Friday, March 27, 2009

The Little House in Dharmaville... and Other FAQs

Each week there's lots of discussion on the most recent Lost episode in the comments section for my initial write-up on it. And sometimes there's something in there that's so insightful it demands me pulling it out and putting it in its own post. Unfortunately, I rarely find the time these days between writing and working, and I've been letting certain things fall through the cracks, and then week after week people come on asking the same questions that have been discussed on previous posts.

This week I have to give kudos to one of my most avid readers (and commentators), Benny, who was responding to a thread of comments about Sawyer going to see Kate. To some viewers, it appeared as if Sawyer were heading to Jack's house to ask his advice on what to do with Sayid, and Sawyer was surprised to see Kate open the door. From there you could conclude that Kate could have been at Jack's house, and maybe they're living together and Sawyer's surprise is the same as Jack's when Juliet opens Sawyer's door, or his face could just be surprise that he made the mistake of going to the wrong house.

In the other corner, however, fans argue it was clear Sawyer was always headed to see Kate, and his surprise was just a momentary awkwardness, a wave of emotion for her he thought had gone, but had always been there. But he had always intended, in that moment, to confront Kate and ask her why she'd come back.

I finally responded and said to me, it was a combination of the two. I think the writers wanted us to believe Sawyer was going to Jack's house, and the way they always film Dharmaville makes it hard to figure out which house is where. Yes, in the previous episode Sawyer gave an awkward little wave at Kate as she stood on her porch in the house next to Sawyer's, but as I pointed out, in this episode, Juliet is looking out the window directly at the house next to Sawyer's, and we see Jack and Kate emerging from it. But in the end, after she opens the door, I believed that we were the ones who'd been tricked, and that Sawyer really had been going to see Kate the whole time.

And then Benny stepped up. He went back through screen caps of the previous two episodes and designed a photographic rundown of each house, its position, and the camera angles through which we've looked at them, and has charted the territory of Dharmaville, concluding that the house Sawyer went to was not Kate's, and was possibly Jack's. You can go and look at the whole document here, and then decide for yourself (and please, I ask in advance, no shipper arguments in the comments, please).


A few people have mentioned this now, and I've been meaning to pull it out as its own post (especially after Pitchfork did a piece on it) but now that we're in 1977, Geronimo Jackson is taking on more than just a red herring role in the show. Sure, it still could amount to nothing more than Darlton having fun with their fans, but they've gone the distance and we actually can hear them now. Darlton have maintained that GJ were a real band that only recorded one album in 1970 (love you guys, but I don't buy that for an instant). ;) When Jin was driving his van around the island, the song we heard in the van (at the time I couldn't find anything about it and speculated it might be GJ) is a song called "Dharma Lady." Someone on DarkUFO said the words are almost exactly the same as a song called "Excelsior Lady" by a band called The Donkeys. Further digging revealed the Donkeys were a San Francisco retro-rock band on the label (wait for it) Dead Oceans.

When a Dead Oceans publicist was questioned about the band and whether they're the stand-ins for Geronimo Jackson, her response was, "It seems as though it's possible that the Donkeys also existed as Geronimo Jackson in 1977. It might be possible that they were part of a Dharma Initiative experiment on time travel."

LOL!! She added that "Geronimo Jackson is likely to appear on extras of the season five 'Lost' DVD, where they will feature the band recording 'Dharma Lady'."

Awesome. You can now download the song for free at iTunes, and you can read the whole article on Pitchfork here.


And finally, the single most frequently asked question I get (on the comments board, on the DocArzt comments board, in my email inbox several times a week) is, where the heck are Rose and Bernard? Excellent question. They were with Sawyer and company on the beach during the first flash, and then Dan and everyone headed into the jungle without them. When they came back and were attacked with flaming arrows, Rose and Bernard disappeared. There have been many speculations:

-Rose and Bernard were shot with the flaming arrows: I don't think so. They're too integral to just kill off-screen.
-Rose and Bernard joined the rest of the straggling survivors that were left on the beach and went and joined the Others
-Rose and Bernard were the only survivors of the flaming arrow attack that didn't follow Sawyer and company, and they went off and lived the rest of their days alone on the island, much like Rousseau, keeping to themselves and possibly becoming the Adam and Eve skeletons we find in the cave.

