“primum, non nocere,” – Talking About the Lost Hatch

Good thing Boone went with Locke, and Jack went with Kate – otherwise the story of Lost: Season 1 would have been totally different. Boone wouldn’t have died in the Beechcraft crash. Kate would have never been able to be manipulated, as much as Boone would have been. Kate felt established in the Losties’ tribe. She had tracking expertise, weapon skills and a wily mind. She would have, thankfully, told someone else about the Hatch, leading to no one dying in the Beechcraft.

However, Locke would not have wanted someone, with a mind of their own, alongside him, on this trek. Cult leader Locke needed an impressionable person, like Boone, who was desperate to prove himself. Locke recognized the same gullibility and the same deep need to matter, in himself, as Locke’s dad, Cooper, the con man, rightfully pegged in Locke. Con men and cult leaders.

The whole fascination with a frozen alternate dimension and polar bears, reminds me of the Narrator’s spirit animal dream, in the ice cave, with the penguins – a happy space, that subsequently gets invaded by thoughts of his crush. This was in the movie Fight Club. The connection between fire (or a hot jungle) and ice – polar opposites – seems to have been a big fascination, in the late ’90s. Just look at the opening sequence and thematic plot points of Die Another Day, in the 007 franchise – a film which came out around the same time.

Lost Atlantis and a nuclear submarine sound cool, but they’re not as central to the Island, as the Hatch, one of the Dharma Stations, is. This may be a confirmation bias, but all other ideas sound random, compared to the Hatch – even though frozen donkey wheels, submarines and nuclear bombs do later make it into the series. There’s a time and a place for everything.

At the bottom of the Hatch, is a lair: the underground Swan Station (swan song). A lab rat, Desmond, must press a button, every 180 minutes, or the world will end. It reminds me of an old short story, I wrote in college, before I saw Lost, of an avatar being able to restart the universe, on a set schedule, with the latest updates – like a Windows operating system. This mirrors how the Numbers and the Equation concern the end of all time, in Lost. That and electromagnetic anomalies, in this pocket dimension, are what the Dharma Initiative and Rousseau’s expedition, came to the Island to study.

The Hatch was originally going to be found, underwater – which explains, why polar bears (which can swim adeptly) or an ice bio-dome, or Atlantis, or a nuclear submarine, were supposed to be at the bottom of the Hatch. You can see strains of this, when, in later seasons, the Egyptian statue’s foot, ends up underwater. The Black Rock slave ship and Rousseau’s expedition, both shipwreck, on the island – following in the vein of a seafaring story.

By definition, Atlantis is a lost land in the Atlantic Ocean. Given all the references to LA and Sydney, – despite that one blip, about drug planes, from Nigeria – all hints and clues point to the Island pocket dimension primarily residing in the Pacific – somewhere between Australia and Hawaii. Atlantis is its own legend, a whole other set of myths – and the Island being in the wrong ocean just wouldn’t be on brand, for Lost.

Another axed idea, in the writing room, for the Hatch, was a nuclear submarine, that had run aground, and then been covered by a mudslide. Nuclear submarines, in polar waters, are thematically very Cold War (The Hunt for Red October, with Sean Connery), but the idea of how such a thing would get on the Island, and end up buried, is super unrealistic, and stretches viewers’ suspension of disbelief way too much – even for Lost. The Black Rock – a wooden slave ship and mining ship – flying through the air, on a huge wave, during a storm, and snapping the Egyptian statue, in two, at the legs – only to end up in the jungle, almost completely intact, full of un-exploded boxes of dynamite, will already be a big plot point, to swallow, later on.

The names of some the characters touch on the philosophy of the political science, of the Island. Less government is inherently better, because even though human nature is inherently flawed, more government means more people are held at the whims, of fewer people – and those leaders are inherently flawed. Rousseau, the thinker, is right in that the only solution for human nature, is to keep people as far away from each other, as possible, governance-wise. The few common goods available are governed by the Social Contract, so there is some government – but as little as is functionally possible.

Subtle Awakening

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It was winter. Thin city snow sprinkled black trash bags and the green-yellow dead grass of dormant lawns. It was mostly a clear night; the moon was high in the sky and surrounded by a blue-white halo of ice crystals in the upper atmosphere. Alli was out on an evening walk after work with her dog. Her dog was a German shepherd named Rufus. She liked to think the brown parts of his coat were the color of ginger ale.

Back at home, she sat down in the downstairs living room to watch the evening news, Jeopardy and some of the gossip shows. The moonlight coming though the drapes of the bay window had dimmed. She got up to get some water and looked out. The moon was lost in voluminous dark gray clouds, its lighthouse beam reduced to a faded and fuzzy signal that strained as if shining from underwater or from behind heavy cloth. Even with the clouds, the moon and the sky were still beautiful. Alli got herself a glass of water and sat back down on the couch.

Alli noticed Rufus was in an interesting mood. He normally lay near her feet when she watched television. He was lying near the window looking up at it as if with his supersonic hearing he could hear something rustling that she couldn’t. Maybe someone was outside putting out trash and traipsing across their lawn down the street. Or maybe there were cats outside who were going to trigger the motion-sensor light around the back of the house near the garage. Her dad used to chase them away, along with the squirrels that ate up the birdseed in the backyard’s birdhouses. Whatever it was, Rufus soon lost interest and came to lie across her feet.

Or perhaps whatever it was had come inside the house, because movement flickered in Alli’s peripheral vision. She naturally turned her gaze toward it and froze, a familiar and unwelcome pins-and-needles feeling spreading over her arms, neck and shoulders. Sitting near the doorway to the foyer, was another dog, a black dog with white eyes and fur that seemed to move and wiggle, like fire or smoke. Otherwise it looked like a normal dog and was just sitting there panting. Other than its ghostly appearance it did not look frightening but Alli still felt terrified.

It did not disappear or lunge or do anything. Alli became more puzzled than terrified. She didn’t want to look away from it lest it move or attack or disappear, but she had to glance at Rufus. He had not done anything. He hadn’t leapt up or barked or even shifted from his position of lying across her feet. Alli naturally took this as a sign that Rufus was not frightened or angered. But he could see it. He was looking at it – placidly, even perhaps in boredom or out of a strange sort of familiarity – but he was looking at it, which made Alli feel tense. Unless Rufus was hallucinating too, she wasn’t the only one seeing the ghost dog.

Alli reluctantly dragged her eyes back in the direction of the foyer, hoping it was gone, had disappeared in the fleeting seconds she had taken to observe Rufus’ reaction. It was still there. Alli felt a sinking feeling of dread like the bottom had dropped out of her stomach. Still she could not move. And before her eyes the dog transformed. As if it were made of mist it changed into a human form – a human outline drawn by pencil thin lines filled with what looked like white-gray campfire smoke. The human form was not a monster – it was pleasant to look at, normal even, a young woman around her age in a sweater and jeans, bespectacled with long, light-colored gray-scale hair. In Alli’s peripheral vision, Rufus had not reacted at all. In fact, the figure had taken up enough of his time and he gone back to watching television.

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