Confirmed Dead (S4, ep. 2)

Daniel: “Rescuing you and your people? Can’t really say it’s our primary objective.”

“Confirmed Dead” is a stellar episode filled with great new characters and some seriously exciting sequences. It also contains some pretty fascinating mysteries. In this column we’ll discuss Miles’ ghost-whispering, Faraday’s fondness for electromagnetism, and a potential explanation for the Island’s ‘ghost’-generating abilities, among other things. It’s a stretch for certain, but I’m feeling remarkably confident that I may have started to crack the mystery of the Island’s apparent ‘apparitions.’ Feel free to tell me I’m full of it in the comments section below, on the Message Boards, or on Back To The Island.

Thoughts:

Woman’s voice: “Dan, why are you so upset?”
Daniel: “I don’t know.”

• I don’t know either. I’m pretty sure his emotions in this opening scene have never been explained. But given that we know Daniel’s been experimenting with consciousness-traveling to disastrous effect I’d say that something in his mind was triggered by the sight of the sunken Oceanic plane, and that he may be crying instinctively at the events yet to come.

• Daniel Faraday was briefly introduced in the premiere episode, but “Confirmed Dead” is our first real look at a character that became surprisingly important – not just in terms of explaining some of the mysterious qualities of the Island, but also in terms of specific importance to the larger narrative being told.

The name “Faraday,” like the name “Abaddon,” seems intended to point us toward some of the ideas that Lost is playing around with in its narrative. The name Faraday is shared with the philosopher Michael Faraday, whose work in the fields of chemistry and electromagnetism (!) is much-respected. I’ll discuss one of Faraday’s interests a little further down the column. It’s worth noting, I think, that Faraday was a religious scientist – a man who credited faith for his discoveries.

Daniel: “I just…I jumped and I lost my, er… what do you call it – my pack – and my phone was in my pack; if I had my phone I would just… er….”

• Initially, I’d thought that Daniel was simply acting suspiciously (because he was). But on Rewatch I’m remembering that, pre-Island, Daniel’s mind was largely destroyed by his experiments with time. Coming back to the Island appears to be healing his head, and his extraordinarily-awkward way of talking showcases his mental state.

Locke: “The storm’s about to pass, Hugo.”

• The weather on the Island is another mystery I’d like to see dealt with in the final season. Rain seems to hit the Island in near-mechanical fashion; starting up with no warning, pouring down heavily, then stopping, again with no warning or slowing down. It gives the impression of a weather machine being turned on and off again, not the sort of storms you’d expect to see on a tropical island.

How is Locke able to predict the rain so accurately and reliably?

Locke: “There’s a cabin I have to go to.”
Hurley: “I thought the cabin was back that way.”
Locke: “What did you say Hugo?”

• This is the second time in as many episodes that Hurley’s ability to see “Jacob’s” cabin has come up. It won’t be the last. Both Locke and Ben seem surprised by Hurley’s comment, and I’m looking forward to trying to pick out clues from the rest of this season about Hurley’s cabin-spidey-sense.

Sawyer: “You mind telling us who you’re getting your orders from, Colonel Kurtz?”
Locke: “I got ‘em from Walt.”

• Walt’s presence as a ‘ghost’ would seem to invalidate my Island Ghost Theory. Dammit. This is especially the case if Walt was the one who told Locke to go to “Jacob’s” cabin. If Walt has told Locke to go to the cabin, this means that Walt is herding Locke toward his date with Bentham-y destiny. That means he’s most likely a ‘ghost,’ not a projection of the actual Walt, and we know that Walt is still alive off the Island. That fact seems to invalidate the theory that only the dead can be made into ‘ghosts.’ However, I’ve made a (probably questionable) cognitive leap on this issue, and I think I may have stumbled onto something resembling a really good explanation for both the ‘ghosts’ and for ‘Walt’ – one that factors in both the dead bodies and the very-much-alive Walt. More on this below.

• Jack finds a gas mask in with the equipment that’s been dropped from the freighter, along with what looks like a red hazmat suit. I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that this helps confirms my “quarantine” theory – namely, that the “quarantine” signs that we’ve seen in the past in the Swan and Pearl Stations, as well as the yellow hazmat suits and gas masks worn by Desmond and Kelvin, were initially meant to keep the inhabitants of the Swan and the Pearl Stations safe from potential gassing at the hands of the Others. We know that the Others captured the Tempest Station on the Island (which manufactures cyanide gas) during the events of the Purge. While Ben Linus was personally seeing to the death of his father, the Others used the Station to release cyanide all over the Island. I’m guessing that the Others maintained control of the Tempest facility, and that fear of poisoned air lead to the Dharma people quarantining themselves in their hatches.

