Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Christian Resurrection...

The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that Christian Shepherd absolutely, positively has to be alive. Okay, maybe not "absolutely, positively," but I'm pretty sure and here's why. We know from the newspaper that the events of the flash forward take place in 2007. If this were the same reality they left, that would make three years since Jack accused his father of malpractice, prompting the latter to flee to Australia, where he died. At a minimum, therefore, the "new chief of surgery" couldn't be replacing Christian in that position, which would have been filled shortly after the latter vacated his post in 2004.

Some skeptics argue that Jack's reference to his father being "upstairs" was the ranting of an addict. As messed up as Jack seemed to be, he didn't strike me as so out of his mind that he'd forget his father was dead. Others apparently felt the same way -- Jack hadn't been stripped of his access to the hospital or his medical license so far as we're aware. Indeed, the new chief of surgery felt compelled to use exhaustion from the accident as an excuse to deny Jack's demand to operate. If Jack had been stripped of his operating privileges, the chief would have said so, end of story.

What cements it for me, however, is Jack's encounter at the pharmacy. Let's recall what happens, keeping in mind that Christian would have been dead for three years at this point. Jack has a dispute with the pharmacist, who refuses to fill his prescription after checking it on the computer against some kind of electronic database. Jack then presents her with Christian's scrip, which she says she'll have to verify by phone with Christian's office. But even if she hadn't telephoned -- and this is key -- she still would have checked the prescription against the same electronic database that she did with the first. And that database almost certainly would show if Christian were three years dead. Ergo, the Christian resurrection!


Anonymous said...

I'm open to either possibility: altered reality or non-altered reality.

But one thing that stands in the way of the Christian resurrection is that Lindelof and Cuse, in a podcast, definitely stated that Jack's dad was dead and not coming back. It was said in the same tone they've used to dismiss the purgatory theme.

Someone needs to track that down and verify it. Because if that's the case, they'd be breaking their word by bringing him back. It could be that, just as in recent episodes they meta-commented on the purgatory theme (with naomi's comments to the effect of "you're all dead" etc.), they were teasing the audience into thinking Jack's dad is alive out of playfulness and to keep us guessing.

-- Aaron

Anonymous said...

I agree that Christian has to be alive.

After three years, with a trip to the island in between, how exactly would Jack come across his father's prescription pad? It's not likely something he would hold on to.

Also, (assuming the writers have done their "real world" research) a DEA registration has to be renewed every 2 or 3 years. If Christian was dead, his registration would have expired & the script would never have been filled in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Okay, found what I was looking for. On the one hand, Lindelof said in a Lost podcast from April, according to a summary, "For the (last) time, Christian Shepherd is DEAD."

On the other hand, when Doc Jensen recently asked Lindelof if we should be wondering what happened to Jack's dad's body, which was never found, Lindelof replied, "Yes, you should be wondering about that."

So the question is how to resolve these seemingly conflicting clues.

Perhaps we should be wondering about what happened to the body, because dead bodies have a tendency to be inhabited by the smoke monster.

Or maybe at some point Shepherd is reincarnated or turns out to be alive in the alternate reality to which Jack returns. I suppose in that case the writers could get by on a technicality, ie, "Yes we said he was dead, but we never said he couldn't be resurrected."

-- Aaron

lux said...

heya there,

as someone's who has up until recently avoided the net side of LOST, i'm loving reading back through all your blogs.

just wondering, would you care to comment on the possible significance of Christian Shepherd? my understanding is that beyond being the father of Jack and Claire, he seems to have spent some time on the island in the past, perhaps as part of the Dharma Initiative?

another question raised by the finale: what has happened to Christian in the 2007 alter-reality for him to have recently vacated the Chief of Surgery post.


Mike said...

the producers have said he's dead. get over it. he wasn't in the coffin because the smoke monster picked up his body. now i'm betting they'll show jack find his body sometime in season 4 just to prove he is once and for all dead.

Synchromystic Librarian said...

"dead" is a relative existence in the Lost world

Adam said...

Your articles are always excellent Bigmouth. Thank you for sharing them with us and keep up the great work!

Here's 3 Maybes for ya:

Maybe the smoke monster is somehow the 'infection' that affects the island's inhabitants?

Maybe Naomi's 'rescue' team somehow brought the smoke monster back to the real world?

Maybe the reason Ben wants no one to leave is because he's trying to stop the monster from escaping into the real world? (Think of the chaos and damage it could cause if it went uncharted)

Bigmouth said...

