Dharma Special Access - Part 1

So the ARG is over, but the final kiss off was a website address - http://www.dharmaspecialaccess.com/ - and a password - LAFLEUR - to get you in to the first 'package' of information in the run up to Season 5. But rather than let me explain the whole sorry mess, here are Damon and Carlton to (entertainingly, as it goes) explain it all.

Fundamentally, it would seem the funding got pulled on the ARG for real. And Darlton were slightly ashamed at having to explain this to the thousands of people that got sucked in to the game. Still, I rather like that Damon found the whole thing pathetically laughable. His sense of humour at the whole thing is perhaps an attitude to be echoed.

The second video in the 'package' presented this week is, to be frank, one you don't even need to concern yourself with. Just Damon and Carlton turning up to some geekfest for 'Lost Kubricks' being launched. I don't know what Kubricks are. Some kind of toys by the looks of it. Frankly, I couldn't care less.

Kubrick? Or Lost Merchandise Tat? You decide. I know what I think!

Lastly, there's this 'Starter Kit' video, which is basically a fast recap of the whole Lost show for people that don't know what the hell it's all about. There is literally nothing new here to be learned for the hardcore likes of me or you (I assume you know your stuff - what the hell you're doing hanging around here otherwise is beyond me!) but it kept my interest for its duration, I suppose.

So that's it for the Dharma Special Access this week. I'll let them off the lack of exciting or interesting stuff for now, given this is just the first run. But I hope, and expect, that things will pick up and give me a little something more to get my teeth into. And, of course, as ever, I'll relay all my thoughts out here into some semblance of sense for you to read for yourselves.

Or, alternatively, if I think it's all a load of crap I'll relay that in a torrent of foul language for you to behold in bemusement. We'll see how it goes.

Lost ARG 2008 – Part 18

Apparently it ends not with a bang, but with a whimper. Rather than a crescendo it simply fizzles out. I received another e-mail which pretty much stuck the final nail in the coffin of the whole Octagon Global Recruiting business to morph the ARG into a teaser campaign for the upcoming Season.

The e-mail, from ‘ABC & Dharma Special Access’:

Dharma Initiative present Dharma Special Access with Damon and Carlton

Good morning guys,

This is the first of our weekly messages to you leading up to the premiere of the fifth season of LOST. As you may have heard, the current financial crisis has led to the demise of the newly reconstituted Dharma Initiative. Without going through all the details here, we now own the Dharma Initiative.

You’re thinking, “Great, what does this have to do with me?” We didn’t want to leave Dharma Recruits high and dry, so we decided to start something we’re calling Dharma Special Access (DSA).

Every week leading up to the premiere we’re going to e-mail you with exclusive LOST content, information about the upcoming season and details about what’s going on here at LOST behind the scenes.

This week we have a few things for you: a video message from us, the LOST starter kit and a behind-the-scenes video of the LOST Kubrick signing event held with all the LOST writers last week at Meltdown Comics here in Los Angeles. To check it out, click on the link below and enter the password.

This content is only going to Dharma Recruits first. It will be available to you guys exclusively for 48 hours before it’s officially posted anywhere else.

We hope you’ll enjoy your special DSA access (even though that’s doubly redundant). We think we have a lot of cool stuff for you guys right up until the show is back on Wednesday, January 21st. In the meantime, have a great Thanksgiving. Talk to you soon.


Damon and Carlton


Lost ARG 2008.

Dumped down the toilet. Flopped. Disregarded. Turned into nothing more than a promotion tool. Do we participants have the right to be disappointed? Yeah, sure. I mean, let’s not go overboard. I don’t expect to see Darlton’s heads on a stick over the matter – it was just a free game designed to keep us ticking over until Season 5 started. I’m not crying my eyes out or beating the ground in frustration over the matter!

But still, it’s a shame. Let’s just hope it’s not an indicator of how the show itself may go – with good ideas and plans being ditched at the drop of a hat when they don’t appear to be going too well, leaving people hanging.

So that’s that. What does this mean for me, here? Or you, reading? Well, it signals the end of the ‘Lost 2008 ARG’ series I’ve been running here. That’s died a death and there’s no sense keeping it propped up. In it’s place I’ll be running ‘Dharma Special Access’ updates, where I’ll check out the 'exciting' teasers and information, post the videos if I can, and discuss what the content may mean for the upcoming Season 5. If any of it appears redundant, boring or crap I won't report it here. Just the good stuff!

