Thursday, August 26, 2010

The New Man in Charge: Epilogue Analysis



There's a new sheriff in town, boys (and girls), and I could get used to it.

The long-awaited release of the new Lost epilogue, The New Man in Charge, was finally unveiled (officially) on the Complete Collection and S6 sets. And as I am apt to do, I have overanalyzed this little feature for your reading pleasure.

The thoughts and theories below are purely speculative, and only one perspective among what will likely be hundreds of interpretations. The series has ended but the theorizing will continue on forever in the incredibly analytical online Lost community.

SPOILER ALERT: Do not read any further until after you've watched The New Man in Charge

My $.02

I enjoyed the epilogue for exactly what it was - a extra treat for the truly dedicated fans. Nothing more, nothing less. I feel as though the critics out there who are reviewing it rather harshly are missing the point and the spirit with which it was created. The looks on the faces and in the eyes of Michael Emerson and Jorge Garcia throughout the epilogue speak volumes; this was created and filmed with a clear sense of mischief and mirth.

The negativity and disappointment surrounding The New Man in Charge is puzzling to me (then again, I absolutely loved the series finale and am baffled by those who didn't after spending six years of their lives so emotionally connected to these characters). I understood from the get go that the epilogue was never meant to be an additional standalone episode, nor would it address every lingering mystery. Perhaps some prefer darkness and death to the lighter tone and feel of the epilogue. After six intense seasons of danger and disaster, I welcomed the amusement and lighthearted, redemptive nature of it.   

So without further ado, let's embrace the improbable and unlikely, take advantage of our launch window and drop some theories down where they belong...

Episode Nods

Season 1: Exodus, Part 2
A large bird appeared to say Hurley's name as he trekked through the jungle in the S1 finale. Now we know that Dharma created hybirds, and clearly heard one of them saying Hurley's name in the orientation film. 

Season 2: Orientation
Jack and Locke watch their very first Dharma orientation film in the Swan hatch, and Locke says that "we're going to need to watch that again." In the New Man in Charge, the two Dharma food folks watch their very first Dharma orientation film and one of them says that "I think we're going to need to see that again."


Season 2: Everybody Hates Hugo
Hurley was responsible for taking inventory in the newly discovered Swan hatch Dharma pantry. Now he is responsible for discontinuing the same food from being delivered after 20 years. 

What I love about that S2 episode is that Jin appeared in Hurley's vision and told him that everything was going to change. Never had a truer statement been uttered. 


Season 3: Not in Portland
Alex's boyfriend Karl was being brainwashed in Room 23 on Hydra island, to keep him away from Alex. Now we have confirmation that Room 23's original purpose was to "acquire" island hostiles for research purposes. 


Season 3: The Man Behind the Curtain
Ben oversaw the purge of the remaining Dharma folks on the island. Now he is overseeing their unemployment. 


Season 3: Through the Looking Glass
Taller Ghost Walt appeared to Locke after Ben had shot him, and instructed him to get up because "you have work to do." Ben says the same thing to Walt in The New Man in Charge. Tom also said the same thing to Walt's dad Michael in S4 (Meet Kevin Johnson).

Missing Pieces mobisode: Room 23
We discovered that after Ben had the Others kidnap Walt because he's special, they put him in Room 23. Ben reminds Walt that he's special in The New Man in Charge. 

Season 4: There's No Place Like Home
Walt went to visit Hurley at Santa Rosa. In the epilogue, Hurley and Ben went to get Walt at Santa Rosa. 

Fertility

Talk about an egg recall...

With one simple line, we receive a explanation as to why the island prevented women from successfully delivering babies that were conceived there. "The electromagnetic levels at the Orchid have an extremely harmful effect on early term gestation."


We will never know if this was the case or not, but it is possible that Ben had seen the Hydra orientation film and knew exactly why women were unable to deliver children on the island. He may have lured Juliet there under completely false pretenses, for his own purposes and obsession. That would be evil and unforgivable, but that is exactly what Ben was in S3.

On a related note, if you enroll in the Lost University Masters Program via your Blu-ray, you will find my guest thesis ("Fertility Futility: All the Best Islands Have Mommy Issues"). Of course I wrote that long before I saw The New Man in Charge, and my analysis is more psychological than it is scientific. 

Games People Play

I was half expecting Walt to start mumbling a new set of numbers (like the ones Hurley used in the flash sideways to win the lottery) when we saw him playing Connect Four.

