Lost: Down the Hatch – The X Factor, Part 2
“LA X” Analysis …
Whew. I’ll freely admit that I was a bit worried going into this season; there was such a wide-open playing field that I wasn’t sure which path Lost might travel down. At the end of last season, we talked a bit about the different scenarios that might play out, and in last week’s podcast, I mention the possibility of a retcon or reboot of the story. I saw the series going down one of two fairly well-defined paths: the bomb doesn’t quite work and the survivors are stuck on the island but put back into their own time, or the bomb does work and everyone gets a do-over. Luckily for us the Lost creative team decided to give us a hybrid of both and, despite some extremely lazy writing on a couple of occasions, I think we’re in for quite a good ride.
So, as Sayid so eloquently put it: “What happened?” It all starts with a cat, really.
THE X FACTOR
I’ll assume that just about everyone out there has heard of Schrödinger’s Cat by now, even if they don’t understand all the details involved. Allow me to explain, as best and simply as I can. In this classic thought experiment, a cat is placed in a box (a steel chamber, actually), along with a Geiger counter, a little bit of a radioactive substance and a counter tube hooked up to a small hammer, poised above a flask of poison (or acid, in Schrödinger’s original hypothesis). The device is protected against interference from the cat. If the radioactive substance experiences atomic decay, the Geiger counter would detect it, releasing the hammer, which smashes the poison container, thereby killing the cat. The radioactive substance is so small, though, that there may be decay within an hour, or there may be no decay whatsoever. Hence, as long as the cat is in the box and there is no outside indication of the fate of the cat, we don’t know whether the cat is dead or alive. It theoretically exists in two quantum states – both dead AND alive. And there you have the Schrödinger’s Cat paradox.
In the example above, it doesn’t matter if you actually care whether the subject is dead or alive, it’s just important to contemplate the possibilities of both.
In the classic view of the cat paradox, the exact outcome and quantum state depends on an observer. In the case of Schrödinger’s Cat, the cat is both alive AND dead at the same time because the box is shielded against quantum decoherence, and there is no observation to inform the world whether the cat is dead or alive. Only after the box is opened and the cat’s fate revealed does the exact quantum state of the cat materialize. Until then, the essential fate of the cat is both irrelevant and crucial. In essence, as long as the box is not opened and the certain properties of the natural world were to break down and cease or slow inside the box, the cat would exist in an immortal state indefinitely. This is known as the “Copenhagen interpretation” in quantum mechanics.
So, too, goes the Island. Because of the limited knowledge of its existence, the Island exists in a state of quasi-resistance to quantum decoherence. There is limited perception and, therefore, the possibility of multiple outcome states. In short, because of the massive power on the Island, the time dilation effect, the mutability of its quantum phase state, its age and the limited interaction that any survivors pulled there have had with the Island, it and the people entangled with it are akin to being inside their own little box, not knowing their own fates and possessing multiple outcomes. This relates and segues nicely into another viewpoint of the cat paradox known as the many-worlds interpretation. I touched on this and a related theory – that of the “multiple branching universe theory,” which I covered in the analysis for “He’s Our You” from last season (check it out, it’s worth it).
Remember this from last season? I love it when a plan comes together.
At any rate, many-worlds interpretation eliminates the need for an observer, as the cat retains its state of both alive AND dead after the box is opened. This is because when the possibility of two separate outcomes occurs, the quantum states of the cat diverge, each becoming separate and wholly real states. In other words, another branch streams off the “timeline” and forms a separate reality that is decoherent with the other state(s) of the cat.
The ultimate fate of the cat and, indeed, which fate will form the “base” timeline which is the cornerstone of a particular reality now depends wholly on an observer. Once the box is opened, and the state of the cat noted, the state of the cat and that of the observer are now entangled, bound to fully correspond with each other and only inhabiting one quantum state from that point forward. However, this does not mean that the alternate state of the cat does not still exist; it simply ceases to exist from the point of view of the observer. Other individuals that may be entangled with subset factored states that relate directly or tangentially to the cat may go onto experience a reality with one of the other states not enacted by the actions of the observer.
So … what does all this mean in the grand scope of Lost? Well, the introduction of Jughead into the equation, especially with the havoc it can wreak on the atomic level, affecting quantum states and interacting with the existing flux of the Island, means that we have our very own Schrödinger’s Cat paradox. Since we are mere external observers and not directly related to the events on the Island, we are able to see the divergence and decoherence of the two quantum states – or outcomes – of the actions of the survivors back in 1977. One world sees the return of the survivors to the Island’s “present,” and the other sees the survivors – both dead and alive – returned to the world to engage in another fated Oceanic flight, having never been to the Island and possessing no conscious knowledge of each other, or the past few years. If this theory is to hold any water, however, a dominant timeline will have to emerge. This can only take place with the assistance of an observer, someone closely entangled with the Island, and yet outside its current sphere of influence, free to pop in at a certain crucial moment, observe the true state of the Island and the survivors, and establish that state’s dominance.
