Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Island of Lost Children...

With the much unfairly maligned Expose' (razzle dazzle!) I believe a huge piece of the mythological puzzle has fallen into place. It turns out that Helen Lovejoy and Whitney Houston were right where Lost is concerned -- it's all about the children.



The big clue is the story within a story, a device typically used to foreshadow plot and highlight themes. Two great examples of this device at work are Tales From the Black Rock, the comic that a black child named Bernard reads throughout Watchmen, and the Grand Inquisitor, the story that Ivan relates to Alyosha in the Brothers Karamozov. In these works, which both have been referenced on Lost, the story within a story serves as a metaphor for characters' motivations and conduct. Like others (e.g., Dr. Suds) I believe the same is true of Lost.

To review, Lost's story within a story focused on Mr. LaShade, a "Charlie" character whose team of sexy "Angels" could have been drawn straight from the mind of Homer Simpson (but Marge... crime SOLVING strippers!). In the Expose' season finale, Agent Corvette -- played by guest star Nikki -- realized that LaShade was actually the Cobra, a notorious villain the team had spent the past four years chasing. The key to Corvette's realization was her discovery that LaShade had misappropriated money that was meant for "the orphanage."



A lot of speculation thus far has focused on the identity of Lost's LaShade/Cobra, which I agree is key -- I'll return to that question shortly. For now, I want to emphasize the orphanage aspect, which other interpretations have tended to ignore. I believe this is a mistake given the clear importance of children generally, and their adoption specifically, to the show. Locke, Kate, Sawyer, Walt, and likely Alex were all adopted by someone, at some point. Claire, of course, was on Oceanic 815 to give Aaron up for adoption in America.

This emphasis on children is reflected in the Others' general willingness to kidnap children like Alex, and to commit murder in pursuit of certain special kids like Walt and Aaron. Children also seem relevant to the Island's backstory. Benjamin Linus claims to have been born there, and I've speculated previously that he might well be the child of Adam and Eve and/or Gerald and Karen DeGroot. Even the Dharma Initiative seems to have been home to children at some point, as evidenced by the nursery in the Caduceus Medical Station (i.e., the Staff).



That last point strikes me as particularly relevant because the Staff may also have played a role in Dharma's ultimate demise. The Blast Door Map states that the Staff likely "divested from [the] project in 1985 following AH/MDG Incident." The Map further suggests that the Staff may have been "abandoned due to AH/MDG Incident of 1985 or possible catastrophic malfunction of Cerberus system." I read these notations to mean that the Staff was probably the epicenter of the AH/MDG Incident, a Cerberus malfunction, or both.



I'm guessing, moreover, that the foregoing events related somehow to children subconsciously channeling the Island's energies. I've argued before that Walt's metaphorical "bad twin" subconsciously caused Susan's fatal blood disorder because he was jealous of her relationship with Brian. Perhaps the children of Dharma, especially those born on the Island, did similar damage on an even larger scale, subconsciously causing the "Cerberus malfunction" and animal revolts. It may even be that their fears and nightmares literally manifested...



If so, the "AH/MDG Incident of 1985" could represent a conflict within the "project" over the Staff children's fate. Most likely, some of the scientists decided that the kids should be terminated. I'm guessing that this decision caused the Initiative to split for good, as the Staff scientists seceded to protect the children. The remaining scientists attempted to purge the secessionists, who retaliated against their attackers. Following this conflict, Jacob began recruiting exceptional people to protect and train the orphaned kids to control their powers.

At some point, however, some of the children were removed from the Island. Perhaps they were evacuated during the chaos of the purge. Or maybe Jacob was Himself forced to flee the Island and hid a few kids for safekeeping like Obi Wan Kenobi in Star Wars. Along related lines, I wonder if Ben usurped Jacob as leader of the Others like Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader. However it happened, Jacob left behind a master list of the names of these "lost" children of the Island -- Jacob's List -- which includes at least some of the survivors of Oceanic 815.

All of which brings me back to the identity of Lost's LaShade/Cobra equivalent. An obvious answer is Jacob -- but who is He? I've speculated elsewhere that Jacob might be an alias for Alvar, a scenario that still strikes me as plausible. Another intriguing possibility for Him is Christian Shepherd, whose medical background and comments that Jack is a "a good man, maybe a great one" could hint at some past association with the Staff secessionists. I personally would welcome a Christian resurrection in the Season 3 finale.



