More thoughts on Lost: “There’s No Place Like Home”

By Adam

May 31, 2008 Television No comments

(Adam is one of our guest writers who is a Lost nut, so here are some of his thoughts on the season finale. Thanks Adam! Visit his personal blog!)

It’s hard to stop thinking about the season finale of Lost. In what was, my opinion, the best season ender so far, we wrapped up a ton of the plot points introduced throughout the show, especially this season, all while peeking ahead at new chapters for next season–like Charlotte finding “where she was born,â€? and the Oceanic 6 going back to the Island seemingly led by Ben, who is now without a plan, just “a few ideasâ€? about how to get back.

What follows isn’t much of a narrative but a collection of thoughts under neat little section headers. I’ve always wanted to do the section header thing!

“Ready, Willing, and Able to Tell You Everything�

So, John Locke is the new leader of the Others. To the critics of the show who say they make this all up as they go along: recall John’s “connection� to the island from as early as season one, to season two’s declaration from Henry Gale that “we came for you, John,� to season three’s Mr. Eko whispering in John’s ear: “You’re next,� just as the smoke monster stomps him into the ground. At that point we all thought the smoke monster was going to kill John next, but now in season four, we see what all that meant.

Still have no idea why Alpert appeared in John’s past, even before he was born, unless of course he was just curious and did actually time travel to the past to see their new leader born. But I don’t think that’s it. In one of the Lost podcasts, the producers said that the Others choose their leader the same way the Bhuddists choose the Dalai Lama, that is, they seek out the person who meets the condition to be their reincarnated spiritual leader. So I think it’s safe to say that, in whatever book they were following, all signs pointed to this kid being born named John Locke.

And since we know that the island has some sort of mystical properties that allow it to keep people alive (Michael and Jack are prime examples, people who had “work to do�), it might be logical to assume that the reason Richard Alpert hasn’t aged is because he still has lots of work to do so the island won’t let him die, not even of old age.

Beyond that, I haven’t a clue.

How to Move An Island

Since Jacob didn’t tell John how to move the island, Ben took it to mean that Jacob wanted him to do it. That scene of the island disappearing was surreal. I figured “moving the islandâ€? was a metaphor, like the “magic boxâ€? that brought Locke’s father to the island in season three. I figured they’d just do something like re-boot the electromagnetic anomaly that was under the Swan station so that people’s compasses malfunctioned and nobody knew where the island actually was… in effect, seemingly “moving itâ€? from the outside world. Turns out I was wrong! They actually physically moved it.

I also thought the producers, during the podcast, were using some sort of metaphor when they admitted that, in the writers room, they referred to the big event in this season’s finale as “the frozen donkey wheel.� Wrong again! The method of moving the island hinged on an actual frozen donkey wheel. Literally. Who knew?

But how was it done? Did Lost finally cross the line into implausibility? A friend of mine forwarded me this article from Popular Mechanics, which explains that yes, it is actually theoretically possible to “move� an island in that fashion. The article tell us:

So just how can Locke move the island—and where will he move it, for that matter? Michio Kaku, author of Physics of the Impossible, told us he thinks that [the producers] Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse are using the island’s unique properties­—namely its electromagnet and the Casimir Effect hinted at in the Orchid Station orientation video—to open a transversible wormhole to different points in time and space.

The Casimir Effect and transversible wormholes are real, cutting-edge science, Kaku says.

“But how realistic is moving an entire island through time and space? According to Kaku, there are two ways it could be possible: Quantum teleportation, which would zap the island from one place to another; or through a wormhole, which could theoretically move the island to different points in either space or time. But “to move an island would require technology centuries more advanced than what we have now.�

So there you have it. Electromagnets, negatively charged exotic dark matter, super advanced technology, and the Casimir effect. And we thought we were just watching a show about a group of plane crash survivors.

What I’m curious about is why the deep, dark pocket of exotic dark matter that was presumably on the other side of the donkey wheel was so cold. At first, I took it at face value, because “negatively charged exotic dark matter� just sounds cold. But after reading some other episode synopsis’ I got to thinking: could the battery wired to the bomb on the boat have been some sort of clue?

