REAL GONE DADDY For all his fancy jabbering, the Doc overlooked one simple contradiction about Miles' communication skills
...AND SOME LIKE IT ''HOTH,'' NINE DAYS OLD!
Obi-Wan: ''So what I told you was true...from a certain point of view.''
Luke: '''A certain point of view?!'''
Every Thursday night for the past several months, I've been meeting with a group of about 15 people in Long Beach, Calif., just to shoot the breeze about the latest developments in pop culture. Everything from Octomom to Susan Boyle, The Amazing Race to Supernatural, Watchmen to the films of James Toback, U2 to Paul Simon. Lately, I've been exposing these wonderful people to The Prisoner, which none of them has ever seen. (Incredible!) We represent a variety of interests and opinions, but we have a few things in common. For one thing, we all go to the same church. And we also all love Lost...except for two poor souls who sit there every week with ''What the hell are they talking about?'' looks on their faces as they endure an inevitable 20- to 30-minute processing session about the previous night's episode. Now I know what I must look like when people hold me hostage with conversation about Gossip Girl.
Anyway, last week, I had just got done rehashing for the group my pseudo-scholarly analysis of ''Some Like It Hoth,'' complete with connections to Nassim Nicholas Taleb's The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, when a bright young woman made the following observation: ''You know what I loved about the episode? I loved the great irony of a guy who has this amazing ability to talk to the dead, who's downright comfortable talking with the dead — and yet he's totally uncomfortable if not incapable of speaking with the living, including his own long-lost father who he's just now found!'' In the interior space of my mind, where the personification of my consciousness sits in a recliner and processes the experiences of my life while stealing glances at the ESPN news ticker for Seattle Mariners scores, Inner Me slapped Outer Me upside the head and yelled: ''You stupid pretentious twit! How come you can't come up with brilliance like that!? You and your 'Black Swan' bulls---, I swear...''
All of this is to say, I thought the observation was a pretty perfect way to sum up last week's episode. Perhaps my long-winded take on the show in my recap of ''Some Like It Hoth'' was correct or valuable from a certain(ly nutty) point of view, but if I should ever have occasion to again express an opinion on the episode, I'm TOTALLY stealing her line.
WHICH REMINDS ME...
Regarding the whole business of Lost characters communicating with (presumed) dead fathers via supernatural means: There was a connection I was meaning to make in last week's ''Hoth'' recap that, in my sleepy haze, I forgot to include. Remember waaay back in ''A Tale of Two Cities,'' the premiere episode of season 3, when Jack was being held hostage on the Hydra station, and we were seeing that flashback to the time when he became certain his father was having an affair with his ex-wife, and there was that mysterious bit of business when Hydra Jack heard Christian Shephard's voice crackling through the broken intercom? ''Let it go, Jack...'' the voice said. I've never forgotten that cryptic moment, and it has always stood as one more bit of proof that there exists on the Island the likely possibility that thought and consciousness can interact and maybe even manipulate the environment.
Anyway, what does that moment have to do with ''Hoth,'' in which a psychic character is challenged to let go of his daddy issues and move into a brighter, lighter phase of his life?
Oh, probably nothing.
COINCIDENCE OR CLUE?
The significance (or lack thereof) of Miles' T-shirt
Last week in my recap, I noted the shark on Miles Straume's T-shirt. But an astute and fashion-savvy reader named Eric Knopp informed me that if only Miles had removed his jacket, we would have seen that there was a whole lot more going on — that the T-shirt, in fact, depicts a shark fighting a bear. Most likely, the T-shirt in an Ames Bros piece (click to see it in full). Investigating Miles' conspicuous apparel led me to one of those great discoveries that Doc Jensen was created for.
As usual, I began with Wikipedia. Inputting the words ''shark versus bear,'' got...nothing. But I did get a suggestion to investigate an entry for ''Bear vs. Shark.'' (Semantics!) This led to a page devoted to a ''post hardcore'' rock band named Bear vs. Shark. A quick scan of their discography didn't reveal any clear-cut Lost links, but I noticed that the band hails from Michigan — and the off-Island HQ for the Dharma Initiative is located in Ann Arbor, Mich. Okay, for certain, that's a total stretch, even by my standards. I was about to give up when I noticed that Bear vs. Shark used to go by another name: Dr. Acula.
Now, ''Dr. Acula'' is an anagram of Dracula. (Lost traffics in anagrams all the time, like the ''Rainier-Canton''/''reincarnation'' anagram from earlier this season.) ''Dr. Acula'' is also a recurring joke on Scrubs concerning a screenplay written by Zach Braff's character. (Last week on Lost, we saw Hurley writing a screenplay for his own version of The Empire Strikes Back. And Zach Braff is a noted Lost fan and serious music aficionado.) (You rolled your eyes, didn't you?)
But the major revelation came in learning that ''Dr. Acula'' is the name of a character in Night of the Ghouls, a long-lost Ed Wood horror flick from 1959 that was discovered back in 1987. Wanna know what Night of the Ghouls is all about? From the Wikipedia entry on the film:
''The plot revolves around a confidence trickster, Dr. Acula (played by Kenne Duncan), who pretends to be able to contact the dead, and charges people large amounts of money to speak to their relatives. The ending involves Acula inadvertently summoning a group of real ghosts, and being imprisoned for all eternity.''