There are tons of possibilities here, but needless to say, they are very missed, and I hope we see them again soon. I know the writers won't just leave them somewhere, and this will be resolved at some point.


humanebean said...

Benny is my new hero! ; ]

I admit, I just didn't get all the hullabaloo at first - it seemed abundantly clear to me that Sawyer had gone to Kate's door as intended and that the look on his face was just his emotions playing with him. After reviewing Benny's excellent argument, I'm entirely persuaded that Sawyer intended to go to Jack's house and was surprised to find Kate there.

Now, we've been set up to believe that Kate's "reason for returning" to the Island has been Sawyer all along. I'm starting to think this is nothing but a red herring. While both she and Sawyer are clearly dealing with some conflicted feelings since her return, the way Kate says, "I don't know why everyone else came back - I just know why I did", has me thinking otherwise.

As a result, this little porch scene, and the emotional resonance therein, has greater importance. I say again, Bravo! Benny.

Benny said...

Thanks Nikki, humanebean. I agree that the Kate returning for Sawyer may only be a fragment of the whole reason.

And as we're often setup, this could also be one of those misdirection and I'm wrong. I guess we'll just have to wait.

As for Geronimo Jackson, I hadn't heard of the Pitchfork interview and that is just hilariously awesome. I'm reading it right after I post this.

And for Rose and Bernard, I recon Darlton said in a podcast that they would be alluded to if not returning in the show. I would definitely love to see them alive again. At least their story will be completed.

And if you haven't checked this week's podcast, it has some nice hints as to what could be explained by the end of the season.

Rebecca T. said...

LOL! Benny, I absolutely LUV the high tech plans of Dharmaville! It made everything so clear :)

poggy said...

Kudos to Benny for figuring out how the buildings are placed, at least in Sawyer's "block" ;-) (on a random note, do we know exactly how many people live in Dharmaville?)

I agree that Kate didn't come back specifically for Sawyer. After all the reason she had Aaron taken away from her is still unknwon and I think it's pretty blatant that was the reason she changed her mind - since she had been all "no way I'm coming back to the island" until shortly before leaving. Not that sudden changes of mind are unusal for Kate, but my guess is that there's something serious here. Also, if it depended on me (which would make me... Darlton?), I'd try to develop Kate's character independently from the romance angle for a while. I like her better when her storyline isn't centered around the man she wants or does not want to be with.

Nikki Stafford said...

poggy: I completely agree on all counts. The Jate and Skate ships have never interested me, because I like independent Kate, not defined by a man. The moment it moves to whether she's with Jack or Sawyer, I find her annoying. On her own, she's great (her flashbacks are always really interesting for the very reason that they don't involve Jack or Sawyer).

I believe Kate has come back to the island for Aaron, 100%. She knew all along that Sawyer could be there, and never wanted to go back before. She'd settled into her life as a mom, just as Sawyer believes he's settled into life as a DI guy with Juliet. She left the marina in a fury, saying she never wanted to see any of them again. Then we see her only a few hours later, a shell of herself, refusing to answer questions about Aaron. Something happened, and it involved Aaron, and that's the only reason she's back.

Anonymous said...

I think Jack and Kate are sharing the house, roommate style, which is why Kate looked back inside the house before closing the door to keep her conversation with Sawyer private.

Missing Georgia said...

I agree that Kate is only there for Aaron. Her emotions for Sawyer may have surfaced once she got back to the island, but I don't believe that she came back for him. She has her own mission to accomplish and it has to do with Aaron. I wonder if Claire appeared to her to tell her what to do.

Anonymous said...

I also agree that Kate came back for Aaron in some way, and not for Sawyer. Three years had passed, she still felt some loyalty to him as a friend since she did the favour he asked of her, but I definitely don't think he was her reason for going back.

