Friday, February 15, 2008

Lost: Sayid agent man

Spoilers for "The Economist," the latest episode of "Lost," coming up just as soon as I get my tux altered...

You know, if this episode had featured nothing but the moment where Sayid pointed out that Jack trying to kill Locke wasn't "good diplomacy" -- the latest instance this season where a character is allowed to question Jack's idiotic leadership skills -- I would have been happy with it. But "The Economist" gave us so much more: a heavy focus on the underrated Sayid (featuring maybe Naveen Andrews' best "Lost" performance to date), Hurley reluctantly going over the cliff with Locke, Faraday's experiment providing more evidence to the "time on the island moves differently" theory, Sayid and Desmond actually getting off the island, and, trippiest of all, the revelation that Flashforward Sayid is working for Ben. The distinctiveness of Michael Emerson's voice meant that this last one was obvious well before we saw Ben's face, but the moment I heard him talk, a chill went down my spine.

Like every other original character, Sayid had run out of flashback-able material, but making him one of the Oceanic Six opens up a world of possibilities for him. Sayid Jarrah, globe-trotting reluctant assassin? Sweet. Sayid Jarrah, reluctant instrument of violence for Benjamin Linus? What what what? Sayid Jarrah, lovestruck sucker who's still badass enough to kill the woman who done him wrong even with a bullet in his shoulder? Splendid work by Mr. Andrews.

So who exactly is Sayid killing on behalf of Ben, and why? In the final scene, Ben suggests Sayid wound up working for him after "the last time you thought with your heart instead of your gun" and implies that Sayid is doing this to protect his friends. Are those friends the other members of the Oceanic Six, or the people left behind on the island? Are the people on the list working with Matthew Abaddon in trying to find the island? (And, if so, how did golf course guy not immediately recognize Sayid?) And how exactly does Ben get on and off the island all the time? The photo Miles had last week looked like it was taken in the real world, and the secret closet Sayid found, full of snazzy civilian clothes, foreign currency and phony passports, suggests he comes and goes to the real world as he pleases, submarine or no submarine. I can't imagine him being considered one of the Oceanic Six -- he wasn't on the flight, after all -- so I'm assuming he gets off the island without being rescued.

In the present-day island action, Sayid again provides evidence for why he'd be a much better leader than Jack. He comes up with a plan and executes it, even after getting captured and disarmed by Locke. I'm really hoping that we spend some significant time on the freighter with Sayid, Desmond (whose joy at seeing the helicopter with Juliet was one of the episode's nicest little grace notes) and the mysterious Regina and George.

I also love how Ben totally has Locke's number ("John's loking for somebody to tell him what to do next"), though the matter of why they don't just kill or, at least, torture Ben is still a problem. (Maybe Locke had a point about not wanting to carry the guy, but why couldn't they start removing fingers instead of toes? Or, for that matter, why not take advantage of Sayid's presence to try to get some answers? Or am I forgetting Sayid trying and failing to get anything useful out of Ben back in the Henry Gale days?)

And I'll admit that I totally fell for the Hurley bluff -- even though, in retrospect, Hurley probably needs to stick with Locke through much worse than we've seen so far before he'll have something to apologize to Jack about in the future. It helped that Hurley was overflowing with genius one-liners, whether it was "Oh, awesome. The ship sent us another Sawyer." or "Yeah, I saw you break that guy's neck with that breakdancing thing you do with your legs. I think I'll hang back here."

Hell, I'm feeling so favorably inclined towards the show these days that I even enjoyed the love triangle-y scenes. The problem with the polar bear cage arc wasn't that it dealt with the triangle; it was that it dealt with the triangle to the exclusion of everything else about the show. Evangeline Lily and Josh Holloway have real chemistry, and the "Now you know what it feels like to be me" scene with Jack and Kate was both an amusing moment and the latest callback to events from seasons past. The writers' eagerness to reference old events this season isn't just a wink to continuity nerds; it gives greater emotional weight to these people and their experience together, so that when they're separated, or fighting against each other, or -- in the case of Sayid and Desmond's long helicopter ride -- getting off the island, the impact is much greater.

So, bullet point-y questions:
  • How is Ben getting on and off the island? Does it involve climbing into the (maybe not so metaphorical) magic box?
  • What are the ramifications of Faraday's experiment? If time moves more slowly on the island, how would it ever be possible to have a real-time sat phone conversation with someone on the freighter?
  • Was Jacob's cabin absent because it only appears at night, or because it wouldn't appear before that many people?
  • Do you think The Economist is someone we already know? If so, what pre-existing character would be so attached to old technology that he would use a pager?
  • Was Elsa's bracelet supposed to be the same as Naomi's? And do we think the "RG" on the inscription of Naomi's bracelet is someone we know?
  • Now that Miles is a prisoner of the Locke group, will the inevitable Miles/Sawyer meeting create enough sarcasm to make Professor Frink's sarcasm detector go nuclear?
Finally, a couple of housekeeping notes. First, in case you missed the news, ABC has decided to condense this season from 16 episodes to 13 so that it doesn't run past May sweeps. (Never mind that the concept of sweeps, and even of a September-May TV season, is outdated.) Cuse and Lindelof have said that they still intend to provide all the answers in these 13 that they would have in the original 16 episode plan, and that the remaining three episodes (plus whatever material they feel they can safely cut from them) will be folded into the final two seasons somehow.

Second, I'm going on vacation next week, and while I don't intend to blog very much (primarily "The Wire"), I'll try my best to at least check in briefly on next week's "Lost" episode. With only 13 episodes this season -- and with the first three being this much fun -- I don't want to miss out on too much discussion.

What did everybody else think?

86 comments:

kshen said...

Jacob hates technology, but pagers are still a lot more advanced than lanterns.

MrCurious said...

Can someone explain what happened to Juliet and why she wasn't around to take the space they gave to the corpse?

todmod said...

I think it's pretty clear the Economist is The Beeper King.

Mike said...

Alan, great analysis, worth the wait, but it was tough seeing 3 other posts go up after the end of Lost before this one!

