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Posted at 10:43 AM ET, 02/29/2008

'Lost' Dueling Analyses: The Constant

By Liz Kelly

In which Jen Chaney and I try to wrap our brains around last night's revelations without becoming unstuck in time.


Desmond (Henry Ian Cusick) is led into the Kahana's sickbay by Omar (Anthony Azizi) and Keamy (Kevin Durand). (ABC)

Liz: As one chatter put it in last night's live "Lost" forum, "between Penny and Desmond ... maybe that is really what the show is about and the rest of the airplane people are fuzz."

I don't know about you, Jen, but I'm feeling fuzzy. We were given a lot -- a LOT -- to chew on last night. The hour-long episode felt more like two (maybe we were unwittingly the victims of some time travel) and many dangling threads were tied together. And no question, the knot centers on Desmond and Penny. For today's analysis maybe we can do something a little different -- take last night's most complex complexities and try to make sense of them one by one.

-- The Black Rock, Alvar Hanso and Charles Widmore? What's the connection?
-- Dan's notebook referred to Desmond being his "constant." What does that tell us?
-- What's going on with time, the island and getting to/from it?
-- Who opened the door for Sayid and Desmond on the freighter?
-- How many physicists are on the "Lost" payroll?

Jen: Yes, these are all the main questions I have. As a corollary to the Dan and Desmond constant question, I also want to talk about some of the notes in Dan's notebook, too. But before we get into all of this, I want to bow down before the writers and director of this episode, Damon Lindelof, Carlton Cuse and Jack Bender, the core members of the "Lost" creative crew. The quick, jarring cuts from Desmond '96 to Desmond '04 were beautifully executed, especially as they led to the back-and-forth between Des and Penny at the end, where, finally, the two were almost in synch. To tie together all that higher math and physics into the show seamlessly -- and in a way that doesn't hinder the narrative flow -- is an impressive feat indeed. Not to lick their boots too much, but wow. Job well done.

Liz: I'm not much for boot licking, either. But I'd definitely spring for some cocktails. So maybe we should start with the most remote questions and work our way towards the most central. To me, the most remote is the question of The Black Rock and Alvar Hanso.

(Much more after the jump...)

Liz: First, a quick review. What do we know about Alvar Hanso? He founded the Hanso Foundation and seems to have some connection to the DHARMA Initiative. But last night we learned he is also a descendant of a Black Rock crew member.

Jen: That all came up again in that important auction scene. (As one of the readers pointed out, how did Desmond get know where to find Charles Widmore? I still don't know the answer to that.)

If this Lostpedia entry is to be believed, Hanso may have created some of the stations on the island.

Liz: This tells me that Alvar selected that specific island for his facilities because of something he knew about it courtesy of his ancestor's Black Rock log. Which, if I recall last night's show, was found near Madagascar (the log, not the ship). And those Hanso facilities were designed, according to that wiki link, to move the goal posts on the end of the world.

Jen: Doc Jensen points out today, though, that Widmore's interest in the Black Rock could have been a cover-up, allowing him to send crews to allegedly look for it when, instead, their aim was to find the "downed" Oceanic 815.

Liz: True -- though it would be quite a coincidence. And why would he want to find Oceanic 815 anyway? My money's on Widmore having some intel about the Black Rock.

Jen: Or wanting some. He set up a situation where Desmond wound up pursuing that boat race. By doing so, he wound up on the island. Could Widmore have foreseen this? He expressed a lack of confidence in Desmond before, but maybe he really just wanted to use Des for his own gain.

Liz: Or did he have some idea that a certain set of circumstances would open the door to... possibilities.

Jen: Should we remind people what the Black Rock is? It's an old slave ship -- you remember it from such scenes as Sawyer killing Locke's daddy.

Liz: And it's inexhaustible supply of dynamite.

Jen: It seems to have some historical significance. And proves that some life existed on the island years and years ago. Some have suggested that Alpert could have even been one of the crew mates, being as how he doesn't age and all.

