Previously, on Down the Hatch: I wrote a column filled with Goonies, CSI: Miami and Silence of the Lambs references wherein I dared to question the decisions of the Powers-That-Be. Subsequently, that generated a maelstrom of 53 comments at current count on HoboTrashcan. People, that’s more times than Kate’s been kidnapped. That’s more comments than half my columns combined back in season four – but that probably has more to do with me going on and on about Juliet than anything else. Speaking of Juliet, is anyone checking out Elizabeth over in V? Yeah, me neither. Anyways, this week’s episode was a repeat of “Ab Aeterno” so there will be no disparaging comments since I found that episode completely satisfying. If you’re itching for a recap, you can always check out my review of the immortal Spaniard’s origins and meet me back over here when you’re done.
In the meantime, I’m going to just take a look back at a few things that may have fallen through the cracks the past few weeks, starting with a certain special young man whose name with whom you’re all very familiar.
In the past couple of weeks on Lost, some long-sought mysteries have finally been explained – namely the secret of the whispers and the revelation by MIB that he has been trotting around the Island as Christian Shephard. Despite the plethora of discussion about the delivery of said secrets, we have all spent the better part of three weeks wrapping our minds around the implications, most notably that of MIB’s notorious shape-shifting. Since MIB admitted that he showed up as Christian Shephard at least once, the natural and logical assumption is that every time we see Daddy Shephard on screen, it’s Ol’ Smokey filling his white tennis shoes. However, as many of you have noted, that opens a whole can of worms in terms of continuity and in what we have learned of the “rules” of MIB.
For starters, MIB tells Sawyer that he can’t just turn to smoke and fly off the Island, because if he could then he wouldn’t need a plane to escape. Of course, back in Season four, we see Christian appear off Island twice – once in LA to Jack (which, admittedly, could have been a drug-induced hallucination), and once on board the Kahana when he tells Michael that it’s finally okay to blow himself to bits. Now, if MIB can’t leave the Island, then who or what the heck is going on here?
The off-Island appearances aren’t the only conundrum surrounding MIB’s revelation. We know of several other instances of his shape-shifting, showing up as Alex and threatening Ben, as Yemi to take down Eko and even being tied to those ridiculous Medusa spiders that did away with Nikki and Paulo. That’s all fine and good, and I have no problems with logically connecting those instances of shape-shifting manipulation with MIB. There is one small, almost-forgotten instance that does have me scratching my head, though, and it involves that very special little boy whose name we all love to scream: Walt.
Way back in season two, in the premiere, Shannon gets a little visit in the Jungle of Mystery from the whispers and then Walt, who – at this point – had been taken off the raft by the Others. Walt appears to Shannon soaking wet and he utters what sounds like gibberish. As most of you will recall, that gibberish was simply reverse speech.
Even though it is still debated to this day, Walt’s backwards speech supposedly translates to: “Don’t press the button, the button’s bad.”
All the button references aside, Walt appears to Shannon twice more in the heartbreaking episode “Abandoned,” which taught us that it’s a very bad thing when we finally start to care about a real problem character. At the beginning of the episode, Shannon’s all cozy inside Sayid’s love tent when Walt shows up and starts dripping water all over the place. He speaks in reverse again, and this time he supposedly says: “They’re coming and they’re close.” Shannon, not being fluent in backwards gibberish and a bit unnerved by the sudden appearance of a young black male in her tent, screams her bloody head off. Sayid doesn’t believe what she saw and she spends the rest of the episode getting all huffy and whining, until the end when Sayid catches up to her in the Jungle of Mystery and they have a real heart to heart. It’s raining, Shannon’s shivering and Sayid finally admits to her that he loves her and that he believes here. It’s about that time when the whispers start up and he glances over Shannon’s shoulder to see none other than Walt standing off in the bushes.
Like some creepy Kubrickian extra, Walt places his finger over his mouth and goes “Shhhhhh.” It’s not backwards this time. Guess it’s hard to shush someone in reverse.
Sayid is stunned that Walt is actually there just as Shannon had said, and she gets up and chases Walt into the Jungle of Mystery where she is summarily shot in the stomach by Ana Lucia and then dies in Sayid’s arms. We all shed a little tear, and the Iraqi torturer looks up at Ana Lucia with a face that says “I am very displeased.” And that’s the last we see of Walt on the Island until season three.
Before we move onto that apparition, let’s just go over the chaos that these three appearances cause. First, Walt is in the company of the Others at this point, so we know that it’s not the actual Walt visiting Shannon. Second, his appearance is accompanied by the whispers, which we have now learned, thanks to Walt’s dead daddy, are apparently the chattering of all the dead souls trapped on the Island. They sometimes start talking up a storm when dead people show up. Third, Walt’s speaking backwards, and he’s apparently warning Shannon – a pretty insignificant person in the grand scheme of the Island – about pushing the button and about the dangers of the sudden approach of the Tailies. So … what the hell?