In closing, however, I offer a final LaShade/Cobra candidate for your consideration -- one that doesn't depend on the identity of Jacob. I mentioned previously that Ben might have usurped His leadership at some point. I'm guessing, moreover, that most of the Others have no idea that Ben helped orchestrate Jacob's departure -- just that He's gone and left Ben in charge of the orphanage. Maybe Ben told them that Jacob was absorbed by the Island or went in search of the children on His list. In this scenario, Ben is the Cobra and Jacob a mere Corvette.



Like the Wizard of Oz, Ben maintains control over the Others through a combination of lies about Jacob and leftover Dharma technology. Perhaps he tells them that Jacob is watching and will someday return. In the mean time, the Others continue to train children who are brought to the Island. This training apparently involves periodic brainwashing sessions in the Room for rebellious children like Walt and Karl. It may even be that Ben uses this brainwashing to harness the children's power to channel the Island for his own nefarious purposes.

That power could conceivably include control over Smokey, which sets up an intriguing possibility. There are hints that Smokey is a body snatcher and uses corpses to impersonate the dead. If Christian Shepherd really is Jacob, and Ben secretly does control Smokey using the kids, then the arrival of his body on Craphole Island presents a remarkable opportunity for Ben, who can now use Smokey to trick his people into believing that Jacob has returned. If Christian reappears on the Island, therefore, don't be so sure it's really Him...

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow, just read this first post and it's pretty impressive. I'll take off a small bite for now regarding Smokey.
I tended to think Smokey had been created by original Dharma Initiative and remained on auto-pilot and posed a threat to the Others, which is why they stayed away from the 815 side of the island.
But your theory that the Others control it through psychic kids is intriguing. A few questions:
-- Why would the Others employ a fence that seems specially tricked-out to keep Smokey at bay? (Related question: Who built the suburban village and fence? My guess is Dharma but I could be wrong.)
-- Why would Ben or whoever else send Smokey after Juliet immediately after "abandoning" her? Either way, if Juliet was abandoned or is a mole, it doesn't make sense. (Unless Smokey was snapping her picture so as to be able to impersonate her later?)
-- Aaron

bigmouth said...

Aaron -- thanks for commenting! I tend to agree that Smokey was created by Dharma, though it's not clear to me how much of a threat it really presents to the Others. In fact, when I listen to the hidden audio from the Monster in the Pilot, it sounds to me like the Others control Smokey! There are references, for example, to bringing "enough men to do it right," and a "new idea." I get the sense they were going to do a raid like the one on the tailies, then decided to use Smokey to lead them to the cave instead (I'm assuming that Jack's dad was Smokey in White Rabbit).

As for the fence, it's possible that not all of the Others understand that Smokey is actually under their control. As I say, Ben may secretly be using the kids to control Smokey, which he exploits to maintain power over his people. I suspect that Dharma may originally have built the fence to protect themselves from Cerberus malfunctions...

Finally, regarding Juliet, I tend to think she's a mole, though it may be unwitting (ala the original Boomer in BSG). The whole experience with being cuffed to Kate reminds me a lot of the way Juliet earned Jack's trust early during his imprisonment in the Hydra. The ultimate goal may be to convince our Losties that it's safer to move into Otherville...

Anonymous said...

I just read through some of your other stuff and agree with what you've written previously that was "smart dust" that Dharma tried to experiment with controlling through mental energy. It got loose and bad things ensued. Now Ben has at least intermittent control over it, ie he can intervene when absolutely necessary.

Other thoughts prompted by your posts:
-- Walt proved "more than we bargained for" -- Did Ben agree to let Walt go because his psychic powers were too much to handle and could have unleased chaos? (Otherwise, why let such a magnificent specimen go?)
-- I agree with the "creating your own luck" theory -- people whose unconscious fears/hopes are made manifest through latent psychic ability -- but it will need to be fleshed out over time. (It certianly provides an explanation for Edmund's death.) Are the powers latent and organic, or were they caused by a burst of mystery energy from the island. If so, why do just a few people get this ability? What's the connection between having this ability and being drawn to the island?
-- A

Shae said...

To add to the "island manifesting their fears" theory....Artz was obviously terrified that the dynamite would explode in season 1, and what happened? It went off, even when he was being a lot more careful then those who had been previously handling it. Might be a coincidence, but it's a very clear example of your theory either way.