The flash-forward device has really, REALLY opened this show up to a whole new dimension, and while I think that the story moving forward with the freighter and all the other scheming on the island is keeping things interesting, I can't imagine this same episode showing, say, Sayid back in a situation where he had compromised his integrity because he thought with his heart. The flash forward provides enough clues, and this one in particular had the 'big reveal' at the end of Ben giving the orders. But it doesn't end there. If a flashback occurred where Sayid was standing on a fairway and dropped a bullet into someone's forehead, I wouldn't blink... these characters on the island learn from their pasts and have dark histories and whatever. But when Sayid who is OFF the island, the Oceanic Sixer, turns assassin... damn. This is the equivalent of shows (like BSG,to name one) doing a time-leap where the characters have been distorted, molded, truly effected by the events that occur, with the benefit of getting to see that transformation in 'real time' alongside of it. I could go on about how they have turned this into a more successful spin on what "The Nine" tried to do last year but failed at... but I'm not sure these flash-forwards would have the same impact if not for the knowledge of the characters and the island we already have and the emotions we've already invested.


Burning question... did Kate stay with Sawyer, ie... did she choose to stay... or did Sayid include her in part of the deal with Locke, or did he just leave her out of the equation altogether. Is it possible she has no clue that Sayid took Charlotte back and left Miles with Locke? Is it possible that she really wants to stay on the island with him?


And while I know we can't see everyone all the time, this was the second episode in a row that the Jack-faithful beach-dwellers were nowhere in sight. Obviously they are still around... would it have killed the writers to include, perhaps, a quick scene of Juliet getting Desmond. Do the "beachies" know about the helicopter? They must be expecting it after all.

Dan said...

Awesome episode. I loved the Sayid flash-forward scenes and the revelation that Ben has Sayid killing for him.

I actually thought Ben was going to be Jack's dad at first...but then I recognized his voice. Lots and lots of questions already this season and I'm not even going to try to pretend I know any answers.

One question for you, Alan: Did you mean you AREN'T going to do a review of 'The Wire' next week? Will you still put up an "On Demand" post for those of us who watch the episodes early?

Kristen said...

This episode was basically the definition of mind-blowing.

In the movie Frequency, the guy had real time conversations with his father who was living in the past. So using that logic, the boat could have a phone call with people on the island, even if one is in the past. T

Maybe the time discrepancy is why planes/helicopters tend to crash when they get near the island. And why Desmond could not get away from it on his boat. Maybe the submarine, is the only way off, because going underwater gets away from the time-space-continuum forcefield thing.

Alan Sepinwall said...

One question for you, Alan: Did you mean you AREN'T going to do a review of 'The Wire' next week?

No, I'll definitely be reviewing "The Wire." I just meant that that's the only show I'll be doing a real review of. I'm tabling the "Cupid" reviews for a week, not watching "Idol" or "Survivor" or "Sarah Connor Chronicles," etc., but I'll find time to watch and write about "The Wire" and, hopefully, "Lost."

Brandon said...

I am loving this season, and I'm a pretty big realist when it comes to Lost's shortcomings.

Your reference to the freighter containing "the mysterious Regina, and George" and then later to the RG-initialed bracelet made me think of Mean Girls' queen bee, Regina George. Please let that be a Lost shout-out.

Mrglass said...

"This episode was basically the definition of mind-blowing."
Only if you haven't seen any Bond or Bourne movie.

Since there's talk about "The Wire", a superior show in every way, a sad news article today about the reality of financial stress for newspapers:

"The New York Times announced Thursday that it would cut 100 newsroom jobs this year, according to a story on the paper's Web site, which cited a need to "bow to growing financial strain."

chris w said...

This episode was fantastic.

My initial prediction was that Sayid was hunting down Alvar Hanso. I think that would have been a pretty awesome story development. As it stands now, though, I'm very happy with the story and extremely intrigued.

As for calling the freighter, I think it's explained by the fact that say Daniel calls the boat at 4:00 pm. Well Regina picks up the phone at 4:31 pm when the phone started ringing.

Anonymous said...

I loved the shout-out to fans in last week's and yesterday's episode. I only managed to catch the second half of it .... have to watch the whole thing tonight. But between "what is the smoke monster" (John Locke) and "No more secrets. What do you want to know?" (Sayid to assassin woman) - I had a sharp-chortle moment there. This IS Lost!!!! So I wasn't quite taken aback when assassin-woman's pager went off and she shot him moments later.

Another shout out to the fans - Sayid: who's your man on the boat??
Ben: It's a secret.

No s%*t Sherlock!!!!

Kristin said...

If time moves more slowly on the island, then it really makes the flash forwards WAY more interesting. How much time actually passes in the real world by the time Jack, Kate, Hurley & now Sayid return? Wouldn't that be part of the reason why everyone seems so amazed by the Oceanic 6? Could years have passed?

I think Sayid is killing anyone who is associated with the Dharma initiative. Just like Ben had when he was younger. He killed them all off to be with the true "Others." And the Dharma people want to get back to the island to use it for some nefarious purpose. To screw around with time somehow. Who knows.

Sayid as assassin was so intriguing. I do think he is killing people to keep everyone else safe who decided to stay on the island.

As for Kate & Sawyer, I can see why she would stay with him after his little speech. He's right. Why would she want to go back to a world where she is wanted by the cops? On the island she has everything she needs - especially him.

And every woman across America was sighing at those love scenes for next week. Hot, hot, hot!

Matt Brown said...

I was completely fooled by Hurley, but I figured Sayid was working for Ben right after he said, "The day I trust that man is the day I sell my soul."

Bobman said...

I did some math earlier, under the assumption that the time discrepency is just some linear "when x time passes on the island, y time passes in real life".

I didn't catch the exact numbers, but it was something like 2:45 minutes on the island compared to 3:15 in the real world (based on the clock from the payload vs the one on the island). If the Losties were on the island for "100 days" as Jack says, this would correlate to about 118 days in the real world. Not exactly a mind-blowing difference.


Great episode though. So much new stuff to think about.

RTVW said...