Since Sayid saw Walt, we know that Walt was not just a singular vision by Shannon. Despite the appearance of the whispers, we know that Walt was not dead and so could not have been a spiritual apparition – at least not a deceased spiritual apparition. So, in light of recent revelations, we must consider that Walt was a form of Ol’ Smokey, messing around with Shannon. If that’s the case, then why? What was the point? And why talk backwards, mentioning the button? Basically, in the context of what MIB has been trying to accomplish on the Island, what could possibly have been his motive for this appearance as Walt? Shannon can’t possibly realize the implications of Walt’s backwards warnings – and, indeed, she doesn’t, because she doesn’t say a thing about not pushing the button; hell, she doesn’t even know what the button is before she’s pushing up the daisies. The only thing these appearances accomplish are a) Shannon’s dead, and there’s one less insignificant survivor cluttering up the Island, and b) it really pisses Sayid off, pushing him further down the “I don’t give a shit” trail that could eventually lead to his deal with the devil in the current season. Other than that, I got nothing. Anyone, anyone?
Before we move on, there are three other explanations behind Walt’s appearances that bear mention, if nothing more than to stir the pot and provide some brain candy. First, there’s the theory – loved by some – that Jacob can shapeshift, as well. This apparition of Walt could have actually been Jacob, actively trying to warn Shannon of impending danger both of the electromagnetic and bulleted kind. Of course, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense as to why he’d show up as Walt, but whatever. Second, these apparitions could have been generated by Walt, himself. He is a very special boy, and it’s not above the realm of possibility that he was doing a little astral projecting or spirit walking while he was kept in Room 23 by the Others. Third, the backwards speech has lead some of us to speculate that this Walt could have been a Walt from the future or from an alternate timeline – a “bizarro” Walt – seen briefly through a small rift provided by the strange powers of the Island. Far-fetched, yes, but so is an Island that acts like a TARDIS.
Now, as I mentioned, these appearances weren’t the last we saw of Walt on the Island. Back at the end of season three, Walt appears to Locke who had been shot in the gut by Ben and left for dead in the Dharma mass grave. Apparently feeling he was at the end of his rope and hopeless, Locke was about to kill himself when Walt appeared at the top of the pit and told Locke that he had to get up, that he needed his legs and that Locke had work to do.
Locke would later admit to the rest of the survivors that Walt had appeared to him and that it was definitely Walt, only taller.
I don’t have much trouble believing that this apparition was probably MIB, as he needed Locke to take care of some business, eventually learning from Christian Shephard that he would have to move the Island and starting the whole big temporal mess that ended with Locke getting strangled and brought back to the Island so that MIB could inhabit his body and lead the Candidates on a mission to hijack a downed plane and get off the Island. Whew. Just typing that makes me feel a bit like I’m taking crazy pills.
At any rate, I mention all this because Walt’s first appearances just don’t seem to add up. I’d be more than welcome to hear any other ideas rattling around in those collective noggins. Give me your best shot.
… EDISA KCIUQ A TSUJ
Before we move on, I just thought I’d throw out some other memorable moments of backwards talking that have occurred throughout the seasons.
In my recap and analysis for “The Package” I talked a bit about all the craziness that went down in Room 23 back in season three, when Karl was being held there and apparently brainwashed by sounds and images. Well, what I failed to mention was the strange instance of backmasking (the recording and subsequent replaying of an audio track for the purpose of playing it backwards) that is played on a loop in the room during the sequence. When the scene is run backwards, the loop clearly states, in a female voice that: “Only fools are enslaved by time and space.” It’s pretty creepy. Wanna see?
By the way, Room 23 was not only the room where Karl was being bombarded with propaganda and where Jin was held captive this season, it’s also the room that Walt was kept in by the Others during his stay of 23 days. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
There is one other moment of backwards speech that has popped up notably. In the season four finale in a flash forward, Kate wakes up and receives a phone call from a man who speaks in reverse. The translation of that speech: “You have to go back, the Island needs you.” Many have speculated that this may have been Jacob and if it was, it would seem to point toward Walt’s first apparition to Shannon as being Jacob and not MIB. However, again why with the backwards speech, unless the message is somehow being filtered through time and space?
“Yes, hello, we have a collect call for an Amanda … Amanda Huggenkiss.”
In the grand scheme of things, all of this really doesn’t mean much more than a hill of beans, but it’s the details on this show that have been so important through the years. I thought I would be remiss in not bringing this bit of mystery back up for some group analysis.
THE SCARS ARE RIGHT
In the comments section on HoboTrashcan last week, Mimi pointed out a tiny bit of detail that I’m ashamed I missed: after Jack got all blowed up, when Locke carries him out of harm’s way and puts him up against a tree, we see that Jack has sustained an injury to his neck. Whether it’s intentional on the part of the powers-that-be or if it’s just slapdash blood from the make-up department remains to be seen. It is, however, interesting to note its correlation with a tiny detail that we’ve looked at from the season premiere.
That’s either a mark from shrapnel, or Marge down in the “Blood, Sand and General Grime” department had free reign.
