In the episode . . . In Translation, when Jin turns up at that guy’s house to beat the living daylights out of him (in order to, ironically, save his life) there’s a brief glimpse of the television.
Of course the writing is in Korean, and there’s no real indication that a lottery win is what the news report is about, but anyone who happened to spot that before the next Numbers episode might have been given pause for thought to wonder what Hurley had done in order to get himself on television all over the world!
I wasn’t one of those people, by the way. I didn’t spot it first time around. So I never got that pause for thought. It would have been exciting though. If I had. Oh well.
It’s a particularly relevant phrase, given the level of cheating the Dharma games have been encouraging. Presumably this message has been ‘hacked’ in by the Black Swan guy – perhaps as a response to Hans Van Eeghen’s previous video message calling for the cheating to stop.
Also on the site is a new message that states: ‘Recruit Assessment Closes October 7 2008’. Amen! Hallelujah! Etc.
Anyway, that’s that. Now, it’s another week and another test is in the works. Step forth, ladies and gents, into the joy of Test 6.
Test 6 - Specialized Departmental Evaluation
The instructions above basically tell you that it’s a ten question, multiple choice exam to test for the likelihood of suitable role allocation. There didn’t appear to be much in the way of clues as to how I was supposed to cheat at this test. . . but luckily I had read around before I got started and found out the cheat beforehand. But I’ll get to that.
The test questions themselves were such bizarre ones like: The IEEE is the professional society for what branch of engineering?
The answer is Electrical Engineering.
Now maybe you knew that already, but I sure as hell didn’t. Luckily I had learned that the way to cheat on this test was to hold down the ‘C’ button, and then right-click. This brought up a standard-looking menu, but at the top of it was an option labelled Black Swan. You press that, then the correct answer from the four possibilities flashes, and you can select it and continue on your merry way through all ten questions.
Not unsurprisingly, I got 100%.
Checking my progress informed me that I had been lumped into a group called Ares. (A little too close to the word ‘arse’ for my anagram-fuzzled mind to be happy with, but it’s actually the name of the ultra-hard-sounding God Of War so I can live with it.) A little checking around informed me I could have been in any one of the following groups:
Demeter – Goddess of Fertility
Apollo – God of Light
Ares – God of War
Hestia – Goddess of Hearth (Stone Oven)
Poseidon – God of the Sea
Athena – Goddess of Heroic Endeavour
So there you go. By the looks of it there’s only likely to be one more test, two at most, before this first phase closes. . . This sure is a long game! As a last bit of a business, it came to my attention that certain people received a ‘promotion letter’ through their mailbox informing them that, due to their good performance with their created tests, they had been awarded ‘instructor’ status. Here’s the letter. Click it to read it properly.
Let’s refresh ourselves with what’s so bad about the Swan Station. Because before we knew Des was down there, going out of his mind pressing the button every 108 minutes, we were inclined to believe that opening ‘the hatch’ would be a bad thing to do. Walt told Locke as much during the episode Born To Run.
“Don’t open it, Mr. Locke. Don’t open that thing.”
Walt clearly had some deep-rooted fear about what was in there; enough to make him flee the Island he otherwise enjoyed staying on. Hell, he even appeared to Shannon – dripping wet via some teleportation trick – to tell her, “Don’t push the button. The button is bad.” (OK he stated this backwards to someone who had nothing to do with the button or the Swan Station, but you get the idea.)
What could cause concern about the Swan Station? I’ve got to assume it’s to do with the button, right? That’s surely the only thing it could have been. Which brings us to Ben. I recall the episode Lockdown, where Locke managed to get his legs trapped under the blast door and relied on Ben (at that time known as Henry Gale) to go through the vent and enter the code into the computer before the timer ran down.
This was the beginning of the mind games. Ben first claimed that he did press the button – “I did what you told me to. I punched in the code and pressed the execute button.” – but then, when it was revealed he had been lying about being Henry Gale, he changed his tune.
