Thursday, February 07, 2008

Thoughts on Confirmed Dead...

Can Lost get any crazier? There may be television shows with better dialogue (e.g., the Wire) but none of them so consistently pushes the perceived creative limits of the medium like Lost. Non-linear story-telling using flashbacks? No way -- a tv audience will be confused. Flash forwards in addition to flashbacks? Negative -- the audience will abandon the show. How about time travel, ghosts, and seeing the future on top of this complex flashback/forward narrative structure? Danger! Plausibility overload! Suspension of disbelief failing! Yet the writers of Lost somehow pull it off with aplomb -- you almost always have the sense we're in hands that are secure.

I actually thought Confirmed Dead was even cooler than the season premier. I love episodes like this one and The Other 48 Days where we meet new characters. I'm also obviously a sucker for new mysteries, which provide fodder for speculation, the lifeblood of this blog. Confirmed Dead combined plenty of these two great tastes that taste great together by introducing us to Abbadon's motley crew -- the head case, the ghostbuster, the anthropologist, and the drunk. Given what we know, was Naomi really right that these are the wrong people for the job? I have a feeling Abbadon knows more than she -- or we -- do about the Island.

It's no coincidence that Miles is a ghostbuster -- he's probably there to bust Jacob's ghost. Daniel is a physicist who can presumably help them understand and exploit the Island's strange electromagnetic properties. Charlotte is an anthropologist who has studied the Dharma Initiative extensively -- perhaps she's there to be their guide. Frank may be a drunk, but he's every bit the talented pilot that Abbadon promised. Let's hope, however, that these other members of the A-Team are more competent than Naomi, who wasn't much of a commando for all her haughty talk. Here are some other thoughts and questions that I had regarding Confirmed Dead:

* The physicist Daniel noted that the light is "strange" and "doesn't scatter" on the Island, which could refer to H.G. Wells's sci-fi classic The Invisible Man. The titular character renders himself invisible by changing his refractive index so it is exactly the same as air, meaning he neither absorbs nor reflects light. Maybe Daniel is cluing us in that the Island's electromagnetism alters its refractive index in much the same way, creating a natural cloak of invisibility.

* Daniel shares his last name with fellow physicist and pioneer of electromagnetism Michael Faraday. Is this yet another clue that electromagnetism is the (pseudo) scientific explanation for most strange phenomena on the show? For example, Michael Faraday experimented extensively with the effects of magnetism on rays of light, which could explain the refractive invisibility cloak mentioned previously.

* Why do you suppose it's significant that Frank was supposed to be the pilot of Oceanic 815? Would the plane have landed safely if he were at the controls? Did he have a flash of the future that was negated by some change to the picture on the box?

* Is that why Daniel started crying when he saw footage of the wreckage on television? Was he supposed to be on the plane like Frank? If so, what changed the picture on the box?

* At least now we know why Naomi was so quick to accept the explanation for Locke stabbing her. In fact, she didn't accept it all, which makes a lot more sense to me.

* Interesting how the second Alternative Reality Game (i.e., Find815) was referenced on the show, avoiding the silly debates over canon that obsessed some during the Lost Experience. Sure looks to me like Sam was being played for a sucker in Find815. There's no way that's the real wreckage of the plane off Bali in the Sunda Trench.

* It looks like I fired my Ghostbusters reference a week too soon. To paraphrase the Rasmus, if there's something weird, in your Island wood, who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!

* Speaking of Ghostbusters, what was that Dirt Devil device that Miles turned on in the poltergeist's bedroom? My guess is it was just for show -- and to cover the noise of his dialogue with the ghost...

* Were all of those off-Island scenes flashbacks? Or did we see any hidden flash forwards in the mix? For example, do we know for sure that Charlotte's experience with the polar bear skeleton in Tunisia took place *before* she came to the Island? I have no specific reason for suspecting the latter but am curious if anyone noticed anything I didn't.

* I will say that the look of elation on Charlotte's face would suggest she's been trying to find the Island for some time.

* My whackadoo prediction for this week: some of these Freighter folks were born on the Island...