I love that the show is acknowledging the things that drive us viewers crazy. This week they had Sawyer bring up the question I've had since last season's finale, how the hell is Kate walking around free in the future? Now I can feel confident I'll eventually get an answer. That was the one thing that always frustrated me in the past. Much like how you appreciate the characters now acknowledging Jack's shortcomings as a leader, I feel like I'm not being asked to just trust that the writers get what we the audience sees.

As for the person who might still want to use a pager, I actually wondered if that choice had more to do with the pager not being as easy to track as newer technology. Didn't even occur to me to wonder who would still want to use older technology. Now I'll have to reassess who the Economist could be.

lungfish said...

Could the person in the coffin in the funeral home be Frank the helicopter pilot? The obituary said that the dead man was from NY, we know he's from NY with the whole Yanks/ Red Sox exchange with Jack.

Doug S said...

Regarding time moving more slowly: The 31 minutes is the difference between Farraday's timepiece on the island and the one that missiled in from the freighter, right? The question is whether the times shown were elapsed time or real time. For example, did Farraday and the freighter synch time pieces, then by the time the frieihter piece arrived it had gone 31 minutes further in time than Farraday's? If so, by my math the island is losing about a half hour for every three hours in the "real world," meaning if Jack says they've been gonbe 100 days in the real world they've only been gone a bit over two weeks longer than that, which doesn't seem like a major issue to me.

Or did those two times indicate 2:45 pm and 3:16 pm, meaning there's a (constant?) 31 minute difference between island and freighter? Don't know what that would mean, as that 3:16 could be the time on a completely different day, and we'd have no idea how different island time is from real world time.

Another question: did anyone catch the name on ben's Swiss passport found by Sayid? I haven't checked my dvr but it seemed they focused on it long enough for it to be meaningful.

lungfish said...

The name on the Swiss passport was Dean Moriarty, which Lostpedia says:

"Sayid finds a passport of Ben's with the alias Dean Moriarty - a central character in On The Road, by Jack Kerouac, who also wrote Dharma Bums. Kerouac's Moriarty is based on Neal Cassady, who can also be seen in The Electric Koolaid Acid Test, just standing there tossing a hammer up in the air and catching it. Moriarty is also the name of Sherlock Holmes' arch-nemesis, often considered literature's first super-villain."

Dan said...

If the person in the coffin was the helicopter pilot, that would explain Jack's sadness given the fact he was trying to get back to the island so badly.

Who is Alvar Hanso????

And when I think of a pager, I think hospitals. Hospitals have doctors. Jack's dad is a doctor.....just sayin'

Mark said...

Pagers? The mysterious person that Elsa was working for was none other than my former boss. She had us working off a dial up internet connection.

Susan said...

I loved the Kate and Sawyer scene. I could definitely see Sawyer wanting to stay - in the "real world," he's a murderer and a con man, and a guy who's probably never made a decent living. On the island, he has food and water, decent housing (if they live in the barracks), no obligation to society, no one expecting anything of him, and a woman who loves him (if Kate stays).

"Wouldn't that be part of the reason why everyone seems so amazed by the Oceanic 6? Could years have passed?"

I wonder if that's why they had Jack say, "I can't believe I haven't seen a baseball game in 100 days." But the pilot - who presumably heard that comment - didn't contract him on the amount of time.

Doug S said...

Thanks Lungfish.

Dean Moriarty is also, I believe, a character in Alan Moore's exquisite League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier, which features an amazing homage to On The Road.

Kristen said...

I am wondering if last night's flashforward takes place AFTER Jack's. Maybe all of the Oceanic Six fell apart after they got home (like Hurley/Jack did) and THEN Ben approached them all and agreed to help them if they did his bidding. So, maybe Sayid was as screwed up as Jack and Hurley and then became all James Bond-y. And ,maybe Hurley and Jack eventually work for Ben off the island too.

As for Kate, she could have been working for him first, in exchange for Ben getting her out of jail.

Logan said...

Why did Sayid kill the golfer?

Guy clearly wasn't an "agent", not with all that nervousness. Plus, Sayid would be fingered in a second as a only a few Rich guys had reserved the course that day.

Also - is it possible that while the golf course scene was clearly a flash-forward, that the German scenes might've been flash*backs*, and that Sayid may have been working for Ben from the beginning?

christy said...

Ooooh, I am so eating up all these theories! Keep them coming, people.

Logan, yours would have totally blown my mind, had the assasin/lover girl not said something like "I understand if you don't want to talk about the crash." That would be a hell of a red herring. Though, as always, I never rule anything out.

Matter-Eater Lad said...

We don't actually know that Kate's one of the Oceanic 6. Perhaps the O6 are the public face of the crash survivors, and others are off the island and living under new identities (which would help explain why the obit in the S3 finale was for someone named [IIRC] Jeremy Bentham).

Jeremy said...

My interpretation of the time change was a bit different than the others I've seen. From the perspective of the boat, the missile took (or should've taken) about 30 seconds to get to the island. I don't remember exactly how long the countdown over the phone was, but that is the applicable time. On the island, the missile took about 30 minutes to arrive (according to the time difference on the clocks). For every one second elapsing on the boat one minute elapses on the island. Something like a 60:1 real world to island ratio. So, 100 days on the Island would mean 6,000 days (Like 20 years) in the real world. That ratio seems a bit high, but 20:1 or 30:1 might work. At any rate, you get the idea.

That time difference would obviously explain a lot - Big Ghost Walt, the Oceanic 6's rock star status, Ageless others, etc.

BigTed said...

As much as I enjoyed the "Ben surprise" in this episode, I have to say that, more than anything, it's Benjamin Linus' character and storyline that have changed most over time according to what seems like little more than the screenwriters' whims. Sure, Michael Emerson is great, and it's fun to watch him manipulate other characters. But the lack of plot coherence -- the idea that the writers pull "mysteries" out of their butts without establishing them in any way -- has always been this show's weakest point. And the idea that Ben is now a globe-trotting assassination mastermind seems like something they just cooked up last week.

I thought it had already been established that Jacob's cabin actually moved around to different locations on the island. Didn't Hurley encounter it in a different place than Locke did?

Could anyone tell from the rocket experiment exactly how time is altered on the island? Will the castaways return to civilization the day after they left (or the day before), or 20 years later?

Mo Ryan said...

