Thursday, April 30, 2009

Physics, Philosophy & Faraday

LOST fans, put on your thinking caps and fasten your time traveling seat belts. It is my great pleasure to introduce you to Dora, a fellow Lost friend and fan who happens to be an undergrad student majoring in Physics at MIT (with a focus in physical philosophy). As a huge fan of Daniel Faraday, and given what occurred in last night's episode ("The Variable"), Dora was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to help shed a little light on and perspective about the science behind the man!

Feel free to leave her comments below, and as usual - please be respectful and constructive if you disagree with anything. Thanks! - jo

When Jo asked if I wanted to do a guest entry for her blog a couple months ago, I was both honored and hesitant. While I would have loved to share my opinions on such a complex show, I was also uncertain as to what I could write about (the best idea, to date, had been an intricate study of how Jack might have biologically manipulated his stubble to stop growing). However, with the apparent death of my favorite character, Daniel Faraday, I can think of no better opportunity to share my thoughts on the questions of time travel and free will.


The fourth season of LOST, for me, was an extremely well-timed season with respect to the courses I was taking in college. The entirety of the season itself occurred during the spring of my freshman year, when I was taking a basic course in Electromagnetism. One of the greatest scientists in the field of electromagnetism was Michael Faraday, and so the last-name connection jumped out at me immediately when we were first introduced to Daniel early on in the season. Seeing as the electromagnetic radiation on the Island is a key aspect of the show, there was no mistaking Daniel’s namesake. (Further nerdiness ensued with Faraday’s episode “The Constant” – an aptly chosen name. If you really wanted to get technical, the actual Faraday’s Constant can be numerically approximated to 96,000, and you may recall that Daniel instructed Desmond to return to 1996.)

The following fall, I took Special Relativity, which I found to be as important to LOST as electromagnetism. My first clue was the name of Daniel’s freighter buddy, George Minkowski. Much like Daniel was named after Michael Faraday, Minkowski must have been named after Hermann Minkowski, the German physicist who came up with the concept of a Minkowski diagram, which is often used in the field of relativity.

In fact, if you look closely enough at Daniel’s journal, you can see a Minkowski diagram in his notes.


In addition to providing a mandatory character name, special relativity also serves to explain some of the phenomenon we see in LOST. Specifically, it provides an explanation as to why Daniel’s rocket reads a different travel time than what Daniel had clocked on the ground.
In fact, such a situation is a very typical problem one would encounter in a relativity class. To give some very basic and intuitive background on the subject:

Imagine that you have two clocks, both of which measure the duration of a second in the following way: there are two flat surfaces, in which a ball can bounce back and forth between them. We will call the amount of time it takes for the ball to travel from the bottom surface, to the top surface, back down to the bottom surface, as one second. In this case, the path of the ball is straight: up and down, along the same vertical line. Both these clocks are synchronized – that is, to begin with, both these clocks measure the exact same amount of time for one second, and the balls are bouncing in sync with each other.

Now, imagine that we take one of these clocks, and put it on a rocket to orbit the earth, and leave the other one to sit on earth. The rocket travels at a considerable speed. From our point of view on earth, the path of the ball in the clock on the rocket no longer travels in a straight vertical line. If you were to look at the path of the ball as it went from the bottom to the top, you would find that the ball not only traveled upwards, but to the side as well. A better, more intuitive way of thinking about this is to think about standing still and watching someone bounce a ball on a bus moving to the right. As the ball travels upwards, it is also moving to the right with the motion of the bus.

Because the shortest path between two points is always a straight line, we can see that the ball bouncing diagonally is going to travel a farther distance than the ball back on earth, bouncing in a straight line. If we assume that the balls bounce with the same speed (since the clocks were synchronized), then it follows that the ball bouncing diagonally on the rocket measures a longer second than the ball on earth. Thus, if we were to compare the number of seconds (or ball bounces) of the rocket clock to the earth clock, we would find that the rocket clock measured a smaller number of seconds. In short, time moved more slowly on the rocket, and in general, moves more slowly when the object is traveling faster.


You can probably see the connection to LOST by now – the time discrepancy on Daniel’s clock versus the rocket clock can be explained by the fact that one object was moving considerably faster than the other. However, what made Daniel so uncomfortable, and what should make you raise an eyebrow, is that unlike the previous example I had just described, it is not the rocket that measured a shorter time, but instead, the Island. This would imply that the Island was the one moving faster – perhaps an unsettling concept, if one had not seen the Season Four finale.

We now know that this Island can, in fact, move, and not only does it move through space, but it also moves through time. Coincidentally, there’s also a relatively simple (pun mostly unintended) explanation from relativity. As we’ve already seen, the amount of time that someone or something experiences is directly correlated with the speed at which that object travels. The faster you go, the less time you experience. It would therefore be entirely possible, within the realms of physics, to take a one year trip on a very fast rocket (one year being rocket time) to return and find that one hundred years have passed on earth. (In fact, if any of you are familiar with Queen’s B-Side ’39, Brian May, who has a Ph.D. in astrophysics, sings about exactly this!)

Is it possible, then, that the Island (or rather, the people time traveling on the Island) “time travels” by moving at very fast speeds, and experiencing a “slower” time to the time that people on the rest of the earth experience? Your everyday physicist would say no, due to the fact that one would only be able to travel into the future, and not the past, using this method of time travel. However, this may not apply to the world of LOST.

The reason the physicist would say no is due to what some may refer to as the Arrow of Time. Specifically, time only proceeds in one direction: forward. The physicist, and the Arrow of Time, is making the inherent assumption that time naturally goes from 1977 to 2007. Thus, should you take a two month rocket trip, you will return to find that earth time has naturally progressed thirty years forward, and not backward. However, as we found out in "The Variable," time need not necessarily travel forward. Specifically, Daniel tells Jack that 1977 is not their past, but instead, their present, making 2007 their past. Thus, it could very well be that time, in the LOST universe, proceeds naturally from 2007 to 1977, at least for some people.

[side note from Jo: Let's not forget about the Arrow station on the island, which was created by Dharma for defensive against and to gather intelligence about the Hostiles. In addition, Eko discovered a box covered in cloth in the Arrow...and Ben grabbed just such a box from his hotel room vent before returning to the island via Ajira 316. Eko's box contained a bible, glass eye presumably Mikhail's and Orientation film footage; the contents of Ben's are still unknown. Not sure if this relates at all to the Arrow of Time, but worth mentioning nonetheless.]


