By Jeff Jensen Apr 14, 2010
Chaos reigns. That's the tagline from the controversial film Anti-Christ, the feel-bad love story of the decade, and it can just as easily be applied to last night's Lost, which left me feeling disturbed despite being a charming feel-good love story about Sideways Hurley's $100,000 date with Libby, the loony bin Pretty Woman. Taking its cue from those ''highly unstable'' sticks of Black Rock dynamite, ''Everybody Loves Hugo'' was another sweet-and-funny installment in the larger Hurley subgenre, but punctuated with momentous WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?!? shocks, twists, and narrative anarchy. Ilana blew up. The Black Rock got obliterated. SatanaLocke threw Island Desmond down a well while Sideways Desmond ran down Fake Locke with his car, leaving everyone's favorite clone world substitute teacher a bloody, convulsing bag of bones. Immediately after watching the episode, my colleague Adam B. Vary stumbled into my office, rattled by Sideway Desmond's apparent demonic turn and even more rolled by Sideways Locke's life-threatening peril. I share his shakes. Sideways Locke! Our last remaining vestige of the late and equally fate-screwed John Locke! Why does cosmos hate this man? What remains of our beloved man of faith? Sleeping Beauty Hurley may have gotten a magical kiss of awakening from Princess Charming Libby... but all we got was Kiss' ''All Hell's Breaking Loose.''
Of course, almost every single statement in that preceding paragraph is open for debate and re-interpretation, and I shall do my level best to mull all the provocative possibilities as we move through the recap. But let's hit up high that amid the ambiguity, we got an answer to one of Lost's major mythological questions. What are The Whispers? They are the souls of The Island dead that have not been allowed to move on because of their actions on The Island. No big surprise, but satisfying, nonetheless. Hurley puzzled most of that together himself. Confirmation and elaboration came courtesy of Michael, a member of the phantom chorus. But was Michael an Obi-Wan guardian angel or a Darth Sidious misleading menace? And didn't it almost sound as if Lost was putting Purgatory theory back on the table after so many years of denying it? I can't deny that it did, but I'm not believing, despite all those conspicuous references to a ''God forsaken'' this and a ''God help us'' that.
Complicating matters was the book that Hurley found while rummaging through Ilana's stuff: Fyodor Dostoevsky's Notes From The Underground. This isn't the first time this season Lost has cited a seminal text in the canon of existential lit. In ''LA X,'' Lost cited Fear and Trembling by Soren Kierkegaard, a writer whose fingerprints seem to be all over the season. For example, have you noticed the conspicuously repetitive practice of presenting characters would either/or choices? Kierkegaard's oeuvre includes a work called Either/Or. (And Repetition, too. And before I get the e-mails: Yes, maybe The Sickness Unto Death has something to do with The Sickness, as well.) But I think last week signaled an even deeper dive into existential thought with that rabbit named Angstrom. ''Angst:'' a word that comes to us from Kierkegaard. ''Angstrom:'' a unit of measurement in electromagnetic radiation and other natural sciences. It's almost as if Lost is now declaring existentialism as the philosophy that fuels its intellectual engine, especially here in the mirror-fixated season 6; a key tenet of existentialism, be it the Christian brand endorsed by Kierkegaard or the godless kind represented by Jean Paul Sartre, is the idea that reflection creates identity. Perhaps The Island isn't a magical place that traps souls or spirits. Maybe its unique physical properties allow it snare energy patterns of consciousness. Heck, maybe ''trapping'' and ''snaring'' are the wrong verbs. Maybe The Island unlocks, cultivates, or even makes consciousness.
We needn't be so deep. Notes From The Underground — considered the first existentialist novel — was an ironic choice for an episode that saw Desmond get tossed into the Island underworld. (It seems Desmond's Island fate is to always end up in some kind of hole in the ground.) But it was also an apt choice for an episode that offered a comic take on Dostoevsky's tale of a not-so romantic date from hell, and also illustrated the author's philosophy of the mind: tortured and tumultuous, torn between action and passivity, a riotous collection of conflicted voices that's close to could be called neurotic and has been often likened to schizophrenia. In other words: chaotic. Or: ''highly unstable.''
