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
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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.