Maybe this is a dumb comment/question, but clearly Kate *wanted* to stay with Sawyer. She still had her gun! Surely with that in her hand it would not have been that hard to get out of Ben's bedroom. So am I off base for thinking she pretty much decided to stay there with Sawyer? If she'd tried to get out via the window or something, I don't think Sawyer would have hurt her or told the others in the house.

I was SO taken in by the Hurley fakeout. Nicely done. And word on Sayid getting a great episode.

I can't wait for a Sawyer/Miles/Hurley quip-a-thon.

Question -- does anyone else think that the island could be a place where two things are going on -- it's a place where souls pass between death and life (going back and forth), and also there is something wacky going on with time? The two ideas are related and have been rolling around in my mind this season.

Bobman said...

My interpretation of the time change was a bit different than the others I've seen. From the perspective of the boat, the missile took (or should've taken) about 30 seconds to get to the island. I don't remember exactly how long the countdown over the phone was, but that is the applicable time. On the island, the missile took about 30 minutes to arrive (according to the time difference on the clocks).

I love this theory, but I don't think it quite works (though time travel / skew is confusing enough taht I could be thinking about this wrong): obviously a significant amount of time passed on the island between the launch of the payload and the time it arrived - enough time for Sayid to go off and bring Charlotte back. If a half hour was passing in the real world for every 30 seconds on the island, wouldn't the payload clock have been 60x BEHIND the clock on the island, not ahead? Because if the payload clock was running at "real world" time, 30 seconds would be like, half a second island time. And if the clock was running at "island time", it would have been identical to the clock actually on the island, yes?

TiVo Queen said...

"If time moves more slowly on the island, how would it ever be possible to have a real-time sat phone conversation with someone on the freighter?"

Thanks Alan. Thanks for the migraine.

Freckles said...

Three thoughts:

1) I don't think the island can be weeks behind the boat's time because the people on the boat would say, "Hey, what is going on at the island? You've been gone for weeks?" Now perhaps the boat is also in a different time from the main land...?

2) If the island is a constant 31 minutes behind/ahead (I forget), that would explain why phone conversations sound seamless. If time were moving faster on one end of the conversation, it seems like there would be some kind of delay or distortion.

But all of this is speculation since these are Lost's rules of time travel and physics and I am mostly familiar with Back to the Future's rules.

3) I like curly hair Sayid better than straight hair Sayid. Also, I was very sad to see him in a future without Nadia.

jim treacher said...

At first I thought Sayid golfing was another flashback. Until Sayid said he was on 815. And before I even took that in, he had shot a guy. Wow!

Watching it again, the voice on the other end of the cellphone Sayid ends up throwing in the trash is Ben's. They tried to muffle or alter it. Also, where did they film that? Was that real snow? Sayid picking up the glob of snow seemed like an odd gesture... maybe like he was washing his hands?

My favorite Hurley moment was the way he said to Sayid, "Dude, don't ask."

Maybe physical objects go through some sort of time warp but radio waves don't? That might explain why Faraday said to take the exact same route out as they took coming in. Is it some sort of blind spot?

Can't wait for Miles vs. Sawyer. Clash of the Asshats! Or maybe they'll end up becoming fast friends?

I could go on about how they have turned this into a more successful spin on what "The Nine" tried to do last year but failed at...

I read an interview with Jorge Garcia where he directly referenced The Nine. That show was trying to do sort of Lost-in-reverse, so it's only fitting that they're showing how it's really done.

Considering the preview shows Kate LEAPING into bed with Sawyer, it looks like she volunteered to stay.

"This episode was basically the definition of mind-blowing."
Only if you haven't seen any Bond or Bourne movie.


Yeah, but we haven't seen Sayid doing that stuff. And being frighteningly good at it. And working for Ben!!

As for calling the freighter, I think it's explained by the fact that say Daniel calls the boat at 4:00 pm. Well Regina picks up the phone at 4:31 pm when the phone started ringing.

Yeah, but it didn't take 31 minutes for them to respond to each other. You know how CNN has live reports from Iraq, and there's a 2-3 second pause? That's the signal taking that long to get there. Why isn't the radio signal from the sat phone taking 31 minutes to get to the freighter and 31 minutes to get back?

I didn't catch the exact numbers, but it was something like 2:45 minutes on the island compared to 3:15 in the real world (based on the clock from the payload vs the one on the island).

2:45 and 3:15 PM. There was a 31-minute discrepancy, not a 30-second one. Remember, she said her radar or whatever had indicated the payload had landed, but it was nowhere in sight.

If the Losties were on the island for "100 days" as Jack says, this would correlate to about 118 days in the real world.

It would be more like one minute in the real world equals half an hour on the island, wouldn't it? Which would mean they've been gone for something like 8 years.

Alan Sepinwall said...

That might explain why Faraday said to take the exact same route out as they took coming in. Is it some sort of blind spot?

I'm reminded of the scene at the end of season two where Ben lets Michael and Walt get on the boat and then reminds Michael to follow a specific compass heading no matter what. Clearly, you have to follow very specific routes to get on or off the island.

Anonymous said...

Was the obit definitely for a Jeremy Bentham? If so, then that is interesting, as he is a very prestigious 18/19th Century philosopher who was also, quite importantly it would seem, one of the leading Economists of his day.

One other thing that needs to be dealt with, is that we have no idea what id going on with the rest of the Others. Yes some where killed, but we still don't know the deal with Richard and those who seemed to walk away from Ben.

drake leLane said...

Matter-Eater Lad: We don't actually know that Kate's one of the Oceanic 6

I held on to that thought until the preview for next week showed Kate fending off the paparazzi, insinuating that she's part of the famous Oceanic 6.

The time/relativity thing is going to be interesting to sort out.

Assuming for a second that time truly travels differently on the island, we know that it couldn't be any more then a couple years max given that the Jack w/ beard flashforward from last season happened in April of 2007 (April 5, 2007 was the date on the newspaper). And remember Jack was listening to Nirvana on the radio, as April 5 was the anniversary of Kurt Cobain's death).

If it weren't for that, I'd say that when Jack mentioned the 100 days, Frank didn't contradict him because the Red Sox just won again this past October ;)

Instead, Frank probably just had his attention diverted from the arrival of the payload.

