation is done you’ll probably realise how it equates to Desmond. See, what Hermann Minkowksi figured out was that there wasn’t really such a thing as time. Rather the whole universe is like a photograph, just in 4-D. Everything happens/is happening/happened at once, in an instant.

That’s hard to imagine, right? Which is why we require a sense of time. Of one thing following another. We experience event after event in a linear fashion. Our brains can’t cope with the ‘everything happening at once’ concept. But working on the principle that everything is all happening at once, then Desmond’s experiences (in Flashes Before Your Eyes and The Constant) are that of a consciousness breaking loose of the linear rationalisation of time and gaining awareness of the oneness of space and time.

"Your perception of how long your friends have been gone is not necessarily how long they've actually been gone." - Daniel Faraday

Unfortunately, as George Minkowski and a white rat can attest, cramming that level of awareness into a human brain is like trying to pour an ocean into a thimble – it doesn’t fit. And so what we saw here was Desmond trying to re-connect with a linear view of time by completing the mental circuit of his ‘past’ and his ‘present’ by the one constant, Penny, before his brain overloaded. Thankfully Desmond succeeded, but it wouldn’t have been the case were it not for one man: Daniel Faraday. More specifically a younger, less of a “head case” Daniel Faraday.

As mentioned in previous analyses, Dan clearly has memory problems. The suggestion is that exposure to radiation twenty times a day for who knows how long has seriously affected his memory. On the bright side this did avoid any time paradox inconveniences. Having Desmond turn up eight years before he goes to the Island no doubt bolstered Dan’s scientific research and genius enough to make it essential for him to journey to the Island in the first place, but then he promptly went and forgot about it.

If anything goes wrong Desmond Hume will be my constant.

In a neat, circular parallel (there were many cyclical references scattered throughout the episode) Dan, who saved Desmond, himself has Des as his own ‘saviour’ Constant. I’m not quite sure I can wrap my time-addled mind around what that means, exactly, but I know I like how poetic it all feels. The beginning of the end? Or the beginning is the end?

Interestingly, this episode gives all of the other flashbacks (and flashforwards) we have seen a deeper sub-level of meaning. A sub-conscious level, if you like. As though on the Island our Losties are delving into their own previous experiences as they go about their time on the Island – they just don’t experience it as acutely as Desmond did.

One such example that springs to mind from Season One is Jack, during White Rabbit. In flashback we have the story of Jack flying to Sydney to track down his father. On-Island he follows visions of his father through the jungle. The parallels are unmistakeable.

Is it too much of a stretch to imagine Jack’s sub-conscious ‘living’ the time he went to Sydney looking for his father? And that Desmond, by virtue of his high dose of electromagnetism exposure, has simply become more attuned to this sub-conscious?

And that’s a flashback example. I think of how Sayid was drawn to Naomi’s bracelet, before he humanely covered up her body, as though he was somehow aware that in a flashforward he would encounter a woman named Elsa, a woman he would eventually kill whilst she wore a similar bracelet.

How’s about that for the oneness of space and time all happening in an instant? Only fools are enslaved by time and space. I think this is a quietly astonishing, subtle layer the Lost creators have embroidered in to the show’s fabric. They don’t have to press that idea further, or do anything more to make it fit: it’s just there, existing, as a constant.

Analysis: 4.4 Eggtown

Why Eggtown? The episode title had intrigued me and I was interested to see what it would come to mean, only to watch the episode and find precisely no reference to it at all! So I had to do a little digging and uncover that this 'eggtown' business was a thematic thing, like certain other aspects of this episode. . .

'Eggtown' as a phrase is about getting a bad deal, or more specifically, a place where there is nothing but a bad deal to be had. (It's apparently salesman slang parlance; 'eggtown' being a monicker for a trading area where there is very little of value.) When we think of our Oceanic 6 - where rescue and return to the real world has proved to be a burden and a curse; a bargain for freedom in return for their silence - the concept of a bad deal is instantly recognisable. Kate's flashforward showed her taking a deal to accept freedom; but she's restricted to the state, unable to be with the man she loves and is caring for a baby that's not her own. Suddenly the title Eggtown makes sense. Bad deals all around.

The salesman bartering connotations with 'eggtown' also covered Miles' business with Ben. (Talk about a bad deal; you haggle for 3.2 million bucks and wind up with an egg-shaped, primed grenade in your mouth.)

Interesting the precision of asking for 3.2 million. If Kate hadn't remained in the room perhaps Miles would not have had to be so oblique, but this 3.2 million appeared to be a disguised message that Ben eventually understood. $3,200,000 = 32 and 5 zeroes. 325. That's the bearing that Michael was told to stick to by Ben in Live Together, Die Alone to leave the Island. Miles, it seems, is telling Ben The Freighter People know the right bearing and can access the Island and unless Ben stumps up the cash he will do nothing to prevent it from happening.

