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LostZone: Giving Meaning to the Numbers, 4 8 15 16 23 42

February 18, 2010

LostZone: Giving Meaning to the Numbers, 4 8 15 16 23 42
By Louis Bedigian

After six years of question marks, the truth behind one of Lost’s biggest mysteries is revealed.

It may not have been in the original plans, but in this week’s episode of Lost, “The Substitute,” the numbers were given special meaning: each one belongs to a different character.

4 – Locke

8 – Reyes

15 – Ford

16 – Jarrah

23 – Shephard

42 – Kwon

If the words of Artificial Locke are to be believed, those numbers were assigned by Jacob, who thinks that one of these six characters is a candidate to take over his job of protecting the island. Our favorite neighborhood Smoke Monster insisted that the island doesn’t need protecting as he tried to persuade Sawyer to leave with him. It worked. In a matter of one episode, Ben’s title as the Master Manipulator was relinquished to Jacob’s nemesis.

While this was far from a perfect episode, “The Substitute” told a much more polished (and a much more believable) story than “What Kate Does.”

Let’s start this week’s LostZone by taking a look at the on-island affairs.

This season, former con man Sawyer is being manipulated by yet another con man.

Richard, AKA Mr. Fearful

It’s great to see that Richard is still running scared from the Smoke Monster. Boy, they must have had quite a past together. Not surprisingly, Lost is going to make us wait to learn more about that. In the meantime, however, the show has given us one very interesting development: the castaways aren’t the only ones who see strange (and often dead) people on the island.

While taunting Richard, and again after luring Sawyer away from his house in the jungle, Counterfeit Locke saw a young boy staring at him. After learning that Sawyer could see him as well, Fake Locke chased after the boy, who finally stopped running and said, “You know the rules. You can’t kill him.”

“Don’t tell me what I can’t do,” the monster responded, as if channeling a bit of the real Locke. “Don’t tell me what I can’t do!”

This opens up a few new questions (thanks, Lost writers!). First, who is this boy, and why is he dressed like an Other? His attire is a fair match for the way Richard dressed when he recruited Ben.

Second, why does the boy believe that the Smoke Monster must listen to him?

Third, who made these so-called “rules” and why? It would have to be someone on the island that holds more power than the Smoke Monster (and likely Jacob), but who?

Fourth, who is “him”? Was the boy referring to Sawyer? That’s too obvious. Was he referring to Richard? That, too, is obvious. But if not either of them, then who?

Sometimes Lost is like one big, highly creative puzzle.

Locke’s Other (Happier?) Life

Call me crazy, but I’m starting to get the impression that the characters in the sideways world are much happier – and thus much better off – than any flashback or flash-forward scenario we’ve seen before. It could be one big trap; perhaps the show is just waiting to drop a bomb that’ll make all of us wish the sideways world didn’t exist. But for now, here are the facts: Helen, Locke’s one and only love, is standing by her man. The two lovebirds are getting married, and though we could spend hours reading into Helen’s comments of “destiny” and the many other tidbits that are supposed to link the parallel worlds, the most significant revelation came early in the episode.

“I am so sick of caterers and bands and picking fabrics for chair backs,” Helen told Locke after hanging up the phone. “What do you say we just get my parents and your dad and do it shotgun-style in Vegas?”

Umm, what!? His dad!? Helen may have been making one giant assumption there (that his dad would come and that Locke would even want him at the wedding). But if not, then that likely means that in this world, Anthony Cooper is not the slimy con-man we all know and hate. At the very least it hints that Locke was paralyzed by some other means, because I doubt that he’d still be talking to the man who pushed him out the window.

This is by far the most intriguing change introduced in the sideways world. It’s strange to think that the island’s demise could alter so much more than the crash of Oceanic 815. But since that is the direction the show has taken, it’s good to see that the writers aren’t entirely clueless.

Ben’s New Career

Of course, I say that assuming that the writers also have big plans for Ben. It turns out that, if he didn’t have an island to come to as a child, he would have grown up in a more traditional environment and become a teacher.

Allow me to pause for a minute and let out a very big, “Hmmm.”

While it might be fun to watch Ben teach a class or two by twisting and turning the facts of a particular subject (a lecture on the Bermuda Triangle would be hilarious), I have a better idea: have Ben run for office. Imagine him, a seemingly whiny, inconsequential teacher, up at the podium speaking about politics. Everything he says could be pure nonsense and he’d still get enough votes to win.

What would we he be campaigning for, you ask? Something tells me that a school for “special” children would be at the top of his list. He’d also be likely to push for a new research facility in Portland, or perhaps somewhere a bit more remote.

It’s ironic to think that Jack would become the island’s protector, given his obsession with always needing something to fix. With this job, he’d be working for life!

Ready to Escape

Sawyer is officially done with the island, thanks to the manipulations of one very clever monster. But as we all know, something will happen that prevents him from leaving. Though his change of heart might start with the discovery of who Fake Locke really is (I doubt he’d be willing to go anywhere with the Smoke Monster), the most interesting moment will come when he learns the truth about his own existence.

Imagine what his reaction will be when he finds out that Juliet is alive in a parallel universe. First, he’ll be ecstatic and in disbelief. Sure, it’s great in theory, but how could she possibly be alive when he saw her die in his arms?

Once he starts to believe it, however, he will be absolutely devastated. Sawyer, a guy who never thought he’d love anyone (outside of his puppy love for Kate), is trapped not only on an island but in a world where his true love is dead. His immediate solution: suicide. He will be so overcome with emotion that he will actually start to believe that death is the answer – not to put an end to his own suffering, but as a way to be transported to his off-island self.

Crazy? Absolutely. But I think that’s what the writers are going for; they want to show how the power of love and death can impact the living. Though the writers may have no intention of going through with a story like this – or may pull the plug on it if it hasn’t been taped yet and too many fans figure it out – they have already laid the groundwork for this to happen. Miles knows the truth, and the producers all but confirmed that the on-island and off-island worlds are going to collide in a big way.

LostZone – Previous Installments

February 11, 2010: Season Three Stall Tactics and Claire’s Disappearance Explained!?

February 4, 2010: Thoughts and Theories From the Mind-Blowing Season Six Premiere

February 1, 2010: Are Lost and Final Fantasy VII Unofficially Connected?

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