Benny, you put us all to shame. Well done, well done.

Anonymous said...

Obviously, Kate should end up with her husband, Castle.

oldrunner262 said...

I agree that Kate must have come back for Aaron, maybe to find Claire. As for Rose and Bernard, I'm sure the writers will eventually tell us where and when they are. It's too big a hole in the story to leave unanswered. I can hardly wait for next Wednesday ep.

R.S said...

Well done Benny!

I'd say that is pretty conclusive. Of course it could be that a production error put her in the wrong house but I doubt it.

Speaking of production errors in regards to the women behind Sun when Christian gives her the '77 DI photo:

I'm pretty sure it's a crew member. We were on set trying to figure out who it might be the other day

That's apparently a comment Jorge Garcia made at The Fuselage site.

I really don't care about the mistake either way but WTF who lines up a shot in the direction of stationary crew members and not expect them to show up on film.

I also agree that the fact Kate is back has something to do with Aaron with a connection to possibly finding Claire.

The fact that this hasn't been brought up by anyone is kind of silly (other than Locke, he knows where she is).

Kate would be the most probable character to want to find her and unite her with her son.

I hope when we get the missing Kate flashbacks (ie between the pier and Jack's house) Kate is once again visited by Claire.

Ali Bags said...

I am concerned about Rose and Bernard's whereabouts but I am also missing Desmond, Locke and Faraday.

Have you noticed Miles has gone missing too?

flexible said...

Wow. Can't believe you went to all that trouble! I still disagree. When you come out of Sawyers house, Kates house is to the right. When you are going into Sawyers house, Kate's house is to the left. In Namaste, they were shooting round the pillar Sawyer was leaning on so the camera angle was different. In "He's our you" they did not have to. Jean Higgins has painstakingly described the complications in shooting these Dharmaville houses because they are actually using ONE house and the rest is just pictures. Any discrepancy you see, which I have not seen, can be put down to that especially in such a scene that was made verbally explicitly clear. Sawyer had just been frustrated by Sayid. He looked at Kate's house. The exact angle that Kate's house was in Namaste. He stormed off there in his frustration. Kate opened the door. Now, if he was surprised she was opening the door and actually went to see Jack, why did he not ask for Jack? Afterall, after Jacks initial surprise at seing Juliet he asked for Sawyer?

He then went on to ask KATE why she came back? TWICE he asked KATE why she came back. The ABC recaps say, Sawyer went to Kate's house. I can't see how on earth Jack even figures in this scene. I know the whole Sawyer/Kate thing for the last few episodes we have had to make up the dialogue as we go along because we get looks and smiles and sneaky glances but I thought this one was pretty clear. Kate had also just heard he was shacking up with Juliet so ofcourse they were uncomfortable.

She opened the door.
He said an akward hi. So did she. Then a pause. He sort of tilted his head to see in the house.
She looked back. We saw the house and saw no one inside.
Then she closed the door.

I mean, with what she had heard, Sawyer with Juliets insecurities weighing on him, what sense would it have made for them to go indoors and shut the door?So they stayed on the porch where he asked who he was loking for what he wanted to ask.

Those who say he was looking for Jack have yet to tell me why he never did ask for Jack? Have yet to tell me why Kate would hide Jack seeing as she has already found out he is with Juliet? Wouldn't the Kate we know use Jack to make Sawyer jealous? Why would she hide him? Again, when the fire broke out, Jack came from the EXACT same direction he walked off to in Namaste. If Jack was in the house and a fire broke out would Kate not run in and call Jack out? She would just run out and leave him in there?