Having at least somewhat justified the physics of LOST, what about the philosophical implications? Returning to what I had said previously, I also happened to be taking an introductory class to philosophy the spring of my freshman year. (It was, actually, quite satisfying to go from learning about Faraday in one class to learning about Hume and Locke in the next). With the question of time travel, obviously, always comes the question of free will. Is it possible to change the future, or the past? As a scientist, I would say no. Equations dictate deterministic, set results. Whatever happened, happened, and whatever will happen, will happen, or else we invariably fall into logic traps.

Picture the following example:
In 1977, Daniel Faraday tells Pierre Chang of the oncoming electromagnetic catastrophe, much like he did in The Variable. Chang listens to Faraday, and evacuates the Island. There is no catastrophe, and there is no plane crash. Thus, there is no freighter expedition, and Daniel never comes to the Island to rescue the survivors. Ben does not move the Island, and Daniel does not travel back to 1977. But, if Daniel does not travel back to 1977, then who will tell Pierre Chang in 1977 that he has to evacuate the Island? We come to an inconsistency.

The only way for the problem to be resolved is to take Hugh Everett’s Many Worlds Interpretation, which, succinctly put, says that a parallel universe exists for every possible outcome of every decision. Thus, there is a parallel universe in which Chang does evacuate the Island, and one in which he does not. While the Many Worlds Interpretation is certainly possible, and is a notable theory in physics, I am not sure how relevant it is to LOST. However, I say this mostly due to the fact that there is no character with the last name Everett, so trust my judgment at your own discretion.

Leaving Hugh Everett behind, we seemed to be forced accept, as Daniel did, that we cannot change the past. Yet this doesn’t sit right. Aren’t we, as human beings, more than just numbers or equations? We feel as if we are in control of our thoughts, and our thoughts motivate our actions, so we should also be in control of our actions. More than anything, I think that it’s very discomforting to think that I have a set path in front of me, and there is nothing I can do to stop myself from walking that path. Essentially, many philosophers have postulated that the most important aspect to human happiness is free will.

The best example of this, in fact, comes from none other than John Locke (the philosopher). Should Locke have lived in our day and age, he might have proposed the following situation to you:

Imagine that it’s Wednesday night, and you are settling down to watch LOST, as many of us do. Presumably this is something that you enjoy doing, and something that you gladly do on your own. Now imagine that you are locked in a room and forced to watch LOST. There is now something different about the situation. It’s not that you don’t like LOST, or even that you just wanted to do something else. It’s the fact that, even if you would have made the same choice, you didn’t get to choose.

(In light of this, I find it somewhat ironic that the John Locke on LOST seems to believe in the exact opposite of his namesake – he is, in fact, perfectly fine with the fact that he has a predestined path. Clearly, they differ more than just the amount of hair they have.)


I’ve always thought LOST to be a deeply philosophical show. I had, actually, imagined it to be a huge metaphor for society at the end of season one, in which Locke represented faith, and Jack represented science, and the two clashed and fought and engaged in mortal combat until one triumphed and the other was consumed in flame and smoke (monster). Needless to say, this is false. LOST is never so clearly black and white – if it had indeed come down to Jack versus Locke, I would now predict that the two would meld into one being with no hair but much stubble, representing the ultimate integration of faith and science (and bald and stubble). I think in some ways, though Jack and Locke clearly no longer represent science and faith, there is a similar clash between the hard, deterministic face of science, and the malleability of our own free will. Though I am not quite sure that Daniel’s metaphor of a “variable” in the equation checks out entirely, I certainly appreciate his sentiment. Given the wild, fantastical nature of LOST, a world in which time can move backwards and people can come back to life, who’s to say that there won’t be a compromise between fate and free will?

The fact that Daniel Faraday was the one to propose this idea, if anything, made it more attractive to me. I had always found Daniel to be an intriguing character – not only did he have a surprisingly classy taste in ties that you don’t tend to see too much the world of physics academia, he had two very distinct sides. On the one hand, he was obviously a genius, and clearly much more comfortable with numbers than he was with people. Yet on the other hand, he seemed more human than many of the characters on the show. Unlike Ben, who coldly used his daughter as a chess piece, or Jack, who was too busy “fixing people” to take care of his own wife, Daniel knew exactly what his heart felt about Charlotte, and what he needed to do.


Given all this, I truly hope that Daniel Faraday hasn’t died in vain (or, even better – hasn’t died at all!). His conflict between his two sides – the cold scientist who knows he can’t change the past, and the guy who just wants to save his girlfriend from a time-traveling induced accident, represents two facts of life that, for all of us back here in the real world, we aren’t seemingly able to reconcile. Yet why watch TV if it doesn’t show us an alternate reality to the one we live in? If there is some way, in this crazy LOST world, that Daniel will be able to save Charlotte, and not explode the universe in the process, then I wholeheartedly hope that that will be the direction the show turns to take.

Thank you for reading, and many thanks to Jo for letting me steal her blog for an entry!

LOST, Episode 5.14: "The Variable"

"The Variable" was a revelatory and stellar episode, appropriately rich and rewarding for the 100th of the series. This particular episode will always be special to me because we saw part of it being filmed in Hawaii earlier this year; more on that at the end of the post!

I experienced an "a ha!" moment, which provided much needed clarity with regard to the entire time travel facet of the show; Faraday's explanation that they could not change the past but they could change their destiny.

And I could not recall the last time we were treated to a scene with most of the main cast; I loved seeing Faraday, Hurley, Jack, Jin, Juliet, Kate, Miles and Sawyer in one room together. It fondly reminded me of the Season 1 days of old, when many of them were sharing misadventures on the beach or in the jungle together.

But let's get started with the episode analysis...


I've been thinking about that photo of Ben in 1970's attire, the one that Miles brought with him on the freighter mission. It certainly seems as if it were taken off island. We know that Ben was on the island in Dharmaville at a young age in the 70's, and that he traveled off island frequently in later years (thus, his secret spy office with passports, international currency and multiple wardrobe options), so seeing him in 70's garb at an older age is a tad confusing.

We have long been aware of the island's healing properties, which is why Ben's spinal tumor still stands out as one of the only ailments that seems to have developed on the island without guarantee of recovery. Did the island revive him after being shot at close range as a young boy, only to give him a tumor as a test of his loyalty?


