Monday, February 1, 2010

Minor Mysteries, Part II

Now let's take a look at five minor mysteries that I don't think will be answered this season. In contrast to my previous list, these are more would have been nice to have some more detail type questions rather than mysteries that deal with the overarching mythology of the show - which, of course, is why they'll never get answered.

There were several other things I considered for this list, including the Hurley Bird (which I'm convinced was simply a writer's joke that spun mythologically out of control), Libby's backstory (which I do hope we'll get this season since Cynthia Watros is back), Bea Klugh (why was she so important that she committed suicide rather than be captured, especially since they still had Mikhail), "Good People" and the Lists (which I incorporated into Walt) and Amelia (who may or may not be Amelia Earhart).

Five Minor Mysteries That We'll Likely Never Get Answers To

1) Ben, Locke and The Swan

First presented in: Episode 2.14, One of Them

Big Question: What was Ben really trying to do in The Swan?
Underlying Questions: How much did Ben know about The Swan? Did he know about the Swan at all? Did he know what would happen if the button wasn't pushed? Was he just trying to kill John Locke?

This is one of those nagging things I just can't let go. We know Ben must have purposely let himself get captured in Danielle's net to get into the Swan (and why didn't Danielle recognize the man who stole her daughter away, eh), but what was his real motivation for doing so?

The producers have stated that until the survivors discovered the Swan, the Others were largely unaware of its existence. While this makes sense in terms of Kelvin and Desmond having gone undiscovered for so long there, it really doesn't make much sense in that 1) Ben worked for DHARMA for years 2) post-Purge he had access to everything and 3) you have to think he must have come across something regarding the Swan in all the years he spent occupying their stations afterward.

But if we assume Ben didn't know anything about the Swan, then his mission was likely to scout the station and figure out what it does. If he saw the Pearl orientation video first, however, he likely would have thought the button and the station were just red herrings and might have wanted to get captured just to mess with Jack and Locke and sow some discontent. This kinda fits too because it just doesn't seem to make sense that Ben would try and convince Locke to stop pushing the button while he was still a prisoner.

But all this speculation stands on the fact that Ben, who had complete and utter control and access to everything in DHARMA for nearly twenty years, had no idea that not only did DHARMA have another critical station on the Island, but that that station was still being restocked by supply planes and manned around the clock by a couple crazy DHARMA guys. This all just doesn't sit right with me, but I don't think the writers will want to touch it much.

Kelvin, Radzinsky and The Sickness

First presented in: Episode 2.23, Live Together, Die Alone

Big Question: What's the timeline for these two?
Underlying Questions: Why would Radzinsky make the Blast Door Map when he knew everything about DHARMA? Did Radzinsky really kill himself or did Kelvin kill him instead? Was the Sickness merely a DHARMA red herring or were there two sicknesses, one made up by DHARMA and one that possessed Danielle's men?

We really don't know much about what happened to DHARMA during two periods: post-Incident and post-Purge. During the former, we know DHARMA continued to function on the Island and finished the Swan station, keeping it manned at all times. And even after the Purge (or at least around the same time), DHARMA was still recruiting people to push the button since we know Kelvin joined in the early 90's after the first Iraq War. Desmond finally landed on the Island in 2001, three years before Flight 815 crashed. If Kelvin joined shortly after the Iraq War, he'd have been there for nearly a decade.

So when did Kelvin and Radzinsky end up together in the Swan and why make the Blast Door Map? Radzinsky certainly didn't need it - he knew everything about DHARMA. Was the map really done mostly by Kelvin? And did Radzinsky really commit suicide or did Kelvin blow him away? I could certainly see Radzinsky driving Kelvin to the edge of madness from being cooped up in the Swan for years.

Furthermore, we know Kelvin used the Sickness to keep Desmond in the station, make him afraid to go outside while he repaired the Elizabeth. This myth seems to have been perpetrated by DHARMA to scare people into staying in the Swan and pushing the button - that's why DHARMA produced the "vaccine" and why the inside of the Hatch door (and the door to the Arrow Station) had "QUARANTINE" stenciled on it.

But when Danielle first described the sickness to Sayid, she was describing something else entirely. One of her men was possessed and she killed him to save herself. Now this could have been anything - maybe Smokey took over his mind, maybe it was the Nemesis in a different body - rather than an actual disease. But even though the Lost Puzzle Clues state there was no sickness, what possessed Danielle's men? Love to get an answer to all these questions, but I don't think it's going to happen - too much detail to fit into the show itself.

3) The Real Henry Gale

First presented in: Episode 2.17, Lockdown

Big Question: Ballooning accident, or was he sent by Widmore?
Underlying Questions: Did Ben really kill him or did he just find his body?

I would have loved a Henry Gale episode for the show but, alas, it is simply not to be. We know he worked for Widmore and could have been sent by him directly or indirectly to find (or stumble across, ala Desmond) the Island again. But what really happened to him when he landed? We know he landed alive and survived for at least a short period of time. Did Smokey kill him and the Others just find his body or did Ben kill him outright, knowing he worked for Widmore? All last season I was praying the time travelers would get to witness Henry's balloon actually landing on the Island, but I don't think it's going to happen now.

4) The Capsule Dump

First presented in: Episode 2.23, Live Together, Die Alone

Big Question: A giant garbage pile in the middle of nowhere? Really?
Underlying Questions: Who were the real test subjects here?

This one really drives me bonkers. It seems clear that the Pearl was really just a ruse; the workers inside thought they were observing test subjects in the Swan when really they were the test subjects being observed by DHARMA. Obviously DHARMA didn't care about any of the reports they were sending, but why send them to an open valley where anyone could stumble across them? Just seems weird to me.

But furthermore, we really haven't gotten a concrete explanation to what was going on in the Pearl. I like to think of it more as a safety net for the Swan station. The Pearl workers weren't part of any real experiment, they were simply supposed to monitor the button pushers 24/7 to make sure it got pushed - backup button pushers, if you will. Presumably if anything went wrong in the Swan, they were supposed to alert someone higher up - probably the only report that came out of the Pearl that anyone cared about was the printout of times when the button was pushed.

Not that any of this matters now - the Swan is gone, the Flame is gone and most of the other stations have been abandoned. Unless we see some significant DHARMA history this season, we may never know for sure.

5) The Elizabeth

First presented in: Episode 2.23, Live Together, Die Alone

Big Question: Where is it now?
Underlying Questions: Will they end the show with it?

This is a simple one - where the heck is Desmond's boat? Since Ben and the Others captured it in "The Glass Ballerina" we haven't seen hide nor hair of the storied craft. A minor detail, but it has been nearly three seasons now. Also, part of me feels it would be neat if the show ended with Desmond and crew using it to escape the Island - has a Constant-like sentimentality to it for me.

So what's your most niggling unanswered question from the show? Do you think it will be answered by the end? The end starts tomorrow night! I can't wait! :)

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