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Apparently you all missed "Letters From The Flame," the not-so-weekly feature in which I attempt to answer your questions and concerns about all things Lost. Because your response to my APB looking for questions, queries, and comments? Pretty overwhelming. As such, I tried to answer every question posed rather than spend 3,000 words per question. If I missed your question, it’s not because I don’t love you. It’s not you, it’s me. So forth and so on.

This is a long entry, so rather than spend endless paragraphs setting things up, let’s delve right into your questions and comments! Let’s start off with an email sent to me by reader David P.

Hi Ryan,

I had an idea when reading through the discussion of The Constant that I haven’t seen mentioned anywhere else, and I thought you might still be interested.

This episode shows us that it is still December, 2004 in the Lost world (both on-island and off-island), yet it seems that an awful lot has had to have happened since the crash in September.  This has even led some to speculate that the wreckage was planted pre-crash.

Most of the events that lead to this speculation come from the flashbacks in Confirmed Dead that introduced us to the four new arrivals to the island. My solution to this, is that we were not seeing flashbacks for these people, but rather flash forwards that are showing their lives post-island. Thoughts?

You know, for a few weeks after the airing of "Confirmed Dead," I really liked this idea, only because it would have been an insanely cool fake out. And given how tricky the show got with off-Island stories in "Ji Yeon," I could totally go along with this theory, if not for events on the freighter since the airing of "Dead." Given the establishment of a 1-1 ratio between days on-Island and days off-Island, it really doesn’t make sense for any of the off-Island stories in "Dead" to be flash forwards. The off-Island stories take great care to show that they happen on the day in which the faked wreckage was discovered,  and Gault’s possession of the fake black box from Oceanic 815, I think we can safely put the off-Island events of "Dead" in the past. (Which is a little sad to me, but I can’t ignore the facts.)

A few questions follow from Shaggysteve:

When Sayid and Desmond go to talk to the Captain they notice that the chopper is gone.  When they ask the Doc, he says Frank went to run an errand for the Captain.  Where did Frank go?

It’s kinda hard to hear first time through, but while Desmond starts to shout at Regina, Ray makes a comment like, "Where else could he land?" after Sayid asks if Lapidus returned to the Island. But what part of the Island, and for what purpose? Still a mystery.

In relation to the last question, how do we know that the Black Box the Captain shows Sayid and Desmond isn’t the actual Black Box from the Island wreckage?  Maybe someone (Ben or Richard perhaps) moved it off the Island, or possibly retrieved by Frank during one of his errands for the Captain.

I think anyone who can fake the crash can fake a black box recording. It might be the black box from the island, but Gault seems to indicate this box is proof of a faked crash, which implies it’s not the original black box from Oceanic 815.

We see Regina throw herself off the ship, obviously an attempt to kill herself.  Was she suffering from the sickness?  Also, this very well may be the same sickness that plagued Danielle’s people 16 years ago.  If that’s the case, how is it that Danielle is immune?

I will confess to not put two and two together as quickly as you all in terms of the "sickness," but kudos to you all: I think you’re right. As for immunity: you’ve completely got me on that. But then again, most of the Lostaways and Others seem pretty chill as well. Nary a nosebleed to be found. I’m more curious about how Ray’s throwaway line about the boat not moving ("Whatever you say…") and its relation to just how Danielle’s boat managed to penetrate the electromagnetic field around the Island but the Kahana cannot.

Reader Brian C. chimed in with some justified concerns about a certain psychic child.

I’ve been maintaining that Walt is not "of this world" anymore.  This is evidenced (to me at least) by his appearances to Locke and, more tellingly, to Shannon before she bought the farm. With this in mind, was it really Walt that got on the boat with Michael? I really hope that they are reunited as I can’t take another season of Michael yelling "WAAAAAAAAAAALT!" over and over again.

Well, I’m pretty sure that was the real Walt at the end of Season 2. If this show goes the clone route I might throw my Jango Fett doll at the screen. I’m more interested in just how Michael and Walt got separated after leaving via 325. Michael’s on post-suicide mop-up duty, but where’s Walt? Banging on pipes in another part of the ship, perhaps?

Let’s look at a few more questions that deal with this conundrum. This first one is from Mike in RI.

I was wondering what your thoughts were regarding how Michael came to be on The Kahana. Did he get picked up directly after he left the island with Walt, or did he manage to get back to the real world and some how change his identity? I highly doubt that anyone would have been let on that ship without a thorough background check, even a janitor. I also doubt that they could have found both Michael and Walt at sea and never had any inclination that they came from the island. So, how do you think it all went down?

