Sunday, July 10, 2011

LOST Redux: S2E23 Live Together, Die Alone

(At the request of a reader, I will be reposting old editions of my LOST column as they no longer appear on the internet. I will not be making any edits to them, so please be aware that they represent a moment and time--my thoughts and analysis after watching an episode's initial airing.)

Let me be the first person to officially welcome you to summer vacation (unless you’re still in school, in which case you need to get back to studying!). When you’re young summer is marked by the end of classes, the end of exams, the beginning of freedom. As you get older there is no true way to distinguish the summer months from the other months beyond the picture on your wall changing from Shannon to Sawyer (which has its positives and negatives) and a shift in the weather. The sun shines upon us ensuring we aren’t trapped in an Artic hut like those two knuckleheads at the close of season two.

Summer has officially begun for me with the season finale of LOST and I will not recognize the existence of fall until the premiere of season three (which I read will be in September, mark your calendars). For you, my loyal readers, the summer begins once you finish perusing my few words. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed this episode.

This week I can’t see delving into the typical format. The flashbacks didn’t seem to contain a stand alone story, nor was there any huge character development (besides Sun becoming a feminist). This episode was all about LOSTology and it was done well. My head definitely is not spinning the way it was following Claire’s flashback episode. So, come along with me as we journey into the Midside to gain a better perspective on some of the mysteries that were uncovered.


Well, well, well after a season of agonizing by fans and characters alike it is finally revealed that the button wasn’t a dead connection. Desmond seemed to know the truth all along and it makes me wonder why he told Jack at the beginning of the season that he wonders if the button pushing is all just a psychological experiment everyday of his life. That point is tangential however as the real important discussion is concerning the button, how it caused the plane crash, and what it has to do with the island at large.

The button was connected to the giant magnet in the center of the hatch. As Desmond said, every time the button was pressed excess energy build up was discharged. I don’t know how this excess energy was built up. I am not going to try and delve into the exact science as that would be presumptuous of me. What is safe to say though is that the excess energy made the magnet more powerful. When the button wasn’t pushed, more items were attracted to that wall in the hatch and the entire hatch seemed to be imploding like in a black hole in science fiction movies. Pushing the button prevented this from happening.

Why is there a giant magnet in the hatch though? What purpose does it serve? Was it put there by Dharma or is it naturally part of the island? I believe the magnetic properties of the island are unique to the island, but the swan station was created in order to harness those properties to serve a purpose of Dharma’s. Two men were assigned to the hatch in order to make sure the station worked properly.

What was this purpose? The swan station was a cloaking device for the island. It created a magnetic bubble (Note that Desmond said that the island is like a snow globe) that made the island undetectable to devices such as radar. This protected Dharma and its research from the outside world. The scene at the very end of the episode reveals this purpose. The two men were only able to detect the island twice, when Desmond didn’t push the button the first time and in this episode. Notice how they said, “I hope we didn’t miss it this time.” The first time they recorded the variance in the field but since Desmond pushed the button, the field returned to normal and they missed locating where the signal was from. In this episode, Desmond did the exact opposite, allowing the island to be seen by all.

What did Desmond do? Well, if the key was a failsafe, it would be able to reverse whatever the button was protecting against. The button was making sure everything didn’t get pulled inwards (the bubble didn’t implode). Turning the key reversed the polarity of the magnet and then shut it down. The door that read “quarantine” was launched into the air by the polarity of the magnet being reversed (the metal was repelled by the magnet) and then succumbed to the forces of gravity once the magnet was shut down.

I know, I know, this is all well and good, but what does any of it have to do with the crash of flight 815? You saw the episode, didn’t you? The day Desmond didn’t push the button on time was the day flight 815 crashed (which was September 22nd, 2004, so all you time travel theorists can go watch Back to the Future over and over again now). As flight 815 was over the island (don’t ask me why it was so far off course), Desmond didn’t push the button and the plane got sucked into the island (the pressure destroyed its structural integrity first causing it to rip in two). If you go back and watch the tail end falling into the ocean in The Other 48 Days, it looks a lot like it is being sucked into a magnet.

The plane crash could still have been an intentional event on the part of Dharma. The Kelvin (he’s The Kurgan playing Kelvin) lured Desmond out of the hatch with his “goodbye” and ripped suit and kept him out there with his “I’m fixing your boat” spiel. It could definitely be argued that Kelvin was in on the plane crash conspiracy and he lured Desmond out of the hatch so the button wouldn’t be pushed on time. I don’t think The Kelvin ever intended to die in his ruse. In fact, he probably intended to say, “Oh my God, who’s pushing the button? No one! We need to get back there!” and sprinting back to the hatch with Desmond by his side to save the day.

I don’t think it’s smart to let go of the plane crash conspiracy theory just yet because it explains such things as why they were flying so far off course (the pilot or copilot was in on it) and how there are so many coincidences in their lives like The Kelvin being in the hatch and teaching Sayid how to torture people in the Gulf War. Of course, maybe there are no explanations to those quandaries as I don’t know if we’ll ever find out how the numbers can make someone win the lottery. Anyway, speaking of such crossovers, let’s move to a new section.


It is not a coincidence that The Kelvin was in the hatch and in the Gulf War to train Sayid in methods of torture. I am more than willing to bet that The Kelvin was in Dharma since before the Gulf War and thus part of training Sayid was all manipulation as part of this grand conspiracy. The question then becomes how deep does this conspiracy go and what is the purpose of this conspiracy?

One very key thing that we learned tonight is that Desmond is not part of Dharma but a survivor very much in the same way the 815ers are. I also believe Desmond was brought to the island by Dharma for a reason (which I don’t think was turning the key). Everything The Kelvin did towards him, from the yellow suit upon his rescue to the “goodbye” was a long con to set Desmond up as the patsy to push the button. I’m not totally convinced that The Kelvin was going to steal Desmond’s boat, though I do believe he was probably going to rejoin The Character, Tom, and the rest of the others.