Aaron: Oh, they've repeatedly said that Christian Shepherd is dead. And he definitely is -- the man we know from flashbacks, who fathered our Jack Shepherd, died in Australia. But that doesn't mean there isn't also a second Christian Shepherd alive somewhere else in the spacetime continuum...

That's why the alternate reality speculation so plausible -- not to mention a tad annoying -- to me. It renders comments like "Christian is dead" as literally true but misleading...

Anonymous: That's a great point re the prescription pad and the DEA registration! None of this is dispositive, but I personally will feel more than a little misled if they turn around now and say it was just Jack being drunk...

Aaron: I think the comment about Christian's body was supposed to recall the apparition who wordlessly (Jacob?) led Jack to the caves in White Rabbit.

Lux: Yes, Christian does seem to be connected with a number of our Losties, including Claire and AL. I used to think it was a foregone conclusion that Christian was connected somehow with Dharma. Now, however, I wonder if it was Christian's TLE twin who was involved with the Initiative. As for why he vacated his post, your guess is as good as mine. Any ideas?

Mike: LOL -- I don't disagree! Again, that's the beauty of alternate realities and mirror twins...

SM: Well said!

Adam: I, too, have wondered if Smokey is some kind of infection -- check out Smokey Is a Symbiote:

Smokey escaping with the rescue party strikes me as a most interesting possibility. But I personally don't get the sense that Smokey is trying to escape the Island, so much as it is trying to protect it. The questions is, from what...Dharma?

Ben not wanting the Smoke monster to escape is another interesting speculation.'re making me reconsider my assumptions on the fly. What if Ben knows that everyone infected by Smokey remains connected with the Island?

Merrylegs said...

I have to agree with Bigmouth on this. The fact that the producers stated that Christian is dead in past podcasts, is the same fact that sends up a red flag to the viewer that the world that the rescued Jack returns to is not the one he left. Why wouldn't the other doctor (don't remember his name) point out to Jack that his father wasn't upstairs but was dead? He had no problem pointing out to Jack that his current physical state made him unfit to operate; nor did he have any problem confronting Jack about what happened on the bridge the night of the accident. My gut feeling is that if that doctor knew Christian Shepherd to be dead, he would have said so right there. Instead, he made no argument to Jack when the latter made the statement about his state of inebriation in relation to his father's. And Kate's physical appearance was markedly different, not just the lack of freckles. Not only that, but she clearly was no longer on the run. If this was the same U.S that she had left, her name and face and pseudonyms would have been all over the place and she would have been taken in custody the moment she returned, if not before. I believe that these are clues the writers/producers have given us to let us know we're still not back in Kansas.

Garry Shuck said...

After watching the episode through a second time, I am inclined to agree--I think Christian is alive in whatever reality we are seeing in Jack's flashforward. The piece of dialogue that does it for me is the "if he's more drunk than I am" bit--it would be one thing for Jack to try to pass off a dead man's scripts at a pharmacy, but another entirely to reference him so directly at his own hospital, where he and his father are known persons.

It's possible that all the ambiguous phrasing was used as a way to cover the flash-forward, and make it look like a flashback until the reveal, but I don't think so.

Bigmouth said...

Merry and Gary: I quite agree -- good reasoning! I especially like the way you both focus on Jack's exchange with the new Chief of Surgery. I was speaking elsewhere with a former pharmacist who tells me that a pharmacy database would be unlikely to show whether Christian was living or dead.

On a related note, it occurs to me that Christian being alive may explain why THF will let Jack live. Because Christian never died, Jack wasn't on Oceanic 815. Something similar may explain why Kate is still alive. In this timeline, no Marshall Mars captured her in Australia.

pocket said...

i love your theory! it also comes closest to explaining how Stephen King's The Dark Tower books influence Lost. There are some glaring tribute-type hints - Jack, the drug addicted rock star, the wheelchair etc. But nothing really glaring. Your alternate realities theory brings it all together.

also, while a precription database might not show if a doctor was deceased, wouldn't it show whether he was still licensed? I'm assuming that CS would have had some sort of formal administrative suspension in place at the time of his death.

justjared said...

The problem with the cheif of surgery conversation is that we don't know how long Jack has been back at the hospital. It may seem unlikely but that could have been the first time Jack was face to face with the man who replaced his father a few years back when he died.

SorryGoFish said...

Jack and Kate have "golden passes" from Oceanic. They were on the flight in this reality.

It's also possible that Kate was tried and served a light sentence. The flashforward was from 2007. At least 3 years after they got rescued.

Merrylegs said...

