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Man O’ Science back again to discuss the latest episode of Lost, “Dr. Linus.” Dr. Linus, obvious, refers to Ben Linus, as he has a doctorate in modern European history in the alternate universe, UA. In this UA, he is buddy-buddy with his dad (paralleling Locke and his dad?), teaches alongside Dr. Arzt, and is tutoring one Alex Rousseau (who was once Alex Linus on the Island). Pretty good life, compared to what he has going on in the original-style universe. Of course, Alterna-Ben is presented a situation in which his original-style would love: blackmailing his way to the top.

This presents an interesting parallel (there’s that word again!) to the circumstances Ben finds himself on the Island. He is the epitome of a castoff, a broken soul. Not only did he kill his second father figure, Jacob, but Illana, who is seemingly Jacob’s bodyguard, wants to kill him for it. In the end, he admits that all he ever wanted was power and he thought Jacob would provide it, but really, it cost him dearly. He chose to sacrifice Alex, who he loved as a daughter, to protect the Island and his power. In the UA, he faced a similar choice: blackmail the principal to get his job, but cost Alex a recommendation to a good school. Alterna-Ben chose Alex, and we know that if Original-Style Ben had to choose again, he would have saved Alex from Keamy. Maybe this adds fuel to the fire that is the alterna-verse being some form of wish fulfillment.

Ben’s operated on some form of faith: if he protects the Island, he gets power. He has never stopped and asked himself why he wanted the power or if it was worth it, until Alex’s death. Now that he is an outcast, his power nonexistent, his greed has subsided and he can look at his life. Though it comes from a broken man, with regret and guilt, Ben uses logic to assess the situation: he is unwanted, he is a marked man. With that, he just wants to be with someone who accepts him for who he is. He thinks that is Flocke, but Illana, seeing his actual remorse, says that she has forgiven him and Ben goes with her. Interestingly, Ben is only the second person to reject MIB’s offer. First was Richard, who was (was) firmly in Jacob’s camp. But Ben, who has every reason to seek power again and become uber-evil, decides to stay with the good guys. Could logic have played a role there? Did Ben realize that running away and blindly following another “God” figure was not the right decision? I think so.

I would say this episode was a good one for the Man of Science. It even featured a Science Teacher in Dr. Arzt. Yes, there was a lot of emotion piled upon logic. But in the end, decisions were made on the real, not the supposed. Except for that scene with Richard and Jack…

Let there be no redemption for Sayid Jarrah.  People are always selling their souls to the devil.  If you’re a secondary character, then chances are pretty good that it’ll end in Mephistopheles getting what’s owed him.  If you’re Brendan Fraser, then Elizabeth Hurley has to toss you back.  You know, cause you’re a nice guy and really sorry you sold it in the first place.  Just this once, I’d like to see one of the main cast . Feel free to leave examples of a major character not getting a return on deal with Satan in the comments, I’m sure there must be some.  Of course, I’m getting a little ahead of myself with all this.  This week’s episode, “Sundown”, has been all about a lack of faith.

Poor Sayid is always the bridesmaid never the bride.  Through out the series, he’s played henchman for Claire, Jack, Ben (in his life before the island been in the Iraq military) and when the orders stop flowing he finds someone new to follow.  Thus, when his current commander, Jack, runs off for a day trip with Hurley it’s time for an episode about Sayid finding someone new to follow.  Since, Dogen is the highest ranking official in the temple, this is the first person our favorite flunky goes to.  After a kung fu metaphor for a penis measuring, Sayid finds that Dogen does indeed have dong enough to take orders from.  Dogen’s first order is to go fuck off and Sayid complies.  Dogen’s second order is to go stick a knife in Smokey before Smokey can say anything to him.  Now, it’s quite possible, that what Smokey says is true and the goal of operation Stab A Dead Guy was to get Sayid killed.  However, the order is very explicit that if you let Smokey get a word out it’s too late.  I took that to mean that the knife only works up until the point Smokey says howdy to you.  Faith, if you hadn’t caught on yet, tends to be about following the rules that don’t make sense.  Sayid, on the other had, doesn’t have faith.  He’s just  and only considers the rules that make sense, i.e., stab the dead guy.

