LOST 012 - Control Walt Delete

Kate gets a missing piece to her inscrutable backstory, Boone has unhealthy obsessions, and Michael has an impossible situation. Unpacking the TV show LOST—Season 1: Episodes 12-14

LOST 012 - Control Walt Delete
This is just plane confusing.
Note: this essay was originally published on Revue on July 17, 2022.

Hello friendlies. The world is on fire, so let’s dip into LOST this week, to give ourselves a bit of a mental health break.

Meanwhile, give to abortion funds and find your local mutual aide, support people who can give birth and other targeted and marginalized people, and fight conservative Christians and other types of fascists as with as much defiance as you can muster.

Recently, on LOST: Oceanic 815 crashed onto an island, boom crash scream turbine guy ow ow ow my leg. There were a few dozen survivors, and about 15 of them get speaking lines. Mysteries soon abound: there’s a 16-year old distress call on repeat left by a French madwoman, there’s a monster in the jungle, polar bears, an alleged rage infection, jungle whispers, and another group of people who are stalking and abducting them. Also a hatch.

It’s basically like the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, but warmer.


I’m going to be real with you, because you are my friends and I respect you. These are not the best episodes of Season 1.

They aren’t terrible, exactly, but they contain terribleness, and there’s a lot of setup and deck chair moving and red herrings and some flashbacks that range from “huh” to “huh?” to “yikes.”

Look, it’s a long show and it was open-ended at the time. You’re going to get this sometimes. I’ll focus mostly on the good bits.

Kate Austen (Evangeline Lilly) in a bank vault with the manager and two accomplices. She’s in one of those standoff situations where different people have guns pointed at each other.
It's like Reservoir Dogs, if Mr. Orange, acting as a private citizen, had personally arranged the whole jewel heist to get a comic book.

Episode 12: WHATEVER THE CASE MAY BE (Kate): Kate and Sawyer go for a lagoon swim in their undies to solidify the sexual tension on their side of the obligatory Kack/Sack/Sakatawyer love triangle, and they find a Halliburton case in some submerged Oceanic flotsam. You’ll know it’s a Halliburton case, because that’s what everyone calls it, about a billion times, to such an extent I have to think that Halliburton paid for product placement.


Anyway, Sawyer hoards it because he is Sawyer, and Kate—who very obviously knows what the case contains—acts like she doesn’t care even though she clearly does care very much. Sawyer hilariously can’t open it and says “son of a bitch” a lot while failing. Kate keeps trying to take it from him, but failing. Finally she gets Jack of Course to help, and he’s pissy about it, but complies, and coaxes the case away from Sawyer in a talkin’ like this contest that sort of made it seem like they were about to kiss. Then Jack and Kate exhume the marshal to get the keys, which is a sentence that sounds like REM lyrics.

Inside the case there are guns, but that’s not what Kate wanted. What Kate wanted was the toy airplane in there. An airplane. Oooh, mysterious! Is it connected to Oceanic 815? Actually, no, it’s just a toy airplane. She confesses under Jack’s extremely dickish cross-examination that it belonged to the man she killed, which will later prove to be a … weird way of putting it. The plane will come up again, if only to explain what that means, but it won’t amount to much of anything.

In the B plot Sayid enlists French-speaker Shannon to translate some charts he cribbed from Rousseau, which begins their fan-unfavorite romance and makes me wonder if he lost his picture of his true love Nadia, and whether he has that Memento disease but only for Nadia, and that’s why he is always looking at it. The notations turn out to be a French translation of the lyrics to “Beyond the Sea.” This will come up again, but it won’t really amount to much of anything.¹

In the C plot, Locke and Boone have been trying to open the hatch, and they are being weird and secretive about it. No luck so much on opening it; it’s impenetrable. This will definitely come up again. Maybe it will amount to something (it will).

End of Episode 12.


Boone Carlyle (Ian Somerhalder) crouches in a jungle, securely bound. He remonstrates with John Locke (Terry O’Quinn), seen in the foreground of the shot, grinding something in a bowl with a pestle.
"I don't care what you do to me, I'm not eating Spaghetti-Os."