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

Long time lurker. Initial thoughts:

I think this episode will be a make or break one for some folks. I’m talking about the sci-fi supernatural element that was peppered all throughout this show. I for one am enjoying it…

The moment that Jack, Kate, and Sayid saw that helicopter, I just got this funny feeling that they’re gonna wound out doing something really bad to get off the island. I don’t know anything nor have I heard whispers, it was all in their expressions.

The four who landed on the island; what’s the connection between them? I’m with Naomi, those four didn’t make sense. In addition, who knew Naomi could have such a cold attitude? Why was Faraday wearing a suit? That would be the last thing I would wear when landing on a ‘remote’ tropical island. Why was he crying while looking at the news report? Didja get a sense of him being fragile?

The pilot who was supposed to fly Oceanic 815, a coincidence that he didn’t fly? I think not. If there’s anything, I’ve learned from this show, NOTHING is a coincidence.

Abbadon’s confrontation with Hurley last week at the mental ward. Since he sent those folks, wouldn’t he know if there were still folks left on the island? What did Naomi know to question if there were survivors and what did Abbadon know to insist that there wasn’t?

A polar bear in the desert with a Dharma neck collar? Yeah, right … simple explanation? I don’t think so …

Still don’t trust Juliet.

Again, all these people and the events that have happened in the past are NOT coincidences … Locke being conned out of a kidney by the man who triggered the murder of Sawyer’s parents. Sawyer meets and kills him years later, releasing his demons and helping Locke with the islanders. Oh yeah, the hole where Locke’s kidney used to be? It saved him when Ben shot him. As I said, there are no coincidences here.

Loving this show and definately looking forward to your recap.

Lolagrrl said...

Oh boy... So far, I LOVE the new season! Ok... here are my thoughts...

1) I think that the people from the helicopter (or at least some of them) think they were "supposed" to be on 815 and are trying to "get back to the island" (much like Jack at the end of season 3)

2) Of course, we all know that if they were supposed to be there, they would have been, meaning that they shouldn't be there at all!

3) The impact of why Locke HAD to lose that kidney hit me full on in the face! That was awesome!

4) Did anyone else get the sense that the survivors of 815 had kind of become the "others" and the others had kind of become the "natives?"

5) Speaking of "Others," I LOVE how Jack used the same lines that Tom had said to him in the clearing in season 2

6) Where was that picture of Ben taken????? It had to have been off the Island, right?

7) Locke didn't seem surprised when Hurley mentioned the cabin but Ben looked downright pissed! My question is why didn't he sense Hurley's connection to the Island before? He seemed to know Locke's connection but he had let Hurley go in season 3.

8) I think that Jack's returning to the island would have the same type of impact as the helicopter people arriving there. They aren't supposed to be there... and neither would Jack. Once you leave, you can ever come back.

9) When, o when are they going to have a "future" scene where Jack meets up w/Michael and Walt?!?!

10) Technically speaking, wouldn't Michael & Walt be part of the Oceanic 6?

Ok... that's all I got. Can't wait to hear your thoughts Bigmouth!

Jason said...

So is Michael the guy Ben has on the boat?

I'm guessing Abbadon lost contact with the people on the island thus the "Are they still alive" questioning.

Locke being shot in the kidney makes me think that maybe Cooper never actually took the kidney but was paid to "steal" his "sons" kidney by somebody who had seen a flash of Ben killing Locke by shooting him where he did. Oh Jacob, you card.

Good 2 episodes, hopefully the strike really is over and we can still get 14 more!

Anonymous said...

There was so much going on last night...almost too much to keep track of. In typical Lost fashion, something were answered with more questions.

One quick mention about the ending of the writer's strike; we'll only be getting 8 more episodes in addition to the 8 already filmed. Remember, 3 more seasons of 16 eps a piece...

Abbadon clearly lost touch with this mission between the events of the meeting we saw last night with Naomi and his visit with Hurley in the first episode. We won't know that full picture, or why he believes there were no survivors, for awhile, I guess.

Read from Doc Jensen that Ben's "man" on the boat could be Charlotte, and that Ben shooting her was already set up between Ben and her so people would not suspect they were in cahoots. Here's why I think that theory may be true.