Jeremy said...

Bobman said, "If a half hour was passing in the real world for every 30 seconds on the island, wouldn't the payload clock have been 60x BEHIND the clock on the island, not ahead?"

Hmm, I don't thinks so Bobman, but I could definitely be wrong here. This makes my brain hurt and my college physics classes were more than 1 or 2 years ago now. In fact, we need some physics professors to really explain this, but let me try one more time in a little more detail.

There are 3 different time measurements to worry about in Daniel's experiment:

1) Time on the Missile ("Missle Time")
2) Time on the Boat/Real World ("Real World Time")
3) Time on the Island ("Island Time").

By the way the phone calls just complicate things, since the transmissions are traveling at the speed of light, so I am completely ignoring that for now. I frankly don't understand physics well enough to explain that, but let's try to break down the 3 times.

First, the easy one, "Real World Time" - The countdown made it clear that the boat expected 20 seconds or so pass between launch and landing. I think that *from the boat's perspective* that is in fact how long it took. So, Real World time = 20 seconds.

Next, "Missile Time". This one is a little harder since presumably part of time it follows the boat's rules and part of the time it follows the island's rules, but for the sake of argument. I'll say it spends more time in the boat's world. So, let's say only a minute elapsed for the missile.


Finally, "Island time". First, I am assuming both clocks were the same at the time of launch. Btw- I'm going to argue that time was about 2:44. I think that is a safe assumption since the time diff. appears to be what Daniel cared about. So, the missile clock went from 2:44 to 2:45 (a one minute change), while the Island clock went from 2:44 to 3:14 a 30 minute change. So, Island time = 30 minutes.

So, if my many assumptions are close to correct (the only big one is that the clocks were the same at launch) then we can come to the following conclusion:

Between the missile launch and landing, 30 seconds elapsed in the real world and 30 minutes elapsed on the Island, therefore for every minute elapsing on the island one 1 hour (60 minutes) elapses in the real world. 1 island days = 60 real world days. 1 island year = 60 real world years, etc.

Does that make sense at all, or has lost finally made me lose it?

Jeremy said...

By the way - I don't really think 60:1 is the right ratio, it just makes the numbers easier in an explanation. 10 or 20:1 would probably line things up better with Walt's aging, and Jack's flash forward.

jim treacher said...

April 5, 2007 was the date on the newspaper

Where? The real-world 4/5/07 LA Times was used as the prop, but that doesn't mean it's the in-show date. And then there's the fact that the clipping refers to a building that hasn't even been built yet.

Christy said...

Jack's 20 years-out-of-date surgical skills wouldn't allow him back into a operating room, not at the speed of medical innovation in the 21st century. So I don't buy the 20 year jump. Not that I have any problem with the logic or calculations anyone has used. Just saying.

Colin Samuels said...

There are so many things to pique one's curiosity in this episode, but I'm particularly intrigued by the inscription on Naomi's bracelet. Who will "RC" turn out to be? It seems like a romantic message from a lover or spouse. Presumably, since Naomi's sexuality was not discussed, it could be a woman. That makes Regina on the freighter a possibility (and if so, provides Said an in with that group for returning Naomi's body to them). The only character I can recall with those initials was Juliet's sister, Rachel Carson (or Carlson or some such). A connection there seems pretty unlikely. Most likely, RC hasn't been introduced to us yet, but when he or she is, I'm expecting some fireworks over Naomi's death.

drake leLane said...

1) Cuse and Lindelof wouldn't use an existing dated LA Times as a prop without knowing it would be logged and filed with fans.
2)Nirvana on the radio is no coincidence. April 5 it is.
3) The use of technology (Jack's phone) suggests 2007 as well.

Listen, I'm all for the mind-fuck of a huge shift in time, but I just don't see it plausible given the facts.

Einstein's theory of special relativity might explain a lot here. Someone on Losteastereggs gives a great explanation of how this works. Essentially, relativity suggests that the island is moving at a faster rotation than the off the island, making things appear to be slower on the island. This change in speed (and therefore gravity) also explains the need for specific routes to the island -- traveling to and from what is essentially moving target.

drake leLane said...

Who will "RC" turn out to be?

It's actually 'RG'

Colin Samuels said...

Great eyes, Drake! Thanks.

dave s said...

I don't think 'RG' means anything specific... I think it was more to confirm that the people Sayid is hunting down off the island are the same people that are currently trying to infiltrate the island.

I'm always open to being wrong when it comes to Lost though.

Dan said...

You gotta love when all the sci-fi nerds get going on their theories. I guess it is fun to speculate. But let's be honest...this is an ABC prime-time show. They aren't going to confuse 95% of the viewers with a weird parallel universe or super-warped time travel theory.

Obviously there are a million questions to be answered about everything...but there is no way they will pull some super-physi-dork theory and make all our heads spin.

drake leLane said...

What's great about Lost is that it works as entertainment on different levels. Just like knowing who all the name-checked philosophers are, knowledge of physics isn't necessary to enjoy the overall story -- it just contributes a different level of appreciation.

That being said, or back to psuper-physi-dork speak:
In respect to 'real-time' phone dialogue, Einstein's theory posits that things approaching the speed of light (ie, SAT phone transmissions) wouldn't experience a time difference.

Anonymous said...

The Red Sox reference had to be referring to the 2004 one, since this episode was written/filmed before the 2007 World Series.

Undercover Asian Man said...

With Ben becoming the complete focal point of everyone and everything on the Island and off it, doesn't it prove that the producers were full of crap when they said they had this whole Lost story plotted from the very beginning? After all, the producers were openly admitting that the character of "Henry Gale" was supposed to be a short term thing, and only expanded it after liking Emerson's performance in the role. Now suddenly he is THE MAN that Lost revolves around.

Not that it's any surprise that the first two seasons were a big chain pulling exercise without any idea where it was going. The significance of the Hatch, the Tailies, the big pile of pneumatic tubes, even the Hanso connection and training tapes are all being swept under the ever-growing rug of Lost amnesia.

