Radzinsky: Disappointment And Discussion

Never meet your heroes. That’s what they say. Never meet your heroes because you’ll only be disappointed.

If you’ve ever been in close contact with a famous person you’ll know what I mean. The overwhelming impression I’ve ever had from anyone famous I’ve ever encountered has always been, They look boringly normal.

And they are. Famous people. Your heroes. They’re just people and are wholly unspectacular. Except for Monica Bellucci.

But that’s another matter. Because I am here to discuss Radzinsky; the personal disappointment he produced for me and the niggling inconsistencies surrounding his time after ‘the purge’. First up, some geek-revealing history to explain myself. Way back between Season 2 and Season 3 I had a spreadsheet. Upon this spreadsheet, down the left hand side, I kid you not, was a list of all the major and minor characters that had ever been in the show we know as Lost.

Across the top of the spreadsheet were all the episodes of Lost. As such, I could cross-reference which episodes contained which characters, and how often characters had appeared. (Christian Shephard, for example, being a minor character, had way more appearances than any other minor character – which I think is kind of interesting in retrospect of how important he has become.)

Anyway, the point of me telling you all this is to explain that, despite him never having appeared, I had reserved a little slot for Radzinsky. Every episode rolled by and I left a grey blank space on the sheet next to his name. Frankly, I only put his name on there as a kind of joke and a bit of wishful thinking; I didn’t actually believe he was ever going to turn up! I thought he was going to remain as an unknown, unquantifiable enigma of cool within the Lost Universe.

Inman: “You should have seen Radzinsky do this. He had a photographic memory. I mean, this whole baby was his idea.”

This was the guy that made the Blast Door Map! That had been pushing the button for God knows how many years! He was nothing short of a superstar of Lost mythology!

And then he turned up.

To say he wasn’t what I expected would be an understatement. A shadow of the icon I pictured, “Stuart” (Stuart!?) was a major letdown. Of course, to give the creators their dues, having Radzinsky turn out to not be what I, or probably anyone, expected isn’t a bad move to make on a television programme based on surprise and dramatic revelation. And the fact that Radzinsky was a complete dick then makes it all the more sweeter that his pig-headed, dogged determination to crank up The Swan electromagnetism (probably) triggered ‘the incident’ that ultimately meant he was destined to spend the rest of his days pushing the button until eventually he couldn’t take anymore and, apparently, blew his brains out.

Karma and irony all in one.

But this all brings up nagging questions about Radzinsky from Season 5 compared to the idea of the Radzinsky we garnered from Season 2. What kind of narrative sense can we make of it?

The events of the episode The Incident took place in 1977. This was before The Swan Station was even built, so we have to assume that the place did get completed and various experiments and whatever took place there. Here’s some of the key dialogue from the Swan Orientation film:
“Station 3 was originally constructed as a laboratory where scientists could work to understand the unique electromagnetic fluctuations emanating from this sector of the island.”

“Not long after the experiments began, however, there was an incident. And since that time the following protocol has been observed: every 108 minutes the button must be pushed.”

That phrase originally constructed suggests that construction was completed. And ‘Marvin Candle’ stating that “not long after the experiments began” seems to emphasise that The Swan was at least built before ‘the incident’ happened. This is, of course, contradictory to the idea that the events in The Incident were ‘the incident’ Candle refers to.

Two points to consider.

1. ‘Marvin Candle’ isn’t being entirely truthful. Pierre Chang is lying about his name, for starters, so there’s no truthful basis being claimed in the film.

2. The events of The Incident may have indeed altered the events of history, and so the construction of The Swan and ‘the incident’ as relayed in the Swan Orientation film were a reporting of a history that Jack, Juliet and Jughead averted.

The ramifications of changing history are well-debated and maddeningly unanswered and this piece isn’t one where I intend to get involved in it. For argument’s sake I’ll propose the following narrative:

The events of The Incident occurred – the construction site going haywire, Juliet hitting Jughead – and the electromagnetic anomaly happened. After this, The Swan Station went on to be finished and experimentation began inside.
However, it was during this experimentation did the Dharma scientists realise the scale of the problem that ‘the incident’ had produced, and so abandoned their experiments and constructed the computer and timer to vent the electromagnetism that had been building up. In this way, events we have seen tally with the events 'Marvin Candle' discusses in the Swan Orientation and we can all breathe a huge sigh of consistent relief.

Why they didn’t just automate the computer, and why they had those evil-looking hieroglyphs show up, well, that’s something only the warped mentality of the Dharma Initiative can answer for.

The next major event, again elusive to our understanding, was ‘the purge’. On the surface this seems straightforward. Probably December 19th 1992 was the date and year. The date we can be sure of, as it was Ben’s birthday, but the year is a little muggy. It helps if it is around 1992, though, because then we can explain how Inman came to be a part of the Dharma Initiative and in The Swan Station after his time serving in the Gulf War.

If ‘the purge’ happened before the Gulf War then I struggle to ratify how Inman could have been recruited to the Island by a Dharma Initiative that had been wiped out. So let’s not struggle, and let’s just have ‘the purge’ happen in 1992.

So the way I see it: ‘the purge’ happened and Dharma got wiped out, and Radzinsky, with new recruit Inman, found themselves stuck alone in The Swan, pushing the button, occasionally venturing out for supplies and avoiding detection from ‘the hostiles’. Radzinsky killed himself. Desmond turned up. The rest we know.

But my last point is related to Radzinsky, the Blast Door Map, and what apparently he knew. . .