Charlotte was interested to see the polar bear fossil and knew to look in the ground for the Dharma collar. Why? Could it be that she is/was working with the Dharma initiative, or maybe the Others? Maybe in the course of their experiments with animals, the Dharma Initiative experimented with time travel and sent some of those animals to different places in time. Let's say the polar bear was sent back in time, died, became a fossil, and Charlotte knew to go looking there for the polar bear to see if the animal actually had travelled in time. She is also overjoyed at what she found, and also when she first lands on the island. Perhaps she is so interested in what is going on with the Island that Ben was able to manipulate her to work with him, and be his mole, and he would reveal the secrets of the island, as he's promised to do a number of times?

Jason said...

Sorry, I guess I should have stated it a bit more clearly. I meant hopefully we get a total of 14 new episodes instead of the 6 we have left (equaling 16 episodes). Not 14 more on top of the 8 we are already for sure getting (equaling 22).

That Doc is a smart guy and the Charlotte theory seems to be more like the correct one seeing as Ben has been the chess master since we've seen him in season 2, and everything he does has an underlying purpose....A deep underlying purpose.

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

I suspect that Faraday was crying and lied when he told his wife he didn't know why because he is a company man and knew that Widmore would call him for the Island job.

Are the Tunisia bones really that fossilized? What if they'd just been in the desert for twenty years? About the same time the polar bear trade places with Yemi's Beechcraft, maybe refeuling or flying overhead. I think that The Hydra was testing climate control. They never got the bear back, but they got the plane.

3D said...

anonymous said...

Abbadon’s confrontation with Hurley last week at the mental ward. Since he sent those folks, wouldn’t he know if there were still folks left on the island? What did Naomi know to question if there were survivors and what did Abbadon know to insist that there wasn’t?

I think Abbadon was giving the party line that there are no survivors. I think he and Naomi both know there are survivors, but "we don't talk about that".

I thought it was a line designed to show us as the audience that the mission has nothing to do with the plane crash.

3D said...

lolagrrl said...Locke didn't seem surprised when Hurley mentioned the cabin but Ben looked downright pissed! My question is why didn't he sense Hurley's connection to the Island before? He seemed to know Locke's connection but he had let Hurley go in season 3.

I don't think Ben "sensed" Locke's connection to the Island. I think he figured it out because Locke had been in a wheelchair and now he can walk.

3D said...

One other thing Bigmouth. Nice post, but there is something you neglected to mention about the Not Penny's Boat crew. Three of the four were shown to have interest in the crash of 815, and two were shown to be openly engaging in conspiracy theory speculation. Frank even went so far as to (probably unknowingly) call the conspirators and inform them that he was onto them.

My point is, maybe this mission has a dual purpose; yes, on the surface they want to accomplish whatever it is they want to accomplish, but maybe there is the secondary purpose of stranding some whistleblowers on an invisible Island so they can't unravel the plot.

It seems like the only thing anyone on the crew has in common.

Lolagrrl said...

3D... Ok, maybe "sense" was the wrong word to use. I mean, we as viewers know Hurley's connection to the island (what with the numbers and all)but Ben didn't, which means that Jacob didn't tell him.

Also, I've seen a still shot of Christian Shepard in the cabin (when Hurley looked thru the window)... Anyone see who else he saw in there? I know there were more figures than Christian.

3D said...

Blogger Lolagrrl said...

3D... Ok, maybe "sense" was the wrong word to use. I mean, we as viewers know Hurley's connection to the island (what with the numbers and all)but Ben didn't, which means that Jacob didn't tell him.

I don't think Jacob tells Ben much of anything anymore. I don't think he told Ben about Locke either, Ben just figured it out because he had a detailed file on Locke saying he couldn't walk, and on the Island he is walking.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the flash forward speculation, I posted this on Doc Arzt site earlier this morning. I tend to agree with you ...

What if aside from Naomi's flasback the other four's flasbacks are not flash backs but flashforwards.

A poster in comments mentioned that the Christian ! found the plane wreck after Christmas this is indicated by Talbot's remark in the ARG.

When Naomi Landed on the island it would not have been Christmas yet by count of the days and the date of the crash. How could this be? The flasback show the plane already being found. I don't believe this is a continuity error.