Guam


Lapidus' infamous line, "we're not going to Guam, are we?" has taken on a whole new light. He mentioned to Jack when they reunited on Ajira 316 (S5) that he had picked up that route about 8 months prior and had flown it frequently. I'm not suggesting that Lapidus was working for ex-Dharma or Eloise Hawking, but you have to love this particular connection.

If You Seek Amy

There was one line in the Hydra orientation film that made my conspiracy antlers tingle - Dr. Chang's mention of the temporary truce with the hostiles. 




I was never a fan of Amy Goodspeed and believed that she may have been a traitor or double agent of sorts. From her strange picnic outside of the Barracks to the fact that she was the only one who never had to wear a Dharma jumpsuit, her behavior was always odd and stood out from the rest. The New Man in Charge has renewed my suspicion that Amy was working with the hostiles, perhaps even under the tutelage of Jacob himself. That also might explain the healthy, miraculous birth of her son Ethan - the only child to have ever been conceived and born on the island. Some might go so far as to imply that Jacob may have been the father, but I'll stop now because I don't have all night to further explore this path. 


Jacob


We learn that the Dharma folks were concerned with the hostiles' "worship of an island deity they refer to as Jacob." Ironically, it was Jacob who brought THEM to the island, plucked out of their miserable lives with no knowledge of such recruitment. They had no idea that they were all candidates at some point. 


The Johnson Family


When Michael returned on the freighter in S4, Other Tom had provided him with the name and passport of Kevin Johnson. In the New Man in Charge, we discover that Walt is now known as Keith Johnson.


My theory is that once Hurley and Ben took over the island, they took steps to protect Walt. Thus, the fake name and inpatient status at Santa Rosa. In my mind, Ben was only a temporary #2 (as Hurley had indicated in The End); Walt was going to be Hurley's permanent second in command once they were able to get him back to the island, "where you've always belonged." That was the "job" that Hurley referred to in the van as they left Santa Rosa.


Walt was special, and combined with Hurley's ability to communicate with the deceased - they'd make a hell of a one-two punch in terms of island leadership and power. 


As for Michael, I would love to find out how Walt was able to help him on the island. Perhaps Walt had the ability to release his father's spirit so he was no longer stuck on the island, allowing him to linger instead in their own version of the flash sideways, where he would await his son before moving on together.


The Lamp Post


Given that the Dharma Initiative originally located the island using this station, it was not surprising to hear that the flight coordinates for the food drops were being delivered from the Lamp Post to the Guam warehouse via automated printouts. 




In S5 (316), we learned that this station was able to determine WHEN the island was going to be, as well as where. So if the Guam-based pilot used those exact coordinates to make the food drops, the question remains - where were the pallets actually dropped for the past 20 years? 


Although we do not know how frequently the launch windows were utilized, and only witnessed island activity for a few years, it seemed as though the food drops discontinued shortly after 815 crashed on the island. If there were other drops, the island's various inhabitants would have heard the helicopters. 


One possibility is that when Ben jammed all transmissions to and from the island in S3, the Lamp Post station was unable to determine its location; thus, the food drops were made using coordinates and launch windows that were educated guesses. After the island came back online, so to speak, the Lamp Post may have been unable to resume that function.


Otherwise Known As




I admit that I laughed when Dr. Chang made a joke about not wanting to use aliases, given his future as Dr. Candle/Halliwax/Wickmund. Logistically speaking, it makes sense that he filmed the Orientation video for the Hydra first, when you consider that joke plus his intact left arm. 


Phantom Limb


For a long time, I was convinced that various characters we'd met on Lost with missing limbs had likely spent time on the island at some point in their lives. I dedicated an entire post to it in 2008, as a matter of fact. After we saw that Dr. Chang lost his left arm due to the Swan construction disaster (The Incident), I thought I had to put at least one conspiracy theory to rest. Not anymore!




Seeing the poor Dharma dude with the missing forearm in the Hydra orientation film, I am back on board with the thought that other characters may have been previously employed under the same capacity. Don't tell me you can prove that Ray Mullen didn't lose his arm to a polar bear incident. Or that Martha Toomey lost her leg in similar fashion. [Diehard Lost fans will know exactly who I'm referring to.] As far as we know, Mikhail may have lost his eye after an unfortunate encounter with a pissed off bear. 


Polar Bears




Back in April of 2009, I suggested that the polar bears were originally brought to the island to be guinea pigs for time travel; that they were brought down below the Orchid to turn the frozen donkey wheel (which they kept at that temperature because they needed the polar bears to acclimate, creating a false sense of comfort) and exit in Tunisia. Thus, Charlotte's discovery of the Dharma polar bear collar there (which Dr. Chang shows in this new Hydra orientation film).