“I stood at your computer as the alarm beeped. . . The timer went all the way down to zero, and then some funny red pictures flipped up in its place. . . There was a loud clunking and a hum like a magnet. . . And you know what happened next? Nothing happened, John. Nothing happened at all. Your timer just flipped back to 108. I never entered the numbers. I never pushed the button.”
So we’ve got to call it. Did Ben push the button or not? Given what we saw during Live Together, Die Alone, when the button wasn’t pushed and the Swan Station went haywire – both on the day Oceanic 815 crashed and when Locke purposefully allowed the clock to run down – it’s hard to believe Ben isn’t lying.
If Ben hadn’t pushed the button the electromagnetic malfunction would have kicked off and we would have known all about it.
We have to make a call. I’m saying Ben entered the code during the lockdown. I’m saying he lied about it to Locke to make Locke want to not want to push the button. The question then is why?
Ms. Hawking memorably told Desmond that if he didn’t push the button then “every one of us will die”. This has been confirmed, by the creators, as meaning all of humanity. With those kinds of stakes it’s perplexing why the likes of Ben would encourage the button to not get pushed!
You could take the view that Ben was genuinely ignorant about the Swan Station. He told Locke he regarded the place as a joke and, obviously, he doesn’t have much affection for anything Dharma. So maybe he did enter the code but considered the whole thing another psychological game Dharma once ran that was a waste of time – but at the time he was pretending to be Henry Gale and winning Locke’s confidence so he played along.
This rationale is one that the creators have partially stated is the case. Ben, and The Others, didn’t know about what was going on in The Swan Station. Presumably they knew it existed – they could monitor it from The Pearl! – but perhaps they would have assumed it was, as Ben said, “a joke”, having no knowledge about the electromagnetic anomaly. That, apparently, is the truth. Which makes you wonder what Ben thought of this:
We’re supposed to believe that Ben had no knowledge of The Swan and what was possible there, yet he knew all about The Orchid and what was possible there! He thought one place was a joke and yet knew the other place was capable of moving the Island? It really places a strain on credulity, don’t you think?
Let’s set Ben aside and consider this from another angle. During the episode ? Mr. Eko had a dream-vision of Yemi (and, as we know, these dream visions are a means by which the Island communicates) which told him to “beware distractions” because, in his words: “The work being done in this place is important, Eko. It is more important than anything.”
More important than anything? Kind of echoes the words of Ms. Hawking to Desmond about how pushing the button would be the most important thing he ever did, don’t you think? So we’ve got Ben and Wet Walt advocating that the button not get pushed, and Dream Yemi and Ms. Hawking stating its importance! Anyone starting to get pissed off yet? I’m having a real crisis of faith about the creators of Lost and the consistency of what they’ve been telling us.
The big problem: What would have happened had the button not get pushed? Desmond intervened with the Fail Safe key which then set off a chain of events that lead to the Island being found by the outside world and The Freighter turning up and Keamy and his men planning to kill everyone and Ben turning the donkey wheel and winding up banished from the Island.
Yeah. That’s what happened. But it seems to me that what got forgotten was what could have been had the Fail Safe not been turned. When it comes to this matter the creators of Lost have been depressingly oblique. I mean, Jesus, when the Fail Safe was turned have we been provided any explanation as to why Desmond ran around with no clothes on, and Mr. Eko was in the middle of the jungle and how Locke lost his voice? Have we been given an explanation for this:
The amazing imploding-exploding Swan Station! Sucks everything into a compressed hole whilst blasting out items and people from within! Man that’s just infuriating. And we’re down, at the time of writing, to just two seasons left – seasons filled with flashforwards and Charles Widmore and Jacob and The Whispers and the Black Smoke and the Oceanic 6 and Locke in a coffin and, you know what, I just hope they haven’t forgotten about the Swan Station and the button that didn’t get pushed.
There’s a plot hole here as big as the hole left by the Swan Station. The biggest little unanswered question in the show. Sorry if you came here looking for answers. I don’t have any. I just wanted you to get a feel for the need to know that I feel. So tell me, whilst you’re here. Are you worried? Are you confident this is going to be resolved?