The use of 3.2 million was one of a number of references to the figures 3-2 that played out thematically in the episode, a bit like the H-O letters in The Beginning Of The End. There was Dan only able to remember 2 out of 3 cards (I'll come to that). Sawyer set up his 3 backgammon pieces incorrectly - 3 columns away from the median rather than 2 (the thematic suggestion here that he is out of place in the love triangle (3-2) between himself, Jack and Kate). Kate's mother remarked that she had been told she had 6 months to live for the past 4 years (6/4 is the double of 3/2). Heck, there was only Jack's announcement that out of 8 survivors of Oceanic only 6 made it (if it had been nine we would have had a multiplying set: 3/2, 6/4 and 9/6!). To cap it all, this 3/2 business pertains to Jack and Kate. Jack and Kate may both wish to be together as a 2, but there's a third party in their relationship. . .

How does Kate having her own child fit in the real world? I have to believe the real world believes Aaron is Kate's biological child. Kate's own mother was willing to drop murder charges for the sake of seeing her grandson; would Dianne have been so keen if Aaron was known to be adopted? I doubt it. So I must consider how Aaron's presence fits into the cover story (8 survivors of the plane crashing in the ocean dwindled down to 6 - the Oceanic 6 - that were eventually rescued). Is Aaron one of the Oceanic 6? Personally, I think not. He's a human being, sure, but he's not a celebrity!

Let me suggest three options on how Kate's having a baby can be rationalised for the real world. Option One, she was pregnant (but not showing) before she boarded Oceanic 815, and gave birth to her child on this island in the South Pacific Jack spoke of. However, given that before she was captured and put on Oceanic 815 the only man she spent her time with was the one-armed farmer who sold her out to the FBI that would make him, Ray Mullen, the father.

That's not a pleasant thought. So Option Two has it that Kate got pregnant whilst on the island in the South Pacific. We don't know how long the real world believes the Oceanic 6 were awaiting rescue for, so this is conceivable (if you'll pardon the pun). This also makes it plausible for Jack to be the father, adding more weight to his claim that he doesn't love her "any more" in court (and makes it more credible why such a question would have been asked in the first place). For the record, this is the option I like the best.

Alternatively, Option Three concedes that Aaron really isn't Kate's biological child. The world accepts that Claire was one of the eight that didn't survive (maybe she died in childbirth?) and so Aaron was given over to Kate's care before they were rescued and remained in her care afterwards. Personally, I think this is the weakest and most unlikely of the explanations.

Is there a discrepancy about the age of Aaron? I mean, basically, if Kate's saying the kid is hers and it's well-known she was not heavily-pregnant when she boarded Oceanic 815 then Aaron's age and her story don't corroborate. Either Kate's brazenly lying and stating the kid is just big for his age (they do grow fast on the Island; just look at Walt!) or this is our first living proof that time moves slightly quicker on the Island than it does for the rest of the world. Couple in Daniel's timer experiments from the previous episode and this notion is gathering momentum.

I'll finish with a quick discussion about Dan. He was seen trying to memorise playing cards with Charlotte. I think there's a simple explanation for this, but one with interesting possibilities. Before we joined the scene I think Charlotte showed Dan the three cards, then flipped them over, and we joined them at the moment where Dan was attempting to recall what cards he had seen. I think it's that basic.

Possibly, through some traumatic experience, Daniel's memory is Swiss-cheesed. This goes towards his jittery manner, why he sometimes appears uncertain on who or what to trust, and why Naomi described him as a "head case". His genius hasn't left him, but his regular, functioning memory has been damaged - and Charlotte was just helping him with it. What this is perhaps foreshadowing are dramatic moments to come. If there's a situation where Daniel's memory is called into question and people's lives depend on it, he's not the guy you'd want that responsiblity falling to. And think of the manipulative fun Ben could have with a man who can't even trust his own memory? Oh yes, there are possibilities there all right. And in Eggtown, all the possibilities on the table usually mean a bad deal for everyone . .

Ghosts And Credulity

Upon where do I hang my credulity regarding Lost? That is, exactly how much disbelief do I allow myself to suspend before my disbelief is broken? Or, to put it plainly, when it comes to Lost exactly how much do I tolerate before I decide that it's ridiculous?

I can pinpoint the moment doubt and worry crept in. It was the first flashback scene of Miles Straume. You know, the one where he went around to that woman's house, entered her dead son's bedroom and apparently communicated with his ghost before allowing the restless spirit to leave in peace. That was the moment my credulity was stretched taut.