Anonymous said...

Also explains a lot about Locke and how he's been able to reimagine himself on the island as he'd like to be (despite several moments of weakness), and why Ben is so interested in Locke and how his "faith" helped in heal. Perhaps Ben brought Locke along because he may be akin to a "chosen one," with innate ability to connect with the island and exploit its potential, while Locke a) is fascinated by the island and wants to learn its secrets b) knows the others somehow have his father there and c) could have something up his sleeve.
-- A

Anonymous said...

Locke could very well be one of the children, himself, just a grown one.

On the preview that showed Locke's dad in the box, I wonder if that is Smokey, too...

Anonymous said...

The way you describe Smokey sounds an awful lot like the monster in Forbidden Planet (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0049223/)

Anonymous said...

Wow, you're onto something. Look at this passage right here and remember Ben's "What if I told you there was a box ... " speech to Locke:

(From wikipedia entry on "Forbidden Planet")

"Commander Adams and Doc Ostrow go to Morbius' home to confront him about their latest findings. Ostrow sneaks in to use the Krell educator machine. Before he dies from its effects, he gasps out his revelation: the huge machine was designed to let the Krell materialize anything they wanted at a mere thought. "But the Krell forgot one thing, John. Monsters! Monsters from the id!" Though the Krell considered themselves civilized, their subconscious minds were unleashed by the almost limitless power of the Machine. The race was wiped out in a single night of frenzied destruction, as the machine acted out their darkest urges."

I think Smokey is different from this description, though inspired by it, and I don't think Smokey was impersonating Locke's father, because it's not consistent with Smokey's behavior/infrastructure (the vents etc.)

Gator/Bolt Fan said...

What is the plausibility of the LOST producers setting up a season 3 finale where Jack sees his dad and says "Dad?" eerily similar to Lock seeing his dad in Man From Tallahasee?

How freaking cool would that be?

bigmouth said...

A: Yes, that's my reading of why they released Walt -- he proved too powerful. As for luck making, the premise is that the Island's energy caused a mutation that (1) provides them with the power to make luck, and (2) connects them to the Island, which is like a psychic transceiver. You might want to check out the Mind of Magnus, though it's admittedly long-winded. Still, it fleshes out the transceiver angle and provides another interesting explanation for Smokey.

Shae: That's a great example! My guess would be that Arzt's demise was a case of Hurley's fatalism making bad luck...

anonymous: I definitely agree that Locke could be one of these special children, though only if children were being born on the Island BEFORE Dharma. However, since I've speculated previously that Ben is the child of Adam and Eve and/or the DeGroots (who may be one and the same) it's definitely possible. According to Jack, those bodies had been there since the 1950s or '60s.

anonymous: Bingo regarding the Id Monster -- take a gander at You Make Your Own Luck, which draws that analogy specifically.

anonymous: Yes, I'm torn about whether Cooper is Smokey, myself. On the one hand it makes sense given everything we know so far about the Island. I wonder, though, if Cooper's arrival is actually the result of the luck-making we've discussed. Let's say the Island exists outside of time and space -- a kind of panoptichron from which the past, present, and future are all accessible. What if Locke reached into the past and affected the likelihood that Cooper would end up on the Island? Sort of a subconscious Desmond effect...

gator: That would be brilliant! Little chills of anticipation are going down my spine...

tinanettles said...

Speaking of Smokey impersonating the dead, it got me to thinking of Sawyer when he was ALMOST a corpse, suffering from the infection in his arm after the gunshot and the traipse through the jungle with the tailies, (even though he was only MOSTLY DEAD), when Kate heard Wayne's voice coming out of Sawyer's mouth, saying things that Wayne would have said to her, grabbing her by the throat. Do you think that might have been Smokey?

bigmouth said...

Tina: That's an EXCELLENT suggestion. Check out this excerpt from a NYTimes interview with Douglas Hofstafter, author of the remarkable Goedel, Escher, Bach:

DH: You can imagine a soul as being a detailed, elaborate pattern that exists very clearly in one brain. When a person dies, the original is no longer around. But there are other versions of it in other people's brains. It's a less detailed copy, it's coarse-grained.

NYT: You make it sound as if a soul can be Xeroxed. You can't duplicate someone exactly.