In Naomi's flashback she mentions possibly running to survivors of 815. The scary dude says there are no survivors, however, the conversation between the two never mentions that the wreckage has been found.

The other four, on the other hand, all see the news about the wreck being found in various news outlets: newspaper, tv, radio,

The quirky dude gets very upset when he sees the news.

Charlotte seems to be reading it in many different papers as referenced by her conversation, when the other woman asks her, "How many langages do you have to read that in to believe it?" Charlotte replies, "Many." She then fins the polar bear with the DHAMA collar. She seems to recognize it, like she's seen it before. I think she has. I think it was a flashforward.

Frank calls the hotline to dispute that fact that the pilot found is who Oceanic says it is. Whan asked for a reason for his beliefs he says the pilot always wheres his wedding ring. The person on the other end says it probably fell off. To me that's a reasonible conclusion, however, Frank continues to argue. I think he knows because he has already been to the island and seen the truth.

Because Miles hears about the wreckage being found on the radio as he pulls up to the house where he ges the money and he is with the other three on the island at the same time, it is safe to come to the conclusion that if the other three are in a flash forward he is also.

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

During the news broadcast, it is mentioned that two months have passed since the crash. Lets say December 1st, just for the hell of it. Its not like Naomi was part of a "Go" team. People had to be hand-picked, contacted, etc. It would be easy enough to chopper them to the Christiana I while it was on its usual rounds. Just because the ship was near the Trench doesn't mean the four from the chopper were on board until later. I think Frank the pilot is kiind of like Inman, he just took a job, but this time because he had an interest in the outcome. I truly think Faraday was freaking out because he knew his expertise would be called upon. You work for Widmore and everything happens for a reason.

Bigmouth said...

Long-Time Lurker: I think you're right about this episode dividing folks, but the haters can't complain they weren't warned. There have been hints the Island is haunted since Jack's dead daddy led him to the caves way back in Season 1. As for the A(bbadon)-Team, see my post above -- I have a feeling these individuals were selected for a reason. Perhaps more experienced military teams (e.g., Kelvin and Mikhail?) have tried in the past and failed?

Finally, I share your sense that Fate -- what Roland Deschain would call Ka -- explains many mysteries of the show. One example, as you note, may be Locke's lost kidney. Others include his survival of a fall and a plane crash, both of which should have killed him. But we should also recall Mr. Eko's admonishment not to confuse coincidence with fate. Sometimes, what looks like fate is really the accumulation of many small coincidences that culminate in an outcome so improbable it seems impossible, even where no higher order is at work.

Humanity itself may be such an improbable occurrence -- what Dr. Manhattan calls the "thermodynamic miracle." Is that why we're doomed to extinction? Is the universe course correcting? Or did Hanso and Co. make it happen by believing it to be true? These strike me as questions that are quintessentially Lost...

Lolagrrl: I really like your suggestion that the chopper folks are all supposed to be on the Island. Could their participation in the mission be part of some cosmic course correction? Maybe Ms. Hawking and her temporal police Abbadon's real employers. I, too, was stunned by the realization that Locke lost his kidney in the past to fulfill his Fate in the future! It reminds me of Dan Simmons' description of the legendary Achilles as a freak of quantum probability, invulnerable because the time of his death has been set and cannot be altered. Is that why Jack couldn't commit suicide? How many times has he tried?

I also dig your point about how our Losties seem to be taking on the role of the Others. I, too, was struck by the analogy to Bearded Tom in the Hunting Party -- I kept hoping Jack would yell "light 'em up!" I have a feeling this, too, is more than coincidence. Events are repeating themselves on the Island, which is like a psychic recorder. In fact, I think the same basic conflict we're witnessing has been replayed again and again on the Island, but with different players each time. In that regard, I actually disagree re Jack returning to the Island -- I believe it has to happen. He and Kate will become the new Adam and Ever...

Jason: It's certainly possible some conspiracy explains the coincidence of Locke losing his kidney -- same thing with Richard Malkin and Claire. The conspiracy possibility seems even more plausible with the appearance of shadowy figures like Ms. Hawking and Abbadon. The thing about Fate, though, is that it requires no grand and elaborate conspiracies. Locke can conceivably lose his kidney just because it's necessary to fulfill some future destiny, which is either cool or frustrating, depending on your preferences.