The problem I had is easy to quantify. Ghosts. I didn't like the idea of ghosts existing in Lost. And by ghosts I mean the spirit of a person that is dead returning from, or being prevented from going to, an afterlife of some form. I, as a man of science, fundamentally disagree with this notion. Stanley Kubrick, who resisted embracing ghosts when making The Shining, stated that he found the idea problematic for a horror film since spirits were essentially hopeful things; proof of an afterlife! How can death, and by extension for Kubrick a horror film, be frightening if there's confirmation of a world beyond? Kubrick couldn't reconcile that. Neither can I.

But I digress. The issue here is credulity in Lost, and I still believe that genuine ghosts push the boundaries of what we accept as reasonable in the show (important phrase, hence the italics). When Jack saw his dead father on the Island there's all kinds of reasons to believe he wasn't seeing a genuine ghost. Same goes for Yemi. "You speak to me as if I were your brother," Yemi Manifestation stated, validating anti-ghost sentiments.

Would I be alone in my crushing disappointment if it turned out that Christian and Yemi actually were ghostly apparitions? The spirits of the dead returning to visit the living? I think we anticipate that the apparitions have a more grounded (fantastical, maybe, but reasonable) explanation. Like how we anticipate the Black Smoke, with it's mechanical clicking and photography flashes, will have a reasonably grounded explanation (as opposed to being a Vapour Demon from Hades or some such nonsense).

Dead Charlie appears in Hurley's flashforward during The Beginning Of The End. Even when he states, "I am dead, but I'm also here", we can still imagine, like the Island apparitions, that this is not a genuine spirit of a dead Charlie appearing from the other side to deliver a message. We still imagine, and expect from Lost, a better explanation than that. Same goes for the whispers; they may suggest voices of the deceased but are they actually the voices of once-alive people continuing to vocalise thoughts from mouths they no longer possess? We don't entertain this as plausible, surely!

Or do we? Is this issue of ghostly credulity my own personal problem? When people saw Ben's mother appear in front of Young Ben did they think, It's a ghost!, and blithely accept? Maybe they did. Maybe you do. As you've no doubt surmised, I'm not so easily won over. We educated Lost-theorist pour scorn on the idea of the Island as purgatory - that the Oceanic 815 passengers died during the crash and are living out an afterlife - because it would be dumb. If ghosts turn out to be real in Lost, I think my disappointment will be comparable to how I'd feel if that purgatory thing turned out to be the case after all.

I mean it.

There is hope, however. Going back to that scene with Miles and the exorcism of the dead son. Maybe, just maybe, things were not as they appeared to be. You may know this already, but there's a discrepancy with the picture frames during that whole sequence. To recap: before Miles goes to the son's bedroom we see a picture on the wall, and the frame around the picture is clearly wooden. Afterwards, after the 'exorcism', we are given another direct shot of the picture and this time the frame around the picture is shiny metal. (The change is so acute, and the emphasis on this photo so sharp, it's nigh on impossible to consider this a production error.)

I can't explain this, but it suggests there's more going on than just stupid ghostly activity. A divergent timeline maybe, or a parallel universe, or warped space-time or just something else entirely. Whatever. So long as it's reasonably grounded, I'll be happy. Credulity sustained. Disbelief suspended. Provided it retains what we accept as reasonable in the show then that's fine by me.

Fingers crossed but, you know, I don’t actually believe in superstition either. . .

Analysis: 4.3 The Economist

It's fitting this episode was entitled The Economist. What this episode presented above all things was an economy of information. Give and take. Show and tell. Lost, as a show, drip-feeding hints and clues on a need-to-know basis; enough to keep you hungry, but nowhere near enough to get you full. Take Naomi's bracelet, for example.

'N. I'll always be with you. R.G.'

I had a quick check. Do you know how many Lost characters, major and minor, since the beginning of the show there have been that have initials matching R.G.? The answer is precisely none. It's a fair bet to say that R.G. will turn out to be the Economist - the arch-mastermind seeking to unravel the mystery of the Island - but we probably haven't met them yet. Unless it's someone we have met that changes their name. Either way, the point is the same: there's simply no way to know. Drip-drip the information, but a tight economy dictates just enough is saved up and kept stashed away.

I have to say, though, I'm getting worried. I worry that Lost, my favourite T.V. show ever, is losing the plot. I think of Miles and his ghostbuster antics in the previous episode and I think of the fact that Jacob's cabin apparently definitely can move (so why oh why did Ben have a camera fixed on it in the Hydra Station!? Has Ben's circle of ash power spell been broken now Locke is taking over!?). And then here comes this business with Dan and the time delay experiment, and I get more worried.