I do believe they have the final 40 episodes plotted, but when will they ever come clean and admit that there was NO WAY they had everything planned from the start?

drake leLane said...

RE: Ben/Henry Gale and pre-planning

Sure the Henry Gale character may have been initially a temporary thing, but who's to say they didn't have the Ben character already planned? Emerson's performance could have then made them decide to morph the smaller Henry Gale character into the larger, planned out role.

That'd the excuse I'd use, anyway ;)

Anonymous said...

drake leLane: "Einstein's theory posits that things approaching the speed of light (ie, SAT phone transmissions) wouldn't experience a time difference."

WRONG. Go reread your physics text books. Or read one for the first time.

I think what you are trying to say is that the speed of light is absolute in ALL frames of reference, regardless of their velocities relative to each other, and that objects with "no" (or hyper-small) mass, like electromagnetic waves, will be measured covering the same distance in all these frames.

Objects with mass traveling at near "c", like a friggin helicopter, would experience not only time dilation, but severe length and mass distortions as well. So using Relativity to plausibly explain things is a joke, but one Lost will probably use anyway and just focus on the time element, ignoring the rest. They are good at "ignoring the rest".

drake leLane said...

Ok, sorry... perhaps this sentence would have worked better?
special relativity incorporates the principle that the speed of light is the same in terms of any system of inertial coordinates, regardless of the state of motion of the source

Now please excuse my while I move this book back to it's old and dusty home ;)

Doug S said...

I don't see how the April 2007 obituary, in an episode when Jack is no longer a media star as a member of the Oceanic 6, jibes with all the ancillary Oceanic Air web stuff that's been launched that seems to indicate the search for Flight 815 was abandoned at the end of 2007 and that operations would begin again in January of 2008. Anyone?

Dave S said...

Yeah, I think that the Henry Gale character morphed into the leader of the others, who was going to appear in the season finale of season two all along. That's my understanding anyway. Not sure I can document it, but I seem to remember an interview or a podcast or something implying that.

Dave S said...

Doug:

Off the top of my head, I'd venture to guess that the producers don't share the intricacies of the future of their plot with the people who do peripheral web design for ABC's promotional department.

I agree with you though... I wish that all of the various mediums they've used to promote the show had the kind of continuity the writers seem to want to accomplish on the actual episodes of Lost. I'm a complete Lost apologist, but I wish the producers would insist on at least reviewing everything before it went up.

Also, I don't know when that site was launched, but it might have been before the 48 episode announcement. If that was the case , they might have at the time thought they weren't going to get around to this part of the story for quite awhile.

drake leLane said...

I assumed that the Oceanic Air web stuff was more marketing than actually being part the Lost universe.

'Operations would begin again in January of 2008' meaning the series would start up again (January 31st, 2008 being season 4's air date).

Doug S said...

It's hard not to think that the Oceanic web site, which ties into that commercial which ran a couple of weeks ago, which showed "hidden" footage of a plane wreck on the ocean floor, doesn't tie into the actual series, which last week (or the week before?) showed a plane wreck on the ocean floor. Both wrecks assumed to be Oceanic 815, both footage seemed to be the same.

Is it really possible that Cuse, Lindelof & JJ allow ABC to run marketing stuff that differs from their specific idea of where the show is going?

Anonymous said...

The Economist is Locke. Who else would Ben want to kill so badly?

jim treacher said...

Cuse and Lindelof wouldn't use an existing dated LA Times as a prop without knowing it would be logged and filed with fans.

And knowing that the actual content would be pored over as well. Like referring to a building that's scheduled to be completed in 2010.

2)Nirvana on the radio is no coincidence. April 5 it is.

Ever notice that you'd never heard Nirvana used on TV shows before this? For years, TV shows couldn't get the rights to their songs. Courtney Love needed some more drug money, I guess, because she finally sold her rights to their catalog and Lost was one of the first shows to use a Nirvana song. So it could be a coincidence.

jim treacher said...

Re: Ben/Henry, Michael Emerson was on the Opie & Anthony show this morning, and he said when he was hired he didn't know what it was going to turn into. He said he doesn't know much more than we do, but he thinks the writers have an overall plan with a lot of room to improvise. If his character or performance hadn't worked out, they would have found another way to do the same thing. As far as he knew, anyway.

He also said that scene in Berlin was filmed in downtown Honolulu. No wonder Sayid grabbed the snow, he was trying to cool off!

Freckles said...

re Elsa:

Might be a stretch but I wonder if Sayid's double-crossing blond girlfriend in Berlin was an allusion to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade?

I can't make any inferences based on that idea but I'm throwing it out there.

Anonymous said...

Assuming John doesn't intend to ever leave the island, and certainly would never put it in danger, why would he be the economist / why would Ben be trying to kill him at this point in the chronology?

Not to mention John doesn't seem like the corporate mastermind 'the economist' seemed to be.

Dark Tyler said...

By the way, Sayid totally is the flash-forward dead guy in last year's finale.

jim treacher said...

Assuming John doesn't intend to ever leave the island, and certainly would never put it in danger, why would he be the economist / why would Ben be trying to kill him at this point in the chronology?

Not to mention that Elsa's whole mission was to get Sayid to reveal the identity of his employer (just as his was to get her to give up her boss). Locke and Ben already know each other. This is something much bigger.

Anonymous said...

Doug S - ABC does do most of the Lost marketing on their own. I remember last year the producers being upset about a promo that promised answers when the episode didn't answer anything. They thought it would annoy fans. I am sure they have some input, but all that online stuff is a totally different department doing a totally different job. And since Cuse and Lindelof were on strike for the last three months, they definitely didn't have any say over what went up online.

The Alden said...

The way Ben talked about 'these people' and referred to Sayid's past actions (which I got the impression meant he trusted the Freighters and paid for it) definitely pointed me into thinking that the economist is Abaddon. We don't really know much about him, and we know he wants to find out where they are and whether they're alive (4x01), which fits in with the idea that Sayid and Ben are doing this to protect Sayid's 'friends' (those left on the island).

So, Sayid, Kate, Jack, Hurley and (the other two O6ers, whom I'm spoiled for) get off, and they have to work hard to lie about the island and keep things secret. Why? Because Abaddon is still searching for it, like he sent Naomi and her gang in the present and like he hired Elsa in the future. Makes sense to me.

