by Jeff Jensen
We begin today’s countdown to Lost with an apology to anyone for whom the phrase “countdown to…” triggers a violent post-traumatic stress response to last week’s “Countdown To V” clock that colonized the corner of “The Package” like some unwanted, lizard-skinned hamster-eating alien squatter. I shall say no more of ABC’s ill-considered choice, though for anyone in the market for snarky vivisection, I direct you to this week’s episode of Totally Lost, which you will find at the end of this column.
Next order of business: a new direction for my remaining Doc Jensen columns of the season — my last Doc Jensen columns, like, ever. Those who read them know that I usually fill the space with a theory or book report about some text referenced by the show in a previous episode. For example, last week, I flipped though Haroun and the Sea of the Stories hoping to find insight about tonight’s episode of Lost, “Happily Ever After,” which focuses on Desmond Hume. (Thanks to several readers, including Twitter follower @z6az6ouz for pointing out to me that “Haroun” is Arabic for “Aaron.”) Beginning with this Friday’s column, I’m going start doing something very different. Judging from the message boards and my e-mail, you have questions that need to be answered and opinions that need to be aired about this alternately absorbing and confounding final season of Lost. What you want from this wholly fake “Doc” is to act more like a semi-fake “Doc” and provide some truly useful analytical R/X to remedy your chronic confusion. You’re still going to get crazy theories from me. But here in these last days of acquaintance, I’d rather use the unique opportunity of this column to be talking with you, not at you, about Lost.
This is how it will work. If you have a burning question, glorious praise, or scathing criticism of the new episode of Lost, send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org by end of day Wednesday. I’ll respond to as many of the most urgent and topical inquiries as space can allow in my Friday column. I encourage you take advantage of this service, for as we get closer and closer to the finale, I suspect your questions will only intensify, leaving you itchier than a lonesome gold prospector after a nugget-blowing night at a Deadwood bordello. So tomorrow, after my fatty recap leaves you uncomfortably full and woefully undernourished, please: send me an e-mail with your question and I’ll do you right on Friday.
Let’s give this bold new idea a test run today. Pretend it’s last week. You just watched “The Package,” and you have this one burning question about a certain something that happened in the episode — something that for some seemingly inexplicable reason I chose not to write about in my recap. So you decide to write me an email. The e-mail would be something like this email sent to me by reader Crit Obara:
Hey Doc! I didn’t pick up on it at first, but someone pointed it out so I went back and listened a handful of times, and now I’m 99 percent certain that Keamy told Jin “I’m gonna strap you in here just in case you figure out what’s about to happen to your island.” What in the world could that mean!?
My response to such an e-mail would like this:
Yo, Crit! Your name rocks! You know, when I first heard that Keamy line, I heard what everyone else seemed to hear, too, but I was so certain that I was hearing it wrong that I assumed I truly was wrong and chose to just ignore it. So I was pretty disappointed in myself for not trusting my ears — or rather, for not trusting that everyone else would hear (or mishear) the line the same way. My official position on the matter is that until I am told differently, I am going to continue to assume that Keamy really didn’t say what it sure sounds like he said, that we’re dealing with a phonic irony produced by Keamy’s affected speech. But I wish it were legit! I love this theory: that the barrier between realities is breaking down and causing weird temporal/continuity blips. This theory would argue that even Keamy wasn’t aware of what he said, thanks to “No English!” Jin’s inability to understand what he said and comment on his captor’s Freudian time-slip of the tongue. This odd anomaly could foreshadow a larger breakdown between the Island and Sideways realities. Ditto: the appearance last week by Mikhail Bakunin, named after the Russian anarchist; in today’s Totally Lost, I speculate that Mikhail’s chaos-creating cameo was an omen of more cosmic anarchy to come. Anyway, thanks for writing, Crit!