That’ll be up and running within a day or two. For here, for now: Lost ARG 2008 R.I.P.

Lost ARG 2008 - Part 17

Well well. I wasn’t expecting to hear anything more from the Dharma Initative for a little under a month, as advertised on their website. And then this e-mail popped up in my inbox. It was from Hans Van Eeghen, informing me that my ‘results’ were now available, and also updating me on the latest developments with the Dharma Initative. It’s a long read, but there’s a jocular tone to it that I can’t say I ever picked up on in previous missives.


I am pleased to announce that registered recruits can now log in and download your personalized Volunteer Assessment Dossier outlining your full test results as well as your position within the Dharma Initiative.

I want to personally congratulate you on behalf of everyone at the Dharma Initiative for your hard work and diligence during our testing process.

We hope that you are happy with your results. We certainly are. The tests were extremely challenging and the aptitude and excellence displayed far exceeded our expectations.

Now that you are in possession of your results I am sure you are asking the obvious question: what's next?
Our plan was that together we would commence a glorious adventure: the revival of the Dharma Initiative using the myriad talents of all our amazing new recruits. We imagined not just fulfilling long abandoned goals but taking the Dharma Initiative to a new level of greatness as an organization promoting the peaceful social and technological advancement of all humankind.

Then the financial crisis struck.

Sadly, our benefactors were not immune to this crisis. In fact, unconfirmed reports suggest that much of the money designated for the work of the new Dharma Initiative was tied up in highly leveraged mortgage derivatives. This, however, cannot be confirmed because, I am sorry to report, the principals representing the benefactors - my employers - have gone missing. Based on bills still coming into our office we believe they are somewhere in South America.

This stunning reversal of fortune has forced us to abandon our ambitious plans. In fact, absent this funding, the Dharma Initiative was forced to make the only sensible decision we had available: we sold the Dharma Initiative to the television show LOST.

While this might strike some of you as a shock, the reason for this was not simply that they were the only bidder. As the only remaining Dharma Initiative employee who had not fled the country, I felt that at the very least the show would be able to keep the spirit of the Dharma Initiative alive and in the public consciousness until such time as a reversal of the reversal of our economic fortunes occurs.

It is with a heavy heart that I must bid you farewell. Despite my fervent commitment to the mission of the Dharma Initiative, the realities of a broken marriage, heavy casino debt and some unfounded police charges have required that I change my present circumstances. It is with great excitement that I can inform you of my pending senior sales management job at a large multi-brand auto dealership in Dubai. I have enjoyed our brief association more than I can ever express, and if you are ever in the Middle East and need a car, please e-mail me for a special "Dharma rate".

In the meantime, you will hear shortly from LOST showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse. They will explain to you their future plans for the Dharma Initiative and how these plans might affect you.

Thank you again, personally, for your unflagging commitment and support. I hope our paths will one day cross again. In the meantime may the spirit of the island guide you.

Hans Van Eeghen
Head of Recruiting
The Dharma Initiative

So, the ARG has now explicitly dovetailed into the Lost show on an official level, and it would seem the next stage of things is going to come directly from Lindelof and Cuse (or ‘Darlton’ as we Losties affectionately like to call them). Frankly, this cynical Comet doesn’t reckon this was part of the original plan for this ARG – rather this is a swift U-turn over the way the thing was going and how long it was taking and the vocal disaffection with the whole thing.

Let’s hope things improve.

Before I get into my own personal results, one last piece of business. I went to the proper website that hosts this e-mail, like in the good old days of this ARG, and checked the source code to see if there were any hidden messages. Tucked away there was this:

!-- DSAqandaatgmaildotcom --

It’s an e-mail address. dsaqanda@gmail.com

Sending a mail to this produces an auto response from ‘DSA Headquarters’, as below.

Alas, I am a Black Swan, so I won’t be able to ask a question even if I wanted to. But is that what the whole White Swan/Black Swan thing boils down to? The right to ask Darlton a question!? For the first time in my life I am proud to be Black!

I headed over to http://www.dharmawantsyou.com/ and logged in to see what my dossier would contain. I found that it was an Adobe document that I needed to downloaded, which I duly did. Within I found a certificate and a Test Results grid. The news was less than inspiring.

My Certificate of Completion apparently awarded me the position of ‘Brick Layer’.

Brick Layer!? Moi! Do they not know who I am!?

Slightly less ego-bruising, at the very nottom of my Test Results, was a field that stated Recommended Department: Infrastructure Program.