• I love the difficulty that Sawyer seems to have with the idea of Locke seeing Walt. Josh Holloway plays his confusion and exasperation to great comic effect.

Locke: “The bullet went in one side, came out the other. I’d probably be dead if I still had a kidney there.”

• Hmm. I was pretty sure that Locke had been shot more centrally – closer to his spine. But I guess not. I love that his missing kidney is what saved his life. At the least, this is a nicely organic way of illustrating what seems to be one of Lost’s bigger thematic preoccupations: As he says in Season 5 – he needed all of his past agony to make him who he is now. He needed to have a kidney stolen from him by a jackass father in order to survive a near-fatal shooting. There’s balance, in other words, to the universe of Lost. For every terrible action there’s a potential gift. Philosophically, it’s a different way of looking at the world and at your life. Any bad act can have a good consequence. Any good act can have terrible consequences. No choice defines us.

Miles: “You’re not doing your grandmother any good staying here, man. You’re causing her a lot of pain. I wanna go downstairs and tell her you’ve gone, but the only way I’m gonna be able to do that is if you tell me where it is. So where is it?”

• Once time-travel was revealed to be an aspect of this show I thought that it might explain Jennifer Love Hewitt’s Miles’ ghost-whispering powers. Maybe, I thought, he’s hearing/seeing past echoes of people’s lives. He’s not so much “talking” to them as he’s “reading” their pasts and, if I’m recalling things correctly, Miles will eventually (sort of) explain his ability in this way. Miles’ encounter with the ‘ghost’ in this scene throws me for a bit of a loop, though. The ‘ghost’ physically moves a book – implying that there’s an actual presence of some kind in the room with him. Still, that doesn’t mean that this presence isn’t also a kind of “past echo.” It’s also possible that Miles is seeing things on a kind of quantum level; that he’s interacting not with the dead, but with potential versions of people from different quantum universes who have lived more-or-less the same lives, but with differing details. There’s scientific support for the idea of “many worlds,” and one of the things that’s so interesting to me about the notion of many worlds is how close the belief in the concept can come to some forms of religious belief.

As described in that last linked article, quantum physics is both scientific and spiritual, a combination that seems like the perfect fit for a show like Lost. We know the show is interested in quantum physics, we’ve seen that the Island seems to sit (figuratively, and perhaps literally) at what could be described as the center of time and space. And we know that the materials released for this year’s comic con have hinted at the possibility of the many-worlds theory playing a part in the show’s final season.

Just when I’m about to roll my eyes at myself over all this theorizing, the show provides us with what may be a solid bit of evidence for the applicability of the many-worlds theory to Lost. It shows us some picture frames.

Notice that the show makes a point of showing us the picture frames on the wall of the grandmothers home two separate times – once as Miles is going up to the grandson’s room, and once after he’s come back down. Notice that the frames on the wall change significantly between scenes, but that the centrally-featured photograph (one that looks remarkably like Eko as a child) remains the same. Practically-speaking, the prop department would have had to have switched out all of the initial frames, then replaced the original pictures, for each scene. This could be a complete coincidence/accident related to the shooting schedule. But the practical realities of dressing the set make coincidence and accident unlikely. Here is the wall in both scenes for comparison:

Weird, right? If a production error isn’t to blame, then there’s a reason behind the changing of these photographs. One reason: Miles went up the stairs in one quantum world and came down again in another, only-slightly-different quantum world.

• Notice also that the grandmother has a wall hanging in her home that is seemingly similar to the star brand on Juliet’s back, the symbol carved into a tree to mark medical supplies, and the shape of the porthole in the Looking Glass:

Miles: “You can go now.”

• Miles’ dismissal of the ‘ghost’ echoes Christian’s dismissal of Michael on the freighter.

Ben: “Karl! Now if you’re gonna sleep with my daughter, I insist you call me Ben.”

• Michael Emerson’s reading of this line may be my single favorite acting choice of his so far. It’s a dryly funny line, but Emerson makes it hilarious.

• Who’s the weird-looking woman next to Ben in this shot?

