'Letters from the Flame': 'Lost' about 'Lighthouse'? I have your answers

jorge-garcia-lost-s6-320-2.jpgRyan here, back with answers to your burning questions about " Lost." Quick programming note: if you missed the latest "Orientation: Ryan Station" podcast, make sure to click here and listen. You can even subscribe to it on iTunes! I know. We've boldly gone where tens of thousands have gone before.

In the time since "Lighthouse" aired, I've started to see certain camps get entrenched online, much in the way that certain camps are getting entrenched on the Island. In fact, we're getting not into Season 1 territory so much as Season 4 territory on the Island. In Season 4, we had Team Locke and Team Shephard. Now? Team Jacob and Team Smokey. Sure, Smokey had to infect and corrupt people to join his side, but all's fair in love, war, and loopholes.

So let's all remember to play nice as the next few weeks roll out. Onto your questions!
 
Who is "Wallace"? It was the name next to the number 108. Someone already on the island? The person Jacob referred to that needed to find the island? Someone we already know? David Wallace? Richard Alpert Wallace? Justin Wallace? I'm lost.
John

 
While the idea that Michael Scott's old boss on "The Office" is a candidate makes me giggle tremendously, I think the answer to the question is, "No one important." Having Hurley turn the compass to 108 was a fake-out for both him and the audience. We're trained to view a number like 108 as paramount in the "Lost" universe, and I think Darlton used that information against us in order to distract from the importance of the mission. The entire point of the mission was 1) to get Hurley/Jack away from the Temple before Smocke attacks, and 2) give Jack another push to realize his importance. The Artist Formerly Known as Wallace is a red herring. Or, he's Braveheart. One of the two.
 
Ryan: I find it odd that Jacob only seems to appear and speak to Hurley. Especially when Dogan questioned Hurley and Jacob only appeared to Hurley. It seemed almost as if Jacob is trying to get Hurley to assert himself and by appearing only to him will Hurley be able to be more assertive and more confident...what do you think? I mean out of all the people he could communicate with...why is Hurley the Man?
Jacoby

 
On a purely mechnical level, having Hurley interact with the maybe-god Jacob punctures the potential pomposity of these interactions. (If only someone could puncture MY pomposity after constructing that sentence.) Look: how many times have we seen "human interacts with deity" in dramas, only to see these interactions stilted, grave, and overall boring as hell? "Dead Like Me" is an exception to the rule, but a lot of times shows refuse to have fun with these types of pairings. So I dig a laconic god ambling about with the show's on-screen proxy waxing both philosophical and amusingly on my television. This is 1000x better than Charles Heston interacting with a burning bush, I tell you.
 
But on a dramatic level, Hurley's the most trustworthy person on the Island. Others may be more loyal to Jacob's cause, but Jacob trusts Hurley to do the right thing more than anyone else. The Others might worship Jacob, but that means they place him on a pedestal. I'm not sure Jacob is the important player here. If Jacob and The Man in Black were indeed all-powerful, then they wouldn't need all these people to achieve their endgame. And since Hurley treats Jacob like a person, not a god, he's an ideal person with whom the latter can communicate.
 
Do you think Jacob's manipulation of Jack means that Jack is "the" candidate?
splinter

 
My sense of the series of candidates is that they were not selected to do what The Man in Black claims they are supposed to do. Just as Jacob is keeping Jack's true purpose from him, he's kept the true nature of his search hidden from The Man in Black. Since TMiB is operating under a false premise (the three choices laid out to Sawyer), he can't possibly know how to defeat his nemesis. Do I know what this true purpose is? No. But Jacob thinks one of these final candidates does.
 
With the word "candidate" popping up more and more, does one tend to look at the island conflict not as a "war", but as a long, drawn-out, selection process? And has UnLocke found a way to insert himself into the process?
Brian of the North

 
I'm not sure Unlocke/Smocke/The Lockeness Monster has inserted himself into the process so much as found a way to end the continuous cycle. But I like your use of the word "war," since it reminds me to bring up a potentially key scene from Season 5. IN "The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham," Widmore warns Locke, "[T]here's a war coming, John. And if you're not back on the Island when that happens, the wrong side is going to win." The $64,000 question: did Widmore knowingly send Locke back at the behest of The Man in Black or Jacob? Because one of those two had to give him his marching orders. Answering that is like answering "Who staged the Oceanic 815 crash at the bottom of the Sunda Trench?" during Season 4. You've got two equally plausible scenarios that can't be answered definitely at this point. Either The Man in Black told Widmore to send him back to create the loophole, or Jacob WANTED the loophole to be broken in order to make the final leap of progress.
 
As people have pointed out, the Tic-Tac-Toe game almost always ends in a tie. Someone was ready for the tie to be broken. Hell, I bet BOTH Jacob and The Man in Black were ready. Game on, people.
 