Admittedly, ‘infrastructure program’ sounds like a fancy way of a saying I’ll be working on a building site as part of the Dharma Initative. Still, we all have to start somewhere. . .

I did some cursory research, out of interest, to see what certificate awards and departments had been apportioned out to other people. This is by no means a complete list, but it’s just a few of what I learned of in the short time I bothered to look.

Proof Reader – Recommended Department: Communications Divisions
Research Assistant – Recommended Department: Human Interaction Analysis Program
Cook – Recommended Department: Human Services Division

So far so blah. As ever, I’ll let you know more when I know more.

Hurley's Number Run

This fun little jaunt basically tracks Hurley’s dash to the airport during the last episode of Season One. Maybe you picked up on the fact that along the way there are various instances of ‘the numbers’ cropping up. Did you spot them all, though? Let’s run through all the instances and see!

So first up we see Hurley leaving his hotel room where the 23 42 of the numbers are present in his room number: 2342.

As Hurley drives to the airport his car conks out and begins to slow down to a halt. On the dashboard we get some good views of the digital instrumentation that reveal much of the numbers - 42, 23 and 16.

Almost the same image as previously, only the car has slowed down by 1 kp/h, and so now we have a 15 instead of a 16 from the 4 8 15 16 23 42 numbers!

I suppose I should pause for a moment here to fill in those unaware: the 4 8 15 16 23 42 numbers are referred to collectively as The Valenzetti Equation. This equation proposes a calculation that predicts the end of humanity. That, apparently, is what the numbers represent.

Are we to assume that the 'cursed' numbers are trying to speak to Hurley, to warn him? I mean, if he knew these numbers pointed to the downfall of the human race would their presence during this sequence be a potential indication that they are warning him to stay away? Or that the place he is going to, should he get there, is leading him towards the source of the numbers themselves? Is this why the numbers appear in others people's lives? And if one were 'clued in' to them, could following them lead to the Island, or a potential solution to the Valenzetti equation? Big questions, my friend.

Just in case you weren't getting the message - here's a close up of the instrument panel. It says number 8. If we were playing Valenzetti Equation bingo, the instrument panel on Hurley's dashboard would have almost given us a full house. All we need is a 4. . .

There's the 4! BINGO! 4 8 15 16 23 42. All the numbers of the equation present and correct - and once they have been completed Hurley's car breaks down completely. I guess that's just bad luck, right?

The screen shown when Hurley is trying to check-in and board Oceanic 815. Outside of the "815" of the Oceanic flight number, there is also a '15' and a '42' present.

Shamefully, there are also OTHER numbers that are not part of the Valenzetti equation and, frankly, I find their appearance in this sequence wholly unwelcome!

Here's one you might have missed. There's a number 8 on the old fella's cap. How many is that now? Let me see. . . 11. The number 8 on the man's hat makes it 11 different appearances of the 4 8 15 16 23 42 numbers during this sequence. I wonder if the finished total will also happen to be one of the numbers. . .? That would be neat!

Probably the best - and most blatantly unsubtle - appearance of the Valenzetti Equation in the fabric of the Lost universe. The camera pans by this group of cheerleaders who all happen to be sporting the numbers and, not only that, are positioned in a line so that the equation appears in order.

I don't know about you, but if I saw those cheerleaders spelling out that number in a line I would definitely NOT be getting on the flight that they were getting on.

Our count is now up to 14, including these three above.

And here's the other three remaining numbers as the camera pans past.

That makes 17 instances of the numbers appearing during this sequence so far.

Tsch! Would it have killed them to have changed the '14' above into a '15'? Would that have been too much to ask? Talk about a fly in the ointment!

So, unfortunately, we have just one of the Valenzetti Numbers on display here, taking our total to 18.

Ah well. The last and final 'magic number' we have seen before Hurley manages to get himself on board the flight is right there. The number 23. Alas, that takes our total up to a very non-Valenzetti approved 19.

You know, I reckon they could have made it to 23 if they'd just changed the Gate Numbers and some of the figures on Hurley's boarding details. . . I guess I'm just a perfectionist.

But wait. What’s this?

The one apparent anomaly during the entire sequence is this moment - when a number plate can be clearly seen showing precisely NONE of the cursed Valenzetti numbers. What the hell is all that about!? It's such a brilliantly executed scene, loaded with numbers, and they go and overlook this glaring number plate!? Come on!