Everyone that’s been following this knows the drill by now. An e-mail pops up, informing people involved that there’s another test available. . . Here’s the latest:
ATTENTION ALL RECRUITS
Interesting that we have now, finally, been given a date when this whole thing – or at least this phase of it – ends. It needs to. Interesting though it was at the start it has begun to become something of a treadmill that needs to advance to retain interest. Let’s hope the ‘Volunteer Assessment Dossier’ heralds exciting things.
By the way, I went and checked the source code on the site version of the e-mail. For once there was something there to be seen. . .
“!-- 13237438573 - say Hi from BS --”
So this is a message from “BS”, a.k.a Black Swan (who appears to have taken over subterfuge duties from ‘Ruckus Guy’, though probably they are supposed to be the same purpose). The meaning of the message is actually simple: the number is a phone number. You call it, and you ring Hans Van Eeghen’s phone! I haven’t called it (since I’m not interested in lining the profit pockets of these people setting up the game!) but I have learned that you get to hear an answer machine recording and then a beep to leave your message. Quite what the purpose of that is, if any, I don’t know. The answer machine message is:
“Namaste. You have reached the voicemail of Hans Van Eeghen, the Dharma Initiative's head of recruiting. Unfortunately I am unable to take your call right now, but I do hope you leave a message so that I may address your inquiry at a later time. Thank you and Namaste.”
For those hankering after a bit of Hans the Man, here’s the latest video from him where he bangs on about how the Black Swan guy is a cheat within their midst and threatens to de-value the nature of the testing. Whilst you’re watching, may I draw your attention to the bottom right corner of the screen. . .
Test 5 - Numeric Project Evaluation
Ostensibly this was a good old fashioned number sequence set of puzzles to rattle through within the five minute time frame. I’m not particularly great with numbers, if truth be told, so this wasn’t going to be one of my finest moments.
I did the test fair and square first time, and rattled through the first six questions with relative, pleasing ease. And then the number sequences started throwing minuses into the mix, and jumps that my poor brain could not understand and that was me done for. My official score was 60%. But, as with all the Dharma tests, as Hans is only too aware, there’s always a cheat. . .
From the video above the little flashing thing in the bottom right of the screen was something called a Conway Sequence. Whatever that is. But what it relates to is question 7 on the test – one that looks particularly bastard hard the first time you hit it. Now I went and looked at the cheat explanation, and even had a go at making the thing work. Maybe I was on a particularly stupid day but I couldn’t work out what the hell it was talking about. Something about clicking Button0 to ‘click’ out the question to get 100%. I didn’t have a clue.
If you want a go at the cheat, the explanation for it is (apparently) here:
Knock yourself out. If I'm too dumb to even get the cheat to work that I evidently don't deserve to get the 100% score it rewards.
So as a result of my efforts I landed in the group Hemera. I could have ended up in one of the following groups that all kind of relate to space:
Aether – Mist/Upper Sky
Chaos – Dark Space
Chronos – Time
Oranos – Uranus, the “Father Sky”
Hemera – Goddess of the daytime
Nyx – Goddess of the night
I’ve ceased being interested in what deep connotations these names and references may hold, but as of Test 5 my current grouping category is as follows:
If there’s anyone else out there that happens to belong to the exact same sorting criteria I’d love to hear from you. Maybe when we eventually get into the Dharma Inititative we’ll be roomies!
ATTENTION ALL RECRUITS
On behalf of the Dharma Initiative I would like to thank these conscientious recruits for their efforts.
As standard I went and checked the e-mail website address, to look at the Source Code to see if there were any hidden messages. (Funny how such a weird sentence has now become so commonplace!) Anyway, there wasn’t any, which left me to go and see what was what with Test 4.
