Over on Zap2It’s Guide to Lost, I’ve seen a lot of people frustrated with the density of the show’s narrative and mythology. Those people probably hated tonight’s episode. Me? I’m a mythology FREAK. I’m the kind of guy who looks for the Numbers in everyday life. So I thought tonight’s episode, “Confirmed Dead,” was a brilliant episode that took the story of Lost on a global scale. We’ve seen action in all parts of the world before, but we’ve never quite seen so clearly just how central the Island is to the entire world. If you thought the show’s scope was broad before, you ain’t seen nuttin’ yet.
If you’ve been following the online alternate-reality game Find 815 over the last few weeks, the opening shot of this episo de would have made you squeal. I squealed, to be sure, and trust me, hearing a grown man squeal is plain strange. If you didn’t follow the game, the opening shot would have been quite confusing. Essentially, the show opened with the final moments of the ARG: with the salvage vessel Christiane I finding the wreckage of Oceanic 815. The ending was constructed in such a way that it heavily suggested that the wreckage was in fact faked.
And lo and behold, we learn tonight that someone staged the wreckage. We learned this thanks to an alcoholic pilot named Frank, who recognized that the pilot shown on television was in fact NOT the pilot of Oceanic 815. How did he know this? Because Frank was supposed to fly Oceanic 815 that day! So why didn’t he fly the plane that day? Did he call in sick? Was he bumped by his superiors? Unclear as of know, but it’s safe to say that his drinking days started sometime in late September of 2004.
In fact, it’s safe to say that the four on board the helicopter were affected in some primal way by the crash, for reasons they can’t even understand. We have a physicist, a psychic, a zoologist, and a pilot. Three of those professions correspond strongly to research areas of the Dharma Initiative. Turns out these four were pre-selected by the ever creepy Matthew Abaddon, with the Parachutist Formerly Known as Naomi sent to get to the Island, achieve their mission, and leave without any deaths. That mission? To capture Ben Linus.
I suspect the Internet will be lit up over the next few days with people analyzing that photograph of Ben Linus possessed by Miles the Ghostbuster. That looked awfully like Benjamin was at an airport, no? If so, this throws a whole host of things into question: when did he leave the Island? How did he leave the Island? And to what purpose? Ben’s a man with a strong communion with the Island and an intense desire to keep people from leaving it. So why would he ever leave?
Let me take a wild stab in the dark here, based on discussions I’ve been leading over on the Lost blog. Think about the runway being built in the early part of Season 3. Think about the strange project in Canada mentioned in “Through the Looking Glass.” Think about the fact that Benjamin Linus is obsessed with childbirth. And finally, think about the fact that there’s only one person in the world he truly cares about. And when you think about all that, there’s only one reason he would ever leave the island: Annie.
Annie, as you might recall, was Ben’s childhood friend when he first arrived on the Island. He kept her birthday present to him with him to present day. She is, I believe, the Rosetta stone by which you can understand every action Ben has ever taken in the show. I believe that all fertility experiments on the Island are directly tied to the fate/status of Annie. And if Ben’s leaving the Island, exposing himself to the world, she must be the reason for it.
None of this, however, serves to explain why Naomi’s Team is there to capture him. I’m not even sure they themselves know the true reasons why. But again, it stands to reason that they were sent there by Abaddon serving as a proxy to one Charles Widmore. Only Widmore would have access to the photograph in Naomi’s possession, and only he would have the resources to stage a crash of Oceanic 815, and only he would have the knowledge of the island necessary to enable the creation of technology to work in and around its unique electromagnetic properties.
The fact that Abaddon wants the crew to return alive is what’s so puzzling to me. I think we can safely say that when Abaddon asked Hurley, “Are they still alive?” in last week’s episode, he was referring to them. That makes this the quickest resolving of a mystery in the history of Lost, people. This is historic. The reason for his intense curiosity could stem from Charlotte’s seemingly inane question: “So you’ve all been living here this entire time?” This, coupled with the accepted timeline of Find 815, means that what we saw as flashbacks in this episode were flashbacks, but only from a certain point of view.
If I have this correct, when the helicopter went through what they experienced as an electrical storm, they traveled from some point after 2007 (time unclear) back into what would be, for those on the island, 2004. So the events shown in “flashback” were only flashbacks for those on the helicopter: from the perspective of those on the Island, these events haven’t technically happened yet. Confused? Time travel sci-if usually is, and it’s making my own head spin to even think about it. But time travel of some aspect is in play: how else to explain a fossilized polar bear with a Hydra logo adorning its collar in a desert in Tunisia?