And that may not be a bad thing. Existentialism would have listened to Libby's description of her fractured, flooded mind and agreed with her when she said: ''You mean I'm not crazy?'' Existentialism would say: ''Nope. Actually, you're more 'sane' than a normal person.'' I might suggest that Libby's discombobulating, vertiginous reaction of suddenly being filled with memories of her Island life is equivalent to Jean Paul Sartre's concept of ''Nausea,'' an almost sickening hyper-acuity to the true nature of her reality and painful first glimmerings of elevated consciousness. On the turbulent flight from being to becoming, existentialism might say, ''Pack a barf bag. You'll need it.'' As you read the following excerpt from critic Richard Pevear about Notes From The Underground, think of Spiritually Numb Sayid and Spiritually Alive Hurley — points on an upward arcing curve of existential heroism, from sleepwalking to waking life, from lost to found:
''The one thing that [Dostoevsky's] negative characters share, and almost the only negativity his world view allows, is inner fixity, a sort of death-in-life, which can take on many forms and tonalities, from the broadly comic to the tragic, from the mechanical to the corpse-like... Inner movement, on the other hand, is always a condition of spiritual good, though it may also be a source of suffering, division, disharmony, in this life. What moves may always rise.''
Chaos reigns. And chaos may be good. Because I'm beginning to think that the world of Lost, there is no such thing as ''the right move to make,'' no such thing as ''a master plan.'' Such was the theme of ''Everybody Loves Hugo.'' See: Hurley's go-with-gut Sideways romance; Hurley's making-up-as-you-go-along approach to castaway leadership; and Fake Locke's Parable of the Stick, which left me wondering if Lost was actually confessing something about its own creative process. In life, in art, and on The Island, there is just trial and error, mistakes and fixes, blunders and recoveries... and somehow, someway, something happens, something is produced, something you never intended, but something that never would have happened unless you tried, and the most heroic thing you can do is move into that something when you finally see it — and hope that something will allow you to do so.
Then again, I can be completely wrong.
CONVERSATIONS WITH DEAD PEOPLE AND OTHER SKY BULLIES
In which the author begins the recap proper with an oblique reference to Joss Whedon's Buffy The Vampire Slayer that will never be explained, and then proceeds to deviate from his usual recap structure with a Talking To Himself Q&A format that was inspired in the middle of the night, that treacherous time when allegedly inspired ideas suddenly reveal themselves to be horrible choices once exposed to sunlight.
First question. Why is Lost 6.0 so fixated on work?
KATE: Jack told me about your job. At least we have jobs again, right?
HURLEY: Hooray for us.
''Everybody Hates Hugo,'' Season 2
Fugitive Kate runs. Pregnant Claire carries a life. Locke lost his job, felt emasculated, scrambled to get one back. Jack, Sayid, Ben, Sawyer, Jin, Desmond: career-absorbed men. A dozen hours into the final season of Lost, we see that the Sideways characters are largely defined by what they do — by their busy-ness and by their business. The cost of all this struggling and striving has been a diminished ability and interest for introspection. The characters that've had mirror moments have, at best, detected something worth thinking about, but don't. At worst, they don't see themselves at all. One of the concerns of existentialist literature — especially Dostoyevsky — was how both Communist and Capitalist cultures left their citizens too fatigued for the work of personal enrichment, i.e. enlightenment. The psychologist Erich Fromm saw an even more profound problem: he believed a culture of work was crippling our capacity for love. He believed the magnum opus of all individuals was to reorganize his and her values and re-energize themselves to pursue ''the art of loving.'' It's interesting that the Sideways character that has come the closest to having a self-generated moment of clarity while looking in a mirror was its only unabashed romantic: Sun. Also interesting? Wealthy; no job.
Enter Sideways Hurley, who both subverted and affirmed the theme. We met him as he was being celebrated for his work as... a giver. Hurley didn't get a conventional mirror moment. Instead, the fast food magnate got a short film praising his extraordinary and extensive philanthropy. Hurley saw a lot of himself in the film — building parks, building playgrounds, all sorts of ''goody-goody bulls---'' to borrow phrase from Pink Floyd's ''Money'' — but he failed to recognize the sad, comic ironies that we saw. He had procured his ''Man of the Year'' award from the Golden State Natural History Museum by financing a new paleontology wing for Dr. Pierre Chang. (Loved his cameo — but where was Charlotte? On a candy bar date with Daniel? At home alone, macking and munching on her own Duncan Hines Brownie Husband?) In the second season episode ''Everybody Hates Hugo,'' Hurley worried that wealth, power and privilege would leave him isolated and unloved. The Sideways Hurley of ''Everybody Loves Hugo'' leveraged the wealth, power and privilege generated from his ''lifelong love affair with chicken'' to feel cherished and adored. ''Hugo and giving became synonymous,'' Dr. Chang said in his ode to Hugo. What he didn't mention was the unhealthy psychological return he got on his investment: a fraudulent sense of self-worth. Ah, the things we do for love. Sing it, 10CC!