I think everything depends on not where, but when, 325 dumps one out into the real world. Remember, the word used by Ben to describe what Michael and Walt would find is "rescue," which could mean any one of a number of things. I’m thinking Ben has Mick Jagger in mind here, in essence offering Michael a chance at redemption for sins committed on the Island.

Here’s the more interesting question to me: WHY is Michael still working for Ben? Does Ben still hold some control over Walt, in the form of an implant like the one inserted into Claire while under their care? If I had to guess, and I do, since you’ve asked me, and I’m your Lost monkey boy, I’d say that Ben knew about the Kahana before the sky went purple, and had someone from Mittelos Biosciences stationed along 325 (which could dump one out into the real world in the Pacific Ocean, or perhaps near Portland, Oregon) standing by in order to give Michael a fake identity, papers, and an assignment. When asked why he’d ever work for Ben, the switch is flipped inside Walt’s brain/body, and Michael realizes he has no choice.

This makes the most sense to me, because as you point out, if the Kahana spotted two disheveled people arriving from the general direction of a mystical Island, they might not put them to work without any question.

Let’s move onto some queries about Ben himself. This one’s from Jeff:

Why did Richard/Ben’s mother tell young Benjamin that it wasn’t time yet and he would need to be very, very patient. Why did it take what seems like 20 years for the Purge to take place and Ben to become the leader of the Others?

The exact date of the Purge is unclear (December 21st, year unknown), but you’re right: at least a decade, and probably more, passed between that initial encounter and Doomsday. My best guess is that Ben took an Andy Dufresne-esque path towards currying favor and stockpiling supplies for the big day. I mean, the Tempest is ostensibly a power station; maybe it took Ben years to even realize its true nature? Even after discovering it, it’s not like he could have stolen twenty masks and a few dozen canisters of deadly gas without someone noticing. The Hostiles were powerful, but needed an inside man to truly achieve victory. And given how slowly they age, hey, time was something that they had in spades.

That leads somewhat into Adslinger’s query:

Why are the Others on the Island in the first place? What are they doing there?

Clearly they are staging the mother of all Riverdance performances. I thought that was obvious!

I think the answer to this question depends on who you define as Others, because what we saw in Season 3 were two groups with the umbrella name of "Others" with two different reasons for being on the Island. The Alperts of the Others consist of people who existed on the Island pre-Dharma or subscribe to the notion that the Island is a magical environment. The Linuses of the Others consider the Island to be a place outside traditional society, and as such see the Island as a conscious rejection of the world they left behind. The former worships the Island as a living, breathing entity; the latter cherish the Island as a geographical hideaway. 

Both see the Island as a way to live a life that makes more sense than anything off of it, but Team Alpert tries to live in harmony with the Island while Team Linus seeks to impose its will upon it.

Jeff came back to follow Adslinger’s query with one of his own:

To follow AdSlinger’s Others theme: considering what we know about Ben’s extensive resources and off-island corporate front, why were the Others building a runway on the Hydra island?

Don’t be too surprised if this runway increases in importance as the Oceanic 6 try and leave the Island. That’s all I’ll say for now.

That’s speculation, but it’s not bad speculation, if you ask my biased self. I think we can rule out the freighter as a means for the 6 to leave, which leaves…what, exactly? It leaves some fantastical method of "Beam Me Up, Scotty" technology, the revelation that the sub wasn’t destroyed, a plane landing/leaving via the runway, or everyone using Hurley as a floatation device and praying for helpful tides.

Here’s blog newbie Phrank Loyed with a question about those pesky lists…

While watching Juliet’s recent episode I noticed that when Ben sent Goodman and Ethan out to infiltrate the camps he told them, "I want lists within a week." Does that not sound like he is asking the two of them to compile the lists? We had assumed that "Lists" were made by Jacob. (Devil’s Advocate: Maybe it was supposed to be a list of the survivors of the crash that Ben wanted.)

However, later in the episode Juliet and Ben are talking about the two children from the tail section… "They’re on the list, Juliet. Who are we to question who’s on the list and who’s not?" This makes it sound like they were on lists created by Jacob.

I have no idea what significance this might have or even if it is significant. It just sort of stood out to me this time around when they showed the crash scene. They have shown that same scene with the same dialogue three times now so it seems kind of important.