Liz: At some point I seem to recall talk of Richard Alpert possibly being a surviving member of the Black Rock's crew.

Liz: Jinx!

Jen: Holy cow, we had same thought at the same time. Perhaps we are each other's constants.

Liz: Jen -- you complete me!

Jen: We know Alpert hasn't aged. But we don't know yet how or when he came to the island.

Liz: Or if he'll be back.

Jen: For the record, LindeCuse have said Richard Alpert will be back. But let's move on to those time riddles you speak of.

Liz: We found out that Desmond's time in his boomerangs to 1996 were exponentially longer than the time passing in the present (if it is the present). And Dan Faraday also talked about time travel as being more of a state of mind than actual physical relocation.

Jen: Faraday is basically Stephen Hawking, but nuttier and, in '96 anyway, with much longer hair.

Liz: Yes, as Mr. Liz said -- time travel had the effect of switching Desmond and Dan's hair.

Jen: If you look at the notes in his journal, he has sketched diagrams about imaginary space and time. All straight out of "A Brief History of Time." He also makes reference to the Lorentz Invariant. Which, according to this link, is limited by ... the Minkowski Metric.

Liz: Explain the Lorentz Invariant for we English majors.

Jen: Yes, I just linked to a site called Math World. I, too, was an English major so my ability to explain is woefully limited. (But that Spanish minor really comes in handy here!) The essence worth understanding, it seems to me, is that it's all related to this notion of time and space existing across four vectors. So beyond the three dimensions we traditionally understood.

Liz: Ah, the short lived George Minkowski.

Jen: Actor Fisher Stevens. Yes, as I pointed out during last night's yaplet, Mr. Stevens has been in numerous films and TV shows, including "Early Edition." In that program, he starred opposite Kyle Chandler, who played a character who always received the newspaper a day ahead of time, thereby allowing him to see the future.


George Minkowski (Fisher Stevens). (ABC)

Liz: The other time dis-continuum was Sayid's observation that the copter left the island at dusk yet arrived at the freighter midday. Though the trip was only 20 minutes.

Jen: Right. And the weather changed drastically. It was almost as though the storminess the copter encountered was transferred to Desmond's Army experience. Suddenly they were doing push-ups in the rain.

Liz: So, back to Dan's notebook -- at the end we saw a note saying that Desmond was to be his constant. That really had me wondering about Dan's reality -- is his island presence a jump back in time for him from some other future?

Jen: That last note was perplexing to me because the musical punctuation mark made me think it was something foreboding. I don't think Dan is from the future necessarily, although I suppose it's possible. I wonder if it's bad for Desmond to be his constant since Mr. Electromagnetic is not a stable entity. Although he seems under control now that he was able to get back in touch with Penny.

Liz: Well, we don't know how stable Dan is, either. It was also implied that Dan's sickness is radiation sickness -- that he didn't protect his head when doing all those Eloise experiments.

Jen: Right. Also, to your point, he seems to be committed to inventing a time machine, right? So maybe he did. Maybe he hit his head on the toilet, Doc Brown-style, and came up with a flux capacitor. (Sorry, I have to make a flux capacitor reference in an analysis like this. It's a requirement.)

Liz: As long as it doesn't look like a Dustbuster, I'm willing to believe.

Jen: One sidenote to point out, courtesy of the Get Lost podcast. Apparently Ms. Hawking and Brother Campbell have been to Queens College. See the highlighted photo in their screencaps, then call up the Lostpedia entry on Ms. Hawking.

If those images are accurate, it seems possible that they came in contact with Dan. Or that it's simply a coincidence. But do those exist on "Lost"?

Liz: I also read an interesting take in Whitney Matheson's Pop Candy comments. One reader asked if the sickness Minkowski and Des experienced because of time travel could possibly be the same thing that Danielle Rousseau described as the "sickness" that killed her companions 18 years ago. Perhaps they, too, became unstuck in time because of proximity to the island.

Jen: Oh, that's interesting. Seems like a very real possibility, especially since another freighter crew member also kicked it.