In the morn, we saw them coming down the porch. Now, who says, it was Kates house Juliet was looking at? All we know is that Juliet was looking out the window at Jack and kate walking down the lawn. From Namaste we see that you can not see the front of Kates house from Sawyers window because her house is beside it. Again, that is probably the scene that the writers left to confuse us. Did Jack sleep in her house? Did Kate sleep in his house? Or did they just come to get each other for breakfast? That can be argued. In my humble opinion, there is no basis for argument about the porch scene because it was made physically and verbally explicit in its clarity and the only reason anyone would think otherwise is because as Lost fans we have spent years being asked questions about almost everything because of the vagueness of TPTB writing style, that when a scene that lacks even the slightest hint of ambiguity is presented we still manage to create questions because that is what we are used to. Sometimes it actually is just as simple as it looks :)

flexible said...

I also agree Kate came back for Aaron but that does not preclude a Sawyer thought from entering her mind. For all intents and purposes she thought he was dead. The O6 have got a bad rap from some of the fans. They had just escaped a horrific Island and then saw it disappear. All these accusations that they never went back for the left behinders, where exactly were they supposed to go back to? The Island disappeared! Is it any wonder they thought people dead? Why were they supposed to believe Locke? The same mad man that did everything within his power to stop them from leaving the Island? Arrives on a wheelchair and starts chanting "we have to go back" and they are supposed to say, "Yes, my Lord, when do we leave?" I think their behaviour was entirely appropriate in such circumstances. As far as Kate and who she thought of or did not think of and whatever her feelings within those 3 years, I think we should wait for wednesday, her centric episode, before we draw conclusions on that.

I have always liked Kate. I liked Kate independent. I liked her confused bewteen two handsome but totally different guys. Let the woman who has never been undecided about two potential "lovers" throw the first stone. Kate has not lost her independence at all. In fact, it is that independence that is the cause of her romantic troubles. She must sleep in her own tent. She can't sit still. Sawyer was not a saint either. He had trust issues. He had insecurities. So, whenever they both seemed close, they pulled away at the same time. When Kate asked James to say sorry for being harsh, he said he does not do sorries. She said welcome back Sawyer because before anyone else she knew Sawyer was the bad guy and James the REAL Sawyer so sto speak.

So this is not a Kate issue of her just being a flip flopper. Both men always gave her reasons to flip flop. Jack was judgmental and just took her support for granted like she had no opinion of her own. When Libby et al died, who consoled her? Sawyer. While Jack was crying for the 100th time by himself in the bathroom because he could not fix this one thing. The truth is Kate as is the case with women, has unfortunately borne the brunt of the triangle with everyone forgetting that there were two mentally fit adult males who could have taken themselves off the grid. Instead, Jack was blurting out ILUs at the most inopportune moments.

Jack is who Kate believes she should be with. Sawyer no matter how hard she tries, is who she wants to be with and who she is drawn to. As her mother told her "you can't help who you love". That is how it has been shown. That is how it was written. That is what the writers have said. That is what Evie herself has said as her understanding of Kate(though Evie says all sorts depending on her mood;) That is what it is. Any woman who hates Kate because of that in my opinion is being grossly unfair because millions of women have had that same dilemma and some of them even sleep with both men at the same time. Kate did not do that. So, I remain and will always remain a huge Kate fan. Juliet can keep doing Sawyers laundry and having his back, but she better ask him about all the secrets he shared with Kate because if someone really trusts you, he will tell you his deepest darkest secrets and all Juliet knows about James is what she read in his file which means nothing. I know some Sawyer/Juliet fans like to assume that Sawyer must have told her within the 3 years. Probably but I do not think that is a scene the writers will gloss over. A lot of Sawyer/Juliet is fanwanking a.k.a make it up as you go along and as it suits you, which is why I just can not be bothered with it. This is TV. What is important will be visually presented. TV is a visual medium. Any relationship worth investing in will be shown, from its beginning to the middle to the end, not just thrown at us and told to fanwank away.

I've always been baffled by those who say they liked Kate before this "triangle" issue because that means you liked her when she was revealed to be a daddy killing, bank robbing, man using, manipulative fraudster and then decided that she is now unlikable and annoying because she is indecisive about two men? It has always left me baffled by Kate haters. Baffled and amused at the same time. I guess, horses for courses.I find her character fascinating, complex and flawed and I look forward to knowing more.