Christy said...

Speaking as a sci-fi nerd and as a nuclear engineer, I'm convinced that it is never a good idea to get too into the physics of a fictional universe.

Has anyone else watched the enhanced version of last week's episode available on-line? They have little notes that pop up saying that the unavailable guy on the boat has the same last name as a German mathematician, that C.S. Lewis created a universe that used a special kind of portal, that the different scattering of light noted by Daniel is important....

I jumped to the conclusion that the Economist was Penny's father, Whitmore.

And speaking of time differentials, should we give importance to the fact that Elsa's page came before it was supposed to? "You were supposed to page me at 10:30!"

Jeremy said...

This is actually my first time posting. I did a search for "bed" and didn't see this mentioned. The shot of Sawyer coming into the room while Kate was under the bed seems to be a call back to Sawyer's flashback when his mother is killed and his father commits suicide, as a result of the original Sawyer's actions. This further cements the connection that Sawyer had become exactly what he hated. I have been lurking for months and love your posts, Alan. Have a great vacation.

jim treacher said...

And speaking of time differentials, should we give importance to the fact that Elsa's page came before it was supposed to?

I just figured that was a bit of exposition. It was a way of telling us that the page was faked, that she was expecting it as part of her ploy to get information out of Sayid. Apparently she hadn't gotten to that part of their pillow talk yet.

BWC said...

Re: Plotting it all out ahead of time

I think too often people assume that when somebody like the Cuse & Lindelof or George Lucas or whomever else claims to have plotted out a grand narrative years earlier that they actually plotted every minute twist and turn along the way--which is lunacy.

Leaving aside the amount of time it would take to craft an intricate narrative before reaching day 1 of shooting, every creative artist is at least somewhat familiar with the experience of starting down a specific path only to discover the story pulling you in a different (and hopefully more interesting direction).

When Michael Emerson does a guest shot and turns out to have a presence you don't want to lose, your first move is to see what kind of adjustments you have to make that would allow you to make as much use of him as possible.

I'm sure the way this has worked is that the Lost guys said "we're starting out with ABC, and we want to get to XYZ, which means we're going to have to hit points G, M, R and T somewhere along the way." As for everything else along the way... as long as they don't wind up contradicting your endpoint (or what you've shown before), they'll be fine.

Rand said...

When Locke says "I'm in charge, is that going to be a problem?" to Hugo, I just wanted to yell at the screen. Yes Locke, that is a problem because you're crazy, since Hugo's the only nice guy you should follow him.

dez said...

As for Kate, she could have been working for him first, in exchange for Ben getting her out of jail.

Maybe he's the "he" she spoke of in the last season finale ("He'll be wondering where I am" or whatever she said). Which...ewww....

I can't wait for a Sawyer/Miles/Hurley quip-a-thon.

Same here! I hope Miles is on the show for a long time, too--he's hilarious.

2)Nirvana on the radio is no coincidence. April 5 it is.

I hear Nirvana on the radio almost every day (and sometimes five or six times a day). I don't think that proves anything.

jim treacher said...

What bwc said. There's only so much detail you can work out ahead of time, because you don't know what kinds of real-world problems will crop up. One example is Mr. Trick from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He was supposed to be the big bad for that season, but for whatever reason the actor didn't work out. So they killed him off after a few episodes and put the Mayor in the spotlight. Which ended up working, because Harry Groener was fantastic. His evil-yet-nurturing relationship with Faith was one of the high points of the whole series. But it wasn't part of the original plan at all.

Dennis Wilson said...

With Cane done for the season and maybe forever, is there any chance of Nestor Carbonell returning to do more episodes of Lost this season?

Anthony Foglia said...

"trippiest of all, the revelation that Flashforward Sayid is working for Ben. The distinctiveness of Michael Emerson's voice meant that this last one was obvious well before we saw Ben's face, but the moment I heard him talk, a chill went down my spine."

Actually I thought Emerson did a good job of slightly changing his voice. But I suspected it was him from Sayid's on-island line "The Day I work for you is the day I sell my soul." It practically screamed dramatic irony.

I have a physics PhD, but not in anything based on relativity. Still I do have some ideas. I'm not sure the time dilation needs to be a special relativitistic effect, but it could be a general relativistic effect.

The former deals with moving frames, and not only would time on the island move slower than the boat, but time on the boat would move slower than the island. And no, that's not a contradiction.

If it's a general relativistic effect, then island could be slower than the boat, and the boat faster than the island. Imagine the island in a gravity well, like a black hole. (And since we're busting out physics, maybe there's a magnetic monopole on the island, and that somehow causes the time dilation effects.)

But the time dilation would explain the requirement of specific headings. If say you're on a boat trying to leave the island, like Desmond, and you aren't traveling in the direction of the gradient of the time rate, one side of your boat will be faster than the other, and your boat would turn.

I'm not sure what effect it would have on the sat phone communications though. Really any time dilation would mean the sat phones quickly get to different frequencies.

Anyway, I don't want to think about it much, because I'm sure whatever explanation Lindelof and Cuse come up with will have problems. Already they are violating causality; if Faraday moved (say to the beach) after getting off the phone, the beacon would never have reached his signal, which it did according to the voice from the boat.

barefootjim said...

I would totally watch a Lost spin-off where Sayid is an international superspy, doing dangerous missions for Ben.

Cousin Don said...

Surprised no one has mentioned wormhole here yet.

Undercover Asian Man said...

BWC: "I think too often people assume that when somebody like the Cuse & Lindelof or George Lucas or whomever else claims to have plotted out a grand narrative years earlier that they actually plotted every minute twist and turn along the way--which is lunacy.

Leaving aside the amount of time it would take to craft an intricate narrative before reaching day 1 of shooting, every creative artist is at least somewhat familiar with the experience of starting down a specific path only to discover the story pulling you in a different (and hopefully more interesting direction)."