What we need is some sort of …
X factor. Hello, Des. You’ll do nicely.
If this theory is to hold up, it simply must come down to one observer – or, at the very least, a small handful of observers. All signs right now point to our Variable, Desmond. Although he can’t be blamed for everything that’s happened on the Island, most of the quantum consequences that have occurred stem from two crucial decisions – his use of the fail-safe key that brought down flight 815, and his use of the key again to release the energy in the Swan at the end of season two. The energy release that brought down flight 815 created the first branch of the “paradox,” establishing an alternate reality. After the second release, Desmond established himself as the observer and created yet another quantum junction point.
These two events alone handily establish Desmond as the cornerstone of quantum and temporal shenanigans on the Island. However, it’s his appearance in the season premiere that firms up his place as the cornerstone of how things will actually turn out for the survivors. Remember last season I talked a bit about string theory, and entanglement? I’m not going to go into all that here, but you can get a quick summary in my analysis for “Because You Left” and “The Lie.” At any rate, the survivors are all connected through several quantum junctions, establishing multiple branching points every time they have interacted with each other prior to their time on the Island. Some survivors are more closely entangled than others; Desmond and Jack are two of those whose strings are very closely entangled. Because of this, Desmond’s appearance on the plane at the beginning of “LA X” – especially his appearance in the seat next to Jack – points to his significance in the role of things, and possibly as the Observer.
Also, Hobotrashcan reader zetts pointed out in the recap yesterday a very subtle – but very telling – bit of connectivity between Jack and Desmond. Remember when Jack went to the bathroom and found that bit of red on his neck that looked like a scar or scratch? Well, it was paint. In “Flashes Before Your Eyes” from season three when Desmond first leapt back to when he was trying to get a job from Charles Widmore, he woke up covered in paint. Later, while he was getting ready for his interview, Penny found some paint on his neck. Here, check it all out.
Jack, checking out the spot on his neck.
Desmond, back in “Flashes Before Your Eyes,” getting ready. See the fleck of paint there? I’ve circled it for you.
Penny even gets rid of it for him. She’s so sweet.
It may look as though Jack’s spot of paint is in a different spot than Desmond’s, but it’s not. Keep in mind that the image of Jack above is his mirror image. The paint is on the left side of both men’s necks.
So what does it all mean? Come on, I can’t answer everything. Along with the connectivity mentioned above, I’ve got to let all this roll around in my noggin for a bit. It wouldn’t hurt to go back and take a look at some Desmond-centric episodes, either. Regardless, I feel as though Desmond’s our Observer, or Variable, or, at the very least, the X factor that will help determine which outcome is “real” once the box is opened.
Hey, speaking of an X factor, I have one last thought before we move on. The title of the season premiere has stuck with me since it was announced during the summer. LA X. I figure most of you noticed that little space there between the LA and the X, and it got my mind turning during the hiatus. I think it had a lot to do with my speculation of alternate realities and the multiverse back in the podcast last week. At any rate, it’s clear from that title that the writers and producers are pointing at these “phase flashes” as a true alternate reality, branching from the point of the explosion of Jughead.
There are some great stories out there that you can check out that deal with the same sort of thing. Earth X from Marvel Comics takes a look at an alternate reality future for the Marvel Universe, as does the classic X-Men comics storyline “Days of Future Past.” That’s in issues 141 and 142, if you’re hunting – or buy the trade paperback. DC Comics has their share of alternate reality tales, particularly in their Elseworlds line of graphic novels. Kingdom Come is probably the best and most acclaimed of these alternate realities, and it, too, takes a look at a possible future for the DC world. Finally, in movies, check out Sliding Doors. Yes, it’s a bit of a chick flick, but it’s also a very entertaining and interesting look at the possibilities inherent in quantum decoherence in everyday life. Gwyneth Paltrow is the “cat” in the movie, by the way.
WE COME FROM A LAND DOWN UNDER
So who or what the hell are Jacob and Esau? We know that they have apparently been in some sort of struggle for quite some time, neither can defeat or kill the other without the help of someone from outside or off the Island, and Esau is a sentient blob of smoke that can assume multiple forms. Where does that leave us, besides feeling like we’re going crazy?