Amazing, is it not? The links are uncanny! No, Miles isn't a fraud — but he does leverage his talks-with-dead-people ability to exploit grieving people for mucho cash. Will Miles' powers backfire on Dead Men Walking Island? Will he cause a quantum catastrophe that reboots time, creating a new history that brings dead people back to life? Will he pay for this time crime by becoming a spectral ''unperson,'' flickering between life and death like a certain cabin-dwelling spirit much talked about on the show but only fleetingly seen? Or...or...(gulp) is the much-joked-about zombie season of Lost actually not a joke at all?!??!
Trust me: You're going to miss this in three weeks.
CORRECTIONS, CLARIFICATIONS, AND DEFIANT UNWILLINGNESS TO CHANGE!
''In your recap of 'Some Like It Hoth,' you wrote: 'Miles tried but couldn't finish the job because he was interrupted by Horace Goodspeed, who brought him into ''the circle of trust'' and charged him with his second black op: delivering ''a package'' to Sector 344.' Did I hear this wrong? I would swear that the destination was 334, because I took it to be a nod to the novel 334 by (the lamentably departed) Thomas M. Disch.'' —Edward A. Hall
Edward, you are correct. And I love the idea that Lost may have been linking to Disch. I'm not super-familiar with 334, but the book Echo Round His Bones suggests some interesting possibilities, especially in light of this recent Miles episode.
Reader Mike Beerman noted an error in my ''Dead Is Dead'' recap from two weeks ago: ''You mentioned it was a revelation that Jacob was known to the Others (at least to Widmore and Alpert) in 1977. But the episode 'Jughead' demonstrated that Richard Alpert was aware of Jacob in the 1950s. In fact, the only thing that seemed to dissuade Alpert from allowing Widmore to kill Locke was the fact that Locke knew of Jacob.'' Other readers busted me for insisting that Battered Ben was sporting the arm-sling when he called Jack from the marina in ''316.'' That, too, was incorrect. Oops!
However, I will not apologize for saying that ''Locke ain't a killer'' in my ''Dead Is Dead'' recap. Several of you tried to rebut by citing the moment at the end of season 3 when Locke threw a knife into Naomi's back. Nitpickers! I say all that Locke was really trying to do was stop Naomi from making the call to the Freighter. He may have even had a reasonable expectation that she would have survived his attack. (See: Locke's legs.) Bottom line: Locke was motivated by urgency and panic and his own inability to do anything different than throw a knife to achieve his ambition; remember, at the time, he was recovering from being shot by Ben. He needed to save the Island and protect his friends and did so the only way he could in the moment. So there!
PRELIMINARY THOUGHTS: ''THE VARIABLE''
The ''Outcome X'' Theory of Changing the Inevitable
Rumor has it that next week's episode, ''The Variable,'' represents a bookend to last year's classic and similarly high science-titled outing, ''The Constant,'' which gave us time-travel guru Daniel Faraday counseling time-traveling Desmond on how to do the time warp shuffle without causing his brain to melt out his nose. ''The Constant'' was one of the most romantic episodes of Lost ever — but since a variable is the exact opposite of a constant, does that mean we're about to get served with one of Lost's bleakest installments? We shall see. Or at least, I will. Some of you have already taken the liberty of informing me of what will happen based on alleged spoiler info posted at a certain fansite. I am choosing to regard said info as pure gossip until I actually see the episode. Please: I always appreciate hearing from you, but I want to remain totally spoiler free for the rest of the season.
Because we're dealing with an episode called ''The Variable,'' I am trying to prepare for the possibility of an hour loaded with references to heady concepts in physics. I know: Fun! But my research has led to some great discoveries that have spawned several cool and (I promise you) accessible Big Theories of Lost that I'll be sharing with you in next Wednesday's column. I can sum up one of these theories in two words: ''quantum entanglement.'' See? Accessible!
As part of my research, I've come across a science-fiction writer by the name of Greg Egan. Among his books, two seem great sources of Lost resonance: Distress and Quarantine. I'll tell you more about both books next week — but please, feel free to peek ahead by reading either of them (or scanning their summaries on Wikipedia, if you really don't have the time). But because I wish to leave you with something this week, I bring you this, an excerpt from an essay written by Egan that I found at his website: ''In quantum mechanics, alternative ways for the same outcome to arise are said to 'interfere' with each other: the possibility of something happening can just as easily be diminished as increased by the fact that it can happen in different ways.''
Egan is referring (I think) to an aspect of something called ''quantum supposition,'' which deals with probability. This concept would seem to present some intriguing possibilities for Lost. If I'm understanding quantum probability correctly — and please, tell me if I'm not — then the more ways there are to achieve a singular outcome, the less likely that singular outcome will actually happen. If there are two ways to achieve outcome X, then outcome X is probably going to happen. Three ways? A little less likely. 100 ways? Now things are getting really dicey. Wrapping my mind around this, I started wondering: Could this idea be applied to the time-travel/time loop dynamics at play in Lost? According to the Lost Experience, Dharma was trying to save the world from certain, possibly imminent death, as predicted by something called the Valenzetti Equation. What if Dharma was trying to avert that catastrophic outcome by creating a time loop which, over the course of who-knows-how-many cycles that would produce so many different strands and strains of finely altered history (hence the name of Dharma's time-travel station: the Orchid), would eventually diminish the probability of said awfulness from ever happening?
Like I said: Totally accessible!
See you on Wednesday, with both a new column — and a new episode of Totally Lost!