LOST: Following the Money Trail

| Fri Feb. 29, 2008 8:01 PM EST

lost-the-constan.jpgWow, last night's episode of LOST was chock-full of action. There was a love story, time traveling, an art auction, even military exercises in the rain. It was almost as if the creators didn't feel they had enough time to pack everything into one episode.

Time, of course, is the key to the island and why our plucky survivors are still there instead of in balmy Los Angeles. The time difference—now established beyond a shadow of a doubt, though exactly how long it is is still to be determined—is why people are so keen to study the island, and also why it's so darn hard to get off it. But there's still the question of who knows about this time difference and what they are doing, or trying to do, to exploit it. To answer that question, let's use an old journalism maxim: follow the money.

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The money trail, at least in last night's episode, leads upward to über-wealthy industrialist Charles Widmore. The evidence: Widmore Corp. is involved with the Hanso Foundation-financed DHARMA initiative, whose 1970s program left the island sprinkled with creepy research stations. Plus, Widmore's corporation sponsored the "round-the-world" boat race Desmond entered, leading him to wreck on the island. Widmore also bought the diary of the captain of the Black Rock, a ship that wrecked on the island centuries ago, for $800,000 at auction.

If I had $800,000, I'd put it on Charles Widmore being behind the freighter that sent "rescuers" to the island. After all, the crew was instructed not to talk to Widmore's daughter, who was looking for ne'er-do-well Desmond. And who has money to send a ship to the middle of nowhere for months at a time? Only someone whose office has distinctive paintings, one of which is strikingly similar to a mural found on the island, another by Claire's old boyfriend (Aaron's father). As we've found on LOST there are no coincidences.

Instead, there are complex, yet incomplete mythologies, clues to the island's bizarre history, and allusions to mathematics and physics. Part X-Files and part Survivor, the series likes to remind viewers that every coincidence is a clue. Every screencap (you can see them here) reveals something about what will happen later on. In fact, the attention to detail is almost compulsive, like the show's creators just can't help themselves. There's so much information, so many hints at so many plotlines, that unless you have an encyclopedic memory, it's hard to keep up.

To help new viewers, or just those who don't have time to think about Charles Widmore's paintings, every week before the new episode airs, there's a re-broadcast of the previous weeks' show that includes pop-up bubbles with facts and trivia. This show, like Twin Peaks is the kind you need to watch twice to get all the nuances. Like Twin Peaks, LOST's paranormal-flavored, detail-saturated plot may make it a cult favorite, but it may leave too many others wondering what the fuss is all about.

Photo courtesy ABC

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