Monday, June 5, 2006


As the second season of 'Lost' dwindled down to a handful of episodes, the show's creators began to address the biggest question of all about the series: What does it all mean?

They debunked several of the Internet fan theories using a process known as Elimination by Scoffing.

Throughout all their references to these theories there was a tinge of ridicule and I don't blame them. They've been saying for awhile that many of these theories are just not among the possibilities, but even that didn't stop the theorists out there from pursuing their pet ideas.

Then again, the producers have lied in the past about what was going to happen on the show......

First up, in "Dave", they pretty much scotched the idea that everything was happening in the mind of one character, a la Tommy Westphall of 'St. Elsewhere'. Dave may have just been a figment of Hurley's imagination, but the show's resident Dude realized everything else around him was the real deal, thanks to Libby's intervention.

During the finale, "Live Together, Die Alone", the creators tossed aside a few more theories:

1) They're all trapped in Purgatory.

The fact that the "writer" of "Bad Twin", who was a passenger on Oceanic 815 named Gary Troup (an anagram of purgatory), helped fuel that fire. But with the final moments of the episode, we got to see that there are others in the outside world.

And besides, the story was getting way too complicated to be this metaphysical journey through Danteland.
Pushing the button every 108 minutes (or not) might have had some kind of metaphorical symbolism attached to it, but it's hardly a Sysephean task.

2) The outside world no longer exists.

Again, the last few minutes of the finale refuted this theory. We saw not only two Portuegese researchers in the Antarctic barrens, but also Penelope Widmore in her own home... wherever that might be (probably England).

I think the researchers were Brazilian and they were in the Antarctic, rather than the Arctic because the establishing shot of that scene was of frozen mountains in the distance. Antarctica is a land base unlike the North Pole. But they could just have been glaciers, what do I know?

3) The Others are aliens.

This is where the scoffing really came up in earnest. While on their trek to confront the Others, Sawyer shared his idea that the Others were from outer space and that's why they had to wear the masks.

Maybe in the fervor of blogging such a theory sounds somewhat plausible to an Internet geek, but once you hear this idea espoused in Sawyer's voice it just sounds so ridiculous.

4) Back to Boston, Brothah.

Finally, they returned to the idea that it was all happening in one character's mind by invoking the 'St. Elsewhere' scenario:

"There's nothing out there, pal. This is it. This is all there is left. This ocean and this place here. We are stuck in a bloody snow globe. There's no outside world. There's no escape."

If anything, this sounds more like Desmond was aware of what happened in the finale of 'St. Elsewhere'.

In that last episode, after an impromptu memorial for Dr. Auschlander in the cafeteria, Tommy Westphall stared out a window of the hospital. The camera was now outside looking back at him and suddenly the whole scene shook.

Then the camera pulled back to reveal the St. Eligius building inside a snowglobe, held by Tommy in a different setting altogether. In this reality, he was still autistic, but his father (Donald Westphall) was not a doctor but instead was a construction worker. And Dr. Auschlander was still alive as his grandfather.

The inference was that everything we had seen in the past on the show had been nothing more than a fantasy dreamed up in the imagination of an autistic boy.

I call this the Westphallian World-view of the TV Universe, and it's championed by a couple of great guys with their Tommy Westphall websites which you can find linked to the left.

But it's not the world-view I share, as it's too restrictive. Each show in their "Great Link" has to have a definitive link which eventually leads back to 'St. Eligius'. For me, the TV Universe is much like ours - big and sloppy and everything's already included; it's just a matter of time and pretzel logic before every show can be officially linked.

For me, the Tommy Westphall staring out the window of the hospital was imagining a life in which he could still have Dr. Auschlander around, and in which his father had more time for him because of a different profession.

I think that Desmond was just using the image of a snowglobe to describe how he perceived the island's unique qualities. He probably envisioned it as having some kind of force field generated around it which kept it hidden from radar, satellite surveillance, and other means of discovering it. After all, it had that electro-magnetic power buildup that needed dispersal every 108 minutes; what else was the Dharma Initiative capable of?

Desmond also invoked the idea that the outside world no longer existed, but that's his right to hold the opinion. Just so long as we in the Real World know that the producers have discounted it.

So even though 'St. Elsewhere' wasn't named outright, this could have devolved into a Zonk! if we gave any more weight to Desmond's description of the island as a snowglobe. But it was just that a description summoned by a despondent Desmond.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think it's less that Desmond is aware of St. Elsewhere than that the producers/writers are aware of it.

Of course, Desmond's feeling that there is nothing else out there would stem from the fact that he tried to escape and, like the Mafia, the island drew him back. (That's the magnetic field.)

I hadn't thought it so obvious that the producers/writers spent time in the latter part of this season debunking a number of theories until you wrote about it.