Too many broken hearts have fallen down the river
Too many lonely souls have drifted out to sea
You lay your bets and then you pay the price
The things we do for love
(The things we do for love!)
You'd think the Man of the Year's mother would be proud of her son. But Carmen Reyes was less than thrilled with Hurley. She had accompanied him to the dinner as his date — a role she had filled many, many times. She had a beef with a beefy boy: Dude needed a girlfriend! What he needed was to cut the Huey P. Long/''Share The Wealth'' routine and go Huey Lewis; he needed to feel the power of love in a more personal, spiritual way; a healthy love that sticks around and fills you up longer than a fatty, fleeting value meal of fast, purchased affection. As his mother put it: ''You need a woman in your life, especially one who has not nursed you.'' (A similar nursing joke had been made in ''Everybody Hates Hugo.'' Translation: Hugo looks like an adult, but has a child's underdeveloped ego.) Hugo said he was too busy to meet chicks. His mother said: ''No, you're too scared.'' And so it goes that The Chicken Man was actually a big chicken. Had Jean Paul Sartre wandered into the scene a la Marshall McLuhan in Annie Hall, he might have noted that while Humanists can fill up their love cup with abstractions, existentialists need a love that's personal, visceral and messy. You know, like a crazy chick from a loony bin. (Libby = A Mind, Destroyed = Simone de Beauvior. Oui or non? Debat!)
FUN FACT! Did you catch that reference to ''The Human Fund,'' the fake charity George Costanza invented on Seinfeld? It's also the one where Elaine became fixated with earning ''submarine captain'' status at her fave sub sandwich shop. Anyway: Happy Festivus!
What was the significance of Hurley's Man of the Year award?
''Please don't give up, Des. Because all we really need to survive is one person who truly loves us. And you have her. I will wait for you. Always. I Love you, Pen.'' — The closing lines of Penelope's letter to Desmond, ''Live Together, Die Alone,'' Season 2
In the wake of last week's episode, we now know that having a soul mate is beneficial if not essential to lighting up the Sideways peeps with past-life Island awareness. This brings us to the Hurley's T-Rex shaped Man of the Year award. Tyrannosaurus Rex: ''king tyrant lizard.'' An interesting allusion for an episode about leadership, but also an ominous symbol for a season that finds the castaways shuddering under the dark cloud (literally) of potential extinction — provided, of course, you actually believe Charles Widmore and Richard Alpert when they say that some kind of reality-blotting catastrophic event will occur should Smokesaurus Rex succeed in escaping The Island. Yet the psycho-spiritual-celestial-quantum mechanics of the Lostverse seem to allow for the continuance of mind and/or spirit provided that one has love in their life. The best articulation of this Good News comes to us in Penelope's ''Live Together, Die Alone'' epistle. Bottom line: The castaways need a constant, a better half, an Eve to their Adam or vise versa.
And I would remiss if I moved off from the point without wondering if Hurley's dino-plaque, in a scene where his mother lectured him about the lesson about Genesis 2:18 (''It is not good that man should be alone. I will make him a helpmate''), was meant to remind us of the moment back in ''Lighthouse'' when Hurley offered up his theory about the Adam and Eve skeletons? ''What if we time-traveled again? To, like, dinosaur times? And then we died and then we got buried here? What if these skeletons are us?'' I have some more thoughts on this — but well get to Desmond-down-the-wormhole in a couple thousand words from now.
Why doesn't Libby visit Hurley? And can Dead Michael be trusted?