Smokey, after taking the knife out of his chest, offers to bring Sayid back together with Nadia, his dead girlfriend (or whatever), in exchange for loyalty.  For those of you who don’t remember, Sayid was so in love with Nadia that he spent all of season one and most of two trying, successfully, to nail Shannon.  (Consider: Desmond spends years in a dark bunker pressing a button every 108, and all the while hangs on to the thought of Penny.  Sayid gets stuck on a beautiful sandy beach and decides to drop anchor in the first blonde that will have him.  One of these is true love, and one is not.  You decide.)  Smokey’s penis can bring people back from the dead.  Clearly, Sayid has found a new person to take orders from.  Sayid now goes back to temple to help Smokey get back in massacre the remaining inhabitants.

All the while, in Universe A, a story has been unfolding about how Sayid-A convinced Nadia, the so called love of his life, to marry his idiot brother.  Considering how much of a tool Sayid’s brother is, I’m not sure how to interrupt this as anything but Sayid-A being a selfish bastard.  He wants to be miserable himself because he feels bad about torturing people, and he wants Nadia to marry his brother so she stays in his life.  Now, let us assume for a second, that Sayid-A is not full of shit.  Then, Sayid-A can’t be with Nadia because he feels bad about torturing people.  And, Sayid-1 is going to get Nadia back by assisting Smokey in mass murder.  Sayid’s problems stem from a lack of faith.  Mostly a lack of faith in himself. The wonders of the island are too much for him, so he turns to others to tell him what to do.  But, somewhere in all that, the island must have had some positive effect on him.  Because, Sayid-A has pushed Nadia away, while Sayid-1 did in fact get to be with Nadia for a short time.  Nadia’s death in U-1 broke Sayid down again, but to be broken first you must be fixed.  And, maybe had Sayid not sold his soul the island could have restored him again.

Until next week, this is Boe Holiday saying, “Don’t stop believing”.

Logic would dictate that if the title of a Lost episode is “Sundown,” we would get a Sun-centric episode. Logic would have it wrong, as “Sundown” was actually Sayid-centric! Science took quite a beating in this episode, in terms of characters acting rationally. The Man of Science was not happy with this episode, but the general Lost fan was!

The episode focused on Sayid and his first real confrontation with faith in the series. He’s made deals with nebulous promises before, like when he helped Ben assassinate people, but in this episode, he encounters Fake Locke and makes a deal with the apparent devil. All for a chance to see his dead love Nadia again. Sayid’s been jerked around the Island lately, from being captured by Sawyer in 1977, to shooting Lil Ben, to being shot, to being resurrected but manipulated by Dogen. Much like Sawyer, all he wants is the peace he once experienced. Seemingly sentenced to death, Sayid makes a deal with Flocke and kills Dogen and Lennon in cold blood, then allows Smokey to kill the rest of The Others. Sayid’s decided he has faith in whatever force Flocke is, and is willing to kill to see that faith rewarded.

Meanwhile, the one bastion a Man of Science might find safety, UA (the alternate universe), Sayid is not that happy. Oh, he puts on a happy face, but he is still haunted by his past. While he sees Nadia frequently, she is married to his brother, not to him. He basically tells her he pushed her away because he doesn’t deserve her. When Sayid’s bro gets in over his head with a loan shark (the always evil Keamy, the merc who killed Ben’s daughter Alex in U1), Sayid’s coldbloodiness pops up again and he shoots Keamy dead. Sayid is tortured (no pun intended) in any timeline, so why not make a deal with the Devil? Psycho Sayid at least has insanity to fall back on. But UA Sayid did find a slightly chilled Jin in the freezer. And he did pass by Jack in the hospital where his brother was being treated. What does this mean for UA?

Well, allow me to steal a theory from a message board:

The flashsideways are what the Losties desire. What wish Flocke grants. But Flocke being The Devil, it comes with a hitch: Locke is happy, but still in the wheelchair, Sayid gets to see Nadia, but she is with his brother, Jack solves his Daddy Issues, but has a son to be responsible to, Kate may be innocent, but is still on the run.