Anyway, you get the gist. From here on out, I’ll be using the Doc Jensen column to facilitate an of-the-moment conversation about Lost matters that matter the most to you. We shall launch this glorious new era of constructive dialogue on Friday. My guess is most of your questions will be about Desmond. In fact, besides the Keamy thing, Desmond seems to be top of mind for most over-thinking Lost fans. Here’s a sampling of the Desmond-themed e-mail I’ve received this week, beginning with this letter, which intersects with a certain widely despised theory that I shared with you a few weeks ago…
Just finished reading your recap of “The Package.” I was surprised to see that, given your recent theory that Daniel Faraday is Smokey [or at least swallowed up inside him somehow; see Thor Annual #10 for Atum the Demiurge], that you didn’t mention that Desmond Hume being the Package, or Widmore’s ace in the hole, could be related to the fact that Desmond is Daniel Faraday’s constant. Being corrupted into Smokey would certainly classify as “If anything goes wrong…” Were you just saving this? Or have you lost faith in Faraday as Smokey Theory? — Marc, Columbus, Ohio
First, let me make something clear. I don’t really watch Lost through the perspective of my theories. I try to leave all my crazy conjectures behind with each new episode. Some weeks I’m more successful at doing that than others. But seriously, the fun of theorizing comes from thinking about possibilities, not trying to be right. That said, to Marc’s question, I have lost a little faith in my Dan The Smoke Man theory since postulating it in my recap of “Recon.” In fact, I found myself losing faith in it about 10 seconds after posting it. (Most of my theories leave me with that kind of beer-goggle regret.) What really smashed my Smokey = Faraday conviction was “Ab Aeterno.” It seems clear to me that Smokey isn’t a puzzle of mysterious identity but rather a very specific character with a very specific backstory that we have not yet been told. I remain convinced that he is somehow linked to/responsible for The Island’s dead, that he may manage or even hold within himself the souls of anyone who has slipped the coil on The Island. But I don’t think he’s actually Daniel Faraday in disguise or a hive mind of various disembodied souls… though I have to admit your Desmond conjecture leaves me newly excited by my theory. I dig the Atum/Thor connection! Regardless: what is it about Desmond that Charles Widmore would consider him an effective anti-Smokey device? I hope tonight’s episode sheds illumination on the matter…
Or maybe reader Stacy has the answer:
I’ve been thinking about the preview for “Happily Ever After” and have a theory on why “the island isn’t done” with Desmond yet. So he was pushing a button for years in a hatch sitting on top of a huge pocket of electromagnetic energy. What if this gave him radiation poisoning of sorts, but in a good way that made him immune to Smokey? So now, he’s the only one that can truly stop him because he has nothing to fear!
Stacy, I do think Desmond’s days marinating in the half-life of The Island’s Chernobyl and slowly becoming a Hulk-like super-sponge of radiation has something to do with his importance to Widmore’s plans. But maybe it’s more about the specific ability that blossomed out of that absorption of awful-awesome energies. Responding to a suggestion I made in last week’s summary of “The Package,” reader Ken counters:
Maybe Desmond isn’t Sideways Desmond, as you purpose in your latest recap. Maybe he is necessary because he can project his mind into his body of another time (as we have seen in previous episodes, like “The Constant.”) Maybe he can also project his mind into his body of another reality and that is how the castaways will get to the Sideways-verse.
Cool conjectures, Ken. Permit me to build onto them by reminding everyone how Desmond was able to survive the time travel sickness that killed characters like Minkowski (Fisher Stevens) in season 4. His secret to keeping his mind and his life: Penelope, his emotional and spiritual “constant,” the anchor that kept him grounded in the present. Maybe we’re going to find out that somewhere on The Island, there exists the means to travel between realities, and Charles Widmore is going to use Desmond as a guinea pig to test the process. He’s Widmore’s Manhattan (project) Transfer! Don’t call Desmond a Spaceman — call him an Inter-Spaceman! (That thought suddenly reminds me of Walt. Is that why The Others wanted him? Not only to motivate Michael to action, but to see if his unique, seemingly supernatural mental abilities made him a suitable Alternanaut?)
In “Ab Aeterno,” Richard accidentally killed the doctor by pushing him. The doctor fell down and hit the back of his head, dying soon after. As this was happening, I couldn’t help but think of the scene when Desmond fought his former Hatch partner, Kelvin Inman, who fell against the rocks, hits the back of his head, and died. We saw blood coming from both of these dying men’s heads. I have to say this connection is intentional. What are your thoughts? — Amelia, Minnetonka, MN
I agree, Amelia, it seemed like Lost was begging a Richard-Desmond comparison. So it makes me wonder if we’re being set up for a story that will accentuate their differences. The more I think about “Ab Aeterno,” the more I wonder if what we got was the opposite of “The Constant.” In that classic episode, we got an example of Island magic facilitating a connection between lovers (Des and Pen) separated by time and space. Same deal in “Ab Aeterno.” Via Ghost Whisperer Hurley, Richard got to have a date with his dead wife, Isabella. But whereas the DesPen hook up was legit, I suspect Richabella’s spectral skyping was a Smokey-engineered con designed to manipulate Alpert to make his Force 10 From Navarone play on the Ajira plane on Hydra Island.
And with that, this week’s countdown to Lost comes to a close. The new episode of Totally Lost awaits, and if you like cryptic-fun teases, we have three puzzlers embedded in the usual mix of mirth and blather that is our specialty. (Our = my co-host Dan Snierson and our producer/editor extraordinaire, the czar of the subtitle zinger, Jason Averett.) Yunjin Kim also makes a brief appearance in this episode and says… something. If you speak Korean — or can revive Mikhail Bakunin from the dead — please drop us a line and let us know what exactly she said about us. A special note for those bleeding edge Apple people with those fancy new iPads: If you have any trouble viewing videos in PopWatch or if you’re on an iPhone/iPad, head over to the Totally Lost hub to watch Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. Later tonight, I’ll have an instant reaction to “Happily Ever After,” and tomorrow, I’ll have a full recap of the episode for your reading pleasure/derision. (I’m full service that way. Need someone to hate? I can be that for you. I can be the loathsome Other to your sad, miserable, despairing Claire.) Follow me on Twitter @ewdocjensen. Send me e-mails at docjensenew@gmail. Or just go about your business and have an awesome day. Yes! Do that!