Why Desmond? At this point I’d like to bring in a little tangential information. It is the only time during this column that I will bring in such information. When I say tangential I am referring to information from websites, advertisements, etc. The information is as follows. On the Jimmy Kimmel show following LOST, Hugh McIntyre said that the Hanso Foundation stopped funding Dharma in 1987. Interestingly, the crazy French lady (oh, she’s crazy) crashed on the island in 1988. In the LOST book Bad Twin, the Hanso Foundation is on the 42nd floor of Widmore Tower in New York City. In the official LOST podcast, the producers said that there are two Widmores, one American and one British. I think they likely said this explanation in order to explain away the novel. However, Widmore has appeared in the show. They made the pregnancy test Sun passed with flying colors and the balloon Henry Gale crashed to the island in. Also, tonight, we discovered that Desmond was in love with Charles Widmore’s daughter Penelope.

Chuck didn’t approve of Desmond’s love for his daughter so he demanded that Desmond no longer see her. Desmond complied. However, Penelope was defiant. She went to America to track her love down. Chuck was left with a problem. How could he keep the two separate? Suppose for a moment that Hanso received funding from Widmore and Hanso of course funded Dharma. The three would be interconnected. Dharma then started doing some cheeky stuff and Hanso said “That’s it, we’re out” washing their hands clean of the situation in 1987. Widmore could or could not have stayed involved, either officially or unofficially.

After losing funding, Dharma needed recruits anyway they could get them, hence why they crashed a French scientific expedition into the island a year later. Chuck Widmore needed to dispose of Desmond easily and Desmond was an ideal candidate for Dharma (he was incarcerated for years and had no connections in the world besides Penelope). Using Libby and a boating race, Chuck manipulated Desmond into crashing onto the island and the rest is history.

Penelope, the insolent daughter that she is, snooped behind her father’s back in the years since Desmond’s disappearance. Since then she has discovered the Dharma Initiative, the island, and the fate of her lover. She then made it her mission to locate the island. The two men working in that Artic station were hired by her in order to locate the island.

Next season, we will learn the others’ side of the story (not other, others). I believe that others are those who are left over from the Dharma Initiative. They are those that did not want to pull out when Hanso pulled out. They believe they are the “good guys” because they are still trying to better humanity by doing research on the island. However, with the lack of funding, their methods have had to change. Of course, the possibility remains, a strong possibility, that the Hanso Foundation is indeed still involved with Dharma. For the conspiracy ideas to work fully, it would make the most sense for them to be involved. However, one has to wonder why the island is deserted and why the others have such strange methods if they are still being funded.


Where does all this hoopla (did I type hoopla?) leave our favorite crash survivors? I, for one, am very upset that the last image of the 815ers we got for the summer was Claire kissing Charlie. Yeah, happy ending, woo. Happy ending? You know what a happy ending would have been? The Character pulling out a remote, pushing the button, and the boat Michael was on blowing up. That would have been a happy ending, not a lame kiss between two characters no one cares about while all the other characters are either possibly dead, owned by the others, or on the other side of the island with the remains of a statue with a foot with four toes. If you’re going to kiss, at least make out none of this lame Middle School peck on the lips crap. Yes, I know there was more LOST after the kiss, but it was the first time we saw current events off the island. It was a cataclysmic shift in the storytelling in the show and the old storytelling ended with Charlie and Claire! How can you not be as annoyed as I am?

What about the rest of the 815ers? What was with that nod and wink between Jack and Kate? Did Sawyer have a clue as to what was going on or not? Were they acknowledging Jack’s plan with Sayid (and was everything going according to it) or were they making eyes at each other while they still had a chance to confess their love to each other?

What are Sayid, Jin, and Sun up to? They are the only characters that were really left without a cliffhanger or resolved storyline. Hurley was told to trot back to camp. His story felt like it was over. On the other hand, the last we saw of Sayid he was standing in the middle of the fake camp going, “Gee, this is all fake.” Meanwhile, on the boat, Jin and Sun were happy they were pregnant. Yes, I typed they. Except, they were on Desmond’s boat on the other side of the island just standing there. Yeah, nice ending there.

And what of Locke, Eko, and Desmond? Are they dead? Desmond seemed to believe he was committing suicide, but why introduce Penelope as a current event character if her story is going to so obviously end in tragedy already? Yes, I can see her being around to move the plot, but how awful would it be to watch her agonize over finding Desmond for a whole season if we knew he was dead and she didn’t? All the failsafe did was reverse the polarity of the magnet and shut it down. How could that kill any humans in the area? Even if it was an EMP, I don’t believe EMPs kill humans. I suppose the worse case scenario is a nuclear meltdown, which would explain the “sickness” (though I think there never was one) as a result of the first incident. The long and short of it is that Eko, Locke, and Desmond are not dead. They’ll be back next season and will be major roles.


-Did anyone else think that the two guys in the artic station were the two players when they saw them playing chess like I did? For a second I thought that was the point of the extra scene.

-Sure, we have a bunch of cliffhangers, but this season’s story feels finished. I feel like I’m ok with not watching LOST for about three months (though I bet I won’t be saying that next Wednesday). I still contend that the season one story didn’t end until Jack first saw Desmond in the hatch.

-That’s all I’ve got. I hope you’ve enjoyed all I’ve brought you this season and are ready to relax in preparation for the coming season. I hope my thoughts weren’t too scattered this week as I feel the finale answered a lot of questions for us and left the right amount of unanswered ones as well.

See you in another season, brotha. Oh yeah, and, never forget:

Shut up, you’re wrong.

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