I don't think I'm making this mistake of assuming too much from creative minds. What you state is quite obvious. Within the framework and leeway of what you state, I'M STILL stating that the producers of Lost didn't even have much planned, and were purposefully introducing elements that were simply to titillate and intrigue, and would later be shoe-horned into anything they came up with later. There is a difference between creative improvisation, and out-right chain-yanking. I'm even willing to say that out of the characters of Ben/Juliette/Others, The Whidmores, The new group of 4, Desmond, The new Man in Black, Dharma/Hanso, and Tailies, all of which appear to be major players, 2 or more were not in anyone's plans at any time. Not JJ's, not Carlton's, and not Damon's.

The Tailies are a perfect example. Do you realize that, while their season was on, everyone thought they would be so key to everything. Now, in hind-sight, they are as significant as Nikki and Paulo (who are themselves further proof of the concept). They are going to contribute so little to the "Grand Explanation" relative to their scree-time.

Hanso and Dharma might be next.

Like I said before, I DO believe they have it figured out since agreeing with ABC on a definite end-date. I also strongly believe, that, before they had this end date in hand, they were making things up that they had no ideas about previously, just to extend the series. After the final episode, I'm pretty sure there will be 1) big plot holes caused by this very loose initial plotting, and 2) whole storylines that will have meant nearly nothing in the grand scheme.

If you want to say the Producers had a "plot" about "time travel, fate, and destiny", and that "count's" as having a story plotted from beginning to end, then sure, you can say they knew what they were doing all along, and all this 'improv' is justified. But the two producers, Cuse and Lidleoff, made much bolder claims of completeness, even in season one, that they had all MAJOR plot points already discussed. It is this portion that I'm highly skeptical about.

I guess we'll see who is right in 3 years.

jim treacher said...

After the final episode, I'm pretty sure there will be 1) big plot holes caused by this very loose initial plotting, and 2) whole storylines that will have meant nearly nothing in the grand scheme.

I agree, but isn't that inevitable? We're talking about 100+ episodes over a span of 6 years. Isn't it inevitable that not every single storyline is going to lead to a payoff? Mr. Eko, for example, probably won't end up being that "important" in the scheme of things. But aren't you glad he was part of it for a while?

I don't remember Lindelof and Cuse claiming they had it all figured out in detail, but it sounds about right. Lindelof in particular... He bugs me. I wish he wouldn't say anything at all about the show. Just write 'em, don't keep yanking our chains about 'em.

Mo Ryan said...

I sure hope Cane not being around for long means that Nestor Carbonell comes back to Lost. He was yet another good bit of casting and hadn't yet gotten a great showcase for his own creeptastic skills.

Regarding Ben's voice, imho they tweaked it electronically in that last scene before we saw Ben's face. Bit of a fake, but then, I'm willing to forgive it since the reveal of Sayid working for Ben was cool.

Re what Anthony Foglia said: "I don't want to think about it much, because I'm sure whatever explanation Lindelof and Cuse come up with will have problems."

Word. About a lot of stuff. I think that's one reason I don't try to remember TOO much about previous seasons. If you tried to, you could easily pick apart every element of Lost. And goodness knows I've gone that route whenever I've been irritated with the show. But at this point I'd rather skim along the surface of the time-portal/wormhole debate. I'm sure that, come the finale, we'll be debating how much stuff didn't make sense in light of the red herrings and confusion along the way. But if they keep entertaining me at this level, I won't care much if the physics doesn't quite add up. I should mention at this point that anything to do with time travel makes my brain hurt, which has always been the Achilles' heel of my sci-fi nerddom.

christy said...

Ha. In that final scene, when I heard Ben's voice, I was like "that's Ben!" But before I knew whether they were going to reveal the person or not, I started second guessing, thinking, actually, it sounds kinda like someone trying to sound like Ben. Then once they showed him I realized it was the opposite. It was Ben trying to sound less like Ben. No use, though. He's got too distinctive a voice/cadence.

Teev said...

An economist who refuses to use a cellphone? I'm pretty sure it's Stringer Bell.

Anonymous said...

"An economist who refuses to use a cellphone? I'm pretty sure it's Stringer Bell."

LOL too funny.

eric said...

Of course, at the end of Lost there will be criticisms that not every strand, big and small, tied together perfectly. But I really don't think you can say any show in history has done that. Considering the staggering amount of details, characters, and time-frames (relative to other shows), the Lost-makers are doing a pretty bang-up job of keeping it all in check so far.

Anonymous said...

Remarks upon next week's scenes are still spoilers on this board, I thought? Speculation okay, confirmation from next week's previews not, or am I missing something?

Anonymous said...

My take on the time thing:

While I grant that time could be moving more slowly on the island, nothing we have seen confirms this, and much contradicts. The real time phone conversations are the biggest tip off, but there are others. An explanation that fits more with what has been shown is that time on the island is moving at the same rate as time off the island. The reason the payload arrived late, and the reason Desmond never sailed away, is that there is a space-time warp surrounding the island. Electromagnetic signals are affected, but conversations by those phones would not have a noticeable delay to human ears (no more than the average cross country phone call). Physical objects, however, would be greatly affected. There is a weak point, or a hole in the field--possibly two. Picture a pattern of magnetism waves eminating from opposite poles, if traveling perpendicularly to or from the center of the positive/negative axis, the forces cancel out, and you have a clear path. This is the "heading" that Michael was told to travel, and is the "heading" that Daniel instructs the copter to fly in. Using data obtained when the hatch blew, the frieghties could have figured out a likey pattern of the forcefield allowing Naomi to barely make it to the island. The rest of the frieghties then had her phone signal to lock in on, and could they could gauge from which direction they should approach the island to make it through the field by analyzing the delay in signal from differing angles. Easier said than done. They still burned a lot of fuel and dealt with electromagnetic phenomena.

Slow moving, human controlled objects would be the most affected. If the craft is not moving perpendicular to the poles of of the field, the distortion could lead the pilot or sailor to feel they are flying/sailing in on a steady course, but are in fact turning around. Desmond would end up back on the island, and the copter would probably run out of fuel and crash. THe payload did not have to worry about human second guessing in it's flight path, so it did eventually make it through the field and onto the island, albeit with a slight detour through space-time causing the lack of time synchronization.

Anyway, that's my take on all this.