If this holds out, that means logic only prevails if you run with evil. Some may say that thought is correct, that only a realist, one who sees the hard truth and takes whatever appropriate action is evil, or at least, emotionless and without humanity. I don’t think that is true and I don’t think Lost is going to say that is true. But I can see the characters, now that they are interacting with each other more and more in the UA, “waking up” and realizing something isn’t right. Whether or not this is a Matrix situation, where they know the world isn’t real, or just a “We have to go back, Kate!” moment, remains to be seen.

I can’t give this episode a thumbs up from a Man of Science. But I would hesitant to call this a triumph for the Man of Faith, because we saw faith take a dark turn this episode. A draw, perhaps, like the tic-tac-toe game Hurley and Miles were playing last week?

What does faith get you?  If faith got you a pony, then everyone would choose faith (pony haters with standing).  Furthermore, it wouldn’t be faith if it could be proven to produce ponies.  Let us consider what faith gets the survivors of flight 815 in the episode “The Lighthouse”.  This is a Jack centric episode: in U1 Jack and Hurley go on an old fashioned romp through the jungle on their way to a new odd ball landmark (better then the polar bear cages, not as nifty as the hatch); in UA Jack copes with being a father to his son.  It’s worth noting, that U1 Jack doesn’t have a son.  This adds a new extreme to how far UA has deviated in the absence of the Island.

In U1 Jack is back to being a stogy old man of science, and as our champion of faith Hugo Reyes.  Hurley’s go with the flow attitude is in full effect when the specter of Jacob appears to him with a laundry list of requests.  The main one being that he drag Jack along on the adventure.  Jacob tells him how to manipulate Jack, and Hugo gets the ball rolling.  (Fitting that Jacob is a manipulator like Smokey.  The best nemesis are always matched in powers.)  Jack, ever the scientist, wants answers.

Upon arrival at their destination, they have find themselves on a cliff side.  And, on that cliff side a lighthouse.  And, in that lighthouse a lamp that Jacob asked Hurley to light.  And, in that lamp a series of mirrors which sometimes reflect things that aren’t there.  Jack correctly deduces from the images in the mirrors that Jacob has been spying on a collection of people (ostensibly 360 to match the degrees of a circle) including himself.  Understandably, Jack gets down to the business of destroying the device which has been used to manipulate his life.  However, Jack’s lack of faith has gotten him nothing more then a hissy fit, frustration and nice little pout on the rocks.  When Jacob finally returns, Hurley takes a few pot shots at Jacob for having hung him out to dry.  And, rightfully so.  Hurley’s belief doesn’t deserve to be jerked around.  Consider, however, that Hurley remains unfazed.  Having faith and getting what you want do not go together like a horse and carriage.  Meanwhile, both Hurley and Jack are given a reprieve from the assault Smokey is about to make on the Temple.  Just because Jack has given up on the Island, doesn’t mean the Island has to give up on Jack.

Until next week, this is Boe Holiday saying, “Don’t stop believing”.

Welcome, welcome fans of Science. This week’s Lost episode was entitled “The Lighthouse” and like it indicates, it beckons me to analyze, but to be wary of the craggy rocks of Faith. It was Jack-centric, which may spell doom for some, but for a guy who likes reason over faith, Jack is a very important character. He is the anti-Locke (though not the anti-Fake Locke, yet). For Jack, if it doesn’t make sense, he doesn’t want to know about it. He had a brief foray into faith last season, where he believed Locke and Mrs. Faraday, but as he states in this episode, that period is over and he wants logic.