Episode 13: HEARTS & MINDS (Boone). Boone notices that Sayid and Shannon are getting cute, and tells him to back off. Sayid is hilariously amused by this, because he is Only Boone.

Hey, what’s Boone’s deal? Boone is working all day, every day with Locke, trying to excavate and open the hatch. People are noticing, people are talking, people are suspicious. Locke doesn’t care—he’s obsessed with the hatch and secrecy. He’s also talking about getting people “on our side.” Boone wants to tell Shannon about what’s up, so Locke mulls this over for a second, then conks him on the head with his knife hilt, hog-ties him with bungee cords, and leaves him in the jungle, with a knife juuuust out of reach.

This makes the 2nd of his fellow lostaways Locke has attacked, by the way. Cool guy.

In the B plot, Locke gives Sayid his compass, claiming he doesn’t need it anymore. Sayid realizes the compass is defective … or is it? Sayid thinks so, but he also tells Jack about it in a way that makes us suspect that it worries Sayid—who is very skeptical and practical but who has also seen more Weird Island Shit than almost anybody—more than he’s saying.

In the C plot, it’s fun bonding with the Kwons! Sun has made a vegetable garden, and Kate, working on it with her, discovers she speaks English but agrees to keep the secret. Hurley, meanwhile, steps on a friggin’ urchin trying to fish, and begs Jin to pee on him. Jin declines the watersports, but tends to him using non-micturational means, then later gifts him a fish. At some point Hurley (quite accurately) tells Jin his wife is hot, while Jin nods uncomprehendingly. It’s Hurley, so it’s funny and sweet, and it frankly does a lot of good work at making Jin funny and sweet, too, which is a much better way for Jin to be, and I really liked this.

Back to our favorite hog-tied hunka hunka burning Boone. Boone finally frees himself when he hears the Creature nearby and Shannon crying in distress. He races to her aide, but they get separated when the creature attacks and Boone returns to Shannon too late: she’s dead, Jim. He returns to camp, despondent, but psyche! she’s fine. Turns out Locke treated Boone’s head wound with psychedelics. This helps Boone get over his attachment to Shannon (see flashback) and solidifies his loyalty to Locke. Which is pretty weird, if you think about it. Luckily for Locke, Boone does not seem to think about it.

End of Episode 13.

Walt Lloyd (Malcom David Kelley) and Michael (Harrold Perrineau) in a tent, looking at one another skeptically.
"When I'm not yelling 'Waaaaalt!' I'm thinking it."

Episode 14: SPECIAL (Michael). Michael yells “Walt” a lot in this one, starting a meme and creating a real albatross for actor Harold Perrineau, who was constantly accosted by fans screaming it, and understandably he is sick of that so if you meet Harold Perrineau, maybe don’t do that. (Come back next time for more Tips On Meeting Harold Perrineau).

Walt’s disobeying dad, sneaking off into the jungle to get knife-throwing lessons from Locke, who is pretty clearly recruiting for his weird tribe. When Michael finds him, he’s understandably pissed at Walt but especially Locke, and Boone, who won’t let anybody threaten his Island Dad, attacks Michael. Yikes, bubby, settle down. Michael easily overpowers him, because it is Only Boone, but then Locke pushes back on Michael’s objections, telling Michael that Walt is special and should be allowed to realize his potential, so double yikes. Real cultish stuff happening over on Team Locke.

Michael, desperate to get Walt off the island, decides to build a raft, and conscripts his son into the effort. After Michael has another altercation with Locke (mistaken this time; Locke is telling Walt to mind his pop), Walt takes off into the jungle, and Michael has to join forces with Locke to save his son from a very fake-looking polar bear.

Over in the B plot, Sayid and Shannon have translated the maps: it’s not the location of the island, but a place on the island. The Gang Engages In Wild Speculation. Sayid figures maybe it’s the location of the transmitter. Or maybe the location of the Black Rock. Or maybe the location of where The Others are keeping Claire.

But never mind that last one because who materializes out of the nighttime jungle but Claire!

Where has she been? We’ll find out next time, probably (nope).²

End of Episode 14.