What Dan proved with his experiment was that something fired off the Island and coming onto the Island somehow 'loses' 31 minutes. With the drip-drip of information, this was a major drop. We can rationalise this as Einstein's Relativity theory portraying the effects of gravity on time and motion. We can rationalise this as time moving at a different rate on-Island than it does off (a theory I've always hated, but I also hate the idea of ghosts in Lost yet Miles kind of messes that up; what I hate in Lost and what goes in Lost aren't one and the same). Point is, we can rationalise it - but neither conclusively nor easily. And that worries me. I think of Frank Lapidus' remark about Dan Faraday - about what Dan says going over his head and way over his head - and I worry this may prove more ironic than we realise. Drip-drip. Those Lost writers have never let me down yet, right?

I presume that to avoid the time delay problem you have to ensure you maintain a fixed bearing when travelling to and from the Island. Dan Faraday seemed to think so. He forcefully directed Frank to keep the same bearing before he piloted Sayid, Desmond and a surely-not-really-dead Naomi away on the helicopter. And I remember Michael was told to keep his bearing of 325 by Ben (I'll come to him). And the Looking Glass emitted a sonar ping to guide the submarine in, presumably by a fixed point. So the point seems clear. To avoid this. . .

. . . ensure that you stick to the correct bearing. (The inference here being that the 'time snag' factor of 31 minutes incurred when crossing into the Island's territory ruptured Oceanic 815 - but this does make me wonder what the purpose of Desmond not pressing the button in a timely fashion was. . .)

Someone who apparently knows a lot more about travelling to and from the Island than he previously divulged is one Mr. Benjamin Linus. Or, as his passport has it, Dean Moriarty. (Seriously, why does every name have to have connotations?) Dean Moriarty, in case you hadn't found this out already, is the name of Moriarty's (arch nemesis of Sherlock Holmes) grandson and a character in a Jack Kerouac book called On The Road. Given the travelling inference, the latter appears most appropriate.

The clear conclusion to be drawn is that Ben has been secretly leaving the Island and travelling under various identities. In keeping with previous thought processes of mine, this holds together the idea that Ben went covering up the massacre of the Dharma Initiative to the outside authorities. Maybe he set up Mittelos Bioscience as a front company. Probably he got up to all kinds of other things (drip-drip-drip) we've yet to learn. He kept this secret because he didn't want his people aware that he could leave the Island. (If the place was so perfect, he wouldn't leave - and if there were other means to leave then he could not keep The Others in place.) Still, as nefarious as all this appears, Ben is consistently showing himself to be a guy that does one thing: defend the Island. Even in the future, off-Island, he's still doing it. . .

That put-on deep voice was fooling no one. The Big Reveal was that Ben is off-Island in the future and he's not part of the Oceanic 6. But he's still defending the Island and he's recruited Sayid to do the dirty work in taking out key opponents. (The opponents being a vague faction; the leader will most likely turn out to be R.G/The Economist but Matthew Abaddon has been the presented front man so far. I anticipate Paik and Widmore's incorporation, too.) Interesting how Sayid was concerned that 'they' would know, following the death of Elsa, that he was after 'them'. I mean, hadn't we seen Sayid kill one of 'them' already, at the start, on the golf course?
Maybe I'm flat out wrong - but I think the golf course scene took place after the rest of the flashforward scenes. Maybe I'm flat out wrong - but I think that makes better chronological sense. If they can monkey around with ghostbusters and time discrepancies then a little flashforward juggling is no big thing. Everything you thought you could trust just isn't trustworthy anymore.
Hurley turned out to be a snake in the grass! (Don't worry, he'll feel bad for this and other stuff he's yet to do later.) And what about Sawyer? Am I the only one that has found this Island-loving Sawyer to be utterly jarring? Unless that guy is playing his own secret confidence trick I'm not loving the direction he's taking. But, like this episode as a whole, I may be worried but I'm keeping the faith. Maybe, just maybe, this will be one of those episodes we get to come back to after the fact and delight in the economy of information it drip-fed us without ever letting the whole truth flood out. I hope so.

One last point. Nadia. Sayid's 'true love', who he was searching for, who was out there in the world whilst he was on the Island. If Nadia is sincerely the woman Sayid's heart belongs to then he's fairly free and easy with his love in the interim.

Sayid appeared to genuinely fall in love with Elsa during The Economist - and he's done as much before on the Island with Shannon.