Ryan, it bugs the bejacob out of me that the timelines aren't concurrent. Seems that if Jack is indeed making some sort of connection with his "other" self, shouldn't it be 2007 in the alt-timeline as well? Is there any reason for this, other than the writers needing to fool us into thinking that the "LA X" flight 815 was in fact the new reality?
technotard

 
When the producers use "sideways" to describe the new timeline, and yet put it three years behind the on-Island action, yes, it can get confusing. Originally, many thought having Oceanic 815 land would be an exercise to show exactly what you describe: what would have happened afterward. But clearly, events BEFORE Oceanic 815 landed also changed: in some ways subtly, in some ways radical. But I think it's a bit unfair to discuss the ways that Sideways versions of people SHOULD interact with their Island selves. It's a fictional construction created by the writers: there's no "should" here, only what is. They interact in a specific way, and as long as that way stays consistent and holds up in hindsight once revealed, well, that's fine by me.
 
And here we're getting into THE hot topic lately on this sight: is the sideways timeline an epilogue? Rick Porter and I have a LOT to say about this in our upcoming "Lost" debate, and I discuss the issue in my next podcast, but let's answer a few questions about that now as well.
 
Do you think Jacob realized, either before his death or during it, that his efforts to enlist people into his plan to advance humanity to the next step has actually contributed to it's continued corruption, much like how the Man in Black sees it? I only ask because all season we're seeing a world that turned out differently, in many cases what appears to be free from the Island's (and Jacob's) influence, and that's on top of the whole free will vibe Jacob's been tossing around in his appearances thus far.
Other Sean

 
All depends on how you view the sideways timeline's relationship to the Island activity. If you're a fan of the epilogue there, then yes, that timeline is "free" from the Island, even though there are remnants of that other life clinging about (Claire downloading "Aaron" from said previous timeline as an example). However, if you think that the timeline was created as a direct result of Juliet's actions at the end of Season 5, then the sideways timeline is infinitely more influenced by the Island than the Island timeline itself. It's the freakin' baby of the Island, really, birthed in the white light of Season 5's finale.
 
So, my perception of last season's finale was that they shouldn't have detonated the bomb. That doing so would erase all of the progress that they had made. That they'd be going back to lives without purpose.
 
However, we're seeing a multitude of happy endings in the sideways timeline. Why do you think this is?
Jesse

 
That perception is key, because that's what's fusing the various camps when viewing the sideways timeline. Had they called it the "Mirrorverse," maybe there would be less confusion. Then again, maybe not. At the heart of views concerning the alternate timeline are personal perceptions about what function it's supposed to serve. Perception can sometimes be wrong, but at this stage in the game, you have two overarching ways to look at what's going over there.
 
1) Due to Juliet's actions at the end of Season 5, two timelines were created. The second timeline has an entire history built into it, but we're only catching up in September 2004. This timeline is intimately related to the Island timeline, with both being viable realities that will impact one another through glances, interactions, physical items, and moral choices. This interaction is not unidirectional, but rather passes "energy" (for lack of a better word) between the timelines in order to come to a singular ending.

2) Juliet's actions did nothing except send the heroes 30 years into the future. The sideways timeline is the epilogue of the show, the result of whatever denouement happens at season's end on the Island. When all is said and done, we can look back on every flashsideways as the culmination/reward/final life of those that struggled for so long on the Island. In this construction, the sideways timeline is the life they should have lived all along.
 
Both are oversimplifications. Necessarily so, and just as I talked about before with Widmore's "war," both are viable at this point...depending on your perception. Because how you view the epilogue speaks a lot about the type of ending you want the show to have. Let's take a specific example from "Lighthouse": Jack making peace with his son David after the latter's recital. If you're a fan of Example #1 above, then that interaction will get passed to Island Jack as he stares across the water, looking for answers before his big confrontation with some version of his father on the Island. If you're a fan of Example #2, then Jack's breakthrough with his son directly ties into the experiences he will have after staring out at the ocean and accomplishing whatever task he has yet to do in order to land in the sideways timeline.
 
Both are perfectly valid perceptions at this time. Here's my biggest problem: only one viewpoint will ultimately be right. Normally, creating multiple perceptions in the audience's mind is a good thing for a mystery show to engender. But we're talking about much more than after-the-fact bragging rights (which I always hate, since it essentially amounts to bragging that you picked the right door in "Let's Make a Deal"), it's a concern. Because being wrong might aversely affect certain fans perceptions of the show as a whole. The example above says a lot about the type of person you are, so having your perception proved wrong might be construed on some level as a condemnation of you as a viewer, not just your theory.
 
Maybe I'm overworried here. I hope that's the case. Wouldn't be the first time, wouldn't be the last. Epilogue people know I am not in their camp. But I want them to know I am on their side. That side? Being a "Lost" fan. Being part of a community here that welcomes debate and hates attacks.  Being part of a discussion that uses the show as a base to better understand both the show and the world around us. As Smocke told Sawyer last week, "You're so close. It would be such a shame to turn back now."

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Photo credit: ABC

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