Test 4 – Tangential Judgement Analysis
Fundamentally this was a ten-question, multiple choice quiz. The questions were supposed to be logical, mathematical puzzles. Some of them were simpler than others (like working out the speed of travel when given a distance and the time it had taken to get there), but I have come to doubt that actual performance in the test matters much to the final outcome. As such, I just answered the ones I could answer and guessed at the ones I couldn’t and saw what was what.
The end question was the trick, where the cheat would come into play. Alas I didn’t know about the cheat when I started so I had to take a complete guess. Basically the last question asked which of the four options was the correct answer, despite all four answers being a, b, c or d.
Had I typed the word ‘Mittelwerk’ at this point the correct answer would have flickered a little for me and I would have known what it was. But since I didn’t know that I just guessed. Oh well.
When I checked my progress I discovered that I had been categorised in a group called Helios.
I could have found myself in one of the five following criteria: Oceanus, Helios, Crius, Cronus or Atlas. All of these are the names of Greek mythological titans, but I’m not that inclined to care about whatever, if any, deeper meaning lies to all of that.
So, you may be wondering, how was anyone supposed to know to type ‘Mittelwerk’ into the test to enable to the cheat? Well, the answer to that lies in this video.
You may have noticed the brief flash during the film. That brief flash showed a black and white matrix:
Apparently this is, and I quote, a “Data Matrix 2D barcode encoding “reiwtletmk”, which is an anagram of Mittelwerk. I’ll be honest, I struggle to see it but I’ll take the word of people that have worked it out and say it is so. Mostly I don’t care.
Anyway, to finish, I took heed of the advice in the video about being able to design my own test. It was nothing fancy, I just had to come up with ten questions and multiple choice answers. Given free reign over what I could do, I decided to pose the questions around some of the mysteries of Lost. As far as I am aware there are not, as yet, any correct answers to my questions – so the answers I designated as correct are the ones that I think are correct.
If you want, you can have a go of my Lost Mystery Test here:
No, the real furore concerned Hibbs having a missing finger.
I’m not kidding. Someone e-mailed me asking what I thought about it. They asked me if I thought it was part of some deeper meaning to do with missing body parts; like Ray Mullen the farmer and Marvin Candle only having one arm. There was debate about whether or not, indeed, Hibbs had perhaps lost his finger during the infamous “Tampa job”.
I mean, come on! One missing finger means that Hibbs has FOUR fingers on one hand and FOUR is one of THE NUMBERS and so surely it has to MEAN SOMETHING!?
Perhaps what should be remembered is that the actor playing Hibbs, Patrick Roberts, doesn’t have a missing finger. So the logic ran that if it had been intentional to make him have a missing finger than it very well might have some kind of significance.
But hold up a second, I thought. Take a look at the above image. Could it not be the way he was holding the glass? Could he not have just curled his finger inwards? I had to know. So I sat with my face inches from the monitor, watching in slow motion, looking for one clean shot of Hibbs’ left hand to either confirm or deny the theory.
Believe it or not, there’s only one single, solitary fleeting moment where we get to see Hibbs’ left hand. It’s here:
(Click image to enlarge)
Oh look. There’s his finger! He's got five fingers, all present and correct! So I guess that’s one mystery solved. Phew! Bet you can sleep easier at nights now, right?
This video was really, I guess, a means of encouraging the gamers along but was really a vehicle for introducing the subversive elements. Mention of the "Black Swan" by Hans Van Eeghen in the video is particularly ironic given that the video itself appears to have been hacked. . . You may have noticed some of the little glitches and slips. Some of those images freeze-framed reveal some interesting things. Such as:
The Black Swan here, kind of like the signature of the hacker. I guess this is 'RuckusGuy', or maybe it's that Dan Bronson guy, or maybe it's neither of them. There's that many intangible mysteries being generated that I don't really have the energy to deal with it. Anyway, after this there are a couple of other glitches with information contained with. Such as:
In this image there is a number 40 on display, but subsequent images reveal the full list of images hidden in the film are:
The letter B
The letter P
The letter M
So that's that for now. 40-60 BPM. Beats per minute. This comes into play for Test 3.
