And so begins this new series, I’m SOOOOOOOO Lost, dedicated to ticking off the big mysteries behind our favorite show. Ya’ really gotta’ hand the Internet its props. Do you think Alf garnered such fanboy enthusiasm back in the day?
“So, uhhhh, who do you think ate the cat? Me, I say it’s either Gordon Chumway or… Willie!!!”
Anyway, as I mentioned in my introductory post, this series will run for the next four Fridays (this one included) – basically serving as a little appetizer before the series resumes proper for its final run through May sweeps on April 24th. Over the course of the next four weeks, I’ll offer up three major themes per week and list out (in my typical bullet-point fashion) what we know and what remains unresolved regarding these overarching elements to the central mystery of Lost.
I implore y’all, especially those who have embraced the power of the Comments section, to fill in the gaps and add your own two cents. I’m just a monkey hammering away on a keyboard here – I’m not the great and mighty Oz – so I’m eager to see how you guys interpret this show.
All right, enough rambling preamble. On with the show.
#12 Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em
1. Good ol’ Smokey, the mysterious smoke monster that prowls the island, popping up just when the survivors get nice and complacent and forget that he’s out there. It seems, early on in the series, that Smokey was more of a threat. After all, he was first glimpsed in the pilot episode warbling that strange biomechanical wail and uprooting foliage – thereby scaring the bejeezus out of the new found castaways. And of course, he literally ends the Pilot by ending the pilot of Flight 815 (played by Greg Grunberg – producer JJ Abrams’ lucky rabbit’s foot).
2. So what do we know so far? Well, not much concrete evidence. In fact, earlier this season, Locke echoed the thoughts on all our minds when he pressed Ben with the following, “What’s the monster?” Ben’s reply – “I don’t know.”
3. Now, one thing it has been called is ‘the island’s security system.’ Also, that map that Locke found painted in invisible ink in the first hatch – the Swan – referred to a security system called ‘Cerberus’. In Greek mythology, Cerberus was the security system of Hell – a multi-headed dog that guarded the gates of Hell, or Hades.
4. We’ve also seen inferences that Smokey can change shape and appear in the form of deceased loved ones. The most telling moment was when Mr. Ecko was haunted by visions of his dead brother, the priest Yemi. When Ecko finally came face-to-face with Yemi and began to repent for his actions, and his hand in Yemi’s untimely death, Yemi looked him square in the eye and said “You speak to me as if I am your brother.” He then walked off into the jungle. Ecko, left confused, was granted a moment of peace before Smokey appeared in his ethereal form and bashed Ecko through the trees, ultimately killing the repentant holy man.
5. This seems to indicate that Smokey is the eye of judgment – that it places people through trials and punishes them for their sins. When Ecko first came across Smokey, earlier in that episode, it regarded him in a scene similar to the famed water tentacle sequence from James Cameron’s flick, The Abyss. As Ecko stood transfixed by this visitation, a number of images (flashes from Ecko’s life) could be seen in the smoke as if Smokey was cataloguing Ecko’s actions – assessing the evidence – before deliberating its verdict. Now, the thing is, Ecko did terrible things but he wasn’t a terrible person – just someone who had adopted a life of crime in a bid to prevent his baby brother from being sucked into it (an early memory shows Yemi being forced by warlords to shoot an innocent villager). Ecko grabs the gun from Yemi and perpetrates the deed himself – sacrificing himself for Yemi’s innocence. That makes Smokey’s verdict of Ecko fairly chilling as he may have done some horrible things in his life but it appeared he was on the path of his own salvation – but perhaps, Smokey – as the island’s watchdog, regards people in more back-and-white terms and sentenced Ecko accordingly.