I can’t explain it, but that coupled with Abaddon’s version of the A-Team coupled with Ben’s travels vastly expands the scope of the show, while increasing the importance of the Island itself as possibly the most important piece of real estate that may or may not actually be a part of the rest of the world. The producers of Lost have often cited Stephen King’s The Stand as an important influence, but I think you really have to look at the Island as their version of The Dark Tower: a nexus through which existence itself flows.
When Dan Faraday casually mentioned that the light on the island doesn’t “scatter” quite right, he succinctly touched upon how King described Tower‘s Mid-World: a place related to, but quite different from, our own world. And one of the properties of Mid-World? Time has a funny way of slowing down, almost as a response to the moods of those within it. Mid-World has “moved on” by the time we meet Tower‘s hero, Roland, but when he tells the tale of his first love, Susan Delago, to his group (or ka-tet, in Tower terms), the night in which he tells the tale lasts unnaturally long.
The notion of ka-tet might actually help explain just why Abaddon formed this unlikely group of people in the first place. Tonight’s episode strongly suggested a kinship amongst these people, one innately understood but hard to express. Frank knew the pilot, so he’s suspicious. Charlotte finds a Dharma polar bear, and is intrigued. Miles more than likely sensed their presence via his psychic ability. And Dan more than likely did a little research into the crash and deduced, using his keen scientific mind, that two and two didn’t add up. They all raise a little ruckus, get on Abaddon’s radar, and voila: The A-Team. (Or the D-Team. D is for Dharma; that’s good enough for me.)
Abaddon thus in some ways functions as a human form of ka (King’s word for fate), bringing the D-Team together for reasons they cannot understand but ultimately may sense. When one member of Roland’s ka-tet falls (don’t worry, I won’t spoil the novel), the circle is broken, and the group is no more. Perhaps Abaddon’s wish to preserve their lives ties into this similar fear.
But let’s abandon such lofty terms for a moment and consider a simpler option: Abaddon works for Widmore, and Widmore wants the man responsible for the Purge. The man responsible for stopping the Dharma Initiative’s important work. The man who is keeping the Island from everyone else. I will detail what I believe to be the essentials of this plan next week on the Lost blog, but sufficed to say, with Benjamin Linus out of the way, the Dharma Initiative can once again take its rightful place on the Island.
Of course, trying to capture Benjamin Linus is a tricky matter, as evidenced by the cliffhanger line of the night. When asked how he knew so much about Charlotte, and that he was the target, Ben replied, “Because I have a man on their boat.” Course he does. He’s Ben Freakin’ Linus, y’all. He’s got people, and I don’t mean H&R Block. My brother called me up about five minutes after the episode aired, and he plunked down a final piece of the puzzle I had been assembling for some time.
To understand this, you must first understand that I’ve long believed the freighter offshore to be the Helgus Antonius, a ship featured in the first Lost ARG, “The Lost Experience.” Commissioned by The Hanso Foundation in conjunction with Paik Heavy Industries (owned by Sun’s father), this specialized vessel was constructed to reach unusual destinations. And in December, when discussing the identity of those aboard the freighter, I wrote the following:
So we always assumed “325” is the only direction one could use to escape the “snow globe” that is the Island, but what if “325” actually directed Michael and Walt to the Helgus Antonius? What if Ben, via Mikhail, had been monitoring local activity via The Flame, knew the Antonius was sitting out there looking for them, and thus sent Michael and Walt directly into their path?
So ladies and gentleman, we’re left with the very, very real possibility that Michael is Ben’s inside man on the freighter. My brother thought of Michael-as-the-mole right away, and it feels 100% correct. Now, why would Michael work for Ben? I don’t know any more than I know why Abaddon chose those four to capture Benjamin Linus. But it’s a heckuva theory, and I love it more than I love a good pair of wool socks after they’ve been sitting on the radiator for a few minutes.
There’s so much more to cover than there’s room for here. Be sure to visit Zap2It’s Guide to Lost often throughout the season. We’ll have near-daily analysis, insight, and theories.
But for now, it’s your turn. Why were these people chosen? Why is it so important they all return alive? Who wants Ben, and for what purpose? Why would anyone fake a plane crash?