We have now seen three of the four members of the Freighter Four recruited by Widmore or his team. Widmore's man Matthew Abaddon assigned Naomi, who recruited Miles, and Widmore himself approached Faraday. So who will seek out Lapidus for the mission to the island?

Goosebump-inducing moment: when Widmore emerged from the shadows to ask Eloise about Desmond's condition! Even though we all know that his true agenda and concern is the island and not Desmond's well being, it was still a surprise to see him at the hospital.

When Widmore said that his relationship with his daughter "was one of the things I had to sacrifice," I got a sinking feeling that Ben may somehow get to Penny to avenge his own daughter's death eventually and after all.


I know it still seems crazy and/or impossible, and that some of the details have changed, but I'm sticking with my Charlie Hume is Charlie Pace theory (especially after seeing Penny leave little Charlie in the care of a nurse while going to see Desmond in recovery).

I have a feeling that their son will be gone when she returns, and it isn't a coincidence that Hawking and Widmore are right outside that hospital when it happens...


Let's start with the logistics. Young Faraday must also be on the island in 1977. He was obviously already born, given that only 19 years later he was a professor at Oxford. And truce or not, I doubt that the Dharma folks were allowing the Hostiles to use the sub to send their pregnant women off island to safely deliver their babies. So if Daniel was conceived and born on the island, perhaps that is why he has a "special gift." The confusing part is that Widmore was exiled from the island 12 years later (in 1989) for fathering a child with an 'outsider.' I am assuming that child is Penny. I am now curious to find out exactly when and how Ellie manages to leave the island, and if it relates to what we witnessed tonight. We are assuming that Chang sends his wife and son Miles off island before 'the incident,' so I can't wait to see if Widmore is able to arrange the same for his family.

Mommy Hawking and Daddy Widmore are both British, yet young Faraday was obviously raised in the States because he has no accent.

After Faraday & co. became stuck in 1974, he alone was able to hop on the sub and head back to the real world while Sawyer & co. remained on the island. If he was 'doing some research' at Dharma headquarters in Ann Arbor, they must have known who he was and arranged for his travel to Michigan.

I've recommended that you watch the Dr. Chang Barracks video many times, because of its increasing relevance to what is unfolding this season. And after Faraday's "I'm from the future" statement to Chang tonight, it is almost certain that he is responsible for the creation and message of this video. It is worth revisiting for that reason.

By getting shot and potentially killed, it seems that Faraday became the variable himself.

If Faraday does die, the ramifications of his failure to negate the energy beneath the Swan are truly mind blowing; that everything from 9/22/04 on is still going to happen for our friends from Oceanic flight 815.

Even though it seemed like Faraday was dying at the end of the episode, it is possible that the island will heal him (much like young Ben).

Daniel and Penny are half-siblings, just like Jack and Claire. Both Charles Widmore and Christian Shephard have been very busy men. If we're lucky, Faraday and Penny will both live to see Season 6 and find out that they're related.

One of the best exchanges in this episode:
Daniel: "I can MAKE time."
Eloise: "If only you could."
It is worth noting that Faraday is not sporting his infamous skinny tie beneath the Dharma jumpsuit. I kind of miss it. But the man clearly lacks a hairbrush, regardless of the era.

Was anyone else disappointed to see that Faraday's future caretaker Caroline was not someone we'd already met? We have been so spoiled by character connections that I've come to expect such a thing now.


Hawking's first encounter with Desmond back in 1996 takes on a new significance after tonight's revelations:
"The universe, unfortunately, has a way of course correcting. That man was supposed to die. That was his path just as it's your path to go to the island. You don't do it because you choose to. You do it because you're supposed to. You may not like your path, Desmond, but pushing that button is the only truly great thing you will ever do." (episode 3.08, "Flashes Before Your Eyes)
As do Ben's words to Locke, which can be applied to almost all of the characters on the island with serious daddy issues:
"You will never be free until you release the hold your father has over you. When people join us here on the island, they need to make a gesture of free will, of commitment." (episode 3.19, "The Brig")
And let's not forget how being called 'special' relates to certain characters and their destiny vs. free will:

Emily Locke to her son, John: "I want to tell you that you're special, very special. You're part of a design. You realize that, don't you?" (episode 1.19, "Deus Ex Machina")

Eloise Hawking, to her son Faraday: "Destiny means that if one has a special gift, it must be nurtured. Your gift, Daniel, is your mind. And it's my job to keep you on your path." (episode 5.14, "The Variable")

Faraday, to Desmond: "You're the only person who can help us because, Desmond...the rules do not apply to you. You're special. You're uniquely and miraculously special." (episode 5.01, "Because You Left")

To me, the emotional manipulation of her son Daniel to convince him to go to the island is on par with Ben's irresponsible decision to use his daughter Alex as a pawn in his game.

I was surprised to hear Eloise tell Penny that "for the first time in a long time, I don't know what's going to happen next" because I believed Faraday when he told her in 1977 that she knew he was going to get shot and sent him to the island anyway.


At first I assumed that the guitar case Hurley brought back to the island was simply symbolic of Charlie; that not only was it in honor of the sacrifice that his buddy had made in order for his friends to get rescued, but that it served as a sort of proxy in Charlie's place for the return flight via Ajira.

But Hurley has the case as they prepare to leave Dharmaville, which makes me think that something far more interesting than a guitar is stored inside. {reminder: this is a spoiler-free site so please do not post a comment if you've heard or read anything relating to this or other thoughts & theories!}


Dr. Chang and Eloise Hawking used the same expression, 'God help us all.' Chang was referring to stopping the drilling beneath the Orchid so as to avoid releasing the energy within ("Because You Left"), and Hawking was referring to Ben's inquiry about not getting all of the Oceanic Six to return to the island ("The Lie"). To me, both of these are going to relate to the pending Incident.

Given that we've seen Chang in various other Orientation films...he must survive the Incident. But it is a safe assumption that he'll lose his left arm during or because of it.


Just like old times, Jack puts Kate in an uncomfortable situation, making her choose her alliance between him and Sawyer. I loved it. They're back! And you know you were happy to see them traipsing through the jungle together again.


Where is Jughead currently housed? Back in 1954, Faraday told his young solider mother Ellie that they needed to seal the leak on the hydrogen bomb with lead and then bury it beneath concrete. That we know of, at that time on the island, the Dharma stations had not been built.