Has anyone seen the film "Lost Horizon" (1937)? A caller to the Lost Podcast with Jay and Jack mentioned it. The plot description showed a lot of parallels with Lost. The hero is a medical dr. who manages to leave the mysterious place (? shangri-la?) and then tries to get back. I may check it out myself, but was interested to see if Bigmouth or anyone who reads the blog might be familiar with it.

Anonymous said...

To pocket:
Your DEA # is what allows a doctor to write scripts for controlled substances (i.e. painkillers), pharmacies to sell them, etc... If the license expires than the prescription can't be filled. It has to be renewed every 2 or 3 years.

Bigmouth said...

pocket: A number of posters have mentioned Dark Tower parallels, though I confess I was dismissive and forgot the inter-dimensional aspect. But you're absolutely right -- the notion of different worlds or realities bleeding together is definitely what this theory's about. Also, I'd never actually considered the parallels between the characters in both works -- good call!

Jared: Point well taken, though I personally got the sense Jack had been back at the hospital for a while. It's not like other people treated him like he had just returned...

SorryGoFish: Good point, though I could see Oceanic doing that solely on the strength of Jack and Kate's claim that they were on the flight and found with survivors. I mean, could you seriously see Oceanic saying: "Sorry, you're not on the manifest..."? Interesting theory re Kate, but I'm not buying it. She has the blood of two men on her hands...

Merry: I haven't seen it but am going to make a point of doing so after reading the wiki. I agree -- the parallels are striking! I especially like the part about him leaving then wanting to return...

Anonymous: Thanks again for the info. Do you happen to know if pharmacies confirm the DEA number when filling the prescription?

Anonymous said...

In the real world, pharmacies do confirm the DEA number when entering the prescription into their system and with any refills (it's not just about verifying an addict isn't abusing the system but there are various marketing reasons as well). Also depending on the pharmacy's internal guidelines, there are various other system catches relating to controlled substances to verify addicts aren't acting illegally in obtaining drugs.

Bigmouth said...

Anonymous: Excellent! That would seem dispositive. May I inquire how you come by this information? Also, do you know how recent a phenomenon this is? Regardless, thanks again for the info!

MikeNY said...

Generally speaking, I think the show is much more interesting when you take dialog at face value (except for Ben, who is articulate like no other (other)).

If there is a twist (and there is one), it makes the show that much better in the last episode if almost no lies were told.

I'm sure we'll all be re-watching the entire series in a long head-smacking session in 3 years.

I can't wait.


cool_freeze said...

I look forward to that head smacking as well mikeny....I REALLY DOO!

You know it is all right there and we are analyzing and overanalyzing like crazy....



Jay said...

Great catch!

I don't know what to think from the producers comments since they seem to contradict each other.

My gut feeling is that he's alive and that he faked his own death when he realized Jack was on his trail (I also think he was the one who paid Richard Malkin to keep Claire from giving up his grandson for adoption).

But Jack's flash forward almost has to be a possible future - one that can be changed, especially if Desmond has one of his flashes and is able to change the sequence of events that leads up to it.

Great site! Can't wait to read through all of it!


Anonymous said...

In response to Jay, you know I hadn't thought of that, that the Jack's flash-forward was a "what-if." That's possible.

I'm thinking more and more that Christian is not alive, which runs against the grain on this thread.

There's been a lot of hair-splitting with the scene in the pharmacy about how records are kept etc. First of all, pharmacies are not Fort Knox. I'm sure plenty of people interested in obtaining drugs scam them with fraudulent prescriptions all the time.

But the whole issue of the pharmacy's computer records is moot. I went back and looked at the scene and, unless I'm missing something, this is what happened:

Jack is told he doesn't have any more refills on a particular prescription for Oxycontin. There's no mention of where he got it, so there's no reason to think it's his father's.

Only once he's denied does he try to pass off the one he took from his dad, whole books of which he could have easily snagged from his father's office when sorting through his possessions post-mortem.

And then when she calls his bluff, he backs off and says his dad's out of town, which is precisely the sort of lie he'd tell in the event his father was dead.

So in my mind the pharmacy scene is out. All we're left with is the one where he tells the doctor to go up and see if his dad is drunker than he is. Either Christian is alive or Jack is a raving lunatic at that point. Unresolved.

I just have a hard time seeing how the producers could make a parallel dimension plot work. Did the people who presumably bought Jack and Kate and whoever else off the island wind up in the same parallel universe?

How do Ethan and Richard and Mittelos and those perpetuating Dharma always go to and from the same external reality? Perhaps they travel through a special worm hole. But what about the food drops? What reality do the people making those come from?