This episode juggled two storylines and the alternate universe narrative. In the A-plot, Hurley is instructed by the Ghost of Jacob to take Jack to a lighthouse and help guide someone to the Island. At first, this seems to be a groaner of a plotline as people have been coming to the Island for the past 3 seasons. The Island doesn’t seem to be that hard of a place to get to anymore. Ah, but Jacob was, perhaps, speaking metaphorically. In the B-plot, Jin is freed from the bear trap by Crazy Claire and Crazy Claire is all crazy. She thinks that The Others have kidnapped Aaron (just like Rousseau thought they kidnapped Alex. Parallels!) That sweet, BAYBE crying Aussie from Seasons 1-4 is gone and the Claire that we know now doesn’t think twice about axing an Other in his gut. And in the UA-plot (Universe A), Jack is dealing with the fallout from his dad’s death and the missing casket and, shocker, trying to be a better father to his own son, David.

David is obviously the biggest change for Jack between the universes. He looks to be about 13, which would not make him Jack and Sarah’s, Jack’s ex-wife, kid, if that meeting still occurred at the same time. The mother is a mystery, conveniently being out of town during the episode. Will we ever know who she is? Probably not. But David seems to fill a hole in the life of Jack, who we have seen subtlety want a child in some of his flashbacks with Sarah. But Jack, in Universe A (UA), just transfers his daddy issues onto David. David seems to resent his father, or at least, like to stay some distance from him. As Original Flavor Jack says, he would make a terrible father. So is UA worse off than OF Jack, having to deal with paternal problems from both sides of the generation gap? Hardly. Jack, being a reasonable guy (pun intended), slowly realizes why his son is distant, that David doesn’t want to fail his father. Jack understands, maybe more so than original Jack would, that he is not his father, that he can break the mental chains of Christian, and be is own man. Which means being a father in his own way and not pressure David like Christian did to Jack. In the end, David and Jack reconcile, and Jack experiences a catharsis.

Some interesting mythos related questions are raised in the UA storyline: Jack doesn’t remember his appendectomy scar (which he actually got on-Island in Season 4). He doesn’t seem to have tattoos either, sparing Jack from the torments of Bai Ling. Also, Jack may be a recovering alcoholic, as his mom congratulates him on not drinking. For a while, I also thought that perhaps Christian and Jack had a good relationship in the UA (mirroring Locke’s apparently good relationship with his own father), but Jack’s statements to David seem to indicate elsewise.

Original Jack experiences a similar catharsis on the Island, but it is achieved through a temper tantrum, not the quiet realization of UA-Jack. Hurley leads Jack to the caves (where we see Shannon’s inhaler and the skeletons of Adam and Eve are mentioned and seen). Jack, growing increasingly impatient, wanting to talk to Jacob himself, goes to the lighthouse and sees no Jacob. Instead, he sees a list of names, similar to the one Sawyer saw in the caves previously, each with a compass point number assigned to it. And when the lighthouse flame is directed at a number, Jack catches a glimpse of a foreign location in the lighthouse mirrors. We (maybe) see the location where Jin and Sun got married, the church where Sawyer’s parents were buried, and finally, Jack’s childhood house. What does this all mean? Jacob has been spying on our favorite castaways like a Peeping Tom. Speaking of Tom, Tom Friendly, the bearded man who took Walt was also seen on the lighthouse dial.

Jack, who never takes any of the supernatural aspects of the Island well, gets all smashy with the mirrors, seemingly defying Jacob. Ah, but Jacob is wise and is a manipulative SOB (kinda like Smokey). He tells Hurley that the real purpose of the trek was two-fold: one, he wanted Jack to see it, because he knows Jack cannot be told an answer, he must be led to it. Jack is stubborn enough to want to take it all on himself and giving him the answer straight up will leave him not believing. This is actually keeping in character with what we know of Jack and also explains why Jack never really asked The Others questions while he was with them. Jack doesn’t wants to know, he wants to find out.

And what was the second reason Jacob sent Hurley and Jack on this quest? He wanted to get them as far away from the Temple as possibly. Why? Because someone bad is coming to it. Jin, who first tells Claire that Kate actually has Aaron, eventually covers up that truth with a lie, saying he saw Aaron at the Temple. Claire buys this and says that if Kate actually did take Aaron, she would have to kill her. Can’t wait for that smackdown. But Claire has a special friend who already told her that The Others have Aaron: Fake Locke. Claire is seemingly aware that Locke is not Locke, but doesn’t care. Also, apparently Fake Locke (aka Smokey) is different from Christiangeist we have seen before as Claire differentiates between the two. Though perhaps Smokey took the form of Christian and then Locke and fooled Claire into thinking it was two different people. Either way, this is probably what The Others meant when they said Claire was infected (and Claire even offhandedly states she knows infection is bad on the Island).

