“In the mid-20th century, the encyclopedic works of French mathematician Nicolas Bourbaki traced every mathematical concept back to the subject’s foundation in the theory of sets — the stuff of Venn diagrams — and changed the face of his field. Like many of his notions, Bourbaki existed only in the abstract: he was the pseudonym for a tight-knit group of young Parisian researchers. The Internet-age version could be D. H. J. Polymath, another collective pseudonym who could redefine mathematics.
“Polymath began life on the blog of Timothy Gowers, a University of Cambridge winner of the Fields medal, mathematics most coveted prize. In a blog post in January 2009, Gowers asked whether spontaneous online collaborations could crack hard mathematical problems — and if they could do so in the open, laying the creative process out for the world to see. We-based scientific collaborations and even ‘crowdsourcing’ are now common, but this one would be different…”
— Scientific American, April 2010
… and that’s how I feel about Lost, here, at the end. Between EJ Feddes’ superlative write-ups (his latest is here) and the guys and gals at The Replica Prop Forum, we’ve got a whole crowd of people trying to figure out the end. Although some of the flat-out answers we’re getting are a little on the mundane side. The Black Rock and a big wave took out the statue? The whispers are just ghosts? OK, but future revelations better kick my ass.
This week, there weren’t too many stunners, and nothing that weird (unless you count the return of the Dharma shark!), so let’s get right to it:
1. HE SAID HELLO AND HE PUT ME ON HOLD; TO SAY THE LEAST THE CAT WAS COLD: Let’s get to this one right off the bat, because I know you all are concerned for my well-being after Zuliekha Robinson atomized: the reason Ilana and then Richard went to the Black Rock to get the unstable dynamite first wasn’t some lame story point intended to have Ilana pull an Artz when there was more stable Dharma dynamite all along… it’s that the unstable ship dynamite was closer. So, like most accidents happen at the end of a shift when people are already mentally home kissing their loved ones and cracking open the first oat soda of the day, so it was with Ilana. Just shaving off a little time yields the bad juju. But don’t worry about me; dead isn’t dead on this show, and Ilana’s in four of the next five episodes…
2. THE TORCH OF GLORY KINDLES THE MIND: I loved Ben’s resigned “I wonder what the Island has in store for us, now” meta-commentary as the actors are probably wondering that about the writers. And the writers’ answer in the upcoming scenes for next week, with the creepy Willy Wonka boat song:
There’s no earthly way of knowing
Which direction we are going
There’s no knowing where we’re rowing
Or which way the river’s flowing
Is it raining?
Is it snowing?
Is a hurricane a-blowing?
Not a speck of light is showing
So the danger must be growing
Are the fires of hell a-glowing?
Is the grisly reaper mowing?
Yes, the danger must be growing
‘Cause the rowers keep on rowing
And they’re certainly not showing
Any signs that they are slowing!
…but even that has significance, because even if the writers are having a little fun by claiming they don’t know “which direction we are going,” they certainly have picked the right movie to otherwise illustrate their point: “Under section 37B of the contract signed by him, it states quite clearly that all offers shall become null and void if — and you can read it for yourself in this photostatic copy — ‘I, the undersigned, shall forfeit all rights, privileges, and licenses herein and herein contained,’ et cetera, et cetera… ‘Fax mentis incendium gloria cultum,’ et cetera, et cetera… ‘Memo bis punitor delicatum’! It’s all there, black and white, clear as crystal! You stole fizzy lifting drinks! You bumped into the ceiling which now has to be washed and sterilized, so you get nothing! You lose! Good day sir!” Poor Charlie. He broke the rules. Which brings up Little Matt Damon:
3. SHAKE IT DOWN SHAKE IT DOWN SHAKE IT DOWN NOW: Boy, that angel kid loves putting the fear into the Locke-Dressed Monster, doesn’t he? When we first saw him, arms covered in blood, Locke was petrified and stunned Sawyer could see him as well. Last night, the kid has noticeably darker hair and grins a wicked smile when Fake Locke tells Desmond to ignore him. I think this kid is a manifestation of the Island as well, because he smiles at Desmond almost reassuringly. Either way, it’s almost over.
4. I HAVE SEEN THE SPECTRE; HE HAS BEEN HERE, TOO: One of the most disconcerting things for me in this episode was the scene where Fake Locke is working on a piece of wood, and Sawyer asks him if he’s making a spear. Smokey says, “I don’t know yet, but when the time is right, it’ll tell me.” Now if that’s not a weird ol’ metaphor for whatever machinations he has running, I don’t know what is. But that wasn’t the disconcerting part to me. No, Fake Locke is trimming the wood with the spine of the knife, not the blade. That’s just spooky.
5. I WOKE UP IN A SOHO DOOR WHERE A POLICEMAN KNEW MY NAME: The what-is-the-nature-of-identity theme I wrote about a few Spectacularrys back was really in the forefront, this episode. Libby asks Hurley: “You don’t remember me, do you?” and Fake Locke asks Desmond, “Do you know who I am?” Hurley says to Fake Locke, “I don’t know who you are, dude.” Libby opens Hurley’s mind with a kiss, and Fake Locke looks shocked when a serene Desmond answers, “Of course; you’re John Locke.” No wonder he threw him down a well. A guy who isn’t afraid of destiny is a guy who’s dangerous.
6. WHEN YOU’RE A JET, YOU’RE A JET ALL THE WAY: The chalkboard in the Santa Rosa Mental Health Institute rec room, when Hurley goes to visit Libby, has a child-like drawing of a palm tree on an island. The sun (no doubt Kwon heh heh) is shining down on an amorphous black cloud shape that vaguely looks like a crocodile. Fish are in the water, and, most notably, the Dharma shark makes his third appearance. To the lower left, a Pac-man type shape has a red box with a white stripe in its mouth. Coils come out the top, making it look like a wrapped present, or possibly an old-style dynamite detonator. A pretty funky picture, all told.
7. I CAN SEE THE RED TAIL LIGHTS HEADING FOR SPAIN: I think the “Island isn’t purgatory” line the producers have been saying all along just took a major hit last night when they revealed the whispers are souls trapped on the Island because of their crimes. With Michael showing up and giving us the flat-out answer like that, it did make me think, though: besides Jacob, who’s his own category, Hurley has only been visited by dead people who have themselves killed people on the Island: Charlie got Ethan, Mr. Eko (I’m going to count him, even though we didn’t see the actor) killed an Other, Ana Lucia offed Shannon, and Michael killed both Ana Lucia and Libby. I don’t think I’ve missed anyone else. Like the eye color change thing, I don’t know what that means, but it means something.
8. THAT’S ONE WAY TO GET LOCKE TO MEET JACK: So Charlie glimpses the other reality when near death, and half-drowns Desmond to make him see it, too. Desmond walks the earth, like Caine in Kung Fu, making sure everyone sees the other “bizarro alternate universe.” True Love gets Hurley to see it, so Des, really, why’d you run over Locke? Dude’s in a wheelchair; couldn’t you have just convinced him to go see Jack instead of run him over so during the trauma of trying to save his life, or fix his spine so Professor X can walk again? I don’t know; that seemed kind of harsh. I’m half-glad Smokey threw you in the well.
And speaking of being thrown down a well, make sure to hit EJ’s analysis I linked to up top there. His sister had a grand observation about what that meant.