‘Lost’ (S3): The Big Answers! Coming soon
In which we usually ask the producers of Lost to give us a coy clue about the contents of tonight’s episode?
But not today. As it happens, executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse are immersed writing the two-hour season finale — so I’m not going to pester them this week for a preview. Instead, your tease will come from… me.
Yep, I’ve seen tonight’s episode. What can I say? How about this: A couple years from now, when the series is done, I’m certain there will be a DVD product that will collect the 20 or so episodes that represent the Definitive Lost Saga, and this one will be on it. Tonight, you will learn how Juliet came to the Island, and why the Others so desperately needed her miracle-grow baby-making science. You will learn more about Ethan’s infiltration of the castaway encampment in season 1. You will learn how the Others know so much about the castaways. And the ending… well, it’s killer. The episode is filled with sharp writing, stunning cinematography, and great performances. It is a weird, wicked, wonderful hour of television. I loved it. Come back tomorrow, when I’ll recap it for you in the TV Watch column.
To get you in the right mindset for tonight’s episode, we’re going to dote on a single theme today, one I will summarize thusly:
SUFFER THE CHILDREN
Exploring the Others’ creepy fixation with kids, with a revealing clarification about the Numbers by Carlton Cuse, exec producer of Lost!
A very timely e-mail arrived this week from Nameless, an intelligent but shy young woman who prefers I not use her real name. She writes:
”Hi, Jeff. Basically, I think the Others are totally obsessed with babies. [My theory is that] the Others pushed Kate and Sawyer together. Kate had sex with Sawyer and could possibly be pregnant now. The Others made sure that Jack saw them and drove a wall between Jack and Kate, ensuring that he probably won’t be having sex with her — at least for a while. Juliet has been ‘left behind’ with Kate. Juliet is a fertility doctor. Is she watching after their pregnant ex-captive?
”I felt that Sawyer’s reaction to hearing he had a child (in his flashback) was one of a man who knew that could not possibly be true. I think he’s sterile and he knows it. However, the island has a way of curing such problems. Jin was sterile and now Sun is pregnant. Sawyer isn’t sterile anymore, either. Sawyer also had sex with Ana Lucia. She could have been pregnant, too. Thanks for your time!”
DOC JENSEN REPLIES: Do I get some creepy e-mails or what?
But Nameless is indeed onto something. Without spoiling anything more about tonight’s episode, consider these long-standing Lost questions pertaining to the kid issue:
1. WHY DO THE OTHERS KIDNAP KIDS?
The Others clearly want something from the castaways. Lines from Juliet and Ben from earlier in the season suggest that free will — or the illusion of free will — is important to the Others. It could be that the Others are setting the castaways up to willingly surrender… whatever it is that they want. However, clearly the concern that is driving the Others is a matter of life and death. Kidnapping the kids gives them a powerful weapon should all else fail. ”Give us what we want — or the pups die.”
2. WHAT WAS THE PURGE?
Purge is a cleansing word. So is sterilization. And ultraviolet germicidal irradiation is a collection of words to describe the process of using bursts of electromagnetic energy to purge objects of unwanted microbes. Now, violet is very close to purple — and as Lost likes to remind us almost every week, the sky turned purple when the Hatch imploded. So: What if Dharma wanted to harness the ”unique” electromagnetic energy of the Island and apply it to human beings for the purpose of (gulp) sterilizing them? What if the Others were the guinea pigs And if all this is true, did the Purple Discharge basically neuter some or even everyone on the Island? Creepy. But why would Dharma want to do something so sick? Because of the answer to this question:
3. WHAT ARE THE NUMBERS?
Answer: The end of the world.
Or a prediction of the end of the world, to be more precise. Last summer, during the Internet-based alternate reality game known as ”The Lost Experience,” it was revealed that the Numbers were a mathematical formula developed to determine the life expectancy of the planet. Each number in the sequence pertains to a variable that’s likely to factor into Earth’s demise — including overpopulation. ”The Lost Experience” also disclosed that the reason why the Dharma Initiative set up shop on the Island was to develop the means to save the world. Their simple plan was that, if they could change just one of those Numbers — turn that 4 into a 5, for example — then the Earth wouldn’t succumb to catastrophe. When you consider the overall plot of ”The Lost Experience,” a theory really starts to come into focus. The story involved a last-gasp scheme by the Hanso Foundation, financiers of the Dharma Initiative, to alter the Numbers and save the world through population modification — a euphemism for mass murder. A curious tidbit that was never explained was that Hanso was endeavoring to kill only ”precise genetic targets.” THEORY: Dharma was trying to use the electromagnetic energy to sterilize these ”precise genetic targets” in hopes of reducing the world’s population over time and thus stave off global self-destruction. Given the themes of redemption and damnation on Lost, I’m guessing that the victims here would be defined simply as irredeemable people.