Something tells me that in addition to Eloise, the ageless Alpert knows the location of Jughead and will take Faraday to it if he lives. Perhaps we'll even see Alpert take Faraday to The Temple to heal and survive, as he did with Little Linus...


I will openly admit that my heart broke a little when Juliet heard and reacted to Sawyer referring to Kate as Freckles, followed by her loaded statement that "it's over, here, for us anyway."


When he confronted Jack, Kate and Faraday at the motorpool, he said he had just left Dr. Chang, who was allegedly at home with his wife and baby right there in Dharmaville. Then why did Radzinsky arrive via van? Liar pants.

And seriously, who put Captain Hothead in charge? He seems to be the strongarm leader of the Dharma Others before Ben purged them and took over. Where is Circle-of-Trust Horace during this particular crisis?


Will someone please remind me why it is that Guyliner is ageless but is unable to remember people he'd met from various eras on the island...


Amid the chaos, Sawyer provides the evening's comic relief. "Twitchy" just might be my favorite of any of the nicknames he has assigned over the years.

I also laughed when he told Jack that he'd "love to trade theories" about why and how Faraday returned to the island, because that is what the fans have been speculating about for quite some time.


Jack had to remember his visit beneath the Swan with Sayid in Season 1 when Faraday spoke of cementing in the area like Chernobyl; that is exactly what Sayid referenced when they first saw it.

It definitely struck me when Faraday said that people are going "to spend the next TWENTY years keeping that energy at bay by pressing a button," because that would only be until 1994. That is the year that a) Walt was born and b) Desmond met Penny. Both of them are 'special' and have obvious ties to the Swan at a future point in their lives.


Faraday had subjected both himself and his rat to time travel experiments. He lived but the rat (so lovingly named in honor of mommy Eloise) died.

I find it fascinating that Theresa wound up in a catatonic state after being stuck in time, a kind of temporal displacement...and wonder why Faraday managed to live, albeit with severe memory loss. And does her condition have anything to do with her Constant (or lack thereof)?

Of course now I suspect Eloise had something to do with Theresa's fate, given her disdain for Daniel's life outside of his island destiny.


The metronome on Faraday's piano foreshadows the giant pendulum swinging in the Dharma Lamp Post station in Los Angeles where mommy dearest was calculating the Oceanic 6 return to the island.

When Widmore visits Faraday in 2004, the title on the Wired magazine is "The Impossible Gets Real." It is not a coincidence that they featured this particular magazine in this historic 100th episode of Lost, because this his month's issue of Wired is "The Mystery Issue," edited by none other than J.J. Abrams.

Young Charlotte said the same thing to Faraday on the swing that she did before dying, "I'm not allowed to have chocolate before dinner." ("This Place is Death")


Many of you know that we were fortunate to witness live filming of this episode of Lost back in February on Oahu (in Dharmaville/New Otherton). It was quite surreal and fantastic to actually watch that scene at the Motorpool unfold on the show tonight. At the time, I had no idea why Jack, Kate and Faraday were donning Dharma jumpsuits, because it was before we knew that they had returned to the island...let alone back in the 70's.

When I saw actor Eric Lange there in a black jumpsuit, I inquired who he was playing and a very kind source revealed that he was the infamous Radzinsky (who up until that point in Lost lore was a mere blood stain on the ceiling of the Swan). That discovery, coupled with the fact that Faraday had blood on him but no tie, just about made my head explode. As a spoiler-free fan, I was very conflicted; while I absolutely loved watching them film our favorite show live, I knew I could not talk about it until it aired.

So I am thrilled to now be able to share the details of that day. We arrived shortly after the explosion (when Jack shot at the gas tank), and saw a few takes of the Dharma jeep crashing into another and taking off with Jack and Kate. We heard and saw the gun shots (from blank cartridges of course), and were very amused by the well cast Jack, Kate and Radzinsky stunt doubles. For what it's worth, Lange's double resembles him but is a about a foot taller.

We were not too close to the actual film crew or actors, but I can tell you that Jeremy Davies was the only one to wave at those observing the filming that day. Bonus points for Faraday! I am relieved that we did not find out that he was going to be shot and possibly killed in the very same episode!

My only regret is that we missed Elizabeth Mitchell, because clearly she was there filming that week for the scene in her house. Obviously I would have loved to see Juliet on set. :)

Phew and wow. That was exhausting but worth every second.

If I could, I would give the entire cast, production crew and creative team of Lost a huge high five and hug tonight for providing us with 100 episodes of amazingly high quality television. I know I'm not alone when I say that Lost is easily one of the most compelling and memorable shows in the history of television. That the audience is so involved and we have spent the last five years of our lives analyzing it at length is proof positive of such.

I've never been happier to have a day off than today, because it is now after 3am. And I'm feeling rather Penny-ish, as in a few hours I am going to pick up my constant at the airport after being apart for the longest time in twelve years together. It seems only fitting that she's flying back right now...from Sydney. Yes, everything relates to Lost, and I wear that geek badge with pride.

So good morning, and have a great weekend! Feel free to leave comments with your insights and reactions.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Top 100 Scenes from 5 Seasons of LOST

Because the next episode ("The Variable") is the historic 100th of the series, I posted my favorite 100 LOST scenes of all time on TVOvermind!

Click here to see the extensive list, accompanied by photos and organized by season and episode.

See you late tomorrow night!


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Revisiting "Some Like it Hoth" and Your Comments

Apologies for the delay in this follow up to the last new episode, "Some Like it Hoth." Below are some additional thoughts, as well as responses to your comments.


Brad says that logistically, Ben could not have coordinated Nadia's murder; she was already dead by the time he showed up in the Tunisian desert. He simply didn't have time to get that message sent. By the time he knew Sayid was leaving the island, he was already on his way to the Orchid to move the island. He would've had to make an instantaneous decision and communicate to Richard/Others in between when he gives the helicopter to Sayid and Kate, and shows up at the Orchid the next time we see him.

My response is that I don't put anything past Ben, regardless of where he is at the time. He seems to have 'people' working for him in every capacity wherever he is or has ever been. So if it wasn't Ben that oversaw Nadia's death, we have to consider Widmore or the third party that so many believe exists.