Flashbacks. Kate’s flashback is—let’s get this out of the way—nonsense. The more you look at the bank robbery at the center of it (she’s trying to steal the toy airplane), the less sense it makes. The more we later learn about the rest of her story, the less sense her motivations here will make. I usually roll my eyes at the charge that the writers were just making everything up as they went, but when it comes to Kate’s backstory, they certainly were and damn but it shows. My only choices are to go on for another thousand words about the nonsense of it (like something in this vein), or just leave it alone. I choose the latter.

Boone’s flashback reveals that he is a jet-setting executive failson with a posh sinecure running one of his asshole mother’s Martha Stewartish lifestyle businesses. He also professionally saves his stepsister Shannon from a carousal of bad romantic decisions, paying off abusive boyfriends from around the world with “go away” money … but surprise, it’s only because he’s in love with her, and the night before the Oceanic flight we learn they had weird antagonistic step-sibling sex, and eeeeeeesh. I think probably the writers wish they’d come up with something else for Boone, because there’s nowhere much else for that character to go now. Sorry, Boone. That was a rough one.

Michael’s flashback is easily the best of this bunch, and Harold Perrineau does great work here with a character who unfortunately will get lost in the shuffle. We learn that Michael was a devoted dad, a struggling but talented artist who lost Walt a long time ago when Walt’s executive mother Susan moved overseas for a work opportunity, then got married to a colleague who eventually adopted Walt. Upon Susan’s sudden recent death, Michael, who did not fight for custody out of concern for Walt’s best interest, learned some crushing things: Walt naturally thinks of his adoptive father Brian as his actual dad and has barely heard of Michael; but Brian manages to stand out as a real dirtbag in a show full of dirtbags, and tells Michael he doesn’t want Walt and never did—in part because he never actually wanted to be a father, but also because Walt unnerves him³ … he makes things happen. Perhaps worst of all, Susan never gave Walt the years and years worth of letters Michael wrote to his son. So now Michael’s stranded with a son that he loves but who barely knows him and who certainly doesn’t fathom the depths of that love; it’s a truly heart-wrenching predicament, setting the stage for Michael’s ultimately tragic arc.

There is also a very interesting bit of flashback of Walt, which Michael would have no knowledge of. This is structurally unprecedented, at least so far, and I’ll return to it.


As I said, these are some throat-clearing episodes, so there’s not as much meat on the bone: However, here are the things I believe.

1) Locke’s cult. Yes, Locke is building up followers, and it’s likely because he’s been told to do so, and probably also who to target. I believe we are getting ample evidence that Locke—while still able to access the good in himself—has allowed a psychic bond of some sort to grow between himself and The Adversary, and is working in cooperation with It and at least in part in thrall to It, for what he has been told and fully believes is the greater good.

I believe The Adversary is telling Locke many things. Let’s try guess what some of them are!

2) Boone’s vision. I’d like to point out that Locke was already working on Boone’s vison-quest paste before Boone suggested to Locke that he, Boone, was going to tell Shannon about the hatch. So, while I do believe that The Adversary led Locke to the hatch, and has told Locke that the hatch is a very important matter that should be kept secret, I believe It has also told Locke to handle Boone in this way independent of the need for a secret.

Let’s also notice that while Boone sees Shannon, and that may be explained in part by Locke’s island drugs, The Adversary is also skilled at appearing as people known to the subjects, and also appears in Boone’s vision as smoke … a form Boone wouldn’t know about—or us, for that matter. I think this is the first brief glimpse of smoke.

Let’s speculate that The Adversary has told Locke to create a trusted group of followers, and then given him instructions on how to achieve that trust—which happens to be a methodology that allows The Adversary to guide the subject into a state that Rousseau has referred to as “infection.” This seems to involve some sort of communion with The Adversary, and some sort of brush with death, and leaves you largely unaware that you are “infected,” though we will see various levels of awareness of this state and cooperation with it from various people so affected.

As always, a lie is best concealed within some truth. I believe The Adversary, being a creature skilled at deception, has probably told Locke something Locke would want to hear; namely, that he is helping people do what The Island wants for people, which is for them to fulfill their purpose. (We have a counterpoint in these episodes with Charlie, who also had a near-death experience, who Locke similarly helped, and who informs Jack that he has put his faith in John Locke … so let’s see what Charlie gets up to.)