Both Elsa and Shannon, by the way, ended up shot dead. But what are we to make of Sayid? That his professed love for Nadia was not as grand or heartfelt as he made out? Or that, in flashforward territory, Nadia's fate has proven bleak? I don't think so. I think Nadia lives and, eventually, she and Sayid may be requited. All this business with love Sayid becomes embroiled in is a clear sign that, despite Ben crowing "need I remind you the last time you thought with your heart instead of your gun" Sayid has not changed completely. What has perhaps been overlooked about Sayid is his deeply loving nature. Maybe he falls in love too easily - but it's better than never falling in love at all. For a torturer like Sayid, lovelessness would render him truly lost.

Let's hope he's not quite sold all of his tortured soul just yet. Whilst Ben's sniping comment suggests Sayid is a key part in the 'Island situation' the Oceanic 6 are keeping secret it's Sayid's heartfelt compassion that stops him being a monster. He's working for Ben to keep people safe. He's paying penance for whatever he did. Given Hurley's sense of regret, and Jack's cries of "We have to go back," it's becoming apparent that the Oceanic 6 have all played a terrible part in the fate of their remaining Oceanic passengers. Whilst we watch that play out, I guess we'll be drip-fed drama concerned with whether or not they manage to redeem themselves for it.

The Conversion Of Cindy

Here's Cindy's story that we have seen so far, which I will follow with two points, both of which provoke tough, important questions: Cindy Chandler was an air hostess (or stewardess, if you prefer) aboard Oceanic 815. She gave Jack free vodka (!?) and tried to get Charlie out of the toilets just before the crash. She also somehow made a super-sprint from the fuselage to the tail-end whilst Oceanic 815 was crashing. How she got from being here. . .

. . . to being here. . .

. . . is pretty much summed up as an intentional mistake. When the creators decided to have the pilot be the man that the Black Smoke kills (after delivering the required information about Oceanic 815 losing communications and flying off-course) Cindy was surplus to requirements for the fuselage section. The tail section, however, needed someone to deliver the same information - and so Cindy was selected as the crew member that could inform the "tailies" that they had lost communications and veered a thousand miles off-course. Never mind the fact that she was at the front of the plane when it started crashing; put it down to creative licence.

With the tail-end survivors Cindy remained up until journeying with the group as Michael, Jin and Sawyer lead them to the fuselage side of the Island. En route, she was swiftly, silently taken by The Others. The next time we see her she has been somehow accepted into The Others; she tells Jack in his cage that they are "here to watch" and, later, is part of the pilgrimage of Others to the Temple.

This chain of events leads me to two open conclusions.

a) Cindy Chandler is a liar and was an Other all along. The big argument against this is compelling: if she was an Other then she willingly allowed herself to be in a plane crash that she could surely have had little guarantee of surviving. That, to me, is a MAJOR blight on the 'Cindy was always an Other' view.

On the flip-side, she claimed to be good with faces and yet didn't recall seeing either Jin, Michael or Sawyer on board Oceanic 815. There's an argument here that says she was covering for Goodwin when she made this claim. Also, the manner by which she was 'taken' by The Others; not a sound nor sight of the event. Maybe she wasn't taken at all. Maybe she just quickly slipped away. If her story isn't genuine she deserves to be considered alongside Libby and Rousseau as marginal characters with major question marks against them.

b) Cindy Chandler was a genuine stewardess that survived the crash and was taken by The Others and was quickly converted. This, to me, raises the question of how The Others could so quickly change her mind and make her pro-Other. Because if Cindy can be easily converted, then why not Jack? When Ben needed Jack "to want to want" to perform surgery on him, why not just indoctrinate him the way Cindy had been indoctrinated and make him pro-Other?

Is it because Cindy was on Jacob's list and Jack wasn't? Is that the nature of the list? It is those that are able to comprehend The Others' agenda and collective motivation? Those that are able to be converted and those that aren't?

What I think is this: Cindy Chandler's story is genuine. She was an air hostess. She survived the crash. She was taken by The Others because she was on the list. She became converted to the group. And this was because she, as a person, was 'resolved'. Unlike the other survivors not on the list, she has no issues to overcome, no redemption to seek, no history to reconcile. She was a tabula rasa, clean slate, ready and accepting.

She was there to watch. Not to BE watched.

Desmond vs. The Course Correctors

Desmond - "And when I woke up, I was lying on my back in the street, and I dunno how I got there and, there was this man standing over me, Ruth. And he reached out his hand and he said to me, can I help you brother. And the first thing I noticed was the rope tied round his waist, and I looked at him and I knew, I knew, I was supposed to go with him. I was supposed to go with him, I was supposed to leave everything that mattered behind, sacrifice all of it, for a greater calling."