1. Time Travellers. We’ve seen a lot of temporal shenanigans in the past two seasons, so it seems to reason that these two could be from the future – or the past. In regards to the future, it could even be a possible future. Remember the branching timeline, just like in Back to the Future – you can return to a junction point where the timeline branches, and even ride out that branch of the timeline into the future, but it’s not possible to return to the future you came from unless you can somehow go back to that junction and change the outcome of events so that your future becomes the prevalent one. Okay, that was a really quick summary of just about everything I wrote about last season, so if you want it all in detail, go check it all out. When Esau said that he just wanted to go “home,” was he talking about his time – his reality?
2. Extra-dimensional beings. If we start talking about realities, we probably should just start talking about other dimensions, especially after that long bit of insanity at the start of this analysis. Jacob and Esau could be from another reality entirely, a phased branch that evolved from a certain quantum junction, and evolved in ways that may seem impossible from the viewpoint of this reality. Esau’s shapeshifting would be one of those evolutions, easily explainable by thinking of evolution in a multiverse; after all, when there may be an infinite amount of possible realities, there may very well be a place where a puff of smoke can turn into Terry O’Quinn. The Island may be a quantum gateway – a locational rift in the interdimensional wall. Remember when I talked about ley lines for two whole seasons? Well, some believe the major intersections of those ley lines represent places where the metaphysical walls between this reality and others are thinnest. The power that’s inherent within the Island may be a result of it lying on the strongest of those ley intersects – and may make it possible to step between worlds. Jacob and Esau could very well be from two completely separate realities. Hell, they could even be the same person from two separate realities. How’s that for making your brain turn sideways.
As a side note to the mention of the ley intersects and the dimensional wall, it is possible from a quantum theory point of view for a person, possibly even their consciousness, to exist in two states at once, just as I described above. In the instance of our Island, when Jughead was detonated it not only represented the crucial junction that separated the state of reality into independent quantum states, it could have also opened doors that allowed the survivors to leap through simultaneously. Just a thought. A crazy one.
3. Aliens. Yeah, Jacob and Esau could be aliens, crash landed on Earth, their ship lying there for so long that it formed the basis of the Island, which explains the power and the ability to jaunt around through time and space. Now, just as they were stranded on an “island,” others from this planet are now ironically drawn to this new Island and stranded. Also, they come from a planet of sentient smoke monsters. Hey, you come up with something better.
4. Gods. With all the talk of multiple dimensions, quantum phase states, aliens and shape-shifting smoke monsters, the fact that Jacob and Esau could be old gods isn’t really all that far-fetched. You just have to shift your thinking from the physical to the metaphysical, and perhaps that’s where Lost is headed, in the end. That’d be shooting the big ol’ bird to us science geeks, but it sure would make my paranormal side dance with happy glee.
WHAT’S ASH GOT TO DO WITH IT?
We’ve been seeing these ash circles pop up from time to time on the Island, just as the one that Bram fashioned for himself in the statue when Ol’ Smokey was getting pugilistic on his mates.
I think I might have made mine bigger. Guess he brought the small emergency smoke monster kit on his utility belt.
For every knowledgeable imbiber there exists a certain magic elixir that produces unpredictable results when consumed or mixed. For me – and many others – that magic elixir is Jagermeister. I know I’m going to feel happy and relaxed when I drink bourbon and scotch, vodka is going to make me hyper then cranky, and tequila… well, let’s just not go there. Jagermeister, however, seems to open up a rift between worlds, allowing one of many of my multiple selves to leap through with unexpected consequences. So kick back, mix this up, and let your quantum state take care of itself.
The X Factor
Put everything in a shaker with ice, close up and shake well. Contemplate the quantum state of the drink at this point; it’s the last clear thought you’ll have. Strain into a tall shot glass or pour the whole thing, ice and all, into a highball glass. Repeat. Prepare to experience an alternate reality. Blame the drink in the morning when you wake up in another city.
The first time we encounter an ash circle was in “The Man Behind the Curtain” when Ben takes Locke to visit Jacob’s cabin. As they approach the cabin, Ben carefully steps over the ash that surrounds it. Later, Locke comes across the circle in “The Economist,” but the cabin was missing. In last season’s finale, Bram and Ilana come across Jacob’s abandoned cabin, but the ash circle there is now broken. And in this week’s premiere, we see the Temple dwellers break out the ash when they learn that Ol’ Smokey might be on the rampage. Lennon explains that the ash is there to keep “him” out.
The use of circles in spiritual and magic rituals has existed for thousands of years. Binding spells involving ash have been used in many wiccan and pagan practices for centuries. In demonology lore, a binding circle is created when an entity is summoned, to keep it inside the circle and protect the incanters from its power. Of course, on the Island, the circle is the opposite, keeping the power of the entity out of the interior of the circle. The real question lies not in the power of the circle, but in the content of the ash.
