Thursday, January 29, 2009

Lost Speculations and Observations, January Edition

This will probably evolve into a monthly thing, at least through the end of Season 5, so my heartfelt apologies go out to those of you who couldn't care less about (the best show on) TV.

A double-feature premiere and the most mythologically intense episode since "The Constant" later, and Lost has already hit its stride for the penultimate season. We've come a long way from wondering how these people eat and stay warm; once-intense conflicts like Jin and Michael's now seem petty. We saw a lot of exposition in "Because You Left", and a lot of nice Hurley moments in "The Lie", but it was "Jughead" that really got the theorizing taking off.

It was a divisive episode, to be sure. I think any individual's response to "Jughead" shows exactly what that fan is interested in from the show. If you want Jack and Kate and romance and character drama, then "Jughead" certainly was not the episode for you. For those of us who love nothing more than to dig into a little Richard Alpert speculation, "Jughead" was phenomenal. What did we learn?

We know that the original inhabitants/Richard's people/the Hostiles/the Others (for simplicity's sake, "the Others") were established on the Island at least since the 1950s--and potentially much longer than that. That also means that the Others' claim to have been the Island's original inhabitants is true, at least relative to the Dharma Initiative.

We know that the Others use Latin as a sort of lingua franca (a "lingua alia"?) since the 1950's, and potentially much longer than that. There are plenty of interesting things about this. First, all the Others we've seen speak English seemingly as a first language, with the exception of the Rasputin-esque (and known Ben Linus recruit, rather than former Hostile) Mikhail Bakunin. So it seems that Latin was not a lingua franca after all, but a code language to hide their conversations. Presuming the Others have been isolated on the Island for a long time, why the need to hide conversations?

Second, Juliet specifically mentions Latin as the language of the Enlightenment. That's not significant in and of itself, but I can name at least four characters off the top of my head who were named after Enlightenment prominents--John Locke, Desmond Hume, Danielle Rousseau, and Anthony Cooper.

Third, and most interesting to me as someone who's studied a bit of Latin, is the form of the language they speak. They're speaking Classical Latin, the language spoken by the Romans during the Republic and Empire. That's as opposed to Ecclesiastical Latin, the language spoken by the Church during the Middle Ages. Most scholars agree that it was a vulgarization of the Classical form; it was later vulgarized even further into what was spoken by the scientific and philosophical elites of the Enlightenment.

While obviously neither language has had native speakers for centuries, the Ecclesiastical version at least still enjoys some official use from the Vatican and others. Classical hasn't had any purpose outside of high school foreign language classrooms for a millennium. Given that the Others speak arguably the more obscure form of the language--and certainly not the one spoken in the Enlightenment--we may have a clue as to how long the Others have really been there.

We know that good old Ricardus Alpert has been in an authority position (the Panchen Lama, if you will) in the Others, and that Jacob has been at the top of the Others' command structure, for at least fifty years, and again possibly a lot longer. Furthermore, we know that rank-and-file Others like Juliet either don't know how old Richard really is, or they have some idea but consider that knowledge such a liability that they're unwilling to share that knowledge with their friends.

We know the reason Alpert visited Locke during Locke's childhood was that Locke told him to visit. Furthermore, the reason Alpert expected Locke to recognize that the compass already belonged to him was that Alpert had already seen Locke, as an adult, with the compass.

And of course, we know that the reason Charles Widmore knows about the Island is that he used to be on it, as an Other. Talk about a jaw-dropper.

In other parts of the world, we know that "Faraday's mother" lives in Los Angeles, conveniently the same place that Ms. Hawking lives. And we know that Faraday was doing some downright sketchy research, funded by Widmore, and probably resulting in poor Theresa losing her mind.

Now, for the speculation. First, I don't believe Richard Alpert is a bad guy. True, he sees the Island as his own domain. But I believe he has a better claim to that then either Ben or Widmore. And true, he goes to extreme lengths to defend the Island, but I see that as more "what Richard sees as necessary" than "Richard likes to kill people."

It seems likely that Widmore and Ben met on the Island at some point probably near the time of the Purge. The two must have come into conflict, a conflict that resulted in Widmore's expulsion from the Island. To this day, Widmore 1) holds Ben personally responsible for the expulsion, explaining his hostility towards Ben and Ben's people, and 2) had expended countless resources trying to find the Island again. Obviously the Freighter was his most recent attempt, and it only succeeded because the electromagnetic anomaly at the Swan had been neutralized when Desmond turned the failsafe. More and more, I'm convinced that Libby's boat race around the world, the real Henry Gale's balloon, and possibly even Rousseau's "science expedition" were previous efforts of Widmore's to find the Island again.

What was the source of this expulsion? How's this for conspiracy theory: Widmore was forced, for some reason, to turn the Frozen Donkey Wheel?

A lot of people have speculated to whether Ben or Widmore is the real "bad guy" on the Island, and my answer is that both of them are. A theme of Lost, ever since the beginning, has been "good people" versus "bad people"--not "good versus evil" or "right versus wrong". That's important because "good" and "bad" are a lot more relative. To Widmore, Ben's people are the "bad" ones, and vice versa. Both Ben and Widmore are quite evil, wanting the Island for their own personal gain, and stopping at nothing, not even killing people, to get it.

The only thing different about them is the way they go about it. Widmore, in classic "supervillian" style, keeps expensive scotch by his bedside, had a windowed office in London, and has a seemingly endless supply of thugs and resources to get at the Island. He doesn't disguise the fact that he wants it for personal gain because he doesn't need to. Ben, on the other hand, is much more devious. He lies and manipulates people into thinking that he has the good of the Island in mind, but in truth all he wants is the Island for himself.

How about Faraday? It's intuitive at this point that Hawking is Faraday's mother, but what other possible relations are out there? I think cute little gun-toting Ellie is a good candidate for being the same person as Hawking/Faraday's mother--that's why Faraday thought she looked familiar. (We know from casting lists that Hawking's first name is Eloise, which is even stronger evidence.) And I think that Widmore might even be a good candidate for Faraday's father... but no word on why Ellie would be working against her former lover.

And what of Theresa? We know she was involved in Faraday's research somehow. My idea is that she was the natural next step from Eloise (the rat, not Faraday's likely mother), and that Faraday tried to send her mind back in time, with disastrous results. She had the same progression of symptoms that Charlotte is having now, explaining why Faraday is so concerned about Charlotte now. Faraday's attraction to Charlotte is probably tangled with his feelings for Theresa too.

Now all we need is a little Matthew Abaddon to really get the rumor mill turning.

Currently listening: "Slow Cheetah", Red Hot Chili Peppers (from Stadium Arcadium)

1 comment:

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