It seems unlikely that Mature Miles was able to avoid really interacting or speaking with his father for three years, from 1974 to current day 1977. Given Dr. Chang's background and involvement with Dharma (not to mention the fact that Miles' name is stitched on the front of his jumpsuit), it wouldn't seem out of the realm of possibility that Dr. Chang HAS considered that Mature Miles may in fact be his adult son.

I am assuming that Straume the maiden name of Lara Chang. Similar to Ethan Rom (which should be Goodspeed), it is unclear why Miles has a different last name than his father.

1MileToGo is thinking that Mrs. Chang may have had been exposed to electromagnetic energy, and that Miles was too, as a baby. I like that theory, especially if mother and child were accidentally exposed and then exiled off the island by daddy dearest out of guilt.

Then again, I have always been suspicious of women on Lost who have experienced off-island illnesses or death; the conspiracy theorist in me thinks that Widmore, Ben or Dharma had something to do with Claire's mom Carole Littleton miraculously recovering from a coma, Walt's mom dying of a rare disease, Kate's mom Diane living much longer than expected, Juliet's sister Rachel getting cancer and Teresa Spencer's catatonic condition (Faraday's mystery woman in England, who is apparently stuck in time).

1MileToGo also thinks it would be interesting to find out that Baby Miles acquired his ability when Mature Miles made contact with himself as a child, which results in a near death experience that causes Baby Miles to develop his ghost-whispering skills.


In 1954, we witnessed young Widmore break the neck of and kill a fellow soldier on the island. In the late 90's, we saw that he ordered twentysomething Ben to kill Danielle Rousseau, but neither of the men followed through with it. So I was thinking back to the videotape of older Widmore beating up one of Ben's men, off island. It now strikes me that he didn't KILL Ben's man, and makes me question for the first time whether or not Widmore is actually one of the good guys. It is still up for debate whether or not Widmore actually purchased and planted the fake 815 wreckage using bodies from a Thai grave. The jury is out, in my opinion.

I seriously hope that we find out what Widmore and Sun agreed upon before she returned to the island.


I will let Katie take the lead on this one (and thank her for providing this information and perspective)!

Egyptian Creation Mythology:
From the primeval waters, they said, Ptah arose like a hill. After this, all other land emerged from the ocean. And Ptah thought all things in his heart and brought them into existence by his commanding word. In this way he created all food and provisions. Through his word he made the crafts and all other things.

Another Creation story:
Some people called the first god Atum. Other people called him Re. The first god did not have a mother nor a father. He came into being by himself. He emerged from the primeval flood Nun as a hill and stood on top of it. Then, he spat out two other gods. One was male and the other was female. They gave birth to the other gods.

This hill (or Island) that the the Egyptians refer to as the birth place of the Egyptians reminds me of our Lost Island. Maybe this is why the Island is so special and why they are teaching the children of Dharmaville about Egyptian history. I have been reminded of these creation stories ever since I first saw the Hieroglyphs on the Island.


Nurby thinks the voice in the Barracks/Chang video does sound like Faraday, but is unsure that it is him because he sounded mean. She can't recall a time when she has heard him like that. She feels like we have not seen that side of Faraday, if he does have that side.

I do think that we will witness Faraday making that video of Dr. Chang, but that there were other people in the room and he was under a great deal of pressure and a limited amount of time. Don't forget that Chang isn't exactly personable, so Faraday may be reacting to him. But yes, I think that perhaps our favorite physicist has a bit of a dark side...remember that dying Charlotte told him that he was evil and scared her as a child.

And I don't know why, but Faraday arriving on the sub already wearing a black Swan jumpsuit got my attention. To me, that is an indication that Ann Arbor/the DeGroots are constantly in touch with the island, that the jumpsuits are produced off island, etc. Also, it does not appear as if Faraday is wearing his infamous tie underneath; could that actually be a significant piece of his/their time traveling puzzle?

p.s. Did anyone else notice that Miles helped a woman out of the sub BEFORE Faraday emerged? Will it be Karen DeGroot, or just an Ann Arbor red suitcase (the Dharma version of a red shirt)?


I have long held the theory that this trinity belonged to Christian Shephard, Jack Shephard and Jacob....but it may also apply to Pierre Chang, Miles Straume and a significant entity that ghostbuster Miles has yet to communicate with/reveal to us. Smokey, perhaps?


1MileToGo thought Chang's mention of Hydra was interesting, as if it was the DHARMA detention center (it makes sense that Room 23 may be part of that process). He also notes that we haven't seen anyone in Hydra jumpsuits in DHARMAville so far. He is hoping for a glimpse of the Hydra Station and possibly Room 23 before the end of the season.

Good point about the lack of Dharma folks in Hydra jumpsuits - I also hope that we get to see Hydra Island in 1977.

Capcom believes that Chang's comments about the Hydra experiments might merely be a type of common intellectual snobbery, wherein some scientists think that their work is the only "important" work and everyone else's are lesser efforts. In Chang's case, zoological psych tests, etc., would seem vastly inferior to the quantum physics and time travel experiments that he's involved with.


People always ask me why I love Juliet, and I can give a very specific example from this last episode...

When Sawyer comes home to talk to her and is surprised to find Jack there having coffee, Juliet doesn't unnecessarily complicate the situation by becoming twitchy or awkward or looking guilty (like Kate always does). Juliet is meticulous to a fault, reads people quite well and anticipates behaviors and reactions. Whereas Kate panics and reacts, Juliet is quick to respond and decisive, and keeps her emotions in check. Even though I have no clue who's side she's really on, I continue to root for her because she's the best actress and by far the most intelligent character on the show.


I agree with 1MileToGo, who thinks that the Others have another way off the island. He wants to know if Faraday left with Ellie and is now returning to put a course of action into play, and I would love to see that unfold!

Let's talk logistics. That we know of, there two ways to leave the island: via sub or the Frozen Donkey Wheel which drops you in Tunisia. The Swan construction site is filled with very large, heavy equipment. You and I both know that there is NO way that it was delivered via submarine, and seems unlikely that it was dropped off (like the mysterious food pallet). I sound like a broken record, but this only fuels my theory about an underground transportation system on the island...


There are far too many options for what may be inside of Ilana's metal crate on the beach.

Weapons would be the most obvious choice, but I wonder if it contains a body. Perhaps whomever sent Ilana had cold storage like Ben's butcher in LA. Perhaps the person inside is being transported like Anthony Cooper really was, before he wound up in the 'magic box' below Ben's house on the island.