In other words: What if Dharma was trying to neuter all the bad people in the world?
A CLARIFICATION FROM CARLTON CUSE: Since the end of ”The Lost Experience,” many people have wondered whether the explanation for the Numbers provided by the game stands as the official explanation of the Numbers on the show itself. Last week, I asked Carlton Cuse about this. Here’s his response: ”Yes, that does remain the official answer. Of course, it doesn’t explain their apparent power, but that falls into the realm of mystery and magic.” DOC JENSEN INTERPRETATION: Yes, the Numbers started out as an equation predicting the end of the world — but here on the Island, a place sensitive to psychic energy and pulsing with apparent supernatural power, it’s very possible that ”the Numbers,” as an entity, became something different altogether. Could the story of the Dharma Initiative be the ironic tale of a dubious doomsday theory that became a very real, very dangerous self-fulfilling prophecy?
Wow. This column sure is getting creepier by the word, isn’t it?
LINK OF THE WEEK!
Within the wild, weird world of Lost Theorydom, there is a popular conjecture expressed in many different forms that I like to call the Mutant Hothouse Hypothesis. Basically, it’s the idea that the Dharma Initiative was trying to cultivate psychic powers in its test subjects, many of whom might have been children. Some of the freakiest — er, I mean, best minds in the Lost Fan Nation subscribe to this theory, including the legendary Andrew Smith, hotshot newcomer Todd Hostager, and the gentleman I’d like you to meet today, a dude named Bigmouth. He runs a Lost blog called Eye M Sick, and his psychic-kids theory can be found here. Check it out. It’s entertaining, well-reasoned, and even comes with visual reference!
But here’s the nagging question that I have about this psychic-kids business: WHY? Why would Dharma want to create a generation of superpowered people? To create super-soldiers? Eh. Maybe. Not very original, though, unless Lost has a unique spin on the idea. Perhaps the Dharma karma cops were trying to meld Children of the Corn with The Brothers Karamazov to create a priestly class of adolescent, parent-hating Grand Inquisitors charged with purging the world of bad adults. (Sorry, Dad: You’re a workaholic who neglects his family. Go to hell! ZAP!)
It’s not that I’m skeptical of the psychic-kids idea. Clearly, the notion is in play thanks to the one-season wonderboy that was Walt. But I really haven’t seen any theory born out of a deep interface with the Dharma Initiative mythos (i.e., how do psychic kids change the equation of the Numbers), or out of a deep interface with the essential themes of the show itself.
To that end, allow me to make a suggestion, one designed to spur further scholarship: Think thematically.
In my opinion, the essential themes of Lost have been succinctly expressed in two ways: the recurring mantra ”Live together, die alone” and Charlie’s song ”We All Everybody.” They are deepened by the present/past dramatic structure of each episode of Lost, in which we see how the unfolding story of a community of people is intertwined with the unfolding stories of individual characters. These ideas are also echoed in the Dharma mythology. If I could boil Dharma down to a single idea, it would be this: social responsibility. If we are to believe the information we’ve been given about them (and that is a big IF, in my opinion), then it seems that Dharma was motivated by the utopian ideal of making the world a better place — by any means necessary. With the Island, Dharma thought they had found a shortcut to transformation — some Instant Karma magic that could produce John Lennon’s ”Imagine” world.
Put another way: The Island = ”Think Global, Act Local.”
How does can that high-minded paragraph illuminate the pulpy, comic-booky, sci-fi craziness of Lost? I’m not sure. But I’m pretty sure it has something to do with the Omega Point — but I’m going to have to wait until next week to explain. Regardless, as Doc Jensen goes forward, my theories are going to become increasingly grounded in these themes. Once you see the next several episodes, I think you’ll begin to understand why.
Yes, folks: I have seen more than just tonight’s episode. And they’re good. REALLY good. And if you want a hint off what’s to come, how about this:
Remember Charlie’s question in the pilot — ”Guys… where are we?” Well, having seen the next couple episodes, I think a better question would be this: ”Guys… WHO are we?”
See you tomorrow at EW.com for the recap of tonight’s episode. And if you have theories of your own, send them to me at JeffJensenEW@aol.com.