Ben: “James. Look at yourself. Yes, on this Island you’re brave, daring, handsome, you’re someone, but if you left with them, back in the real-world a low-life scam artist like you could never compete with a first class surgeon.”

• That’s an incisive observation, and it brings up an interesting question: Does James/Sawyer/LeFleur stay on the Island out of heroism? Or out of fear? It’s all a matter of perspective I suppose, and the reality is probably a little of both.

Daniel: “The light is strange out here isn’t it? It’s kinda like…it doesn’t scatter quite right.”

• One of Michael Faraday’s larger contributions to the sciences was his work with the properties of light and electromagnetism. I’m no mathematician or scientist – by any stretch of the imagination – but I think I understand what’s meant by Daniel’s comment here. According to Faraday’s work, light is affected by the presence of electromagnetism (and we know that ‘unique’ electromagnetic energy exists beneath the Island). The more electromagnetism, the more that the light is affected. Daniel’s comment seems to imply that on the Island, light is noticably affected to the naked eye, which in turn implies the presence of powerful/large amounts of electromagnetism.

Woman: “Dinosaur?”
Charlotte: “Not by a few million years. It’s an Ursus maritimus.”
Woman: “Wait – Ursus as in bear?”
Charlotte: “As in polar bear.”

• How cool is this scene? There’s a real sense of an expanding world as we hop from place to place, getting filled in on pieces of the backstories for the Island’s new arrivals. The fact of a polar bear ending up in Tunisia fits really well with what we’ve now seen of the Island’s Frozen Wheel. When you turn the wheel you end up in the deserts of Tunisia for some as-yet-unexplained reason. Presumably, the Dharma Initiative tested this out by using an animal test subject – sending a polar bear off of the island to see what would happen when the wheel was turned.

• I truly love the way that Charlotte is introduced on the Island – hanging upside down over a lake (the same lake that Jack, Kate and Hurley will appear beside in Season 5?). Charlotte’s arrival on the Island is the most charming of all the new characters – she seems genuinely thrilled to have arrived. We know now that this is because she’s coming home. Charlotte was born on the Island, and she’s been seeking it out for most of her life.

Great Exchange:

Sayid: “And what do you do, Miles?”
Miles: “I collect soil samples.”
Sayid: “Oh, that’s nice. Well maybe you can help me. You say you’re not here on a rescue mission, and the world at large believes us to be dead. But here we are alive and well, and you don’t seem remotely surprised to see us.”
Miles: “Oh my God! You guys were on Oceanic Flight 815! Wow! That better?”

• I love Sayid’s deadpan nonchalance (“Oh, that’s nice.”) even more than I love Miles’ prickly pissiness.

Male Voice: “How exactly is it that you know all about Captain Norris?”
Frank: “Because I was supposed to be flying Oceanic 815 on that day.”

• Have we learned why it is that Lapidus wasn’t flying the plane that day? Is it because he was drunk? 

• The flashback to Naomi and Abaddon in a deserted warehouse is nifty stuff. It confirms that Abaddon put the freighter team together.

Miles: “Regina, it’s Miles. I need to talk to Minkowski.”
Regina: “Minkowski can’t come to the phone right now.”

• I assume Minkowski can’t come to the phone because he’s currently strapped to a bunk and raving incoherently.

Dan: “We’re taking her with us.”
Miles: “What’s the point? That’s not Naomi, its just meat.”

• That’s a pretty interesting comment coming from our favorite resident Michael J. Fox impersonator. It would seem to imply that whatever essence makes a person a person leaves that person at death. This makes sense. Whether you believe in the concept of a soul or not, there’s also electricity within the human body that helps to animate that body. Without that electricity our bodies wouldn’t function. And that thought leads me to another thought….if electricity is responsible for animating the human brain, and that electricity escapes from a dead body at the moment of death, where would it go? On an Island with tremendous electromagnetic energy, would that electricity be attracted to the electromagnetism? Would the Island’s pocket of energy retain that electricity? And if that electricity animates a person, carries the ‘echoes’ of their thoughts and feelings and self, then wouldn’t that potentially explain the Island/MiB’s ability to assume the forms of the dead? It/he would be drawing from a kind of database/resevoir of people’s personalities – of the energy of people who’ve died on the Island and whose electricity has been captured/absorbed by the Island. We’ve already talked about how Lost has referenced the Biblical legends of Mount Moriah – a mountain which contains a chamber known as ‘the well of souls.’ Is there a literal ‘well of souls’ beneath the Island, with the word ‘souls’ being replaced by ‘energy’?