Dexterity and Attentiveness Evaluation
I'll get onto the clues and how they link into the cheat in a little while. The truth of the matter is I had to go and look them up anyway, so what happened for me was I just played the game as I saw it and took it as it came.
The game itself was basically me controlling a small Dharma symbol that I could move araound within a larger space using my mouse. Also within that space with my symbol where four spheres, bouncing around. The aim was simple: Don't touch the sides and don't let the spheres touch my symbol until the timer counted up to 1oo. Failure to do so ended something like this:
It was a reasonably amusing game, but not one that's going to have Nintendo losing sleep at nights. Anyway, as a result of lacklustre efforts at the game (the 9 is not my score, by the way - I did do better than THAT!) I then went and checked my progress and discovered I had been put into a group called Enceladus.
A little researching around the web has informed me that I could have found myself in one of the following groups: Antaeus, Enceladus, Tityos and Otus. These are all linked in to Greek Mythology for reasons that I, frankly, cannot be bothered relaying here. I'm unconvinced such knowledge will ever amount to anything.
So, what was the deal with the 40-60 BPM. Well, basically, it stems back from one of the sentences in the information for the game.
"To assess adroitness within an increasingly unpredictable environment."
Apparently the 'adroitness' is formed from the French phrase 'a droit' meaning 'to the right'. And this meant pressing right-click on the mouse opened up options that basically allowed you to pause the game, speed up the timer, stuff like that, to ensure you got the timer fully to 100.
I've not done it, by the way. Couldn't be bothered. I did the test. I got assigned a group. That's good enough. Bring on the next one, Mr. Eeghen!
Episode 1.7 – The Moth
Hey, metaphor-fans! Get a load of this shit! See, there’s this moth. It’s in a chrysalis, struggling to break free to be ‘born’ and live in the world. Now, as Locke points out to Charlie, he could break the chrysalis for the moth and help it out – but then the moth would not have developed the strength by itself to earn the right to live in the jungle and would probably die shortly after.
This little speech isn’t really about a moth, metaphor-fans. Oh no. It’s really about Charlie and how he has to want to want to kick heroin in order to be strong enough to survive without it. Oh yeah, Locke could help him out by throwing all the heroin in the sea, but better let Charlie break out of his drug chrysalis and break the habit himself.
The metaphor sure is subtle. And it’s never more subtle than when Charlie finally takes the heroin and throws it in the fire in front of Locke. He’s done it! He’s strong enough! And what’s that? Up there in the sky? Why, it’s only the FUCKING MOTH?
Listen, we GET IT. WE GET THE MOTH METAPHOR. We understood it without the need to tack that shitty flying moth on at the end. But what makes the ending worse is that this awful moment turns out to be a load of shit anyway because the moment Charlie stumbles upon a plane full of heroin he’s getting his rocks off, smacked up to the eyeballs on hardcore narcotics before you can say, “You All Everybody!” So not only is the ‘strong moth’ metaphor overdone it’s also WRONG.
Episode 1.13 – Hearts And Minds
So put yourself in Boone’s place. You’re out in the jungle with this guy called Locke, and then he knocks you unconscious, ties you up and rubs paste in your head. He ties you up in such a way that you have to strain in agony to get to a nearby knife to free yourself. Locke calls this “proper motivation”.
Already you’re gonna be feeling pretty pissed off. But then you hear your sister calling out for help, and then there are sounds of the monster – and so you find motivation all right and free yourself and untie your sister (who tells you Locke did this to her) and make a run for it. But after a harrowing chase, tragedy – the monster catches your sister and you later find her dead, bloodied body.
With that, you then make the long walk back to camp. It must be a soul-destroying, miserable journey back. You’ve been betrayed and your sister is dead. Ah, but then you get to camp and a smug Locke is there pointing out that your sister is actually alive and really it was just a drug-induced experience he put you through. It was without question THE WORST EXPERIENCE OF YOUR LIFE SO FAR - but Locke states he had taught you a lesson and you should go back with him and do what he says.