6. The eye of judgment also turned on Locke early in the series during the Locke-centric ‘Walkabout’ which revealed Locke’s former status as wheel chair bound. In that episode, Locke goes hunting and comes upon the creature. We never see the same cataloguing process that was depicted in Ecko’s encounter, but we do see Locke come face-to-face with Smokey’s point-of-view. This was the pivotal moment in Locke’s development as it’s from that encounter that he claims this innate understanding of the island, telling Jack, “I looked into the heart of this island… and it’s beautiful.” This seems to underscore the judging nature of Smokey – if it sees something in you that will serve the island well, it may reveal secrets. If it perceives a threat, it eliminates. Granted, since that moment Locke has done his fair share of killing, but it has all been in the name of the ‘Island’ meaning the ‘Island’ may look kindly upon those who serve its best interests.
7. Other possible ‘physical manifestations’ of Smokey are: Jack’s Dad leading Jack throughout the island (ultimately leading him to water and sanctuary), Kate’s mysterious Black Stallion, Hurley’s imaginary pal Dave, and most recently, The Others’ therapist whose appearance to Juliet was shrouded in a flurry of whispers – which may tie that phenomenon to Smokey. In fact, I didn’t set a separate category for the whispers and that’s because I think they are somehow associated with Smokey. Maybe, they mark the appearance of his ‘physical’ form and the clanking roar is indicative of the malevolent smoke form.
#11 The Numbers Game
1. 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42. Whatever you do, don’t play those numbers. They’re cursed, dude, as Hurley found out when the millions he reaped from them wrought Twilight Zone twists upon his life, beginning with the meteor that slammed into Mr. Cluck’s Chicken Shack and leveled Tricia Tanaka.
2. And where did Hurley get those numbers? From his Connect 4 playing bunk mate at the funny farm who would repeat them endlessly. When Hurley decided to track down their origins, he found that this guy had been stationed at some mysterious outpost in the South Pacific and had been on the receiving end of a transmission of those numbers. They soon grew to be an obsession – leading that guy directly to his destiny with Hurley, upon whom he apparently passed the curse.
3. And then, of course, Hurley spied them inscribed on the side of the Hatch, the Swan, that Locke was desperately trying to crack open – leading Hurley to try and sabotage his efforts. When the group finally did break in, they found Desmond, who had been planted there as part of some strange psychological experiment and told to input those numbers into a computer every 108 minutes (the sum total of the digits) or else something catastrophic would happen to the island.
4. Fortunately for Desmond, he found a true believer who was more than happy to pick up the cause (in fact, Jack even got suckered into it) and a schedule was established for inputting the figures. It was later in the second season, when Locke’s faith began to waver, that his actions led to the numbers not being input. As a massive event began to shake the island, and Locke offered up a weak “I was Wrong” – Desmond apparently saved everyone by turning that emergency release valve – an action that thrust him back in time and left him with the inexplicable abilities he carries to this day.
5. So, whether the numbers are truly cursed or not, they obviously were important.
6. So, what do we know? Well, obviously the numbers were important to the computer. They were a legitimate code that when not entered would cause a major problem for the island.
7. As for the manner in which they seem to show up on a lot of different details on the show (ex. soccer uniform numbers in Hurley’s mad dash through the airport) – I think some of that is just the writers having fun with the obsessive Lost fans.
8. That said, one of the things I’ve read out there, is that some numerologist (I forget the name) apparently has a theory that some numbers have meaning beyond their pure numeric value and that these numbers in particular were chosen by the writers as this particular real-world numerologist had pegged them as the digits that hold the key to determining the date that the world will end. Apparently, it’s one of those fringe real-world conspiracy theories (think Faked Moon Landing) but on the Nostradamus side of such lunacy. In doing research for the show, the writers seized upon this idea as something to weave into their fiction so perhaps, if they are going off that theory, the numbers hold the key to when the world on Lost will end and maybe that’s why understanding and tending to The Island is so paramount to Ben. He likes to say that his group is “the good guys” and perhaps that’s their cause – staving off the end of the world. Maybe the island is key to either saving or ending the world – for instance, if Desmond doesn’t turn that key, maybe that energy continues to build and something tragic happens to the planet – making the island a nexus for the energies of the planet. I know that’s getting way too speculative but knowing this little nugget about where the numbers inspiration came from can lead you on some wild tangents.