This is how Desmond explains how he turned away from a married domestic life in pursuit of a higher purpose. He got drunk. He woke up to a monk standing over him, and suddenly his life took on a different course. There's a strong vein of an argument suggesting there are those that exist purely to ensure this doesn't happen by chance. Enter Brother Campbell.

So here's what I am proposing: that Brother Campbell, and Ms. Hawking, are both working together for the common purpose of ensuring that Desmond gets to the Island. Like guardian angels, if you like (but don't take that literally). I don't think it's an accident that, on his desk, Brother Campbell had a picture of he and Ms. Hawking together. At a stretch, I would even suggest that Charles Widmore is a 'member' of this group, too. He did send Penny to meet Desmond at the monastery, for one thing. And set-up a yacht race for another. I'm not saying these are a group as in they sit down and have meetings and discuss tactics; I am saying they are together in the sense of sharing a common goal.

My evidence? Well, the bizarre speech above serves up intrigue enough. Desmond saying he woke up in the street with no idea how he got there. . . Fair enough, anyone who has an affinity with heavy-drinking understands how that can happen! But where did this sudden, marked desire to join a monastery come from? For me, that speech alone doesn't explain it. Call it pre-marital jitters if you like, but joining a monastery to evade matrimony? That's a hell of a jitter.

Still, if getting Desmond into a monastery in pursuit of a higher purpose was the goal then it was achieved. And don't you think that forcing Desmond into a life of solitude breeds the perfect kind of person well suited to racing solo across the world? And, for that matter, pressing a button in an underground bunker every 108 minutes. . .? Is that all just coincidence? If it turns out that Charles Widmore is responsible for putting Desmond in prison, once more we have a period of enforced confinement inflicted on Desmond as a test for him to come through - which marks Charles out as ever more involved in Desmond's fate.

Of course, we should not mistake coincidence for fate.

It's just that when Ms. Hawking is factored in then it all becomes more compelling. When Desmond experiences his time-travelling event, with the apparent capacity to change his own destiny, up she pops to dictate that Desmond not veer from the destiny he already knows about. Pushing the button is the most important thing he'll ever do, she tells him, appealing to that part of him that already yearned to "sacrifice all of it, for a greater calling". So he once again turns away from Penny and accedes to 'fate'.

We should not mistake fate for coincidence.

Course Correction 1 Desmond 0

Analysis: 4.2 Confirmed Dead

Let's meet the newcomers!

Daniel Faraday (Name reference: Michael Faraday; pioneer of electromagnetic/chemistry studies.) His official scientific status is physicist but he talks of how he doesn't like to be pigeonholed. Naomi describes him as a “headcase” (I'll take a punt that he enjoyed a spell at Santa Rosa), but if he empathetically feels more acutely than others this would explain his twitchy, withering nature. He describes Jack and Kate as "good people". He was also physically shoved out of the helicopter and, given Naomi's comment and Miles' agitation, I get the impression Daniel is an unwelcome but somehow essential member of the freighter team.

Flashback: Potentially has a high level of (psychic?) empathy. Notice how he wept at seeing the Oceanic 815 wreck on television without even knowing why. Potentially he wept for the deceased used to cover-up the real passengers, or just tears for the sheer inhumanity of such a deed as leaving the genuine passengers lost.

Miles Straume (Name reference: Apparently none, which I'm personally comfortable with. It's a little too contrived to have all characters possess deeper referential surnames!) My personal favourite of the new bunch though I get the feeling he has potential to be this season's Ana Lucia! Apparently he has an attuned capacity to speak to the dead. The Island, filled with visions of dead people and mysterious whispers, ought to be like standing in front of a speaker stack at a rock concert for him.

Flashback: On the surface, Miles appears to be a modern day exorcist. He gets a call about a place that needs to be cleansed, he turns up, takes payment, and resolves the issue so the spirit can go. In this particular instance he has made his (apparently routine) checks about the deceased and uncovered murder (so doubled his fee; presumably murdered spirits are harder to deal with!). Miles, no doubt guessing the murder was for drugs and/or money, tells the spirit to reveal the whereabouts of the stuff and takes only the money, telling the spirit, "You can go now." Quite why having a man take his money and leave his drugs would be enough to pacify a lingering spirit isn't something I am clear about, which is one of the reasons why this 'apparent' event of speaking to the dead raises question marks. . . The machine he used, I have come to believe, is a form of electromagnetic generator, perhaps creating localised conditions in a similar vein to the more pronounced electromagnetic qualities found on the Island.