Jono said...

If I remember correctly, on the latest podcast, Darlton said that Rose and Bernard will be back in this year's season finale. So I think, of those three options you listed, the closest one to being correct is the second choice. Although it wouldn't surprise me if they were the skeletons and we only saw them in a flashback.

Nikki Stafford said...

redeem: You make me laugh, as always! :)

Alibags: Hadn't noticed Miles missing, good catch! He's probably just sitting at home, communing with dead people. And let me take this opportunity to say I agree with those who think the potential of this character hasn't been used... I really hope they bring him into it soon, because the guy talks to DEAD people. That would be an amazing power to have on this island.

flexible: No need to get so wound up. I don't see any Kate haters on this blog. And I think we've all agreed that Jack's house or Kate's, in the end Sawyer was probably going to Kate's house and the writers just wanted the non-shipper viewers to believe he was heading over to see Jack to ask his advice. It's a writing tactic: you make a big deal about Jack coming to Sawyer's house and a woman opening the door, and then they talk about leadership. Naturally, we now expect a flip scene where he goes to Jack's house, woman opens the door, they talk about leadership. But instead, it was Kate, and he went to talk to her. That's all we're saying, nothing more. No Kate haters here.

Jono: Thanks for that info! I usually listen to the podcasts near the end of the season, because I find them too spoilery. So thanks for that tidbit! :)

Benny said...

@flexible: you have all the right to disagree. The show is written to create diverging opinions. But some of your arguments don't pan out quite as you expected them to, I won't list them all here because there's no point in furthering this debate.

Just one note. Jean Higgins did say they were using only one house. But that is only for INTERIORS. For exterior shots, they use the actual Dharmaville setup they have on location, which has remained relatively intact since season 3.

I have a full pdf rebuttal done but I figure it would be irresponsible on my part to post it as it would probably just fuel the fire even more and turn this friendly discussion of what people perceive into a full-fledged feud. Let's just leave it at a disagreement and one of us will be wrong, I know I've been before and probably have you. Question is, will we ever know who?

Lost's writing stimulates the avid viewer's mind into calculating event probabilities and coming up with their own thoughts as to what exactly happened on screen and what will happen. The execs have mentioned time and time again that everything has ambiguity for that exact purpose.

flexible said...

@Nikki, I'm not wound up :) Maybe it's just my writing style. I may have to put a caveat before every post just so...LOL. I was also speaking in general, I did not mean to call anyone in particular a Kate hater but they are out there. LOL.

@Benny-Yes, we must agree to disagree. One last thing, did you recognise the blue bike that was clearly on the porch in Namaste and clearly on the porch in "He's our you"? As you say, we will never know, though ofcourse in this case, I think as the story unfolds, we will know if Jack was in there and/or if they share a flat so it should not be, we will never know, it is, we will see

Benny said...

@flexible: there is a blue bike, but on the other side. Obviously maybe it was used. But there also is a bike near the other house, when they run towards the fire, in both the S&K and Jack shots. Blue bikes are a favored mode of transportation for DHARMA so I don't lend too much to it.

What is of interest is the size of the porch. In Namaste, Kate's porch is small and only has two support beam leading to the roof. The house in He's our you has a house-size porch with four visible beams leading up to the roof. Visually it is definitive they are two different houses.

Benny said...

Forgot to add that, the house Sawyer runs by when heading to house-X also has a smaller porch, so does his as seen in Namaste. The house they run by to head towards the fire has a larger porch.

NanX said...

Benny - that's awesome work you did, thank you. It helped give the houses perspective for me. I wish you would map the whole compound! You are probably saying, "Gasp!" :)

I actually wondered why they would have their own individual house. Juliet did not have one at first. When we saw Kate wave at Sawyer, I even wondered if it was Kate's house or if she was out for a stroll.

Now to change the subject but something I have been thinking about. Why have we never considered the possibility that some of the people we see are from the future as well as Sayid saying he is from the future. We are just concentrating on the linear line from whatever point we are on and the time traveling just being the Losties.