I would grab Locke by both his ears, call him a “fucking crazy asshole” and headbutt him in the nose before walking off and never having anything to do with him. Boone, as it turns out, figures Locke’s cool, doesn’t bat an eyelid and off he goes. And they call that an acceptable conclusion.
Episode 2.11 – The Hunting Party
This one’s short and sweet. The ending follows an incident where Jack and Sawyer and Locke had a pow-wow with “Zeke”, or Mr. Friendly, or plain old gay Tom to you and me. The meeting was memorable for that moment where Tom called out “Light ‘em up” and that ring of torches appeared and showed Jack and his people The Others had force.
So, having been sent back to their camp with their tails between their legs, Jack’s all pissed off and annoyed and so he sits down with Ana Lucia and tells her his plan. “How long do you think it would take to train an army?”
Bang! The Lost end title boofs up right there and you’re thinking, ALL RIGHT! YEAH! Let’s get Jack and Ana and Mr. Eko and Sawyer and Sayid all tooled up and trained up army-style and ready to kick some Others ass! FUCK YEAH!
Only, in fact, er, no. All this train the army business. . . Yeah, it doesn’t happen. It never gets mentioned. The idea gets dropped like a hot, fresh turd in the hand. So THAT was worthwhile!
Episode 3.05 – The Cost Of Living
“You’re next!” Those were Mr. Eko’s dying words after that face-off against the Black Smoke. Locke held his dying body, and that’s what Mr. Eko said. “You’re next.”
Wow. Holy shit. What does THAT mean? It sounds ominous and full of doom! What does it MEAN!?
Well, here I am during the break between Season 4 and Season 5 and I still don’t know. And thus this ending takes up a slot in this Top 5 because I’ve got a sneaking suspicion it won’t ever come to mean anything. Mr. Eko’s promising dying words left to rot. A great character is killed, given some potentially prophetic words, and they get pissed away. Fucking nice one.
Episode 3.12 – Par Avion
Don’t get me wrong, like some other episode endings here in this list, the conclusion here was an entertaining and eye-opening one. Kate, Sayid, Locke and Rousseau had made it to The Barracks on their mission to rescue Jack, and what do they see? Good old Jack playing a game of American Football with big gay Tom, fooling around with a little touchdown dance and a big grin on his face.
Yep, it’s dramatic all right. Because we don’t know what’s happening with Jack at that time. All kinds of questions come up about whether Jack is ‘one of them’ now, be it willingly or because he’s been brainwashed. It’s all intriguing stuff.
But then the next episode turns up and it’s revealed that Jack is under surveillance, kept in a house with cameras all over the place and is merely maintaining his care of Ben until he and Juliet are allowed to leave the Island. Fair enough. Only why the fuck is Jack so bloody happy then?
Why would he be so giddy and playful despite knowing he was set to leave the likes of Kate and the rest of the Oceanic people behind? Given his trust issues and controlling nature, he can’t even be sure that Ben will stick to his word but, right there at the end of this episode, the man doesn’t have a care in the world.
LET’S PLAY BALL WITH A BIG GRIN AND JERK AROUND!
The guy at the end of this episode is not the Jack that we know. Which was fine when there was the possibility that something dramatic had occurred to radically change him. The problem is nothing radical had happened, and he just went right back to being the same Jack that we know all along. So the ending is a cheat – leading us one way for no good reason than cheap deception.
That’s bollocks. Anyone can get away with a shock, startling ending to an episode by LYING and presenting an interpretation that’s NOT TRUE. What we were given was one set of things and then we eagerly tuned in the following week to find that none of that promise counted for dick. CHEAT!
So that’s MY Top 5. However, for those that don’t agree, here’s a little bonus extra for you. Remember Season One? Remember how we spent ages and ages watching episode after episode with Locke and Boone excavating ‘the hatch’? And then they couldn’t get in the thing? And it was always a big question: “What’s in ‘the hatch’?” And the anticipation in the season finale to get the thing open was just enormous and unbearable?