(Aside: I absolutely detest the idea that Miles is a genuine 'ghost whisperer'. As in he can speak to the actual persistent spirit of a person that is dead. (Other explanations for ghosts are preferable; psychological disturbance, environmental phenomenon, anything!) Point is, ghosts indicate there is a spirit and an afterlife - and that's just about the most massive leap of incredulity Lost (as a science-based show) can make. I am desperately seeking alternative explanations (timelines, manifestations, plains of existence) rather than the brutally unimpressive idea of bona fide ghosts. It seems Miles may be Lost's way of opening the door and bridging the gap to this idea and, naturally, I'll have to accept it. But it will be the most disappointing turn the show will have ever taken for me. End of aside.)

Charlotte Staples Lewis (Name reference: Clive Staples Lewis (C.S. Lewis, to you.). Author of The Chronicles Of Narnia. What are we to make of that? Lewis Carroll/Wonderland is out and C.S. Lewis/Narnia is in?) In a good tradition of Lost females, potentially the most unscrupulous and duplicitous of the new bunch. She kept a poker face and a friendly demeanour despite being mere feet away from her prime target, Ben. I wouldn't turn my back on this one. She is officially a cultural anthropologist (person who studies the behaviour of humans) which makes her an odd choice to investigate a polar bear skeleton dig. . . I suspect she has nature-survival skills also (did you see that dive!?). I have to admit to being a little disappointed when "Charlotte" was revealed to not be Charlotte Malkin, Richard the psychic's daughter! I guess that would have been just too cute.

Flashback: The memorable digging site in the Tunisian desert where a skeleton of an ursus maritimus (polar bear) had been uncovered. The skeleton had a collar decorated with a Dharma Hydra logo. In keeping with what I understand about Dharma and their Hydra Station work this appears to be a polar bear genetically modified to survive in a hot climate. My take is that there was a Hydra Station site built in the desert where such study took place and then was eventually removed and relocated to the Island - this skeleton (not a fossil) is just a test subject remainder. Further digging would probably uncover further evidence.

Frank Lapidus (Name reference: The main Lost-related link lies in his surname holding Jewish connotations with torches/flames, which groups him up with Marvin Candle/Wickmund/Halowax in such a naming convention.) The most pertinent question about this guy is: If you managed to land the helicopter so well how come you're so injured? There's either More Going On, or we are expected to believe he sustained his injuries whilst wrestling the helicopter back under control and landing the thing - which would actually set him apart as someone to admire. He almost certainly lied about being struck by lightning though. I would hazard that Frank and/or his helicopter will have to go very soon. One way or another. Surely the ability to simply fly off the Island cannot be allowed to remain?

Flashback: Revealed as the intended pilot of Oceanic 815, he's quickly aware that the Oceanic 815 discovered in the Sunda Trench is a cover. I don't think the fake plane was so much crashed there as placed there (notice Frank dropping his model plane into his fish tank and observing it flip upside down and then compare it to the right-way-up Oceanic 815 on the ocean floor). That he was immediately onto the authorities to start rattling cages shows he is principled and fearless. Either that or he was drunk. Lost does love a lush.

(Note: If there's such a thing as course correction, and Frank was "supposed" to be the pilot of Oceanic 815 and therefore "supposed" to end up on the Island, it would seem likely he'll survive. And also proffers an explanation as to why the original Pilot, Seth Norris, was quickly disposed of by the Black Smoke; he wasn't "supposed" to be there. By the way, is it just me or does 'Seth Norris' appear to be a deliberate anagram? Is Snr Other, anyone?)

So there's our new guys. They're all apparently on the Island to get Ben. My take on this is as follows. Post-purge, Ben continued to communicate with the outside world posing as Dharma. He perhaps created a story about 'quarantine' and a 'sickness' pervading the Island and the place should be kept secret, cut off and hidden. The photo, for an inexplicable reason to me, feels like it was taken off-Island. . . Whatever the reason, what he didn't do was announce that he had defected with 'the hostiles' and been involved in the mass extermination of Dharma people. Approximately 15-20 years later, the outside world has become wise(r) and targeted Ben as the chief mastermind of the slaughter and sent an extraction team to get him. (I note this primarily so, in the weeks ahead, I can look back and see how wrong I was!)

Ben knew who all the newcomers were because, as he says, he has an inside man. The most obvious candidate is Michael and I am happy to concede I feel this is so despite The Obvious Question: How did Ben manage to set Michael up to deliver information? They had barely any time at all to talk on the pier during Live Together, Die Alone and up until recently The Looking Glass/Radio Tower were blocking signals to and from the Island. Sending Michael on a bearing of 325 could well have been on a collision course to the freighter but there surely has to be more we don't know to fill in the gaps.