When I heard Dr. Chang's description of the polar bears, it reminded me of Desmond. They "possess a keen sense of memory and adaptability. These traits make them ideal candidates for electromagnetic studies." In the end, Desmond was Widmore's ideal candidate for electromagnetic study. 


The Supply Station


The two men working solo for 20 years at the food warehouse in Guam (I call them Curly and Larry) were part of an inadvertent Dharma experiment of their own; stuck in a remote locale, following orders and more than likely being watched in some capacity. Perhaps in this case the Lamp Post operated like the observational Pearl station. 




As far as I know, the DVD player was introduced in 1994. That Curly and Larry had such technology in their warehouse indicates that they received supply drops of their own. The pilot who delivered the food pallets to the island may also have delivered food and supplies to the warehouse. 


"We Deserve Answers!"


Seriously, there is not a more obvious nod to us than that. Unanswered questions never bothered me throughout the six year journey, but I appreciate the ones that were addressed in S6 and in The New Man in Charge. There is zero fun in completely resolved mysteries, at least in my book. 


---
Thank you for taking the time to read through my thoughts and theories about the new epilogue. I am often wrong, but there is no greater joy than sharing my perspective with fellow fans. I have missed writing about Lost and exercising that analysis muscle more than I will ever be able to articulate. Sources of inspiration have been few and far between since May, but your continuous support fuels my creative fire and for that I am very grateful. 


Please feel free to leave comments below. As always, I ask that they are constructive in nature. 


Appropriately enough, we are off to Australia next week! I will be posting pictures on my new photo site if you're interested, and have a few Lost-related activities planned during the vacation. Of course I will have plenty to think about during the 14 hour LAX-Sydney flight, and am quite relieved that Oceanic is not a real airline. : )


It has been an honor and a pleasure to write about our favorite show, as a fan and for the fans.


-Jo

23 comments:

Weinbeeezy said...

Without getting to much backlash, at the end of this epilogue, I got the thought somehow that we were back in the flash sideways... And that the work that needed to be done was helping everyone pass through... Any thoughts?

Robin said...

I sure have missed your Lost recaps and theories, so it was great to get one last post surrounding the epilogue. You sure have made me want to revisit some episodes and several pages of Lostpedia especially because of your thoughts surrounding Amy Goodspeed and the missing limbs thing. Although considering Damon's love of Star Wars, the truth behind all the missing limbs should be self-evident! Enjoy your time in Oz and remember, while you're down under...."Australia's the key to the whole game!"

Anthony Perez said...

Excellent as always.

Mikhail gets shot in the eye by Jin in season 6 episode "The Package".

One of my questions that I don't think has been answered has always been why Mikhail doesn't stay dead.

lennyg said...

Great! Just like watching the Epilogue and some of the material, especially Heroes' Journey, on the DVD, leaves me wanting more! "Talk about an egg recall" hahahaha. Thanks for helping with Walt - we debated whether Hurley was talking about replacing Ben or himself! Strikes me now as similar to conversation Jacob had with Richard about the #2 job. Have a great vacation!

Elizabeth said...

I thought I heard one of the workers mention a drone in relation to the drops.

Also, where is it established that they're in Guam? I guess I'll have to watch it again! ;)

Erin McCarty (bilbopooh) said...

Great thoughts, Jo! I confess I was hoping to see more of Ben and Hurley together, but I did enjoy the epilogue. I thought the Dharma stuff was funny and the Walt stuff was poignant. Seems a little strange that he was in Santa Rose when he lived in New York, but I guess if Ben and Hurley pulled strings somehow to get him there that makes sense. I'm glad it suggested that he could help Michael move on; that was one dangling thread that seemed very unsatisfying to me.

Very interesting thoughts about Amy. It never occurred to me that she might be a mole and definitely not that Jacob might have impregnated her. That one still seems too much of a stretch for me, but I can perhaps see the possibility of her being in league with the Hostiles. One does wonder why Ben didn't simply have pregnant women leave the Island for a while to give birth. If he allowed them to die simply so he could keep Juliet around... Wow, that's really low. My inclination is to say that he didn't know what the problem was, but I'm afraid that does sound rather plausible...

EdMuse said...

Very cool, Jo. I really enjoyed your review.

@Elizabeth (and Jo): yes, they did say the drops were done by drones. So no pilot.