Could the ash be part of Jacob? It’s an assumption at this point, but Jacob and Esau could be the same, and if that’s the case Jacob should be able to shapeshift, as well. Could Jacob have provided a bit of his essence to infuse the ash with protection? The two beings are clearly able to withstand attacks from the other and need help to dispatch their counterparts. It seems clear that ash that may be from Jacob’s very form could repel Esau in the guise of Ol’ Smokey.
Or maybe it’s kryptonite. I’ll be interested to hear what you all think.
That about wraps it up for this week. I have many more thoughts rattling about, particularly in the details of Jacob’s cabin and the interactions between it and the survivors. Also, could Jacob shapeshift? If so, could it have been him appearing as Christian Shepard? Just as Esau has taken Locke’s form because he is deceased, so could Jacob have taken Christian’s form from the very beginning. It all seems to click.
Until next time, keep thinking those thoughts, and if you come up with any epiphanies tell me something good.
Chris Kirkman is a graphic designer/photographer/journalist/geek extraordinaire with way too many Bruce Campbell movies in his library. Michael Emerson, Lost’s Benjamin Linus, called Kirkman’s recaps “one of the smartest articles I’ve ever read about what goes on on our show.” Kirkman is still hoping that Lost will end when Bob Newhart wakes up next to Suzanne Pleshette, complaining of a strange, strange dream. You can contact him at email@example.com.
I wanted to say thanks for the name-check in your analysis, I’m so happy you found that little bit interesting. After I watched LA X Part 1 and saw how Jack seemed to have some vague deja vu expressions when he was on the plane, I wanted to understand this a bit better so I went back and watched some Desmond time-travel episodes, and this just jumped out at me. Really a coincidence – and such a small little point that, even with the Lost fans, who are so adept at picking out obscure moments in this show, it’s unlikely anyone would’ve noticed – it was just a coincidence I watched both these episodes back to back. Thanks also for illustrating the point in screencaps – I didn’t know how to make them, and it was wonderful to see side by side.
I love your idea of Desmond as the X factor, someone who needs to witness these realities in order for them to become true….you mention variable but I think of constant: back in the episode ‘The Constant’, Penny is that person to Des. Once Desmond speaks to Penny in both time lines, they ‘gel’ together and his character seems to be aware of all that happened (in both time lines) and is able to continue forward, completely lucid.
Also, in ‘Flashes Before Your Eyes’, that character who acts as a constant seems to be Charlie: the moment Des sees Charlie, his memories of the island start to rush back to him.
In this same episode, Eloise Widmore seems to be aware of what is ‘supposed’ to happen in that time line for Desmond, and acts as a guide to move him forward towards what he is destined to do….
Watching all of these together, along with the Neck/Red Mark hint, makes me think that perhaps Desmond will act as both a new ‘constant’ which will eventually guide 812-part-deux Jack to become aware of both time lines… and Des will also act as a new Eloise Widmore….Desmond will be aware of what is ‘meant’ to happen, and will prod Jack towards his own destiny.
I can’t help but think Desmond will be a very integral element to this 812(2) time line. They kept saying that Desmond is ‘special’….I thought he was incidentally special, only special because he was the one who happened to plug in the numbers and turn the fail safe key in the hatch…but perhaps he really IS special, has some ability to travel through different realities and times and possibly alter the course in a way no one else can.
Damon and Carlton both said in their recent podcast that this new time line (or Flash Sideways as they call it) is very important, and that it shouldn’t be discounted as an Alt or a ‘Bizarro’ time line (both descriptors I’ve used to discuss this story development)…so I don’t want to discount this all as being something that is somewhat dreamlike, that will be absorbed into the new time line and that which is not the REAL time line…
but I do think this time line has to gel back with the 2007 time line somehow, in order for these characters, which we’ve watched and fought for these past 5 seasons, to have some resolution….Maybe other viewers can find clues that will give us some more light on what the writers plan to do.
P.S. I love your suggestion that Jacob/Esau(MIB) are the same person from two separate realities…I don’t know if that’s exactly where the writers will go, but it made me think of the Yin-Yang symbol. Out of all of the religious symbols put forth in this show, it’s been used very little, especially as its the symbol that is usually in the center of the Bagua (the Dharma symbol…except the yin yang is replaced with other symbols like a star for sheriff, fire for flame, etc.) which makes me wonder….maybe something as simple as the yin-yang sign (the balance of white and black) may be a greater key to the meaning of this show. Not so much that a dark side will play against a light side, with one side winning in the end, but the dark and light sides we all carry within our selves, and how ultimately a great balance needs to be achieved, beyond anything else.