DH: I didn't say exactly. I said coarse-grained and approximate. Lower-resolution.

NYT: Aren't you just putting a clever gloss on the phenomenon of memory?

DH: Many people believe that our lives end not when we die but when the very last person who knew us dies. Memory is part of it, yes, but I think it's much more than memory. It's the fact that my wife and I, for example, became so intimately engaged that her essence was imported into my brain.

I could easily see the memories of dead folks like Wayne and Frank Duckett coming alive on the Island via Smokey's scans. Alternatively, I've also described Kate and Sawyer's strange experience as indication of the Island's tendency to link minds:

"All of Kate's attention and affection are focused on Sawyer, placing her mind on the same wavelength as his. She transmits dark thoughts of daddy to Sawyer, who transmits back a kiss, which is how he'd comfort her if conscious. But because they don't realize what's happening, their minds get crossed like the Flash and Green Lantern in Walt's comic.

As a result, Sawyer starts talking like Wayne and Kate plants a wet one on Jack (also an object of Kate's affection) who then runs off to chop wood like Sawyer. As Hurley says to Jack shortly thereafter: 'It's like, transference.'"

RChiGirl said...

In working with the adoption theory, I don't don't if this is worth anything to anyone, but check out... http://www.hansoadoptions.org/?gclid=CJOSvtf884cCFQgGGgodwSIGjA

Anonymous said...

That site is very interesting... did you notice the link on the bottom of the page "Copyright by HansoAdoptions.org (____)-2006". If you click on the area between the parentheses you jump to a logo which looks very "Dharma-like".

Amateur Scientist said...

just found this site from the Entertainment Weekly article... and it's great. but something concerns me about all that's going on with this show and on the island.

it's clear that Occam's Razor is afoot on the island. so less is more. the least answer is the answer, but because of how it's been presented, it's not always the obvious one.

I'm not sure if I can predict the end game that they're (the producers/writers) going for, but something intrigues me still:

"we're the good guys.." is what Ben has said.

taking cues that Carlton Cuse said that what was from the Lost Experience game is all true, then from the video of it that I watched on YOUTUBE I seem to remember that the initial plan of Dharma didn't work like they wanted, and so they were going to the mass "purging" plan but someone found out.

perhaps Ben is one of the one's from the actual inititive (he said he's lived there his whole life) and perhaps what he's really working so hard to do is to KEEP THE ISLAND OUT OF THE HANDS OF THE HANSO/DHARMA PEOPLE, because he knows they want to kill people, lots of people, and he's "a good guy" who doesn't want that and is doing anything he can to prevent that.

then, basically, the rest is the rest: for whatever reason, people can't have babies on that island. and frankly, no one would ever want to leave such a place if you knew it was always beautiful, always plentiful, and you could HAVE AND RAISE CHILDREN.

anyway, that's my thoughts and theory.

Anonymous said...

I feel there is another layer of culture/society/history to the island. I keep coming back to the Jules Verne novel Mysterious Island. I think there are some definite crossovers into this book. Maybe just nods or references, but it seems there is clunky technology like cameras, tv monitors and then there is the fence and the little weaponary used to control sawyer and kate while they were captive.
I believe this relates back to the statue that is decayed on one of the island's beaches.

Anonymous said...

After reading your theory on Jacob being Christian Shepherd. I thought back and don't seem to remember jack doing anything with his father body after the crash(was it even in the coffin?). If so this leads me to speculate that Christian Shepherd will indeed come back.

Bigmouth said...

rchgirl and anonymous: Thanks for the link, rchgirl. I'm pretty sure that's a fan site, but it's cool to see that others are thinking along the same lines.

amateur scientist: Thanks! But are you really so sure that Occam's razor applies? Leaving aside its utility in the real world, the razor provides little guidance concerning a fictional tv show, where logic is less important than the writers' preferences. Let's also not forget that an animating metaphor of Lost is the game Mousetrap (we've seen it twice now) which implies that complexity, not simplicity, is the dominant aesthetic.