Radzinsky, as we were told, was a master when it came to drawing the Blast Door Map. He had a photographic memory. Originally this suggested that Radzinsky used to venture out of The Swan, scour the Island, and report back the details onto his invisible Blast Door Map. Like a man making a map of terrain he did not know, piece by piece. Yet we’ve seen, in Season 5, that Radzinsky was well in with the Dharma Initiative. He knew the Island. He knew about Dharma Stations.

So how come there was a Dharma Station crossed out on the map? How come there were questions about their being potential locations of particular places? There was a giant question mark in the centre of the map for God’s sake! As though Radzinsky didn’t have a clue that The Pearl was there!

I find that unthinkable. Radzinsky had his nose in all manner of business – was considered a high-ranking Dharma person to be trusted with the secret building of The Swan in hostile territory. And if Radzinsky really had no clue about The Pearl, then why was he making an invisible Blast Door Map? Who did he think could be seeing it if not people potentially viewing on monitors!?

I don’t want to belabour the point anymore. It doesn’t quite add up for me. Radzinsky’s appearance in Season 5, finally meeting the man behind the myth, turned out to be a disappointment. Like the saying goes, you should never meet your heroes.


Greg Tramel said...

maybe Radz went a little stir crazy which effected his memory or maybe the Incident electromagnetized his memory or something

Corellian said...

Or maybe he was kind of "punished" after the Incident, as he was the one to blame for the excavations, even after Pierre Chang's warnings.

Pierre Chang seems to have maintained his position on Dharma after the Incident, as he keeps appearing on the videos. Maybe Radzinzky was demoted after the Incident, and therefore didn't have access do classified information anymore, like the Pearl Station...

Anonymous said...

Before the season closer I had my own pet theory that Radzinski (the one shown) was never really down in the Swan station. We have only Inman's word for it and anyone could claim to be a guy named Radzinski ('I am Spartacus!').

Further, we only have Inman's word for it and a stain on the ceiling that Radzinski killed himself. It could be a rust stain. A lot of what Inman tells our mutual friend turns out to be bullshit. (from the the torn quarantine suit to believing in saving the world).

Maybe Inman himself IS Radzinski. Does he fit your image of the myth better? Or maybe Mikhail is Radzinski. He has a similar profile to Inman. Violent. Ex-army. Spook. Tough as nails. Obsessive-Compulsive. Maybe he wandered off one day to form an alliance with the hostiles and just never came back. (remember the glass eye in the arrow station?)

AngeloComet said...

Greg & Corellian - The pair of you have both made points that I was originally intending to include as a kind of 'closing theory' at the end of the post. That he would have been punished into pushing the button (probably true), that the electromagnetism could have wiped his memory, or that he simply didn't have the level of authority required to know about The Pearl.

Troublingly, however, the question remains about WHY make the Blast Door Map invisible? If his memory was gone, he wouldn't know about The Pearl. If his authority level was diminished, he wouldn't know about The Pearl.

I still think these ideas are closest to the truth and, whatever you want to believe, we can perhaps assume that Radzinsky's innate paranoia prompted him to make the map invisible. (Consider his freak out about keeping The Swan plans secret and this fits just nicely.)

Anon - When Mikhail first appeared I did wonder if he could be Radzinsky. But having met the man himself in Season 5 I'm reasonably sure we've seen him, and I'm willing to go along with the idea that Inman's story (at least regarding Radzinsky) was true.

Potentially Inman might have been the one to shoot him, mind, rather than him committing suicide. He WAS an asshole, so you wouldn't really blame Inmnan if he did!

Anonymous said...

I don't know too many heroes who choose to blow there brains out. We knew that he had done this since 'live together die alone'. So I always thought of Raz as a nut job. Many brilliant minds go down this path. Maybe after the incident he had trouble recalling everything he needed to too complete a 'blast door map'. Possible effects of the incident caused this loss of memory.

Point is we knew for a while he blew his brains out and not too many heroes end up this way.

AngeloComet said...

Anon - In principle I agree: suicide is not a heroic or noble act. But I still think iconic people that top themselves wind up earning a higher status.

Case in point: Kurt Cobain.

Anonymous said...

There is aquestion mark in the middle because that is the symbol outside that station. Whats not to get?

AngeloComet said...

Anon - Funny point, that. See, I thought it was a question mark in the grass above The Pearl first time around. But it isn't. I think you see a question mark because of the episode title, and Eko's dream littered with them, and the question mark in the middle of the map Locke drew. . . but it's a circle above The Pearl. More like a target, if anything. (Potential helicopter air-landing area?)

It LOOKS like a question mark because of the way the plane fell, landing in such a way where it appeared to be the 'stalk' of a question mark. But remove the plane and look at it from above and you'll see a circle. And, for our purposes here, the plane wasn't on the ground when Radzinsky would have been making his map!

Anonymous said...

AngeloComet! I would like too see 'SOME NEW THEORY SITES' wouldnt you?

Anonymous said...

What I meant was I would like too SEE THIS SPREAD SHEETT! u speak of

Corellian said...

There was a fan made image about that circle/question mark issue...


Anonymous said...

Here is a little background on Jeremy Bentham and what he stood for.


Anonymous said...

Wheres the next faraday and his notebook theory?

AngeloComet said...

Anonymous: Another Faraday Notebook theory? Is that a heckle? Am I being heckled in my comments now!? :o)

Corellian: I still see a circle! (But I would, wouldn't I?)

Anonymous: Bentham background, without having seen the video it seems like a random suggestion! But I'll have a look all the same when I get a spare five.

Anonymous: If you'd like a character spreadsheet I would suggest making one in the time we have been Season 6 starting. All you need is basic spreadsheet knowledge and Lostpedia and A LOT of time! (For the record, it's incredibly dull. I even put a graph to it. Didn't improve the dullness.)