I tried to address the various lists a few weeks ago: not sure I have much to add to that initial take. My take is that Ben’s long been seen as the voice of Jacob, and only post-tumor has he strayed from preaching his Gospel, as it were. The list constructed to convince Jack to remove his spinal tumor DEFINITELY conflicted with Jacob’s initial list.

That all being said, in terms of everything related to Jacob’s lists, we have only hearsay. We know there’s a Jacob, but we can’t necessarily assume he makes these lists. The conflict noted by Pickett in "I Do" could merely be a function of Ben changing his mind once learning about Jack’s occupation.

Speaking of Jacob, here’s Other Sean with a query:

Where are Jacob and Walt?

Fire Island, I think. Jacob needed Walt off the Island lest Dateline NBC show up at the cabin. Now that Walt’s off-Island and over statutory limits, it’s picnics and sunset bike rides for the two.

OK, obviously that’s a lie. Jacob has been absent since "The Beginning of the End," choosing to appear only to Hurley in a location different from where Ben took Locke in Season 3. His comings and goings will probably be not explained until Season 6, since he’s one of the five central mysteries this show really can’t answer until then. As for Walt…I covered him above, I think. He’s either re-kidnapped (yawn) or under mental/physical duress thanks to a little Plan B implemented by Ben before letting Walt leave the Island.

Now that we’re back to Walt, let’s hear what Mark. O Estes wants to know about:

Ryan, the radio serial I sent you mentioned something along the lines of a certain path that must be taken to get to the island. It’s eerily similar to Lost in so many ways. Also, can we trust that there are actually 324 bodies in that fake crash, due to the fact that the plane, as well as the bodies, are unattainable? When will the Losties realize that they can’t trust anything that Ben says "as is"?

I’m going to say that they didn’t count every body; they could only search as far as those ROVs could access. I’m going to wager that whomever staged the crash would have loaded up one dead body per seat and sunk the bad boy. As far as the Losties realizing they can’t trust Ben, that will happen right around the time everyone on the show starts asking themselves the type of questions that anyone with half a brain would given their situation. (Which is a long way of saying "never." Honestly, Sun asked like three direct questions in last week’s episode and I nearly died from shock. I love me some Lost, but I only drink so much Kool Aid.)

Mark and reader Aaron both wanted to know about the missing two people from the Artist Formerly Known as the Oceanic 8. I’ll use Aaron’s query to answer them both.

My question, why would Jack even mention 2 people surviving the crash but not surviving the island (and who do you think they are)?

If everyone thinks Aaron is Kate’s son, there’s no reason for Claire to survive the crash. Also, if Jin’s grave says he died on the day of the crash, that eliminates him also.

I happen to think that Kate’s not passing off Aaron as her own, although I’m simply basing this on the fact that Aaron looks absolutely nothing like Kate. I mean, I’m terrible at ever correctly assessing a baby’s similarity to a fully-grown human, but the kid looks nothing like her. Also, given the aforementioned 1-1 day ratio, one could rightfully question how Kate left on September 22, 2004 without being pregnant and return three months later with a 3-month old baby.

So assuming there are two people clearly identified post-Island as those who survived the crash but later died, Claire HAS to be one of those two. This lie explains Aaron’s existence to the outside world. As such, her body need not ever be found to sustain that story. As for the other…honestly, it would probably be someone who aids in their escape but dies in the process. My guess in that case would be Sawyer or Jin.

But that’s a big "if" on physical bodies being produced at the time of discovery of the Oceanic 6. These two other "survivors" could merely be convenient plot points constructed in the fictional tale of the Oceanic 6.

AndreaC wanted to know something else about the testimony, or rather, its aftermath.

A burning question with me has been why Jack doesn’t want to see Aaron and if, in the flash forward after Kate’s hearing when Jack refuses to see Aaron, does he know at that point that Aaron is his nephew (and Claire his half-sister)?! Any thoughts on what may have happened there?

I’m going to tentatively say that he doesn’t know, because Jack’s martyr complex is so high that rather than avoiding the physical representation of his half-sister, he’d sit home all day staring at Aaron while punching himself in the groin.

***

OK, that’s gonna wrap up this week’s installment of "Letters From The Flame." Thanks again for all of your questions and comments, and I look forward to producing more in the weeks to come.

Ryan also posts every 108 minutes over at Boob Tube Dude.

Posted by:Ryan McGee