''To not be aware of the processes around you allows you to be taken advantage of by others who do. You are disenfranchising yourself from the democratic process.'' — Neil Degrasse Tyson, astrophysicist
Off this moment of fat cat Man of the Year Hurley getting drilled on the life-saving (and mother-relieving) power of love, Lost jump cut to... Island Hurley, in the Island graveyard, trying to summon the spirit of his coulda-been/shoulda-been Island girlfriend, Libby. That may have been one of the most meaningful transitional edits/segues Lost has ever given us. It was an inspired, poignant way of critiquing materialistic values and saying ''The playwrights are correct: You Can't Take It With You.'' Because I do think that's the measure of character growth in this show: What have these people done and what more can they do to cultivate a heart/mind/soul that can survive into the next life?
The shot of Hurley kneeling at Libby's plot and explaining his backstory with Libby to Ilana's arm moved me. He asked why she hadn't visited him as Charlie, Mr. Eko, Ana-Lucia and others have done. I think one of the most important things to take away from that moment was that Hurley himself doesn't understand his powers. This puts him in a position to be exploited. We know that Hurley is the kind of guy who needs instruction, who will always defer to ''the expert.'' Jacob him told him so in ''Lighthouse.'' He's also the kind of guy more inclined to trust anyone else but himself. And if that person happens to be dead, all the better. As Hurley told Miles, ''Dead people are more reliable than alive people.'' Miles was taken aback to hear that the spirits often yell at Hurley. I got the sense that perhaps Miles, who knows a little something about spirit voices, was suspicious of this claim — as if belligerent spirits wasn't exactly his experience, as if bullying ghosts are actually not things to be trusted. I also wondered if Miles was seeing what I was seeing: a guy who desperately needed to start thinking for himself.
So why hadn't Libby visited Hurley? I think because she had been allowed to move on. She didn't meet the criteria to be an Island-bound whisper: she lacked a burden of guilt that would keep her shackled to this world.
But can we trust Michael? He barged into Hurley's private moment with not-there Libby and barked at him. ''I'm here to stop you to get everyone killed,'' Ghost Michael huffed. I got a whiff of the same kind of agita that animated Michael's bid to persuade the castaways to buy into his ''Walt rescue plan'' — which is to say, con them into falling into a trap. Hurley seemed initially dubious. After all, Michael was the one who had killed Libby on the day of their big beach blanket date. Still, Hurley caved. I do think we need to be wondering: Are these ''ghosts'' really ''ghosts'' or are they illusions conjured by some Island agency, i.e. Jacob or the Man In Black? If they aren't illusions, are they managed or controlled by some Island agency, i.e. Jacob or the Man In Black? Finally, whether these ghosts are puppets or not, what are their true intentions? Do they want what's best for the castaways, or what's best for themselves, or what's best for their masters?
to pick on Hurley in particular. But first, this:
Is this the part where you attempt to prove that the scene where Ilana died was a dramatic representation of existential consciousness at work?
Ummm... No! Why would you ever think that?! Hurley went to camp, where Richard and Ilana were mobilizing the castaways to launch Operation: Ajira-splosion. Hurley followed through on his instructions and tried to grind the action to a halt. Why are we doing this? We could get ourselves killed with that dynamite! And if we blow up the plane, then how do we get off The Island? I don't want to be stuck here with ''That Thing''! (The continued objectification of Fake Locke as some kind of inhuman abomination was both creepy, understandable, and suspicious to me. I'm not sure I buy their demonization. Do you?) Richard and Ilana got pissy with Hurley, and to be honest, I found myself feeling a little frustrated. Hadn't we seen this debate before, like, two episodes ago, with Sun playing the Hurley role? Yes, we had. Then Ilana carelessly dropped her bag of Black Rock dynamite and blew herself up. I should have seen it coming, but I gasped anyway. Her detonation evoked memories of Doc Arzt's die-no-mite! death in Season 1, and I so wanted Hurley to say to someone: ''Dude. You have some Ilana on you.'' But it also reminded me of the fiery death of Neil Frogurt, who got shot up with flaming arrows while bickering with his friends about the direction of the group. The attack and Frogurt's death was a catalyst for the castaways to act. Ditto: Ilana's death. Single-minded Richard resolved to go back to Black Rock and fetch more dynamite, and in an apparent reversal, Hurley supported the plan, although we later learned he had a subversive agenda. Seen in the abstract, with the castaways representing a singular entity, the scene was a metaphor for existential consciousness: fragmented, argumentative, double-minded, self-referencing but non-reflective, inert to the point of paralysis, compelled to action only by crisis. (Sorry. I lied.)