Thanks again for your insights Chris! so great to hear your ideas once more.
p.s. can’t believe i just wrote ‘812’ so many times when of course i meant ‘815’!!! getting a bit late when i wrote this, need to pack it in. thanks!
You seem to be very proud of yourself, but please, I beg you not to consider yourself a scientist or anything close to that (“That’d be shooting the big ol’ bird to us science geeks”), cause with all due respect, it’s an absolute nightmare to read your scientific hypothesis or digressions…
Your explanations about Schrödinger’s cat (there is NO paradox in this experiment!), multiverses or even something as simple as the Copenhagen interpretation are indeniable evidences of your lack of knowledge in this matter.
Don’t want to blame you, I’m sure you’re an expert in you area, but just leave physics to physicists… Your story about the “observer” is just about to become the best 2010′ joke in any physics lab!
Way to be a dick.
I think I’ll forward your post (with Chris’ LA X analysis) to Neil De Grasse Tyson, Lawrence Krauss, Steven Weinberg, Murray Gell-Mann, Richard Muller and other prominent physicists who work very hard counteracting prats like you who try to represent science as inaccessible to everyone.
The point is the thinking – the act of exploring a possible relationship between science and the mysteries of Lost and……wait for it…..maybe inspiring others to do so as well.
God help the physics community if you’re a young post-doc or grad student. More brains we don’t need; intellect that inspires others is the force multiplier from which the sciences and the public truly profit.
I’m sure it’s been pointed out in prior comments but just wanted to correct that Desmond does not turn the failsafe key twice – he stops the reaction that causes 815 to crash by successfully entering the numbers. The failsafe key was turned only once – though I suspect the detonation of Jughead had a ‘similar’ effect – but not an exact duplication.
Chris – Enjoyed the analysis. I’m seeing some different parallels to the physics/philosophical happenings in the storyline than you are – but I’m not convinced I’m on the right track either.
Importantly, though, as to any type of hard scientific explanation for the diverging realities and the way characters (i.e. the “two” Jacks) may be connected between them at some level: I honestly believe, from the writers’ standpoint, that this “event” in the story will be explained by and meant to illuminate humanist and philosophical subjects as opposed to the more sci-fi-ish subjects. I’ll let a couple more episodes go by before planting my flag in this perspective, but I think we were given some interesting clues in this first episode that our story will conclude it’s mysteries by couching them philosophically moreso than scientifically.
In this vein of thinking, something occurred to me that I haven’t read anywhere yet:
John Locke talks about his walkabout to Boone…
We all remember who told Locke to go on his walkabout….right?
But if Widmore was killed supposedly (everyone seems to be agreeing on this) by the bomb detonination in 1977, who the hell employed Abbadon in 2004 to impersonate a hospital orderly to tell Locke to go on the walkabout in the first place?
Further, I don’t agree with the consensus that the bomb caused, or indeed had anything to do with the island being submerged in our ALT timeline.
Back to the physics: there’s no possible way that a nuclear device the size that Jack dropped down the drill-shaft could contain enough fissionable material, in a configuration that would actually achieve a fission chain reaction, to yield much more than a kiloton, if that. Perhaps the EMP or other EMR interacted with the energy pocket in a way that amplified the bomb’s yield or caused some other,as yet, unknown result.
I think the Lost writers have most of the fan community wrapped around their proverbial pinky, leading us in a totally false direction at the moment. We’ll see.
Fun stuff, as usual, Chris.
I am intrigued by your Esau/Jacob = same person theory. Ever since we’ve been connecting the lines between the deceased people and Smokey (Eko’s brother, for example) it’s been bouncing around in my mind that it was Jacob taking on these forms. Or something like that. Granted, now we have been shown that it was Esau (as you call him) and Smokey that are the same, but still… It’s an interesting thought that J and E might be the same halves of the same entity.
I’ve got it in my head that Jacob is now inhabiting Sayid’s body, and that’s why Miles had that weird “oh, shit!” look on his face when (I assume) Sayid was communicating with Miles while Sayid was still dead. If Esau is the Fake Locke, then Jacob could be Fake Sayid. (Fayid?)
(I hope that hasn’t been mentioned here yet, I’ve not read everything that’s been discussed regarding the recent episode, so I hope I’m not just repeating anyone else’s theory here.)
Regarding the ash: When we were first introduced to the ash circle around the cabin, my initial reaction was that it was some sort of protective circle. And then at the conclusion of season five, I had the thought that it might be used to keep someone (Esau) in rather than to keep him out. Should have stuck with my first thought, eh? I’m not convinced, however, that the Ash contains Essence de Jacob. I haven’t come up with a better idea, though, so perhaps you’ve got something.