While many people seemed to think that the 'numbers' being etched into the Swan quarantine door signified that they didn't really mean anything, I thought the complete opposite.

Now that we've seen them imprinted both on the outside of the hatch (which Hurley recognized right before they blew it open at the end of Season 1) and on this door, I believe that they are also placed in various locations in and around the Swan. I am also convinced that Leonard Simms and Sam Toomey were stationed at the island at one point, as they were the source of Hurley's first exposure to the 'numbers.' I do believe that the numbers existed long before the Swan was built, and that before the entire series ends, we will find out exactly where they originated.


1MileToGo is wondering how much of the actual Orchid station is completed in 1977. The portion that we see them building is the exterior greenhouse portion. He thinks that they may be delivering the bodies to the Orchid to try and do time travel experiments on them and wonders if we will see Alvarez (the Dharma dude who died via tooth filling forehead extraction) next week back working at the Swan.

I have a feeling that we'll return to Faraday down below in the Orchid when they discover the Frozen Donkey Wheel; that scene from the first episode this season. It seems that only he and Dr. Chang are aware of it, and I wouldn't be surprised if one Faraday's reasons for returning from Ann Arbor was the wheel (and possibly altering the future for Charlotte, even though he said what happened, happened).

Capcom is thinking that maybe they are burying the victims of accidents in the cement supports of the Orchid, like where it is thought that Hoffa is! Or maybe even in the cement structure around the magnetic anomaly...and I LOVE that idea. The Dharma Mafia. LOL.


1MileToGo thinks the 'incident' will affect Smokey, whom we haven't seen during DHARMA days.

I would argue that Smokey will be CREATED during or result from the incident.


1MileToGo really liked seeing the Swan being built. He thinks it is closer to being finished than it appears, that they are now covering up the location and maybe in the next episode we will see the inside. He agrees about the hostiles seemingly not knowing about the construction; a vine covered fence wouldn't mask the construction sounds.

I tend to agree with the degree of completion because it seems like there is a square box being placed in the middle of the Swan construction site, which I assume leaves a portal into the hatch below as they build above and around it. In addition, when we look back at the Swan after the implosion (below), the depth is appropriate and obvious.


Brad thinks
that Bram and Ilana are part of a different, yet unnamed group who has equal claim to the island that the two factions we've already seen (Ben/Widmore). If they are related to DHARMA/Hanso (and the Black Rock etc.) then we could be set up for a major struggle. "What lies in the shadow of the statue?" How about Jughead, the ULTIMATE endgame and upper hand for any of the three groups as far as gaining island superiority.

1MileToGo is thinking that Bram is part of a DI resurgence. Bram said the following: "You'll know who you are, Miles--why it is you have a gift, and most of all, you'll know about your father." This made me think that the Chang video was received by Bram.

And Ashlie says that just because they're against Widmore does not automatically make them on Ben's side; maybe they have something to do with Eloise, who doesn't seem to have allegiance with either Ben or Widmore.

OrangeJack is also suspecting that Ilana and Bram are part of a new group in play for the Island. It’s always been Ben vs Charles, Jack vs Locke, etc. But what if the “shadow statue people” are the new (old) group in town? Maybe the Island Trinity had it’s people living there until the outside world got involved.

Shauna and TooManyHats also agree that there is a third party.

All of you make very valid points. Perhaps I'm being stubborn, but I am not quite on board with the idea of a third group, and I have to say that I'd be very surprised if the creative team behind Lost would introduce yet another faction this late in the game and after a long season of time travel.
As for Jughead, I'm not so sure that it is still intact and buried on the island past 'the incident' that we've yet to see; perhaps it used to live in the shadow of the statue.

Thank you again for your input - I look forward to the comments with great anticipation after every new episode post, and appreciate the time and thought you put into sharing them.

This week will be the historical 100th episode of Lost, and I am very excited to compare what we saw when we watched the filming of "The Variable" back in February on Oahu with what is actually in the episode. All I will say is that there were four major characters in Dharmaville that day...stay tuned for details!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

LOST Haiku! Entries & Contest Winners

Earlier this week I held a Lost haiku contest via my Facebook page. I was thrilled to see how many participated and just how clever some of our fellow Lost fans are!

The grand prize is an autographed Sterling "young Ben" Beaumon t-shirt, and three runners-up will receive Lost t-shirts. Due to shipping costs, the contest was only open to those in the U.S. However, I did receive a few haikus from international Losties, which are included below.

Here was my example:
I do not like Kate;
Juliet as mechanic,
I'd much rather date.
And here were the entries, by name:

Desmond, your constant?
you have some 'splainin to do!
darn it, Faraday!

Egyptians were there
Richard Alpert is ageless
Is he the Sun God?

Hurley sees dead peeps
Dude that is freaking crazy
or is he crazy?

Eko was the best,
But now he is laid to rest.
Returns as a guest?

Time travel is fun,
Many mysteries abound.
Where has Jacob gone?

John Locke cannot die
Sorry Ben, you should not try
The Six had to lie

We have to go back
We were not supposed to leave
It's a leap of faith

A Bloody Rock God
Woken by the loss of self
Sacrifice gives life

Trees move, the ground shakes
Hear the roar, A dinosaur?
Run! Your life's at stake!

Bad ass with a knife
His faith stronger than combat
Don’t tell Locke he can’t

Walkabout was it
Life sucked up by epic show
Now what after end

I've been watching since
I was a thirteen year old.
Now, five years later...

JENN B (from Canada)
Ben is a menace
I want to be Freckles too
LOST is my lifeline

New Island Intrigue:
Who's behind the newcomers?
And what's in their box?

LaFleur has flowered
Sawyer's revenge now fulfilled
Freckles has returned

"Dead is dead," Ben says
Is it really what he means?
Follow Locke; you'll learn.

Libby who were you?
Widmore's daughter? Dharma?
I hope we find out

The Donkey wheel turns
We all skip to the beat of time
I need a constant

Dead is dead says Ben
But Locke is walking today
What is up with that?

Sweaty dynamite
"Dude, you've got some Artz on you"
Hurley has best lines

I think he is Hot!
With his shiny flowing hair;
I adore Hurley!