What was in the pouch that Hurley found among Ilana's stuff, next to her Cyrillic edition of Notes From The Underground?
It was Ilana's stash of Jacob ash. We had seen her scoop some of his remains into her pouch back in ''The Substitute.'' What's so special about Jacob's ash? Does his ash contain magic properties? Can it keep Smokey at bay? Or does it contain remnants of his consciousness? Is it possible that the decisions Hurley made from this point forward were being psychically influenced by Jacob's sack o' sentience?
Why did Hurley assume Ilana's role of candidate protector? Why do the dead pick on Hurley?
Because Hurley felt he was responsible for her death. If he hadn't bickered with her, she wouldn't have blown up. I'm not saying you should agree with this logic. I'm just trying to show you how Hurley thinks. Remember the reason Island Hurley was in the mental institution? Hurley had come to believe that his girth was responsible for a deck collapse at a party that killed two people. Guilt and depression rocked his mind. I think the same dynamics motivated him to take up Ilana's duties, though not her mission. He would protect the candidates his way. That meant executing a pretty ironic con: pulling a Michael and tricking his castaways into a double-cross. He led them to think he was on board with the Ajira-splosion — and then he blew up the Black Rock in hopes of preventing them going Ilana and getting themselves killed. He couldn't live with the guilt if they did.
I think the Island dead pick on Hurley because he's their best bet for helping them get what they really want: release from The Island. Because if Hurley really has led all of them or some of them to their death by leading them into Fake Locke's camp, thus trapping the souls of even more of his friends on The Island, I think Hurley would stop at nothing to atone for that. Put another way, Michael may indeed have been playing the role of treacherous manipulator by directing Hurley toward Camp Locke, and again for the same reason he betrayed the castaways back in Season 2: to escape The Island.
That scene in which Jack and Hurley stop in the middle of the jungle, and Jack comes to the conclusion that his Island journey has been accepting the limits of his agency and power, and Hurley wonders if that's exactly the thing Jack shouldn't do, and then puzzles together the mystery of The Whispers — are you seriously going to bring this already ponderous and labored dialectic-as-recap to a grinding halt in an attempt to convince us that that scene had something to do with existentialism?
''It is quite true what philosophy says, that 'life must be understood backwards.' But that makes one forget the other saying: that it must be lived forwards. The more one ponders this, the more it comes to mean that life in the temporal existence never becomes quite intelligible, precisely because at no moment can I find complete quiet to take the backward- looking position.'' — Soren Kierkegaard
This sentiment, by the way, is reflected in Notes From The Underground, which has the protagonist reflecting on an event that occurred many years later — a darkly comic tale of love, about the ''hero's'' fateful night with a prostitute who had foolishly fallen in love with him — and coming to some conclusions about himself and his relationship to society and art and any number of things. Whether those conclusions are correct is kinda beside the point of existentialism. What's most important is the attempt to take control of one's life, to manufacture experience into identity, birth consciousness out of suffering, and then live to fail and learn anew.
Wait! Wasn't Sideways Hurley's love story with Libby kinda like a happily ever after version of the Notes From The Underground ''love story''?
Correct! In Notes, the protagonist quite incidentally strikes up a relationship with a prostitute named Liza. His philosophy changes her life, inspires her to lead a better life, and she falls for him. In other words: consciousness-altering love. This turn of events freaks out the protagonist, who then tries to discourage her from loving him by denigrating himself, then her. He succeeds in driving her away, then comforts himself with the fantasy that by wounding her with an insult, he has put an anger into her that will drive her to become a better person. Had she stayed with him, his loathsomeness would have only destroyed her.
In ''Everybody Loves Hugo,'' we had Hurley, similarly possessed with low self-esteem, falling for Elizabeth (Libby), after a chance encounter at a restaurant called Spanish Johnny's. FUN FACT! Spanish Johnny is a character in a novel called The Song of The Lark, about an opera singer's rise to artistic self-fulfillment. Of course, Spanish Johnny is also a character in the Bruce Springsteen song ''Incident at 57th Street,'' in which the young romantic is described as being ''dressed just like dynamite.'' You can find the song on the same album that includes the song that shares its title with the name of the woman Hurley was supposed to meet at the restaurant: Rosalita.