Good call, zetts, on the “you’ve got red on you” bit. As Jack was dabbing his neck, I thought, “hmm, they’re spending an awfully long time on that, so it must be important,” but I couldn’t place my finger on it. Of course, Des! And I’m not extra intrigued by the connection between Jack and Desmond. I wonder how that’s all going to play out.
The biggest “oh shit” moment for me was in relation to Richard and Focke: Somehow I don’t think it’ll be a good thing that Focke is disappointed in the Others.
And Alex: Chris never claimed to be a scientist, but rather a science enthusiast (a “geek” in the parlance of our times). Also, you didn’t feel the need to clarify or correct his allegedly faulty interpretation of the subject at hand. Please feel free to enlighten us.
“same halves of the same identity” = different halves
Oh! I forgot to mention also that I’m thrilled the writers chose this hybrid version of the timeline stuff you’ve talked about. I do so enjoy alternate universes, and it doesn’t seem (as zetts mentioned above) that each is just as important as the other. At the risk of getting called out on a misunderstanding of the many world’s interpretation, I’ll go ahead and add that I’m enjoying the way the writers are playing around with potential and choices and cause and effect and all that rot. One of my issues that I can’t quite seem to grasp is WHERE these many worlds exist. It’s one thing to say that there’s a potential for several different outcomes, and then once you make a choice one of those outcomes becomes your reality, and the others are branched off from there but the present you isn’t the one to experience them… but WHERE in space/time do these alternate realities exist? That’s the bit that’s always melted my brain a bit.
And one more thing (since James and I were posting around the same time, so it seems). I agree with what you said regarding the bomb not being the cause of the submerged island in the alt timeline. My friends and I have been toying with the idea that the bomb isn’t the thing that split everything into alternate realities, but we haven’t really put our fingers on any sort of viable alternative yet.
And ooh, good point about Abbadon.
Alex – I can’t really add anything more than what Joelle and James has said already; I’m a science enthusiast (a geek, as I mentioned, since I use language carefully to convey the specific meaning) who takes a look at Lost’s scientific and metaphysical happenstances from a literary storytelling perspective. I only wish to foster open thought, as James so eloquently put it. Besides – we’re all talking theory about an Island that can travel through frickin’ time and space, so chill and let’s keep things in perspective. Relax, have some fun and be positive.
Joelle, James, Matt and zetts – I’ll be back soon with thoughts; you all make excellent points!
First of all, a huge merit and gratitude for your well-rounded well-thought analysis of the first two episodes (including the old posts, which I read all together now since I just discovered your blog posts). I really appreciate your work and looking forward for your analysis of each episode till the end.
When I watched the opening of season 6, I didn’t take notice of the status of Desmond. You’re intriguing idea of Desmond being the an important factor makes so much sense, and thank God Desmond didn’t go back to the Island. Now in these two quantum states (timelines), the point of intersection will be with Desmond, when both Desmond’s of the two different timelines meet. I sense that this moment will come, and I am dying to see it! I imagine the scene would start with a surprise, and then a descriptive conversation of each’s person timeline. Then both of them decide to go back to the island with the rest of the Losties, having a major reunion…sounds funny, eh?
Another thought wandering around in my head, is what about the other people on the Island (especially Ben). Do they also have another quantum state? What about Jacob’s timelines? Just thoughts…
There is also an important element, which I’m not sure it has been mentioned. When the hydrogen bomb was exploded. It was supposed to prevent the plane from crashing and to change the past by changing the event of the plane crashing on the island and everything onwards. But what actually happened is that it changed the past since the 1970’s (Dharma-time) and onwards. You can see the Dharma stuff in the submerged island, but come to look at the characters, Hurley was a lucky guy and bought a complete food chain, Desmond apparently didn’t get lost in his boat race…but Kate is still a fugitive, Locke still can’t walk. Actually to come think about it, there is no reason that they should all be in same plane! The incident has changed big part of history, including the time before the crash.
One last thing, I love it a lot on how physics & philosophy (incl. religion) intertwine in this series, making them describe nature from two angles – two sides of the same coin.
I also want to add that, Chris, your scientific explanation is clear and understandable, and find it amusing, educational and well-formed. I know about quantum mechanics since I took several courses related to it in university. Awaiting the next episode and your next analysis.
Well, back for another season. Always my first LOST ‘what the heck just happened, can someone explain it to me’ stop on the net.
Another great read Chris. That poor cat in the box, reminds me of Kate :).
Thanks for another great read.
As always, great article.
One thing you mentioned that triggered something in my mind:
“…The two beings are clearly able to withstand attacks from the other and need help to dispatch their counterparts.”