This episode was a strike against faith. Claire believes in Fake Locke, even knowing it isn’t really Locke, and Flocke has led her astray. Hurley had faith that Jacob was leading him somewhere on the level, but was basically told by Jacob that he was manipulated to get Jack to realize his purpose. Only Jack, dogmatic as he may be to his logic, was not fooled or taken advantaged of. Yes, he was pushed to his limit, but his anger was at the realization that he was being lied to, not misplaced. He may end up being the best candidate to replace Jacob, not because he accepts what Jacob is doing (like Hurley), but because he realizes it is what he is meant to do and the right thing.

In all these ways, this episode is differently one for the Man of Science.

As a mathematician, it seems odd that I should take up the mantle “Man of Faith”.  A field of proofs and theorems, deduction and lemmas, appears on first thought to be the sandbox of a “Man of Science”.  However, deeper down mathematics is about axioms.  Unproven and unprovable truths which are taken, on faith, to be the building blocks of all else.  It’s about believing in something.  The island at the center of Lost does not ask for anything more then belief and .  If I were to parade nothing more then isolated facts and circumstantial evidence, then I would no better then a man of science, peddling ideas as if they were truth.  Therefore, in true mathematical form, let us assume that the island is a positive influence on the world.  As a direct corollary, the alternate time line is the lesser for the islands absence.  From here, we will not argue how the events in Universe 1 (U1), where the island remains, and Universe A (UA), where a nuclear blast has dropped the island to the ocean floor, prove our axiom to be true, but rather how these events are consistent with our axiom.

In the most recent episode, “The Substitute”, everything is coming up roses for Locke (well at least daisies) in UA.  A fact my esteemed colleague, Mr Science, has misinterpreted as a windfall for his thesis.  There is no denying that Locke is not dead in UA as he is in U1, and probably won’t be anytime soon.  But, everybody dies and in the same episode we see Rose who has terminal cancer in UA, an affliction which the restorative powers of the island has cured in U1.  It’s kind of a wash in the death department.  In UA we find a Locke who has not been kicked in the teeth quite as many times, but who retains his old faults.  He’s angry and he lies.  Perhaps these faults are to the core.  Even on the island Locke reverts to fits of anger when the chips are down.  Hell, even Smokey (see below) breaks down in anger and screams Locke’s mantra into the jungle.  “Don’t tell me what I can’t do.”  So, the island doesn’t take away his faults.  Instead, the island gives him something more powerful.  It gives him hope.  As Mr. Science so eloquently put it, in UA Locke “doesn’t believe in miracles”.  His happiness in UA is a coincidence at best.  Locke mentions that his father is going to attend his wedding, which indicates that the con jobs perpetrated by his father didn’t happen in UA.  The trigger that ruined Locke’s life in U1.  The missing island means that the symptoms of Locke’s anger issues have not manifested as strongly, not that he has been cured of the cause.  If anything the island was able to give him a purpose and with it the tools to overcome his baser instincts.

Back in U1, the narrative of Lost is following the antics of the Smoke Monster now inhabiting the form of Locke (Smokey).  Smokey has been stuck on the island since before anytime which we have seen, and he has the singular goal of leaving.  The key to Smokey’s plan thus far has been the elimination of .  In summary, Jacky has been keeping Smokey on the island.  Smokey’s in jail, and Jacky is the jailor.  Now in UA the prison has sunk.  There is no other conclusion to draw, then that Smokey has been released into the universe.  And, people with private prisons are not the sort of people you want in your neighborhood.

Until next week, this is Boe Holiday saying, “Don’t stop believing”.