Elizabeth was no Liza-esque whore — but Hurley did have to pay off Libby's shrink to get a meeting with in the rec room. Notice all the butterflies on the wall? An allusion The Butterfly Effect concept Chaos Theory, perhaps? Libby revealed that she found herself having a consciousness-altering moment while watching one of Hurley's Mr. Cluck's commercial. It was so overwhelming, she checked into Santa Rosa. Hurley couldn't relate to her odd experience, but he dug her just the same, and asked her out. And so at last, Hurley and Libby had their beach blanket date. And when they kissed... ooooooh... ''Fire!'' Hurley's head filled with visions of The Island. With that, another Sideways character had been born again with a glimpse of another world and potential for richer, more expansive form of consciousness.
But Doc! You're completely skipping the part where Hurley, gorging on chicken as he is wont to do when he finds himself depressed and suffering from thwarted will, had that encounter with Desmond. Don't think this encounter had some kind of supernatural affect on Hurley, setting him up for Libby's mind-blowing electric feel?
Maybe. Sure. Regardless, I think you covered the moment sufficiently.
Okay. Why was Fake Locke whittling that piece of wood? That was rather random, don't you think?
Yes, and it was really provocative, too. Sawyer came upon The Incarnate Smoke shaving the outer skin off a tall pole. ''That going to be a spear?'' Sawyer asked sarcastically. James was frustrated; he was tired of sitting around and waiting for Fake Locke to make good on his promise to get him off The Island. Against, we had another scene with arguing over action vs. inaction and the inertia/angst that's produced by the friction — classic existentialist ''to be or not to be'' stuff. And like the beach scene, I found myself initially feeling Sawyer's frustration: How many episodes has Camp Locke been parked, anyway? How many times are Sawyer and Fake Locke going to have this spat? But then things got interesting.
Locke answered Sawyer's question: ''I don't know what it's going to be, James. When the time is right, it'll tell me.'' Sawyer cracked ''You talk to wood now?'' Locke's response reminded me of Michelangelo. The legendary Italian sculptor believed that he didn't carve statues. Rather, he merely removed pieces of stone to discover the form trapped inside, waiting to be revealed, waiting to get out. We could note that The Parable of the Stick stands as a metaphor for the unfolding mystery of season 6, and leave it at that. Or we could go deeper.
We could talk about how Locke, by way of Michelangelo, links us to Platonic and Neo-Platonist philosophies. We could talk about how this links us to concepts like demiurge, or Nous, world soul, the phenomenal world, celestial hierarchy, and dynamis, from which we get the word dynamite. In the next couple weeks, I'll try to spell this out some more in my Doc Jensen columns. For now, there is this: Lost is picking a philosophical fight with these kinds of ideas. The conflict is this: If we have souls, then how do we view our bodies? Do they even matter? Are we merely spirits trapped in substance, waiting to be realized and released? Or does soul and body represent an intrinsic, inseparable whole? If matter doesn't really matter, then what is our responsibility to the world? Should we remain attached or detached from it? Is reality really ''real'' or an illusion? I can go on; I really want to share with you my idea that Jacob, the Man In Black and this whole demiurge concept is another metaphor for Lost's creative process. But for now, let's leave it at this: For all of you debating the nature of Lost's duel worlds — is one real or are both real; is there one that is ''good'' and one that is ''evil''; can both co-exist or must one win out — my guess is that you are asking exactly the questions Lost wants you to be debating.
Sawyer challenged FLocke to explain his sitting-on-his-duff strategy a little further. FLocke obliged. He said he needed all the candidates before he could make a move on Ajira. He said was basically going to wait for them to come to him. I got the sense that while FLocke definitely operates with more knowledge than anyone else, he isn't all knowing, and that like Ben, his greatest gift might be at improvising and responding creatively to unexpected developments and random bits of chaos that life throws his way. And so it went that Sayid brought his boss to Desmond.
Explain the well. Please.