I had a slightly different take about Walt, an alternative to Walt as the new #2: Walt as the new #1. If Hurley had extraordinary powers of communication, Walt's outstripped Hurley's by light years. The most beautiful thing, I think, about the epilogue was that it showed that Hurley's goal as #1 was to clean up Jacob's messes, and "close up shop" to keep more damage from being done, including even the idea that the Whisperers, the dead souls trapped on the island, could still be helped. But perhaps helping the Whisperers he found to be beyond even his own powers. So his final act as #1 would be to find and retrieve the one man who could help them: Walt. Meanwhile, Walt is back in the "real world," but still existing on "island time," growing up and growing old too fast, necessitating his removal from society, where he was little more than a curiosity. For him, coming back to live out his days on the island gives him his best chance for a normal existence.

lorilooski said...

What a great theory, that Ethan was Jacob's son! That would explain how he survived the purge and ultimately became a member of the remaining hostiles.

I, too, thought that Walt was gonna be the new #1. But I like your theory better. How cool would it be for him and Hurley to run the island together! I wonder if Walt's time at Santa Rose was paid for by the millions that Hurley owed him from Backgammon?

Wow! I'm really gonna miss this!

Thanks for everything, Jo!!!
Lorilooski

Jared said...

One of the first questions that popped into my head about Curly and Larry was this: Since the DHARMA initiative is now defunct, WHO has been paying them to do their job for the last 20 years? Were paychecks issued automatically too, just like the coordinates? Or maybe they had some sort of a direct deposit thing going on that was still ongoing? Haha! :-)

shannon said...

Hey Jo. Great review!
2 questions:
1. Why do yo you think there was an obvious fly buzzing around the long haired dharma guy after watching the video? It seemed so out of place. Not sure why I'm stuck on that stupid fly, but it was just weird.
2. I'm very confused about this - If the New Man in Charge was present day how could Hurley have been there since he was in the church n The End. For some reason I thought The New Man In Charge was somehow before the church scene in The End. In The End doesn't Hurley tell Ben that he'll always be his #2? So wouldn't that mean that at some point before the church scene Hurley and Ben were running the island and picked up Walt to take over. Maybe during The End Walt was already the new #1, allowing Hurley to join everyone in the church and move on.

Hope I can get some feedback on this. Thanks :)

Jo said...

@Weinbeeezy - What we witnessed in The New Man in Charge took place after Hurley and Ben took over island leadership (i.e. current time).

@AnthonyPerez - Mikhail was shot in the eye in the flash sideways; they were all already dead and it was Jin & Sayid's ideal world where they shot out his eye. I was referring to his original eye loss, presumably on the island.

@Elizabeth - At the very beginning of the epilogue, it says Guam on the screen.

@Shannon - Hurley and Ben were at the church in the flash sideways, a timeless location they had created and reconvened after they were both dead (but only recently realized it after their mirror moments & awakenings).

What we see in the epilogue takes place long before either of them die; it was meant to show us that Hurley and Ben took care of business on and off the island during their leadership stint before they passed away at an unknown time and location.

And yes, it is possible that Walt was not in that church because he was still alive and on the island. But I'm leaning toward no, because the flash sideways did not exist in a linear timeline...I have a feeling that Walt was not in the church because he and Michael created an ideal world of their own and were waiting for one another before moving on.

I hope all of this helps!

Rhiannon said...

Jo, you are a great writer. I may have been late to the party as far as discovering your informative weekly "Lost" analysis, but I'm glad to have read what I did.

And I fully agree: I’m happy we didn’t get every question answered. Where would the fun have been in that? “Lost” was about the journey, and the answers we did get were just a bonus.

Rhiannon said...

Jo, you are a great writer. I may have been late to the party as far as discovering your informative weekly "Lost" analysis, but I'm glad to have read what I did.

And I fully agree: I’m happy we didn’t get every question answered. Where would the fun have been in that? “Lost” was about the journey, and the answers we did get were just a bonus.

shar said...

Jo, It's been far too long since you've written a LOST recap. I enjoyed reading it and hope you find a show to write about in the future that I too like.
I also liked The New Man in Charge for what it was. I laughed several times, but loved the We Deserve Answers line. I thought most of the "episode" was for the die hard fans.
Have a great time in Australia!

susan212 said...

Hey Jo, I really enjoyed your recap! I'm with you on taking it in a fun spirit and I was thrilled with all the answers they were throwing out to us. I love the Hurley bird :-) I had never thought about Amy and Ethan in that light and find it very interesting. Now I am going to have to go back and rewatch it again - sigh! LOL - the things we must do for the love of Lost (and loving every minute of it!). Also the part about the lost limbs- very interesting theories. I really enjoyed seeing Walt again. I took it to mean they were bringing him to the island to be the next Hurley/Jack/Jacob..... but I am open to ideas so I will gladly watch it again just to see if I see it from another point of view. Thanks again for a great recap and I hope you have a great vacation. I can't wait to see the pics!