You raise some provocative possibilities, and I agree that Ben doesn't want Dharma to regain control of the Island.
But I tend to think that the Purge is related somehow to the Others inability to procreate. Stay tuned for my upcoming theory on that subject -- I'll be most curious to get your feedback!

anonymous: I strongly agree that Jules' Verneis a major influence on this show. Like Watchmen and the Brothers K, however, I expect that the Mysterious Island influence on Lost is metaphorical rather than literal. That said, I've discussed the possibility elsewhere that the Island might be a place where fiction and reality break down. If you've ever read Dan Simmons' Ilium and Olympos novels, a basic premise is that great writers like Shakespeare literally create alternate worlds populated by their characters. If you haven't, and this interests you, check the books out. I believe Ilium is actually available for reading on-line.

anonymous: From what I recall, Christian's body wasn't in his coffin when Jack finally found it in the cave. In light of Smokey's apparent snatching of Yemi's body, I wouldn't be surprised if that's the explanation for the apparition that Jack followed to said cave in White Rabbit. Some people, of course, are saying that he might have been stung with the same spider venom that paralyzed Nikki and Paulo. But like you, my suspicion is that Christian's dead and any resurrection would most likely be Smokey's doing.

Anonymous said...

I believe I liked to your blog via Doc Jensen and I am so glad I did! I saw a psychic-children theory and I just had to share mine with you. I have 3 children 3 and under, so I haven't had time to spin it into a cohesive and well written theory, but I'll share what I've got. I believe that there is a whole underground facility on the island. This is where the children are kept. I believe that the reason this is being done on the island is because of its relative secrecy. A project exploiting children so horribly would not be looked upon to kindly by the world. They were a part of DHARMA and continue to be today. I call them Watchers. I am guessing that they are being used to effect the outside world, in one application as a weapon, in another, just to manipulate events- for what reason you could imagine many possibilities. I believe they are also being used on the island berhaps in part to "take back" the island. There are of course adult workers and I belive Cindy is one of them. I believe some of the watching is done via "remote viewing" and some is projection, like what Walt did with Shannon. Some of the wathcers are right there in the jungle but cammoflaged. I'm not sure how to explain how the others watch. What led me to this conclusion. Answer, a wild goose chase. I was trying to figure out whether or not it ever really was said that "we missed a clue in the first few minutes of the pilot." I initially had thought all the same things that everyone else had. Then while re-watching I paused, and watched frame by frame. There is was, staring us in the face. In the first couple of minutes, we see Jack wake up and then run toward the beach. In those scense many of the faces of what I believe are the watchers can be seen. Ballcapguytx was gracious enough to make screencaps and post them on his site. I high reccomend wathcing yourself though. What I see is best described as if you are looking though one of those 2 way mirrors you see on TV when there's a criminal lineup in a police station. The people on the watching side are sort of reflected in the glass. This is what I see...Look at the screencaps Ballcap made and then please I encourage you to watch for yourself. Oh, I also believe that the Watchers account for the whispers in the audio (the hidden and the not too hidden) as well as have control over Smokie. Hope you find this interesting:
http://www.lost-repetitions.com/junglefaces/

(on the ABC boards Lostmommyof3)

bigmouth said...

Lostmommy: That's a most interesting link and theory! I tend to be skeptical of hidden images on the show -- at least until TPTB clue us in explicitly the way they have with, say, the hidden audio. That said, the notion of ghostly images following them around and possibly being the source of the whispers is an interesting one, esp. since we've seen at least one child (e.g., Walt) project astrally. Perhaps these images are less clearly defined than Walt's because they're less powerful? Anyway, that got me thinking -- what if part of the kids' power involves being able to control ghosts? Maybe channeling the energy of the Island really involves getting electromagnetic "spirits" to do your bidding...

Anonymous said...

I didn't read all the way through - but there is much significance to many of the character's names. For example, Jack SHEPHERD is said to be like Moses and as he is leading the survivors to the radio tower, you see two people carrying a bundle that in fact looks like the Arc of the Covenant. I am going to rewatch for other biblical references in other characters. Also - Juliet - her name makes me think of Romeo and Juliet - and Juliet fell in love with someone from the other side (Jack/Romeo) in a sense. I have a feeling one of them might die in the future - Jack is my best guess. And - I know this is said numerous times but when watching search for the color red - it always seems to be an alarm of something that might happen to the character the color is associated with. I cant remember which season this is - but there is an example of this red color thing - when Jack and Kate are playing golf and the tee is a bright red and points toward Kate. I dont wanna post spoilers from the finale - but it was amazing. Keep a lookout! :D