Michael claimed that keeping the battery cold will stop the “chemical reaction� inside the battery. He paused a bit when he said “chemical reaction,� like we should be hung up on those words. So perhaps the cavern that Ben crashed into was being kept cold on purpose, and by turning the donkey wheel he heated it up, allowing whatever natural chemical reaction was supposed to take place to actually take place.

The question then becomes: who first started keeping it cold? It would have to be someone who knew the island was moving and wanted to stop it. Therefore, the island must have moved before.

Is that how the Black Rock ship got in the middle of the thing? Did it reappear right underneath it?

And if Dharma didn’t build the frozen donkey wheel, who did? If it really does take a sufficiently advanced technology to do what they did, maybe aliens are the answer after all? Or the ancient Egyptians? That would explain the hygroglyphs, and maybe the remnants of the four toed statue.

Where the Island Went

At this point, thanks in part to the article I mentioned, it could very well be anywhere, including another universe. It may have materialized on Mars, or in the Andromeda Galaxy. But I think the storytellers will keep it on our globe, just for practicality’s sake. I mean, having Jack, Ben, Kate, Hurley, Sayid and Sun blast off with Locke’s dead body in a space-ship to find the Island in season five might make some people turn off the show once and for all. So it’s a safe bet it’s still on Earth.

But where? I think something Ben said gave us a clue: the person who moves the island can never go back. When he said this initially I started thinking there must be a sci-fi sort of explanation for that, such as his body being physically charged with negative protons that would cause him to evaporate if he ever stepped foot near it again. But what if it’s much more simpler? The person can’t go back, because they don’t no where to look. Whoever moves the donkey wheel is thrown into another random wormhole thanks to being so close to the epicenter of the chemical reaction, and is separated from the island. As Ben said before, moving the island is a last resort, because it’s both dangerous and unpredictable, so… the island literally reappears in a random spot on the globe. The big risk is that it could re-materialize in the Arctic (with polar bears?), or even on another land mass.

It’s a good thing our globe is 70% water. They only have a 30% chance of re-appearing someplace with catastrophic results.

Don’t Forget About the Commercials

When my friends come over, they scoff at commercials. We had to wait until at least 9:45 to start so that we could fast forward through the commercials. Eventually I got impatient and started, preferring to take some short breaks than wait any longer. We ended up not having to sit through any commercials anyway, but I knew we were making a mistake! Near the end, there was this little easter egg:

So Octagon Global Recruiting is apparently accepting candidates on behalf of the Dharma Initiative. They’ll be in San Diego July 24 – 27, 2008. What a coincidence — so will the comic con!

Most Importantly… the Characters

I often get too caught up talking about the mysteries to really speak much about the characters. But that doesn’t mean I don’t think about them just as much. This episode has some really defining character moments.

  • Jack, for example, refusing to believe in miracles even after one happened right in front of him. Some people don’t see the things they need to see the most because they refuse, or are just unable, to look in the right direction.
  • Sun probably had the most heart-breaking scene… the break down in the helicopter as she watched her husband go up in flames. I’m not downplaying the fact that she lost her husband, but I couldn’t help but wonder about the scenes between her and Michael as well. Re-watch this “missing pieceâ€? that we saw before this season aired:

  • Hurley, looking embarrassed when the pilot says they need to drop more weight from the helicopter. He was thinking everybody else was thinking it was his fault. But nobody looked at him, and his new best friend Sawyer even sacrificed himself.
  • Sawyer. Oh, my. What a guy.
  • Desmond/Penny. This was the sweetest part for me, and perhaps made the episode what it was. Their reunion represented the end of the very story line that got me wrapped up with Lost in the first place–from the moment I sat down with my mom, already a Lost fan, to watch the beginning of season two and asked her a multitude of questions, like, “So wait, there’s a man in a bunker pressing a button to save the world? Huh?? And he told Jack he’d see him in another life?â€? I went out and got season one on DVD the next day.

See You In Another Life

Ultimately, a very rewarding episode for Lost fans and one that was still able to pull in a new viewer or two. Still lots of questions left unanswered, but ultimately I think the whole creative team pulled it off perfectly this time around. Jack screaming “We have to go back!� last year kept me on the edge of my seat, not exactly how I wanted to spend nine months, but this time I’m content for them to take as much time as they need before giving us the next to last chapter.