There seems to be a Yin/Yang thing going on. With them. Esau is the dark with Jacob being the light.
Is it possible that Jacob can manifest himself as a smoke monster himself, perhaps a “beautiful bright light” in the words of John Locke.
Can one exist without the other?
This would tie in with the black/white theme but more importantly the balance that the Darma logos represent.
Also, something that bugged me while rewatching Namaste. Frank and Sun were talking to a manifestation of Christian (assuming it wasn’t Christian, ugh) about Locke being alive or whatever. Sun is all “wut” and then Christian is all “Look out of the window”. MiB is there as Locke and Christian seems to dissappear. Has the MiB went from Christian to Locke while teleporting himself?* There was black smoke that was either leaving or entering the cabin. I’m not sure which but either way I don’t think it’s that important for now.
*This would tie in with what you said about quantum existence and such, though.
It’s also worthy to note that manifestations of Christian Shephard have appeared off-island. Christian says that he speaks “on behalf” of Jacob and it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to say that he IS Jacob (or rather, the manifestion of Christian is Jacob). I’m dismissing the idea that MiB can go off-island*. Also, white tennis shoes!
*Because he needs help going home. Unless what you said about his home possibly being in another time was correct. Damn.
I’m aware that my comment has probably been all over the place and neglecting certain information but I’m hoping that by throwing a couple of bones you (or somebody else) will be able to pull a heap of meat from somewhere 🙂
Hey Meaty! Yeah, I feel you that there’s something going on with the yin-yang, and I’m starting to believe that there is more to Jacob/Esau(MIB) than meets the eye.
To your point about Namaste, it’s actually Ben that tells Sun/Frank to ‘look outside’ – Christian’s gone by then – Sun says Christian told them to wait for John Locke, and Christian was out of that scene by then….So it seems like the writers are trying to draw us toward the conclusion that, since Christian and FLocke hadn’t been seen in the same place at once, they may both be inhabited by MIB(Esau)….
If you rewatch the scenes where Christian appears (after he died), it’s interesting to see, like you mentioned, what he’s wearing. In some scenes he’s wearing his burial outfit with the white shoes, in others, he’s wearing a Brown button-down shirt in other scenes….In those scenes, he seems to be able to hold things (like holding Aaron, a lantern, and a picture frame,for example)….I often thought that the moments when Christian was in that Brown striped shirt was when he was inhabited by MIB(Esau), but when he was in his suit/white shoes, he was either a) his ghost, and the ‘true’ christian trying to communicate with Jack, or b) jacob (as you said)….
Going back to the yin/yang idea….I was thinking of the first scene where we see Jacob and MIB…Jacob is eating a fish that I believe was a red herring…Which makes me think that scene was a big clue that the scene itself was a ‘red herring’…perhaps Jacob and MIB aren’t on different sides after all…perhaps they’re working together, and them moving the characters around like pawns is something they’re doing together…
I wonder if the final battle won’t be Jacob’s people vs. MIB’s people, but the Losties/Others/Etc. vs. Jacob & MIB.
“I wonder if the final battle won’t be Jacob’s people vs. MIB’s people, but the Losties/Others/Etc. vs. Jacob & MIB.”
I hope so. I was a little disheartened by the Jacob Vs MiB stuff because it seems as though everyone we have learned about are just pawns. No meaning or special purpose. It’s as though anyone could have landed on that Island.
Hopefully the characters we have grown to love find their place and can take control. Perhaps the yin/yang stuff will hold through and Jacob+MiB realise they can’t exist without each other (not sure how else to phrase that, >_>)
Another thing I was thinking about. Early on we always considered the Island as if it is a character in its own right. “The Island wants this…The Island did this..” etc. Is this true? Or was the will of the Island simply the will of Jacob (are they the same thing)?
We used to assume that Richard didn’t age “because the Island didn’t let him” but at the end of last season we are told “I’m this way because of Jacob”. Interestingly though, he previously says “the Island has done miraculous things, it has never brought one back to life.” which implies Jacob is seperate from the Island.
The fact that Lockes parlysis was instantly fixed suggests that there was a question of “Fix it or don’t” and this was answered by someone or something. Does the Island heal by default or do people have to be chosen? Was Roses cancer allowed to heal or was Bens cancer allowed to grow.
I’d like to think that the Island is bigger than Jacob and MiB. That they serve the Island. Perhaps this isn’t the case.
In my head and trying to think about how MiB fits into this. His little convo with Ben last season “You should want to kill Jacob. You got cancer etc.” is tickling my brain but I can’t quite grab anything tangible.