I think that “Shannon” in Boone’s vision might have been The Adversary—who usually can only manifest as somebody dead, but perhaps overcoming that stricture is what the drugs are for. In any case, I think it’s fairly interesting that “Shannon’s” corpse is found in the same setting as we will one day learn Jacob found Brother’s corpse, a long time ago.

Long story much shorter: I think Boone was with The Adversary.

I don’t believe Boone has “let go” of his unhealthy attachments because his vision brought him to a healthy place.

Boone isn’t free. Boone is in thrall.⁴

3) Compass. Locke’s compass doesn’t work because the island is basically a wrapper for a massive amount of universe-destroying and universe-creating electromagnetic energy. We’ll get to that. Oh boy will we ever.

Additionally (and we’ll keep unpacking this gradually), while the island is near enough to the Earth to reach it via submarine, I believe pretty strongly that the island is something separate from the Earth—so compasses are going to be largely useless no matter what.

I think Locke has been told at least a bit of this by The Adversary.

I believe he gives Sayid the compass in part because he knows it is essentially useless, but also because, as he tells Boone, Sayid is resourceful and would be a good person to have on “our side.”

I think Locke is subtly laying ground to recruit Sayid for The Adversary.

Over time, we’ll learn that The Adversary isn’t done trying for Sayid.

We’ll also see The Adversary is not done using compasses to convince people to his side. He’ll do it again, first in the future and then later in the past. You’ll see.

4) Walt is “Special.” This isn’t going to be explored in the show as much as we might have wanted, because the main island story takes place over months and Malcolm David Kelley grew up like a normal kid over the years, leading to Walt being written out of the show for tallness.

However, I think we can make some speculations on what was planned; the shape of a plot that never happened.

I’ll propose that there are two ways we see for people to be “Special” on the Island. The first is a sensitivity to the spiritual realm—see Hurley and (later) Miles for examples of this. The second is a sensitivity to other realities or timelines … and I’ll note that it is right around the time that the writers were realizing they needed to write Walt out that they wrote in Desmond, who is by far the most prominent example of this form of “Special.”

So my belief is that, if you want to see the broad strokes of where Walt’s plot was going, you’d look to what they wind up doing with Desmond.

Brian tells Michael Walt “makes things happen.”

Later, Michael will be asked if Walt ever “appears in a place he was not supposed to be.” And we will see Walt appearing in such ways.

Later, Michael will be told that Walt is “more than we bargained for,” by somebody who seems as if she bargains for a lot.

From a cosmic, timeline-altering, dimensional sensitivity standpoint, the things Walt can do are tiny, seemingly insignificant, and certainly not things that he does consciously.

What can Walt do? I think he can sense different possibilities, and then, without realizing it, select one unlikely possibility over other likely ones.

A bird hitting a window.

A polar bear attack.

Or, maybe, a young mother dies.

I believe we’re seeing somebody who can select different possibilities—somebody who, like Jacob, can make rules.

I believe this would make The Adversary very very interested in Walt.

And Walt did just have a close encounter with death.

And he does wander off by himself a lot.

Doesn’t he?


Next Time: Throw Another Murder On The Barbie


¹ There will however be a cool callback to it in the title of the foundational backstory episode “Across the Sea.” Was that intentionally set up here? Personally I suspect so; I believe whatever else the showrunners didn’t know, they had the “ATS” stuff already figured out.

² Answer: She’s escaped from The Others medical facility, The Staff! with Rousseau’s help! and maybe also Alex’s help! and maybe Juliet’s help too! if memory serves! but we won’t find that out for years! so I’m not going to look it up!

³ Michael, hilariously, steals Brian’s dog, Vincent, in a small but highly satisfying petty act of revenge.

⁴ Ian Sommerhalder does a good job of playing it this way, in my opinion. He’s almost drugged-seeming from now until [spoilers].


A.R. Moxon is the author of The Revisionaries, which is available in most of the usual places, and some of the unusual places. His hands and feet are mangoes, but he’s gonna be a genius anyway.