Is there anyway we can make it fit? Ermm. . . 3 + 2 + 7 = 12. That's no good. How about 3 x 2 x 7? That equals 42.

BINGO! In fact, look at the number plate in its entirety. TX 327. TX? 'Three times', perhaps? Bloody hell, it's genius. And guess what? If we take the 3 numbers (3 and 2 and 7) and the 42 number they multiply as, that gives us 4 more numbers. And if we add that to the 19 instances of numbers we had before, we get. . . 23! It's one of the numbers! The sequence is perfect! (Yeah, I am aware you can make numbers suit your purposes however you want, but that's the beauty of them!)

The sequence is complete. But what does it all mean!!??

Infinite Drop Points

Most Lost fans have had cause to wonder, at some time or another, where the current Dharma rations come from. Jack and Kate were in the jungle during the episode Lockdown and spotted the large food stash in the jungle. It had a flashing light on it, and a parachute attached – as though it had been dropped in during the night.

But we know about the Island. We know that aircraft don’t just fly by with ease, unheard and unseen and without incident. So the idea that every so often a Dharma aircraft (from a Dharma Initiative that no longer exists, no less!) passes over the Island and drops food off seems bizarre and, frankly, wrong.

So let me throw out an idea. My theory here is that the food rations were dropped in from the past. Oh, hold up, hold up. You’re rolling your eyes already, I’m sure. More bloody time travel, you’re thinking. As if another Lost theory needs that! But give me a shot at convincing you.

You’re familiar with The Orchid, right? You’re all up-to-date on how Dharma sent items – in particular, white rabbits – into the future? We’re all down with that? They had the technology to send objects from one point in time to a future point in time. Now substitute white rabbits for a large pallet of food and you’re getting the idea.

So that’s step one. Dharma got one large pallet of food and sent it into the future. If you consider the original Orchid Orientation film, when the ‘future rabbit’ appeared, it dropped down in the background. And when Ben turned the ‘donkey wheel’ and went into the future we were given the impression that he ‘dropped’ into the desert. Point is, things arriving from the past into the future drop and land. With that in mind, the parachute strapped to the food pallet makes sense.

I would also note that the rabbit, and Ben, made no sound when they ‘popped up’ in the future. Again, this correlates with the pallet of food appearing in the jungle without making a noise.

Hopefully you’re coming around, but I know you’re bound to be thinking about the number of food drops. That is, we’re given the impression these food drops occur regularly. ‘P.R.D (Periodic Resupply Drop) Every 6-8 months’ states the notation on the Blast Door Map. How else would the likes of Desmond and Inman have stayed alive without regular food provisions? Well, here’s where I introduce multiple time travel drop points into the mix.

Say you’re sending a large pallet of food into the future. You have your time travel machine set at the right “negative shift” so you can approximately gauge when in the future it will travel to. If today is Monday, you can set the food to arrive some time around Thursday. OK? But what if you could set it to arrive at more than one end point?

What if you could set it so that food was delivered every Thursday of every week for the next three years into the future? That same pallet of food would ‘pop up’, every Thursday. It would certainly make good use of resources! That same stock of food could be used over and over, limitlessly.

Now Dharma didn’t have the art of sending things into the future down to an exact science. So what I am positing here is that Dharma set their food drops to constantly ‘pop up’ in the future every 6-8 months. They couldn’t pinpoint the exact day, but they had a rough enough idea. They took one pallet of food and sent it to multiple future times, perhaps indefinitely. This one-time action explains why, after ‘the purge’, Dharma food could still continue to arrive on the Island.

Maybe they did this with numerous different drop points on the Island, which is why The Others also have a large supply of Dharma food. It’s pretty crazy I know, but there’s a simple elegance to it that I rather like, and the recycling idea sits well with the hippy Dharma mentality, don’t you think?

Now let me leave you with one last thought. Take this same idea and replace a pallet of food with a man. Let’s call that man Richard Alpert. What if he stepped into the time travel machine? What if he set it so that he was sent into the future at regular future intervals? What if he even sent himself to the past in the same way? Effectively, he would be the same guy appearing over and over. Ageless.

Sure, he’d have to be careful not to run into himself (getting off the Island and into the real world might be a good idea. . .) and he’d have to leave documentation for his future self to ‘know’ what his previous self had been doing. Probably he’d have to kill himself a lot, too, to make way for the ‘latest’ version of himself. But in principle it could work. A loop-hole circumventing immortality. It’s crazy, I know, but that’s not good enough reason to say it ain’t so. . .