Hopefully in the coming episodes we will get enough information to to up loose ends.
zetts – good thoughts, really, especially your PS. Waaaay back in my first analyses of Season 2 (check out my post-season 5 column “Flashbackin” for more), I took a long look at the Dharma logo and the Bagua and what it could mean for the scope of the show. It’s good to see that theme of duality and balance continue throughout the series. I talk a great deal about the Island and how it may be sentient, maintaining balance and continuity, in the podcast from a couple of weeks ago. I’m eager to see where the writers and producers take this as this last season comes to a close…
Matt – yeah, I goofed up on that one. I can’t catch ’em all! 🙂
James – I agree with you that the overarching theme of Lost is more of that humanistic and philosophical bent that you mentioned. What’s fascinating, though, is watching the balance that the show strikes between science and faith, just as many of its characters have battled with throughout the series.
As for Widmore, he was exiled from the Island prior to Jughead’s detonation, so he would be safe and alive well enough to hire Abaddon.
I’m quite sure that the bomb, and its destructive/deconstructive force, was amplified by the Island’s power source.
Joelle – I hadn’t considered the idea of Jacob inhabiting Sayid’s body; that’s a fascinating idea. However, we have to remember that Ben was brought to the Temple and submerged, just like Sayid, and from what we have observed thus far it didn’t appear as though Ben was “possessed” with a spirit. It’s clear that he was changed, somehow. Of course, this doesn’t rule out the possibility of Jacob inhabiting Sayid. We’ll have to wait and see.
Samerron – Thanks for the compliments and I’m glad you’re enjoying the column! As for the survivors being on the same plan in the alternate timeline, I think that is an anomaly that is present because of the quantum loop that I mention a bit in the podcast from two weeks ago. Their lives are infinitely linked because I believe they have all been through these actions before – possibly many, many times – and I believe the show may end up right back where it started, with some survivors back on the Island and a whole new set of circumstances to overcome before the next iteration.
Lost Fan – Thanks! Glad you’re enjoying the read!
Meaty – I like the idea of Jacob manifesting himself as a smoke monster, as well, and it would explain the sometimes-contradictory nature of Ol’ Smokey. For instance, why did Cerberus back away from Eko the first time and then bash him against a tree the second time? Something about that has never sat right with me, other than in the theory that Eko was no longer serving in the interest of the Island or of Cerberus/Esau/Jacob.
I think I’m going to have to watch Namaste again for that scene, especially now that we know what we know about Cerberus and Esau.
zetts and Meaty – Great discussion points about Jacob and Esau’s struggle. I think there may be a moment when the survivors get tired of being dicked around by these two and just decide to fight back. I would be satisfied with a final showdown between the “gods” and the “pawns.”
One other thing that I think is worth mentioning that you didn’t really touch on.
You said in your recap that Esau punches Richard in the face at the end of the episode, but actually, he punches him in the throat.
I’m wondering if this is significant. I’m thinking that either a) he wanted to keep Richard from saying his real name (since Richard had just said, “You?”) or b) perhaps there is a word or phrase Richard knows to keep Esau at bay (sort of like when River Tam punches her brother in the throat in Serenity to keep him from putting her to sleep, only the phrase is magic-based, not hypnosis-based).
Anyway, just a thought. I could be reading too much into it, but it seemed like it could be significant.
Joel – I don’t think you’re reading too much into it at all. I totally missed that, and it’s a good catch. It would make sense that he’d want to shut Richard up as soon as possible since Richard knows a lot more about Esau than everyone else seems to.
Nice Serenity reference, but you know that movie is dead to me.
I agree that quantum entanglement is worth mentioning. I think that’s what you’re getting at in this post among other things. I read a recent article (http://discovermagazine.com/2009/feb/13-is-quantum-mechanics-controlling-your-thoughts)about how plants have evolved to be supremely efficient with energy through the use of quantum entanglement. This might be going on in our brains too.
It may be responsible for our consciousness. Perhaps the deja vus, dreams and subconsciousness are our awareness of alternate realities and past and future. Most people are not fully aware of these past/future/present alternate realities.
I think you’re onto Desmond being one of these people who are. Kind of like the show Fringe where one of the characters can see into another universe. It’s obvious that people are being manipulated to create a certain type of reality. Now that we’re seeing an alternate reality, perhaps we’ll see what the reality changers like Desmond, Eloise, Jacob and MIB are up to. We’ve been seeing the reality that these people have been creating until now.
What really strikes me is how all of the characters in lost have these odd powers and are brought together by the reality changers. A guy who sees dead people, a guy who hears dead people, a kid who is telepathic, etc. Why were they all brought there by the reality changers?
I have the hope that Lost ends showing us that it was all about the evolution of humanity into a higher state of being.