Of course, it might not be Michael after all - but we know he's coming back to the show this series and having Ben mention a man on board just seems too perfect a fit, don't you think? (Bear in mind, for the majority of casual Lost viewers, who won't have a clue about Michael's return, it's going to come as a knockout surprise; sometimes I wish I was oblivious!) I'll end on a prediction. Remember the phone call, when Minkowski was unable to come to the phone? I wouldn't be at all surprised to find out in future reveals that this is because Michael has him at gunpoint and is attempting to take control over the freighter. "He can't come to the phone. . ."

Only Fools Dream Of Time And Space

Take a second and think of one character on the Island that has displayed the capacity to know of events before they happen, or of events they really couldn't have logistically known about. Go on. I'll wait for you. Pick and hold on to the first one that comes to mind.

Got one?

OK. There's a good chance you thought of Desmond. His capacity to glimpse flashes of the future is well known. Possibly you thought of Locke. He seems to be able to predict rain and had a vision of a bloodied Boone before his fatal accident. You might have thought of Walt. He touched Locke and suddenly became aware that Locke was trying to open the hatch and warned him against doing it. Walt clearly knew something he couldn't really have known about, and possibly even glimpsed the future of what could happen. If you thought of any of those characters I can't argue with you.

Anyone else? Well, you could make a case for Rose; that she 'knew' her husband Bernard was alive on the other side of the Island. Maybe that's pushing things, though. That could have just been pure hope masquerading as certainty. Let's deal with concrete facts.

Some other characters and instances you might not immediately think of:

Claire. In her diary, that Charlie read when she had been kidnapped, Claire wrote of how she had dreamed about a 'Black Rock'. This was before the ship in the jungle had been found.

Boone. When Locke left him tied in the woods (drugged?) he had an experience of freeing Shannon and running from 'the monster'. Boone had never encountered 'the monster' at this stage (and he never would).

Hurley. When he dreamt he was in the Swan Station larder, where Jin told him he was speaking Korean, on the milk carton was Walt as a missing person (before Hurley or anyone else from the fuselage section knew Walt was missing).

Mr. Eko. Had a vision of a deathly Ana Lucia appearing as she looked when she had been shot, who informed him he had to look for a question mark (something Ana Lucia knew nothing of!) that only Locke knew about. At that instance Mr. Eko had no idea Ana was dead nor how she had been killed.

I was tempted to include Charlie in this list - with his religious visions of Aaron in peril - but I don't feel these were true indicators of knowledge before knowledge was possible. Arguably, Charlie became the reason Aaron was endangered and didn't foresee anything. So, in the rigour of concrete evidence, this one doesn't count. But even discounting Charlie, that's a fairly sizeable list. So now let me show you where I am headed with this. Stick with me.

The German psychologist Minkowski, in 1908, theorised that there was a static universe where time was non-consequential - it was the observer that created a sense of linearity, of events occurring one after the other. In short, the passing of time is merely the way our brains assimilate our lives; we simply can't process the idea that everything happens at once. And I haven't just plucked the name Minkowski out of the sky. Minkowski is the name of the person Jack speaks to on the satellite phone during Through The Looking Glass and The Beginning Of The End. This suggests, at least to me, the static universe concept is not to be taken lightly.

It may also be a giant red herring. Don't think I haven't considered this. But I'll let doubt rest for my purposes here.

What I find interesting is the characters that displayed 'powers' of extra-awareness did so whilst they were asleep. Claire dreamt Black Rock. Hurley dreamt Milk Carton Walt. Eko dreamt Dead Ana Lucia. Does the sleep state relax consciousness into more easily accepting the concept of space-time as a whole? And is space-time more acutely perceptible on the Island than it is anywhere else?

Both Boone and Locke, when under the influence of Locke's mysterious drug paste, were given what Locke took to be a closer communion with the Island. But perhaps what Locke took to be a closer communion with the Island may actually have just been his consciousness in a more receptive state to space-time as one.

Think of the Island as an enormous facilitator, situated at a point where the right magnetic or atmospheric conditions allow for consciousness to be heightened, or more attuned, to space-time in a non-consecutive, non-linear sense. So long as you're on the Island and you attune your consciousness to be more receptive, bingo: you're channelled into a different state of awareness. Maybe a collective consciousness. Maybe just flashes of time happening all at once.

"Only fools are enslaved by time and space," goes the message in Room 23. (Again, strapping a person to a chair and bombarding them with loud noises and images may create the same state of consciousness that permits heightened awareness of space-time.) This brings me to Desmond. He who was exposed to electromagnetism at close quarters, like overdosing on these Island properties. His is a mind that has traversed both space and time. Isn't he living concrete proof that this theory is correct?

Well, don't answer right now. You just take a while. Sleep on it. I'm sure everything will become much clearer.