I'm not saying parallel dimenions aren't the explanation, I'm just skeptical.

Also, last point, some people have mentioned Kate's lack of freckles in the finale as evidence of a parallel dimension. I think the difference in appearance was simply that Kate the character was wearing make-up.

-- Aaron

Anonymous said...

This thread has taken on such a life of its own that I neglected to reread Bigmouth's original post, which breaks down the pharmacy scene, before typing up my latest comment.

But I think the point Bigmouth makes there is wrong, despite the mad props I give him for this site and his theories.

After telling Jack he was out of refills, the pharmacist took his dad's scrip, looked at the name and rejected it, thinking Jack was trying to write himself a prescription. When he said it was his father's, she said she'd have to call his office, at which point he bailed.

The key point is that, even though the pharmacist could have checked the database for Christian's status, she didn't. So the point is moot.

And again, I think we're giving too much credit to the Walgreens of the world. I doubt the database would have said "Christian Shephard: deceased" anyway. At most it just wouldn't have his name or say his scrips were no longer being accepted.

Not trying to be a hater here, hopefully just pushing Bigmouth to greater heights of excellence.

-- Aaron

Bigmouth said...

Mike: That's a great point about taking dialogue at face value -- I quite agree. I think the writers know that, on a show as complex as Lost, you can quickly get into trouble if you misdirect too much.

CF: I know what you mean! You might even say it's a sickness...

Jay: Christian paid off Malkin? That makes total sense -- I freakin' love it! I do, however, have to admit that I'll be disappointed if Christian faked his own death. While certainly plausible, I personally prefer altered timelines and mirror realities. I'll be very disappointed if Desmond's time travel doesn't fit somehow into the larger show (i.e., beyond Charlie's death). By contrast, I'd be very happy with your scenario of Jack wanting to change the future he's experienced since leaving the Island. Are you a fan of Heroes at all? Reminds me of the episode Five Years Gone, which I really enjoyed.

Aaron: LOL! Your points are all well taken, but let me clarify my claim about the pharmacy. Jack presents his father's prescription with full knowledge that the pharmacist is going to check it on the computer. He knows this because that's precisely what she did with his initial prescription. Accordingly, it makes a big difference if a pharmacy's database includes the DEA status of the prescribing doctor. Stated another way, Jack was confident that nothing short of a phone call would reveal his lie. That could be because Christian was dead and he knew the pharmacy database wouldn't contain the aforementioned DEA info. But it could also be because Jack had forged a prescription from his father, who was very much alive and well.

Truthfully, I'm torn on the alternate reality thing myself, which is partly why some long-promised revisions to theories like the Mind of Magnus are taking so long. In fact, I'll be posting something today or tomorrow that explores this dilemma in greater detail. I did, however, want to comment on food question, which I've actually wondered about myself. I find it interesting that the ONLY non-Dharma foodstuff is Apollo bars, which many equate with the alternate (i.e., TLE) reality. I'm not sure precisely what to make of it, but it symbolizes for me the notion of Dharma as an inter-dimensional partnership. You'll see what I mean shortly...

As for Kate's freckles, after some reflection, I agree -- that was our Kate.

Anonymous said...

I once upon a time worked in pharmaceuticals that's how I know the DEA information.

There is several reasons I think Christian is alive & it's an alternate universe:

1) When Christian was charged with malpractice and then lied about it, that would have been enough for him to lose his license.
2) If he then died, if the license hadn't been revoked it would have been at this point.
3) If for some reason after all those things happened and the license it was still active, it most certainly would have been revoked when the renewal fees weren't paid.

If, this were the "real" world, the only way the license would still be active would be for one of those things not to have happened.

Bigmouth said...

Aaron: I just realized that my response basically rehashed my post word for word. Maybe we're splitting hairs, but I still feel like it's significant that Jack gave her the scrip knowing she would at least check it on the computer.

I also think it's interesting that Jack knew his father was alive (or dead) in the pharmacy. He certainly seemed more messed up at that point than when he confronted the new Chief of Surgery in the hospital.

Anonymous: Many thanks for the information!

capcom said...

Fascinating dialog everyone! I have trouble reconciling this point: did Jack blow off the pharmacist checking with Christian because CS was dead, or because CS was alive and would tell the drugstore that he did not write the scrip for Jack? To me it could go both ways, and the fact that Jack left before the check, doesn't necessarily point to being because CS is dead. I wish it did for my poor brain's benefit, but it really doesn't.