I am Baffling Beerman and there should be no confusion over what side I am taking: I am the Man of Science, which means I believe that without all the Island hoohah, the passengers of 815 would lead a better life than if they crashed on it. Yes, I am rooting for the alternative universe to consume the original timeline. Starting with “LA X” and then continuing with “What Kate Does,” we see our favorite characters, while maybe not leading dramatically different lives, are at least in control of themselves and their situation. Hurley views himself as lucky. Sawyer doesn’t seem so grim. While Kate is still on the run in the alternate timeline, she managed to escape and may be innocent (at least, according to her). The Couples Kwon, Sun and Jin, still seem to be on the rocks, but who knows where their alt-life will lead?

So that brings us to “The Substitute.” Clearly, Alterna-Locke is leading a better life by virtue of him being alive. But even allowing for a comparison to say, a Season 1 Locke, Alterna-Locke is much happier. Yes, he is more defeated but that just means he is accepting of his fate. With this inner peace, Helen, his love, is still with him. And seemingly has a good relationship with his father, with invitations to weddings and cubicle pictures. Locke is no longer a Man of Faith, he doesn’t believe in miracles, but his mundane life is much better than his restless life where he went from place to place, looking for support and finding lies and rejection. And hey, he still gets to run in with happy-go-lucky Hurley, inspirational Rose, and his frenemy Ben. What more could on-Island Locke want in a normal life? Except maybe being able to walk. But Alterna-Locke seems like he wants to get out of that chair, not for himself, but for Helen, much different than original Locke. And when Helen says she loves Locke for who he is, not where he sits, they tear up Jack’s card and go on with their lives.

We get some big mythos related information back with the original timeline. For once, Richard appears scared. His wild-eyed approach to Sawyer after being let go by Smocke (Smoke Monster Locke) was the first time we saw Richard seemingly flapped. Sawyer, still distraught over the loss of Juliet, hitches his wagon to Smocke. And Smocke, along with Sawyer, sees a young blond boy, who may or may not be kid Jacob. KJ warns Smocke that he cannot kill him but who is him? Sawyer? Smcoke slips in a Locke-ian “Don’t tell me what I can’t do!” to that. Locke and Smokey might be bleeding into each other.

Most importantly, we get a great nonanswer answer to why some of the survivors were on the Island. Jacob apparently thinks Locke, Jack, Sayid, Sun or Jin, Hugo, and Sawyer are potential candidates to replace him. All of these people are characters Jacob touched in the Season 5 finale. He has written a whole phone book worth of names, including Claire’s, Juliet’s and Ben’s on a wall in a cave. All of them are crossed off except Locke, Jack, Sayid’s, a Kwon, Hugo, and Sawyer’s, and all of those names have one of The Numbers (4 8 15 16 23 42) assigned to them. Smocke tells Sawyer that he has three choices: replace Jacob (who is really protecting nothing), do nothing, or join Smocke and leave the Island. What does Sawyer decide? To get the hell off the Island and join Smocke. Dun dun dun! Is Sawyer serious or is he running a con on Smocke? And where is Kate’s name? Jacob did touch her in the past. She may be a body guard like Illana or may be the most important person.

Additionally, Smocke crosses off Locke’s name, because Locke is dead. There were a few names from the Dharma Days. One of the big points of contention has been why did The Hostiles/Others kill off the Dharma folk? At first, it was thought that Ben ordered the attack, but we have seen that Charles Widmore was in charge at the time. But who was Widmore taking orders from? We have seen Ben think Jacob’s cabin actually housed Jacob when really it was the Man in Black’s/Easu’s/Smocke’s house. So was Widmore taking orders from Jacob or Easu in disguise? Maybe the MiB was manipulating Widmore to kill Dharma and kill the candidates Jacob brought to the Island in that cycle.

Finally, I can’t say enough about the fine acting job that Terry O’Quinn (Locke), Josh Holloway (Sawyer), and Michael Emerson (Ben) did in this episode. Holloway, in particular, has been knocking it out of the park since Season 5. Of that trio, he is the only one not to get even an Emmy nomination. I hope the Academy is watching this year and rewards Mr. Holloway appropriately.

In summary: This episode is firmly in the win column for the alternate universe, but the action in the original timeline was sure as interesting as anything Lost has presented this season.