Hisham Fahmy said...

Whether it was Jack's house or Kate's, Kate does have the habit of looking behind her when surprised. She did that several times, the most of which I remember was in "Something Nice Back Home," when she came back to her house and found Jack there early.

If Kate is indeed back for Aaron, presumably to find Claire, how the hell is she planning to leave the Island to take her for her son? Wouldn't it be easier to come back with the boy to reunite them?
I'm sure she's back for him, but that doesn't necessarily involve her finding Claire.

Benny said...


Thanks to everyone who has downloaded ad read my little document on the DHARMA house and to anyone who hass commented and asked questions.

As per some requests, I've written a full academic-type article on the subject addressing ambiguous issues, an updated Dharmaville plan (not the whole compound), my own interpretation of the scene and a short Q&A type section.

Here is the link:

Please feel free to email me any further questions or comments with regards to this article at the address provided.

And for anyone who believes me to be a shipper, I have to say my ship has sailed a long time ago... I was a Jack/Sarah shipper (do they have a name? I don't know), so I have no particular interest in this scene whatsoever!

Robert Kuang said...

The Rose and Bernard question has been bugging me as of late as well. While it's entirely logistics (which, if you understand, you can forgive), but Lost tackles such epic storylines that missing the small pieces becomes very easy to notice. My guess is, they're stuck in 1977, but hidden at some other unknown area. Maybe the Temple? Probably not. to see my review of He's Our You

humanebean said...

Q.E.D., Benny! Barring what we don't know as yet - and what we CAN'T know (writers' intentions) - your detailed argument is quite persuasive. As for some of the more impassioned, and less reasoned, criticism, I quote the inimitable Louis Armstrong. When asked about the nature of Jazz music and its critics, Louis famously quipped: "There's some people that, if they don't know ... you just can't tell 'em."

Benny said...

Well said and immensely appreciated!

methosrocks said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
methosrocks said...

I've looked at this three times now, and I think the angles favor the simpler explanation.

One thing is certain, your drawing of the barracks is completely off from the sketch that Sayid found in the cabling diagrams, as shown here in Lostpedia.

There are 6 buildings in the pod that contains Sawyer/Juliet's house and Kate's house, and your angles are off.

You may quibble with what you saw on screen - though I think it was nothing more than production decisions behind any differences. However, quibble though you may, the alternative you offer is not based on the village as it was supposedly built and diagramed by Dharma, as shown in earlier seasons.

Benny said...

@methosrock: Thanks for the picture. I never considered looking at previously available diagrams.
The greatest thing about it is that it DOES FIT with my custom-made diagram!

Here is the one I made:

And here is a subsection from the map you've provided:

If you assign numbers to houses, then Sawyer's is house 22, Jack's (from what I believe) is 19 and Kate's would be 20. The house they run in front of when heading to the fire is 18 and the one next to Phil when Jack asks him which one is LaFleur's would be 23. 21 is excluded from my diagram (cut off).

More interesting is the bush and trees all in their proper places from video evidence. As well, the fences next to Sawyer's house, those the van crashed through before heading to its 'destination'

When looking closely at the ground when Sawyer is getting people to help and when Jack is taming the fire, you can clearly see a large intersection (bottom left) from the houses.

I would suggest that the house the van crashed in is no longer in this diagram as it was brought down and the plan redrawn.

If you feel Sawyer's 'pod' is one of the other two and have visual evidence backing it, please fell free to let me know. I'm never more happy than when I see proof.

Benny said...

For those interested in seeing how my own diagram maps our on the provided DHARMA plan, here is an overlay I just did.

With some minor misalignments, I would say that my map performs admirably with DHARMA's own!
Judge for yourself.

batcabbage said...

Wow. Thanks so much for all your hard work, Benny. I LOVE that this show inspires people to this level of dedication! Kudos, my friend. You're a true fan.

Benny said...
This comment has been removed by the author.