L. A. said...

Answer-wise, I was bothered about the pallet drop - more with the inconsistency than how it happened. Was the answer good? Nah, but I don't care, it was a fun epilogue, and I liked it.

For me, the only thing that isn't clear is the cabin, but hey, I can imagine myself!

What I did think, suddenly, was how obvious it was basically, that Walt was a candidate? It makes sense that a child would be chosen initially (Alpert went to visit Locke as a child), and it'd make sense that they'd have some sort of 'power' and be 'special' as Jacob, MIB and Hurely all had. For me, Walt is destined to take over from Hurley.

@lorilooski
As fun as Jo's theory is, I think Ethan survived the purge as he was friends with Ben? Possibly helped him instigate it too, behind the scenes?

Finally, I like that Hurley was wearing black in the van - either a devious nod from the writers, or perhaps just the idea that it wasn't ever really black/white after all.

calandrella said...

Thanks for your analyzis, of this as well as your other Lost thoughts; I have really apperciated reading your blog since the s5/s6 hiatus (when I began being a Lost fan online). About Walt on the Island: perhaps neither Hugo nor Walt could release Michael. However, they could help him by simply reuniting him with Walt (perhaps Walt could also communicate with dead people as Hugo, or Hugo could help him get the ability somehow, perhaps by using the Source). And then, when Hugo and Ben thought it was time for them to die, to move on, Walt would descide to stay forever on the Island and never die, to forever be together with his dad. I think that would be an awesome resoluation.

Anthony Perez said...

Was that a clue to Hurley being the next leader to the island in the episode where the Hy-bird screeches Hurley's name? Did the writers really know that far back what was going to occur in The End? Hmmmmmmm

About Ken said...

Great analysis. It reveals that there's much more than meets the eye in "The New Man in Charge."

One thing that doesn't make sense to me: Why discontinue the food drops? What other source of food did they use?

Anthony Perez said...

Looks like Hurley, Ben and Walt are the only ones remaining on the island. Also seems they can leave the island anytime they like(Boat? A new sub?). Maybe they bring back what they need when they need it. Kinda like in the movie "Beach" with Leonardo DiCarpio? It's a good question. I mean, they do have to eat right?

The Rush Blog said...

Ben oversaw the purge of the remaining Dharma folks on the island. Now he is overseeing their unemployment.

Which episode confirmed that Ben was the one who oversaw the purge of the Dharma folks. We know that he personally killed his father. But when was it confirmed that he had ordered the purge and not Charles Widmore?


Walt went to visit Hurley at Santa Rosa. In the epilogue, Hurley and Ben went to get Walt at Santa Rosa.

What was Walt doing at that hospital in Santa Rosa, when he was living with his grandmother in New York?

We will never know if this was the case or not, but it is possible that Ben had seen the Hydra orientation film and knew exactly why women were unable to deliver children on the island. He may have lured Juliet there under completely false pretenses, for his own purposes and obsession. That would be evil and unforgivable, but that is exactly what Ben was in S3.

I’ve never viewed Ben as evil. Nor did I ever view Widmore as evil. Both were too ruthless and willing to do anything for “the greater good”, for their own good.

That also might explain the healthy, miraculous birth of her son Ethan - the only child to have ever been conceived and born on the island.

Charlotte and Miles were also born on the island.

The Rush Blog said...

About Walt on the Island: perhaps neither Hugo nor Walt could release Michael. However, they could help him by simply reuniting him with Walt (perhaps Walt could also communicate with dead people as Hugo, or Hugo could help him get the ability somehow, perhaps by using the Source).


The idea that Michael was trapped on the island never sat right with me. NEVER. Why should he be the one stuck on the island? The Season 4 finale made it clear that he was finally finding peace with his actions and was ready to move on. Yet, two years later, Cuse and Lindehof changed their minds and decided to continuously punish Michael, when others like Sawyer, Kate and Ben have been equally guilty of crimes? That doesn't sit right with me AT ALL.

stupescommaruth said...

Loved your take.
I too saw it as an extended little Valentine to the fans with all the nods from previous shows, but also, as you called it, for the WE DESERVE ANSWERS crowd. I think it tied up everything well enough but still left enough mystery. I freaked out when Walt came on; it was the one thing I really wanted to see more of; what a perfect tie-up! The way they called the island "home," I about burst into tears.
so brilliant.