Jen: Not to backtrack, but this also raises questions for me about what will happen to Aaron. If you're born on the island but then you leave it, are you immortal?

Liz: Good question, Jen. Who else do we know has been born on the island? Alex?

Jen: But she has not left, and I suspect never will.

Liz: One last thing about Dan before we move on -- why didn't 2004 Dan recognize Desmond, since we now know he met him in 1996?

Jen: I tried to address that '04 Dan question last night. The writers made it clear in last week's episode that Dan was having memory issues already. So maybe it didn't click in his mind until later.

Liz: Okay, the final big question from last night... who opened the door of the sickbay for Sayid and Des? And who smashed the communication equipment? Minkowski said, "You've got a friend on the ship." Could that friend possibly be...

Jen: Michael. Almost everyone seemed to agree on that last night.

Liz: If it is Michael, let's talk about how he got there. The last we saw him he was piloting a boat away from the island with Walt. Does this mean Ben knew Michael would be picked up by the freighter?

Jen: Once again, Michael working at cross-purposes. Trying to help his friends, but then shooting people/messing up equipment. My guess is that Ben sent him on a path to the freighter.

Liz: I think when we finally see Michael again he will not get much of a warm reception. He's made himself persona non grata to almost everyone, though in the end he was doing what he thought was right for Walt. Which raises this poser: When Michael piloted that boat away, Walt was on it with him. Does that mean Walt is also on the freighter?

Jen: I don't think so. Walt may be trapped in the space-time continuum somewhere. He has clearly aged, if we believe "Tall Ghost Walt" to be an accurate depiction.

Liz: Yes, Walt may be able to time travel without the adverse effects.

Jen: But he seems to be a spirit of some sort. He has, as Dan said last night, no anchor.

Liz: Dude, he's got Vincent!

Jen: He doesn't have Vincent. Hurley does.

Liz: Yes, but Vincent exists in 2004 -- Walt can presumably make contact.

Jen: I alwo wanted to note two more things:

1. The calendar on the freighter. It's Christmas Eve on the freighter. But I don't think it is yet on the island. I also noticed that the X marks that cross off the days are color coded. I wonder what that signifies. I have no theories, I just wonder.

2. Penny's address. She lives at 423 Cheyne Walk in '04. This apparently was a clue in the Find 815 Game. Cheyne Walk is a famous street in the Chelsea section of London. A lot of famous people have lived there, including Mick Jagger. It's also, supposedly, not far from Widmore headquarters. And yes, I wanted to point out that the name is pronounced Chaney. Which, finally, proves that "Lost" is all about me.

Liz: Interesting. And the 423 is very close to our dear numbers. As is Faraday's device setting: 2.342.

Jen: Indeed. Ah, the numbers. I miss them.

Liz: So, miss all-about-me -- next week: We shift gears to follow Juliet through time and space.

From the release: "The Other Woman" - Juliet receives an unwelcome visit from someone from her past and is given orders to track down Charlotte and Faraday in order to stop them from completing their mission -- by any means necessary. Meanwhile, Ben offers Locke an enticing deal.

Jen: Next week is the sixth episode of the lot. And the creators have promised we will know all of the Oceanic Six by end of episode seven. Is one of them Juliet, even though she wasn't on the plane? I am thinking not, but it's a possibility.

Liz: Right -- she was very keen to get back to her sister and niece. Some might say she'd do almost anything to leave that island. So, until then?

Jen: Yep. But before we sign off, we should do a quick tease to let people know a very cool "Lost" feature will be launched on the site next week?

Liz: Yes! And it's your baby, so do tell...

Jen: We can't say more about it other than a. it is awesome; b. we are excited about it; and c. you will be able to find it by this time next week. And no, it's not a" Win a Date With Sawyer" contest. Though that is a good idea...

Liz: Oh, and stay tuned for news on where and when we'll be chatting about "Lost" next week. We may experience a little time shift ourselves.

By Liz Kelly  | February 29, 2008; 10:43 AM ET
Categories:  Lost  
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