Remember, we talked a bit about this in my recap and analysis of “LA X” and how it has another interesting corollary with Desmond’s paint blotch from “Flashes Before Your Eyes”
If this wound is the real deal, it could be a subtle signifier of what’s to come. In the analysis of “LA X” I mention the quantum entanglement of everyone involved with the Island, and that has become a very real situation with the flash sideways and the lost love and near-death experiences. Jack’s neck would could be just a part of that entanglement – but if so, he’s been wounded plenty of other times, so why bring attention to this one? In my mind, it may have something to do with how this whole thing ends.
Since there was no new episode this week, I’ve decided to keep the recipe simple. Since we’re nearing the end, and all sorts of chaos and temporal shenanigans are going to be flying past us and occupying our already-crowded minds, it’s probably best that we all just sit back and pour ourselves a nice, tall cup of blonde. I mean, coffee. Just to keep our minds, um … what was I saying?
There’s massive speculation as to what is going to happen to the separate timelines in the finale. Some say one or the other will simply cease to exist, others point to a merge of some sort. I think it may come back to the Ouroboros – that image of the snake eating its own tail that we have discussed many a time in this column. Everything about Lost points to connectivity and the sense that, somehow, all of this has happened before. In the past six seasons, there have been some very interesting temporal puzzles introduced, particularly those of Locke’s compass and the true origin and introduction of the Numbers. I have mentioned several times that I felt like this story would end up right back where it left off, with either the survivors crashing on the Island all over again, or with them all being faced with a choice – whether to remain content in their new lives, or to board the plane or whatever it may be, and return “home” – home being the Island. I think that the re-airing of the pilot episode before the series finale is not just an idea tossed out on a whim; the producers know that what’s going down in the finale will tie in directly with what happened in the pilot.
Instead of a merge of the timelines, what if the remaining survivors on Island Prime cause an end to that particular timestream and return to the point of origin – Oceanic 815? They would essentially loop back to where they started, with only very vague memories of anything that may have happened in their Island Prime pasts. Some bits or pieces from Island Prime could return with them – Jack’s neck wound and his appendectomy scar, for instance. All of this would potentially seal off the alternate timeline and trap Ol’ Smokey on the Island, forever enslaving him to a timestream and dimension that no longer exists or is no longer accessible through rifts – the Island in time, as I have mentioned previously.
Now, what if in addition to the survivors returning to Oceanic 815 in 2004, we also see everyone who is connected that we have witnessed in the flash sideways simultaneously making that choice whether to return to the Island or stay behind? Granted, the Island is underwater in LA X, but Dharma still exists and the electromagnetic anomalies that surround the Island would still be there, possibly dormant. We may see something dramatic, with the rise of the Island through actions on Island Prime that affect everything in LA X.
The Ouroboros. As noted many times, this particularly ouroboros is not biting his tail, signifying an open-ended loop.
The point is – I have no idea where the writers are headed with this one and I feel a lot like Eloise Hawking did when she sent the survivors back to the Island on the Ajira flight. For once, she didn’t know what was going to happen. Neither do I. And it feels good.
THE FINAL COUNTDOWN
Well, folks, we’re in the home stretch next week, with only five more episodes until we are forced out into the streets to cause mayhem once again on Tuesday nights. I predict crime rates will spike and DVD sales of the complete series will go through the roof when released in September. Before I sign off this week, though, I thought it would be good to review some of the mysteries that are still out there and that we may – or may not – see answers to before the Island is done with us.
Women can’t remain preggers on the Island. It’s the reason Juliet was brought to the Island – other than to look pretty, kick some butt and eventually bash Jughead. What was all this about, anyway? Just smoke and mirrors? Time may tell.
The “sickness.” This was partially answered by the revelations of what happened to Rousseau’s team, but it’s still interesting to consider the Dharma vaccines, especially those that Desmond had in the Hatch, and the quarantine written on the door of the Swan. Was this to protect them from MIB? Or was it just a way for Dharma to keep the Swan operators down there and keep them from asking questions? Again, we may never know.
Why is Desmond “special?” Did he develop his abilities as a result of being exposed to ambient electromagnetic energies while in the Hatch all those years? Does it even really matter?
Walt’s “special” abilities, if there were any. Why was Walt on the Island in the first place, and why was he let go? Was Michael really the only person that Jacob or MIB needed on the Island to suit their purposes?
The origins of the “loop” temporal paradox. In other words, where did the numbers originate, and where did Locke’s compass come into the picture? Think carefully before any of you answer in the comments that MIB gave the compass to Richard to give to Locke, or that Hurley put the numbers on the loop back in 1977. Think real hard, because I don’t want to have to explain this whole loop thing again to 20 different people.
What is the Island? And if somebody says it’s a cork on a bottle, I’ll deck ’em.
And, of course, Adam and Eve. Are they a pair of the survivors, or just some unlucky saps trapped on the Island in past? Will we ever find out? Signs point to … maybe.
What did I miss?
That about wraps it up for this week. Next week marks the beginning of the end, so let’s all make the best of it. Put on your best thinking caps, keep thinking those thoughts and tell me something good. Oh, and let’s keep it civil in the comments section, okay? We’re all friends here, after all. Well, except for those Yankee fans. There’s just no hope for them.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.