9. Or maybe they’re just good Lottery digits. Try it out. Play ‘em this week and see what happens.
10. You’ve been warned.
#10 Good Ol’ Jacob and his Haunted Mobile Home
1. All right, this one is so new, there’s not much we know, certainly not his identity.
2. Jacob first came to our attention during the third season when Sawyer came across his former cellmate, Carl, locked in A Clockwork Orange-esque rehabilitation room that was blasting a myriad of images and sunshiny music at him in a bid to reign Carl in. It was brainwashing ordered by Ben – I assume to keep Carl away from his ‘daughter’ Alex and therefore, to keep Alex from the threat of ever becoming pregnant. As we know, Ben is fixated on preventing that. Anyway, sprinkled through the images were several subliminal messages including “Jacob Loves You, As Do You, Him”.
3. Ben drops Jacob’s name a number of times – citing Jacob’s list and directions that he has received from Jacob. It becomes apparent that Ben is the only one that Jacob confides in and the Others all appear to take Jacob’s word as gospel.
4. Then Locke is brought before Jacob and is stunned to find an empty shack. In what appeared to be a plot ripped from Psycho, we’re initially led to believe that there is no Jacob, that a deeply deranged Ben was taking orders from a split personality.
5. Then Locke sees Jacob and Jacob’s rickety shack starts rocking. And with Ben no longer being the only person to see Jacob, Ben decides to take Locke out – leaving him with a gut shot in a pile of musty corpses left behind during The Purge of the former DHARMA Initiative workers.
6. Now we add Hurley to the list, who was visited upon by Jacob’s mobile home in the season opener. Hurley caught someone rocking in Jacob’s chair (it wasn’t Jacob but Christian Shepherd –Jack’s Dad). But he wasn’t the only one in the shack as an eye popped up in view sending Hurley stumbling back before the shack up and vanished again.
7. So, who/what is Jacob? I haven’t a clue. We do know that when Locke was first brought to his cabin, there was a circle of ash around the perimeter. Folklore posits that circles of ash are used to confine spirits (I’m so glad I watched all those hours of Buffy the Vampire Slayer) – anyway, the circles can be used to restrain both good and evil spirits. So, it seems to confirm that Jacob is some sort of supernatural entity currently trapped on the island. That he has appeared to Locke and to Hurley makes me think that perhaps, like Smokey, Jacob is tied to the core of the Island only he is now a prisoner of it, confined by Ben who despite his objections, seeks to control the island. I believe that Ben is the ‘good guy’ in wanting to stave off worldwide Armageddon but perhaps he also wants to control this force for himself. And therefore, he has Jacob trapped as his puppet but it’s a force beyond Ben’s full control and Jacob (and the Island) is now reaching out to these disparate castaways to aid it/him.
8. Over the last few episodes, we have seen some concrete evidence that the island can exert its influence beyond the island (hence the inability for Michael to kill himself during ‘Meet Kevin Johnson’.) Perhaps, Jacob is another manifestation of the Island’s will.
9. There are some weird details about Jacob’s cabin that I’m sure are planted there for some reason but are beyond my comprehension right now. First, the camera has focused on three jars of colored liquid that rest in a window sill in the cabin on the two occasions we’ve peeked in. Two jars are filled with red liquid. The other, yellow. They are about equal parts full. Also, hanging near Jacob’s rocking chair is a creepy picture of a St. Bernard. Both times, when Locke has peeked in and when Hurley took a gander, these images were brought in focus. But why?!?!?
10. One last thing – that character of Miles Strom. I think there is a very deliberate reason that a ‘ghost buster’ was brought to this island, and it’s not just to collect 3.2 million dollars. Miles has a purpose and my guess it has something to do with driving out spirits – meaning Charles Widemore knows a lot about this island. Perhaps, Miles’ role is to drive Jacob away (similar to what he did to the dead gangbanger) in order to prevent Smokey from getting the drop on Widemore’s plans for the island.
So that’s all for now. Next week, we’ll tackle The Hatches, The Orientation Tapes/Experiments and Charles Widemore/Alvar Hanso.