I hope you're right that the end of the writers' strike means we'll be getting the remaining 8 episodes from Season 4 in a timely fashion. My fear, however, is that so much time has been lost, the schedule will be pushed back like it was with the Sopranos. I suppose I'd rather they do that than rush the back 8 that haven't already been made. Still, David Chase squandered a lot of good will dragging things out the way he did, which may explain some of the backlash to the (in)famous black screen finale.

Anonymous: It's tough to tell what Abbadon meant by his question to Hurley. Is he referring to other survivors of Oceanic 815? Other members of the A-Team? The Others/Hostiles? I agree it's probably the first, but so many possibilities remain. BTW, I absolutely *love* Doc Jensen's suggestion -- and your reasoning -- why Charlotte is the mole! I completely buy the speculation that Ben exploited Charlotte's interest in the Island to recruit her and that they worked out the vest show in advance. Not sure about the time traveling polar bear, though that would fit with the two bunnies in the Orchid Orientation.

Wayne: I think you've hit the nail on the head with your speculation that Daniel was crying because of his connection to Widmore. Dan may even be how Widmore found out about Desmond's conversation with Donovan. I wonder if Widmore agreed to fund Daniel's research in return for the info -- and with the expectation that Dan would be a part of the team sent to the Island. Maybe Dan realized that the events foretold by Desmond were starting to come true, and that it was time to pay the piper...

Like you, I'm skeptical the polar bear bones in Tunisia were a time travel phenomenon. I wonder if animals and objects were smuggled off the Island during Dharma...

3D: Good point re Abbadon and the party line. I'm with you that rescuing the survivors of Oceanic 815 is low on the the Freighter folks' list of priorities. Keep in mind, however, that the very existence of such a party line implies that Abbadon, too, knows there may be survivors. I think you're right that Ben doesn't have any intrinsic ability to sense people with talents like his own -- that's more Richard's specialty. I also think you may be onto something about the mission being, in part, to dispose of inconvenient people. Was Abbadon referring to other members of the A-Team with his question to Hurley?

Anonymous: Brilliant reasoning with the flash forwards! Upon further review, I agree that this only works if *all* of the freighter folks' flashbacks are actually flash forwards -- into the very immediate future. That strikes me as less likely, but still quite possible, especially if we posit some kind of MKULTRA brainwashing. What if the freighter folks did their mission and were brainwashed when they returned? Perhaps their weird reactions to the news of the recovery of Oceanic 815 with everyone confirmed dead is actually the result of some residual memory of encountering survivors. Like I said, it's less plausible but certainly possible...

Anonymous said...

Hello everyone. Let me try this one. Why was Miles so upset with finding a native? Could Miles (not an asian name) have a beef with Ben? Could he be related (son?) of the Asian man in all of the orientation films and who might have died in the purge (who never has an asian name either)?

Bigmouth said...

One other point re the Christmas time discrepancy. My belief has long been that the Island is "out of time" like in the Langoliers. I pegged the differential at seconds or minutes, but the events of Confirmed Dead point to a longer discrepancy of days or weeks.

Anonymous: I suggest above that the Freighter Folks may have been born on the Island. But the possibility that Miles might be Dr. Candle's son frankly didn't even occur to me -- good thinking! It sure seems like the chopper folks knew about the Purge and were prepared with gas masks and hazmat suits.

Anonymous said...

Anyone else notice what Charlotte's full name was...Charlotte Staples Lewis...C.S. Lewis..what's the correlation, if any? If I am right, and I haven't done my research, I believe a lot of her education came from the same places that Clive Staples Lewis obtained his? Am I wrong?

Bigmouth said...

Anonymous: Brilliant catch re CS Lewis! And yes, CS Lewis was a professor at Oxford, where Charlotte Lewis was supposedly educated.

Anonymous said...

Another possibility about the C.S. Lewis connection, via the Narnia series, particularly "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe"..traveling to different dimensions and times via doorways, such as the vile vortices that have been theorized in some posts I have read. Just thinking..

Bigmouth said...