You know what I loved about The Well? I can't explain it. I literally have no idea what the hell happened there. I spent a lot of time researching the significance of Desmond getting thrown down the well. I found so many rich allusions, beginning with an Chinese folk tale called ''The Man Who Was Thrown Down A Well'' that just feels so dead-on Lost and so specific to this episode that it gave me goosebumps. It tells the story of an unredeemed soul who gets unjustly thrown into a well where he encounters spirits who are trapped and yearn to move on into the afterlife. They help do his penance and become a better person, an then after three years (the same amount of time Desmond spent in The Hatch), he returns to the surface world, forgives the man who threw him into the well and fulfills his promise to the lost, trapped souls. Then again, there's ''The Man Who Lived Underground'' written by Richard Wright, the great African-American author of Native Son and The Outsider, a provocative existential novel whose anti-hero protagonist has a pretty irresistible Lost-esque name: Damon Cross. Then again, there's the story of Joseph, the seer who was thrown into a pit by his brothers and sold into slavery, just because they were jealous that Daddy loved him so much to give him a technicolor dream coat. Daddy's name? Jacob. And then there are number of ancient gods who resided deep below the Earth. They were known as Chthonic deities, and they include such names as Hades, The Furies, and Iacchus, born in the Underworld and considered the ''torch bearer'' of mysteries and herald of the goddess Demeter. You know how the ancients paid homage to Iacchus? By tossing a torch. And what did Fake Locke do right before he told his strange tale of mystery hunters (Dowsers?) who dug in the dirt searching for answers and finding nothing? He tossed his torch into the well. Was Lost just playing with us? And by ''us,'' I mean people like me, who go digging in its dirt looking for answers? Or could Fake Locke really be a god of antiquity, a la Iacchus, son of Demeter?
Or maybe The Well is a wormhole, and Desmond got sent back in time to become the Adam of the Adam and Eve skeletons. Is Penelope far behind?
Regardless, I was struck by Desmond's fearlessness. He seemed to manifest all the qualities of both the fully realized existential hero and the fully realized mythic hero. At peace with time and death, grounded in the moment and his identity, absolutely unafraid. And so when Fake Locke threw him into the pit, I couldn't tell if he was nullifying a threat (as it happens, ''the man that gets thrown down the well'' is name given to a classic story trope in which the hero finds grappling with a penultimate peril — one last trial before his final battle) or if perhaps he was doing Desmond a favor. Perhaps The Well is a link to the next realm of existence. Perhaps Fake Locke was completing Desmond's cosmic promotion. Or maybe... Desmond's just stuck at the bottom of a well. We shall see.
When Fake Locke asked Desmond if he knew who he was, and Desmond replied ''John Locke,'' did you get the sense that the reason that Fake Locke threw Desmond into the well was because Desmond had stumbled on his big secret — that this Fake Locke thing who's been claiming not to be John Locke all season long really is John Locke?
Yes. I thought that thought.
So if the Man In Black really isn't Fake Locke, then… who or where is he?
He's in the body of Frank Lapidus.
Okay, fine. What's your ''genius'' theory for why Sideways Desmond ran down Sideways Locke?
Again, another scene that left me chilled and baffled, which made me dig it even more. I think we have to wonder if Sideways Desmond is now fully self-aware with all of his Island memories, past, present and future. I don't think Desmond ran down Sideways Locke for revenge. I think it's possible that Desmond tried to kill Sideways Locke to prevent Fake Locke from migrating into Sideways Locke's body, but that strikes me as cruel that Desmond would basically murder an innocent man just to prevent his future corruption. So I'm thinking the most likely scenario for a hero like Desmond is this: I think Fake Locke has been inside Sideways Locke all along, and Desmond tried to kill him to force Fake Locke back into the Island world.
Or maybe Desmond is just a really bad driver. He is from Scotland, you know. Maybe he's not used to driving on the proper side of the road.
Can we stop now?
Oh, but I wasn't able to explain how Aristophanes' comedy The Bird totally explains Hurley! And what about my plans to weave in Leo Tolstoy, the Cosmic Dancer, and the legend of Adam Kadmon? And I forgot all about my Don Quixote references! But yes, we're stopping. I'll be back on Friday with a Doc Jensen column. If you have a question about the episode, shoot me an e=mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Until then, you have some options. You can watch some Totally Lost, which you'll find waiting for you at the end of this paragraph. Or you can use the message boards below to start blasting my pretentiousness and redeem it with insightful conversation. But hey: that's existentialism, too! My errors + your corrective notes from the (message board) underground = an riotous and disagreeable dialectic that produces consciousness and hopefully enlightenment! So come on, ''You All Everybody!'' It takes a village to figure out Lost, so make like Michael and start yelling at me already!