How does Walt fit into this crazy idea? Well, Walt is ‘special,’ and that specialness seems to revolve around potentially psychic abilities – abilities that would center around/be dependent on Walt’s mind. If Walt is somehow putting out more ‘juice’ than ordinary people, that excess energy/electricity would also be absorbed by the Island, giving it/the MiB the ability to take Walt’s form.

What do you think? Insanity? Or possible explanation?

Miles: “You wanna know why we’re here, I’ll tell you why we’re here; We’re here for Benjamin Linus.”

• The struggle between Ben and Widmore is painted in near-mythic tones during Season 4, and I’m going to be suggesting a mythic touchstone for their relationship and their quest to regain/protect the Island. Stay tuned for more on that. If you’d like a hint, I’d suggest watching a particularly fine Jeff Bridges movie over the weekend – the one with Lydia the Tattooed Lady.

This picture is greatness, by the way. I love the implication that Ben has been slithering around off the Island on mysterious missions and the sense, judging from the chunky computer screen and his natty vest, that this picture was taken some time ago.

Ben: “Her name is Charlotte Lewis! Charlotte Staples Lewis.”

• Yes, her name is C.S. Lewis, adding still another famous name to these proceedings. C.S. Lewis wrote the Narnia books, was a member of the inklings club (alongside J.R.R. Tolkien), and was a staunch Christian whose writings on faith have been profoundly influential. Much like the references to Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass in Season 3, Season 4 (and Season 5) will contain some fun, interesting references and allusions to the Narnia books.

Locke: “How do you know all this?”
Ben: “Because I have a man on their boat.”

Retrieved from “http://lostpedia.wikia.com/wiki/Confirmed_Dead_transcript

• Granted, that line is badass. And it’s completely in keeping with Ben’s character to have installed a spy on-board the freighter. But this preparedness seems at odds with the reaction we saw Ben have to the freighter in Season 3. When we first saw him learn about the existence of the freighter he seemed genuinely shocked and thrown off. This could simply be a result of his emotional state – he could have known the boat was coming but emotionally keyed-up enough to act shocked when he finally received confirmation. It could be that Michael Emerson chose to play Ben’s reactions a certain way in Season 3 without knowing that he’d be required to play things a different way in Season 4. Whatever the case, it’s a little odd, but it’s not something I would have noticed at all (probably) had a commenter not pointed it out to me.

*****

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Missed a column? Catch up here:

Season 4

• The Beginning of The End (S4 ep. 1)

Season 3

• Through The Looking Glass (S3 ep. 22 & 23)
• Greatest Hits (S3 ep. 21)
• The Man behind The Curtain (S3 ep. 20)
• The Brig (S3 ep. 19)
• D.O.C. (S3 ep. 18)
• Catch 22 (S3 ep. 17)
• One of Us (S3 ep. 16)
• Left Behind (S3 ep. 15)
• Exposé (S3 ep. 14)
• The Man from Tallahasse (S3 ep. 13)
• Par Avion (S3 ep. 12)
• Enter 77 (S3 ep. 11)
• Tricia Tanaka is Dead (S3 ep. 10)
• Stranger in a Strange Land (S3 ep. 09)
• Flashes before your Eyes (S3 ep. 08)
• Not In Portland (S3 ep. 07)
• I Do (S3 ep. 06)
• The Cost of Living (S3 ep. 05)
• Every Man for himself (S3 ep. 04)
• Further Instructions (S3 ep. 03)
• The Glass Ballerina (S3 ep. 02)
• Season 3 Premiere

Season 2

• 
Season 2 finale
• Three Minutes (S2 ep. 22)
• ? (S2 ep. 21)
• Two for The Road (S2 ep. 20)
• S.O.S. (S2 ep. 19)
• Dave (S2 ep. 18)
• Lockdown (S2 ep. 17)
• The Whole Truth (S2 ep. 16)
• Maternity Leave (S2 ep. 15)
One of Them (S2 ep. 14)
The Long Con (S2 ep. 13)
Fire + Water (S2 ep. 12)
The Hunting Party (S2 ep 11)
The 23rd Psalm (S2, ep. 10)
What Kate Did (S2, ep. 9)
Collision (S2, ep. 8)
The Other 48 Days (S2, ep. 7)