Anonymous: Another great catch re portals to alternate worlds and dimensions. I note, as well, that time passes differently in Narnia than it does in the real world. Could this be a clue to some time discrepancy with between the Island and real world?

Sdub said...

During the newscast of the 815 wreckage, there's a stock ticker at the bottom of the screen... the values correspond exactly with the closing stock market prices on Jan 13, 2006... The writers wouldn't have "accidentally" done this. I think it's clear that there's some time shifting going on, unless the flashbacks are indeed flashforwards.

Come to think of it, the only reason to think the flashes are in the past is b/c they know about the 815 wreckage. If the wreckage is a Widmore fake, and this team works for Widmore, it's reasonable assume they'd know about Widmore's future plans.

Perhaps Daniel is remembering his bad experiences on Lostie Island when he sees the newscast.

Perhaps Frank is angry about his Lost Island experience, and his call to Oceanic is an attempt to blow the whistle on what he knows is a fake.

I'd guess that the ONLY flashbacks are of Naomi talking to Abaddon and the chopper just before they bailed out. The rest are flashforwards.

A mix of flashback and flashforward in the same episode? This COULD get confusing!

Lolagrrl said...

Sdub... Wow... How the hell did you figure out what date the stock prices matched with? Did it show a date on the screen?

The only thing that makes me wonder if those were flash-forwards is what you said yourself... they already knew about the wreckage. Naomi said it herself when they first found her.

However, knowing what we know now, I wonder why she said it so unbelievingly. I mean, she knew she might find survivors, so why sound so incredulous when they tell her they are the survivors?

Gah! Is it Thursday yet?!?! =)

sdub said...

I went back and watched the first few minutes of the episode again, and I'm incorrect... the stock ticker was shown during the Find815 ARG and again during the Oceanic commercial that followed the premier.

Assuming that those are part of the Lost canon, I think information found during the ARG is fair play.

For the record, I didn't discover the connection to the stock market date... it was the army of Internet nerds. They can find anything.

Link to Find815 ARG blog

Bigmouth said...

sdub: Oh, great catch to you and everyone else who spotted the stock ticker thing! It could indeed be a clue, though the more likely possibility would be easter egg of some kind. I googled the January 13, 2006 but came back with nothing obvious. Perhaps the date is of some significance to the writers?

lolagrrl: Ah, great point about Naomi knowing about the wreckage! That would seem to cast doubt on this flash forward speculation. I'm sure TPTB will clarify this at some point...

DJ said...

This could be completely invalid given the Island's ability to heal stuff, but Frank got a pretty damn nasty cut on his forehead... the one Juliet was treating. In the flashback, however, there was nothing there. I'm going to assume, for now, that those were flashbacks.

Of all four of them, I am most curious about Dan's. I'd really like to know why he was so upset. I'd also like to know who his wife is, because she wasn't obscured from view unintentionally.

While this episode didn't necessarily throw out my entire understanding (or what I think is understanding) of the show thus far, it introduced enough new variables that my head is now spinning out of control...

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

I'll stand by my thoughts on Faraday knowing he'd be called to make the trip because he is a "company man," but dj got me thinking that, yea, we weren't shown the wife's face. This episode was incredible in that we get so many fresh questions and directions and a few possible answers (the Beechcraft/polar bear trade) at the same time.

Genger said...

I just noticed while watching the 'enhanced' version of Confirmed Dead last night, that when Miles was doing his "Ghostbusters" routine, there was a poster on the wall with the words "Battle Royale". I'm not sure if you've heard of the film "Battle Royale", but it's a Japanese film (http://imdb.com/title/tt0266308/) about ninth grade students shipped off to an island where they have to fight each other for their survival. A nifty little easter egg, I thought.

Also, I got to thinking that maybe that wasn't Ben at the end of the episode last night. Instead, it could've possibly been his 'bad twin'? Maybe the freighter four are supposed to be after this assassinating, bad Ben, but have somehow been tricked into thinking he's Island-Ben.

Just my thoughts.

Anonymous said...

This may sound stupid, but while watching this episode again last night, I found myself wondering why chopper pilot Jeff Fahey was so injured (cut on his head, leg injury) when he landed the chopper so cleanly...did I miss something here? How did he get hurt?