Breathtaking beach
An endless sea
Time is LOST

Floating island,
hidden in the shadows,
judgment to follow.

Fate has brought you here.
Faith or science will you chose.
A war is coming.

back from Ann Arbor
his old tie and a new smile
Faraday kicks ass

LOSTies are the best
Friendships forged from TV show
I want a tee shirt!

Stranded with Sawyer
On a deserted island
Is heaven on earth.

Four eight fifteen and
sixteen twenty-three forty
two make 108

Jack, Kate, Miles, Locke, James
the daddy issues abound
why the daddy hate?

MELISSA G (from Canada)
Beneath the temple
Ben's judged by the Smoke Monster
Yikes it let him live!

Little Ben was sweet
But he had to help Sayid
So much for good deeds

Time turns round and round
The chosen moment has come
Locke will take his throne.

Jumpsuits all around
Bad hairpiece makes me younger
I am Ben Linus

The Swan Hatch explodes
The Boxman watches Desmond
Quarantine Door falls.

Eternal Island
Times Stands Still For Only You
Take them home again

Your lottery numbers haunt
Four Eight Fifteen Six...

Desmond in t-shirt...
Over birthday suit sublime
Flash On...Flash...O' Mine!

Oceanic falls
Survivors lost on a beach
Locke has the answers

"Pay attention! See
my dynamite handling skills."
Arzt explodes. Kaboom!

Is Locke the Hero?
Ben - the one the Island wants?
Desmond for the Win!

TOM S (from the UK)
Oh great big statue,
one toe short of a full foot,
Richard is that you?

nosebleeds and flashes
Hippies, monsters, polar bears
oh, hootenanny!

where time stops then spins
this island of mystery
ever out of reach

This was a very entertaining yet challenging one to judge! For what it's worth, I read each entry out loud, spoken-word style, to assist my final decision...

Grand Prize: Lori H
Because almost every female Lost fan would agree with and appreciate your sentiment. Perhaps my girl Juliet was thinking that very thing at the end of Season 4. :)

  • Bryan S
  • Darrell D
  • Hillary P
  • John P
In the end, I decided to pick one more runner-up because it was so tough to choose! Lori, Bryan, Darrell, Hillary and John P - please email me your shipping address and I will send your t-shirts out next week.

Thank you to everyone who participated; I hope that it was as much fun for you to write the haikus as it was for me to read them all!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

LOST, Episode 5.13 - "Some Like it Hoth"

Last summer at Comic-Con, they unveiled this video. It is now more relevant than ever. So I encourage you to watch this before reading my initial theories about this week's episode.

Here are my thoughts about "Some Like it Hoth"...


Last season, we saw Tom show Michael the empty grave photo and purchase order for the old airplane (when he was trying to convince him to join the freighter crew to work secretly for Ben). So it is clear that Ben (or his henchmen) killed that man Felix en route to deliver those documents to Widmore.

I look forward to when Little Linus reappears after healing from his injury under the care of Alpert's Hostiles, to see how he/they explain his absence. We know that he starts leading a double life at some point, working with Dharma and Dad by day and roaming the jungle with the Hostiles by night.

I still want to know what he stored in the hotel vent before returning to the island, and if he brought it with him...


Now we can connect the dots between Ben, Ilana and Bram. Many of us wondered if she was hired by Ben, instructed to seduce then arrest Sayid to get him on Ajira 316 and bring a cache of guns (presumably in that large metal crate), and now that seems to be the case. In addition, it now makes sense that Miles attempted to blackmail Ben last season in the amount of $3.2 million dollars, because he told Bram that was the price to bribe him into NOT going to the island (and why Ben answered 'yes' when Miles first met him and asked if he knew who he was).

Ben's secret island password is the phrase "do you know what lies on the shadow of the statue?" so I'm guessing that the snowman joke is Widmore's...


I wasn't able to catch all of the hieroglyphic images and text from the chalkboard that Jack was cleaning, but it clearly contained information about Old, Middle and Late Egyptians, and the progression of their communications tools. According to this site, ancient ideograms are signs the represent exactly what they mean (i.e. the bird symbol on the chalkboard signifies an actual bird; insert Hurleybird theories here). And phonography is very early form of script.

That the Swan hatch is being constructed during this time and will contain a hieroglyphic countdown clock is not a coincidence. I find it fascinating that the Dharma folk would be teaching their children about Egpytian history during an era when the sacred Temple was used solely by the Hostiles...even though it will become future safe sanctuary for the Others.


First of all, we need to discuss whether or not Miles was born on the island or if Mrs. Chang was sent via sub to deliver back in the real world. If he was born on the island, it would be interesting to find out if he was also conceived there; that we know of, only Amy has successfully conceived and delivered on the island thus far (baby Ethan). If Miles was born off island, why do they bring mother and child back so quickly?

Mrs. Chang seemed to be dying slowly and prematurely. Did she become ill as a result of something on the island? Given that Widmore wanted get Miles on that freighter to go to the island and speak with the dead...could or would Widmore have poisoned her or someone been the cause? I've always assumed that Ben had Nadia killed to get Sayid back to the island; who's to say that Widmore isn't just as evil in his intentions.

[And did anyone else immediately think about Theresa Spencer, Faraday's comatose mystery woman in England, when they saw Mrs. Chang on her death bed attached to various wires and machines? I thought for a moment there that she too was a time shift experiment gone wrong, perhaps resulting from her island departure.]

It struck me as odd that Miles said his mom appeared in line behind him in the Dharma cafeteria, because as he explained to Hurley, he speaks with the dead but does not see them. Not sure how to explain that discrepancy, but perhaps he also sees and speaks with ghosts like Hurley does. {IGNORE! Thanks to Brad and many others who reminded me that at that point in time, Mrs. Chang was alive & well on the island!}

Bram refers to Miles' 'gift' and alludes to knowing how and why he has it. Walt shares a similar gift of clairvoyance, which is probably why Ben had Walt kidnapped back in Season 1; he wanted to use Walt for the same reasons that Widmore hired Miles.

We hear baby Miles crying in the background of the Barracks video above as Chang warns about the 'purge' he believes he will die in. Is it safe to say that he learns about the future from either Mature Miles or Faraday (whom most assume is the voice behind the camera)? Chang appears to be sitting in the Swan hatch during this video, so we should see the completed hatch before the end of this season.

In both the Swan station film and Flame station computer video, Dr. Chang has a prosthetic left arm, but in the Orchid, Pearl and Barracks video above, he has two functional arms. So he must survive the purge he references, but lose the arm in the process and then appear in the Swan and Flame videos.


In a previous episode, Radzinsky seemed hell bent on preventing the Hostiles from finding out about the Swan hatch. But there is no way that the Dharma folk have created such a huge construction site without Richard Alpert knowing. So is there an agreement between the two factions, and if so...what do the Hostiles receive in return for allowing them to use that space?


Logistically, how and when did Faraday leave the island during that three year period in Dharmaville? If he'd turned the Frozen Donkey Wheel and exited in Tunisia, we would have seen the island affected via time shifts. But they stopped, for at least these three years.

We know that Faraday's research is funded by Widmore. Did he go see him or his mom Eloise when he left the island? Something tells me that mommy dearest had something to do with how he left in the first place...

I have to say that when I heard that "scientists from Ann Arbor" were arriving in Dharmaville, I was excited to finally meet the infamous DeGroots. Of course that statement implies more than one person, so Faraday won't be the only one to emerge from that sub.


We now know why Charlotte, Faraday and Miles were specifically chosen by Widmore (via Matthew Abaddon) for their mission to the island, so I'm hoping that we'll find out the real reason that Lapidus was sent there...


I love that he is continuously evolving and filling various roles; tonight he was both therapist and screenwriter.


There are two ways to interpret Dr. Chang's threat to "ship" Hurley over to Hydra Island to work as a polar bear pooper scooper; either he is literally just sent there, or there is a method of transportation aside from the sub that we have yet to see. I realize that it is only 1.5-2 miles away, but I just don't see Dharma sending people back and forth frequently via outrigger canoe.

Given that we saw Charlotte uncover a polar bear skeleton with a Dharma collar in the Tunisian desert (which is the island's time shift exit), I am assuming that Dr. Chang is referring to the polar bears on Hydra as "ridiculous experiments" because he does not believe that they should be used as guinea pigs to push the Frozen Donkey Wheel and wind up in Tunisia. It seems that at this point in time, the polar bears are being stored and prepped over on Hydra, but not yet subjected to the Frozen Donkey Wheel. But because we've seen that the wheel is located in probably the only locale on the island at that temperature, it makes sense that they'll bring the polar bears over at some point to acclimate and become more comfortable in their normal cold environment.


She serves a similar purpose to Eloise Hawking; getting specific individuals to that island. Obviously Naomi becomes more of a physical presence in that process, as opposed to a metaphysical one.


We see 'the numbers' being imprinted on the Swan hatch quarantine door. Let's travel back in time to Season 1...we learned that Leonard Simms (Hurley's mumbling acquaintance in the mental institution) first heard 'the numbers' from Sam Toomey, and they were both in the Navy. We witnessed a military presence on the island, during the early Widmore era, so I would not be surprised to see young Leonard and Sam in a future episode. My guess is Leonard went crazy after exposure to the electromagnetic field while building the Swan; that is where he first saw the numbers. And let's face it, if a man's filling can be pulled out of his tooth and through his head...anything is possible at that location.

Side note: Toomey's widowed wife allegedly lost her leg in a car accident. Given that we know Dr. Chang injures his arm (potentially during pending 'incident'), that Montand lost his arm to Smokey, etc., I now believe that she was possibly on the island as well. And let's not forget that our favorite statue is merely one stump of a leg...


There are two reasons I came up with for why they send deceased bodies to the Orchid station. The first is that there is cold storage beneath it, near the Frozen Donkey Wheel. I cannot explain how or why that area exists at that temperature, but it is probably connected via underground passageway to The Temple, as both contain walls of hieroglyphics.


Both Kate and Jack have major daddy issues, so their initial sympathies toward Roger are not a huge surprise. But I had to laugh when the recently shaved and sober Jack lectured Roger about drinking.

And the scene with Kate and Roger on the swing set reminded me of young Annie with Little Linus in the same exact location, when she gave him the wood carved dolls.


Are there rules about crossing paths with actual relatives and selves in previous eras? We saw Faraday meet his young mother Ellie in 1954, but not only is Miles seeing his father in 1977...he is interacting with him and also existing as a 3 month old at the same time.


It is coming, and Ben believes that he's overseeing the winning team, opposite Widmore. That is probably why he had Ilana bring the ammunition on Ajira 316. I certainly hope that Daddy Widmore somehow returns to the island for this showdown, and that it relates to 'the incident.' Because of the title of this episode and the many other Star Wars references therein, I started pondering whether Ben's or Widmore's empire will strike back...


There were two statements uttered in this episode which apply to many characters: "that douche is my dad" and "if you needed your son to know that you loved him, you should have told him when he was still alive." Miles & Pierre Chang, Ben & Roger Linus, Jack & Christian Shephard, Walt & Michael.

  • The white rabbit which Miles knew hid the apartment key.
  • The book that Dr. Chang was reading to baby Miles was about a polar bear.
  • The horses in the paintings above Mrs. Chang, off island.
I couldn't help but think about Little Miss Sunshine as Miles put the body in the trunk of the VW van.

Oh, and in their tan jumpsuits, ghost whisperer Miles and the I-see-dead-people dude Hurley comprise (mentally and physically) 1/2 of the Ghostbusters.

New Dharma logo alert: there appears to be a Dharma school or library logo, as evidenced by Hurley's journal notebook.

Yesterday was 4/15 and today's date is 4/16, all of which are 'the numbers.' :)

I have to publish this now, because my blog host site is scheduled for a maintenance outage in less than an hour - doh! And although I seem to say this after every episode, I really do have more to elaborate about and plan to post further thoughts and theories this weekend!

As a pop culture sponge and sci-fi fan, I loved tonight's episode. Kudos and shout-out to "Some Like it Hoth" co-writer Gregg Nations, whom I had the pleasure of meeting (and bowling with) a few weeks ago at Lost Weekend in LA.

By the way, I had no idea that when we saw live filming in Oahu earlier this year of episode 14 (which airs on 4/29 after a brief hiatus next week) that is was the milestone 100th episode of Lost!
And what we witnessed there is finally starting to make sense. I will make sure to highlight and compare what we saw in the post following that episode ("The Variable").

Thanks for reading, and feel free to leave comments; I will respond to all by next week!

- Jo